CHRISSY TEIGEN & JOHN LEG­END

The mak­ing of a power cou­ple.

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She’s a for­mer Sports Il­lus­trated cover girl and suc­cess­ful model, writer and TV per­son­al­ity. He’s the mu­si­cian who this year achieved the elu­sive EGOT – win­ning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Os­car and a Tony (the first African-Amer­i­can man and one of only 15 peo­ple to do so). The joint wattage of Chrissy Teigen and John Leg­end is daz­zling, and with a com­bined fol­low­ing on In­sta­gram just shy of 30 mil­lion (on Twit­ter it is 23 mil­lion), their out­spo­ken views on ev­ery­thing from breast­feed­ing and body-sham­ing to US pol­i­tics have huge global reach.

Even Pres­i­dent Trump has had to take no­tice, but it’s fair to say he is not their big­gest fan. Chrissy be­gan trolling Trump long be­fore he be­came pres­i­dent, prompt­ing him to block her on Twit­ter last year. (The fi­nal straw was her writ­ing ‘Lol no one likes you’ on his page, which is in­nocu­ous com­pared to some of the other things she has said.)

Chrissy, 32, and John, 39, met in 2006 when she starred in the video for his sin­gle ‘Stereo’. This was also the year when John won his first three Gram­mys. Chrissy was al­ready an in-de­mand model signed to IMG (she has ap­peared in cam­paigns for the likes of Nike, Olay and Ugg). ‘We were re­ally at­tracted to each other,’ he ad­mits. ‘We started see­ing each other right away.’ (She has said, more bluntly, that they ‘did it’ on their first date, after eat­ing burg­ers from cult US fast food chain In-N-Out.) In Septem­ber 2013, they mar­ried at the Villa d’Este ho­tel over­look­ing Lake Como, and they now have two chil­dren: Luna, two, and Miles, six months.

Chrissy has just re­leased her se­cond cook­book, Crav­ings: Hun­gry For More, which like her first, Crav­ings, con­tains a mix of com­fort food (there’s a sec­tion de­voted to pota­toes and mul­ti­ple recipes for cheese toasties) and health­ier of­fer­ings. And John has an al­bum out, A Leg­endary Christ­mas, fea­tur­ing soul­ful takes on old favourites.

The cou­ple and their brood re­side in Bev­erly Hills in a sleek mod­ern home that for­merly be­longed to Ri­hanna. But both have grafted for their suc­cess, with nei­ther com­ing from a priv­i­leged back­ground. John is the son of a seam­stress and a fac­tory worker from Ohio. His tal­ent was nur­tured first in his church choir and then in an a cap­pella group at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, where he stud­ied African-Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture. He be­gan singing and song­writ­ing pro­fes­sion­ally after grad­u­at­ing and made it big after meet­ing Kanye West [now one of his best friends – he sang at his wed­ding to Kim Kar­dashian]. As well as West, John has col­lab­o­rated with Jay-Z, Ali­cia Keys, Lau­ryn Hill and will.i.am. His 2004 de­but al­bum Get Lifted won the Best R&B Grammy. John has also dab­bled in act­ing, ap­pear­ing in La La Land along­side Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone [he con­trib­uted to the film’s mu­si­cal score as well]. He is per­haps best known for his 2014 sin­gle ‘All Of Me’ – fit­tingly, this was in­spired by his re­la­tion­ship with Chrissy.

Chrissy was born to a Thai mother and a Nor­we­gian-Amer­i­can fa­ther, whose work as an elec­tri­cian meant that the fam­ily moved fre­quently while she was grow­ing up. They set­tled in Cal­i­for­nia, where she was dis­cov­ered as a teen while work­ing in a surf shop. She has been mod­el­ling ever since – ap­pear­ing in the an­nual Sports Il­lus­trated swim­suit is­sue in 2010 and grac­ing its cover in 2014. As well as writ­ing she has ap­peared on count­less US TV shows, from Lip Sync Bat­tle to Amer­ica’s Next Top Model. I meet the cou­ple first to­gether and then sep­a­rately. There is no doubt­ing how in love they are – her nick­name for him is Bear; they try to spend no more than ten days apart, no mat­ter how hec­tic their sched­ules; they still do date nights and they al­ways cel­e­brate Valen­tine’s Day (‘It’s cheesy, but if you love some­one, why wouldn’t you?’ asks John.) They are also very much a team – no tro­phy wife or hus­band here. ‘We bal­ance each other,’ says John. Chrissy is the ex­tro­vert. ‘I’m very out­spo­ken,’ she says with a laugh. ‘John is…’ ‘Bor­ing,’ he pipes up. ‘Not bor­ing, but more laid­back, very re­laxed,’ she smiles. ‘She’s a lot fun­nier than I am,’ John adds. ‘I’ve be­come fun­nier from spend­ing 12 years with her. You know what you’re get­ting with Chrissy, be­cause she is al­ways her­self.’ Chrissy says that the down­side of her open­ness – ‘She’s the most emo­tion­ally hon­est per­son I know,’ says John ador­ingly – is that she is eas­ily riled.

She has made a name for her­self by putting the world to rights on ev­ery­thing from IVF – the cou­ple have been open about the fact that, after they strug­gled with in­fer­til­ity, Luna and Miles were con­ceived in ‘the same petri dish’ – to choos­ing to se­lect the gen­der of her baby and post­na­tal de­pres­sion. Of the lat­ter, she has spo­ken frankly about how she suf­fered so badly, par­tic­u­larly after the birth of Luna, that for a long time she couldn’t get off the sofa (John fre­quently slept there with her), com­pletely lost her ap­petite and never left the house. ‘I couldn’t con­trol it. I felt self­ish and weird say­ing that I was strug­gling,’ she re­calls. ‘I have a great life and all the help I could need, but [this ill­ness] does not dis­crim­i­nate.’

Even­tu­ally, Chrissy was pre­scribed an an­tide­pres­sant and her con­di­tion be­gan to im­prove, but she tells me that the anx­i­ety which so of­ten ac­com­pa­nies de­pres­sion is still with her. ‘When you suf­fer from anx­i­ety, all you do is won­der if you’re be­ing weird. I ask my­self con­stantly, “Did I sound awk­ward just then?” I’m go­ing to be freak­ing out about it after this in­ter­view. But the more I have to get out – for in­stance, tak­ing Luna to her pre-school – and talk­ing to the other par­ents, the eas­ier it gets.’

Chrissy has busted the taboos of child­birth too, post­ing ➤

‘I don’t blame PRES­I­DENT TRUMP for block­ing me on Twit­ter. I would have BLOCKED ME, TOO’

pho­tos of her stretch­marks and re­fer­ring to her ‘mom bod’ on so­cial me­dia. Her lac­er­at­ing re­sponse [‘I just had a baby but thank you for be­ing soooo re­spect­ful’] to a Twit­ter body-shamer who asked if she was still preg­nant at the Em­mys in Septem­ber [Miles was born in May] went vi­ral. ‘I’m very big on jus­tice, on peo­ple know­ing when they’re wrong.’ She ad­mits to some­times feel­ing ‘crazy’, but adds, ‘I’m also em­pa­thetic. If I go too far, I usu­ally apol­o­gise fast.’

She has not, how­ever, apol­o­gised to Pres­i­dent Trump, and nor will she. ‘It is painful for me to even try to say a good word about him,’ she says. ‘I think he’s a mon­ster. I met him seven years ago, when he ap­peared on a US com­edy show [she was in the au­di­ence]. He was fa­mous as a busi­ness­man and for his role on The Ap­pren­tice, and I had an icky feel­ing about him then. I never saw him as some­one with a good heart. I don’t blame him for block­ing me on Twit­ter. I would have blocked me too! I was like, “What’s taken him so long?”’

Her friends now have to send her screen grabs of the pres­i­dent’s Twit­ter feed, ‘be­cause I don’t know when he’s go­ing to de­clare war on some­one, but when he does, it will prob­a­bly be on Twit­ter!’

Chrissy ad­mits that her dis­like of Trump has made her ‘en­vi­ous’ of the royal fam­ily. ‘We have re­al­ity TV stars and [Bri­tain has] roy­als. I am es­pe­cially a fan of Meghan. I was on Deal or No Deal with her [in 2006, be­fore land­ing her break­out role on Suits, Meghan, along with Chrissy, was a ‘suit­case girl’, car­ry­ing bags of money on the US game show] and she was lovely. Now ev­ery­one asks me what she was like and I say, “Sorry, no dirt. She’s gor­geous.”

‘I love the fresh­ness she brings, and her cook­book To­gether [recipes from women af­fected by the Gren­fell Tower fire] is my only pre-or­der of the year. It’s beau­ti­fully done and you can tell how im­por­tant it is to her. You see how she in­ter­acts with peo­ple and gets down to eye level with kids.’ Chrissy’s love of Meghan has seen her take to Twit­ter to call on her fa­ther, Thomas Markle, to ‘let [her] be happy’, fol­low­ing his se­ries of press in­ter­views com­plain­ing about his lack of con­tact with his daugh­ter. ‘This guy sucks,’ she tweeted. ‘What is wrong with him?’

Chrissy and John are both re­al­is­tic about the down­sides of so­cial me­dia but have fo­cused on har­ness­ing it as a force for good. ‘There’s al­ways go­ing to be neg­a­tiv­ity,’ says John. ‘But for us it has been a great way to get to know our fans, and it has en­abled me to en­joy a broad di­a­logue.’ He ad­mits that he gets less stick for shar­ing his views than Chrissy does. ‘Some peo­ple don’t want women to ex­press their opin­ions, es­pe­cially if they’re known for their looks. Be­cause Chrissy be­came fa­mous as a model, they don’t want her to have opin­ions as well,’ he says.

John of­ten gets po­lit­i­cal on Twit­ter, staunchly op­pos­ing, for in­stance, the nom­i­na­tion of Brett Ka­vanaugh as a Supreme Court jus­tice, be­cause of what his ap­point­ment ‘might mean for women and so­ci­ety’. The pair share lib­eral views and agree that, while there is much that can be tol­er­ated in a re­la­tion­ship, such as telling your part­ner how to dress (John likes Chrissy in back­less dresses; she likes him in white but­ton-down shirts) or fight­ing (‘our driver, who takes us to events, has heard a lot,’ winks Chrissy), dif­fer­ing po­lit­i­cal be­liefs would be a deal-breaker.

The pair are no less open on per­sonal mat­ters. ‘I’ve al­ways been an over­sharer,’ Chrissy smiles, ‘it’s just the way I am. What I say on TV shows is no dif­fer­ent to what I say to my friends. Things like IVF and post­na­tal de­pres­sion have never felt like se­crets to me, but on so­cial me­dia, to the fol­low­ers who don’t know you, they be­come “rev­e­la­tions”. How­ever, when peo­ple come up to me at book sign­ings and say how my open­ness has helped them to get through de­pres­sion or given them hope with fer­til­ity treat­ment, it feels in­cred­i­ble and re­minds me of why I speak up.’

Par­ent­hood, they say, pro­vides real grist for the so­cial-me­dia mill. ‘I think those nine months of preg­nancy are to pre­pare you for 18 years of scru­tiny,’ jokes Chrissy. ‘I got a lot of crap when I was preg­nant – for things like eat­ing sug­ary ce­real [she was trolled for post­ing a photo of her­self eat­ing a bowl of it with a cap­tion about preg­nancy crav­ings] – so I re­alised that ev­ery­thing I did as a mother would be scru­ti­nised, too.’ A furore erupted when Chrissy posted a photo of her­self breast­feed­ing baby Miles on In­sta­gram in July. The pair took on the out­raged trolls with hu­mour and grace. ‘I be­lieve in free­dom for women,’ says John. ‘Breast­feed­ing is not of­fen­sive or rude, it’s a mother be­ing a mother and no one should ever feel ashamed of that.’

Be­com­ing par­ents has brought the pair closer. ‘You think you re­ally know some­one, then you see how they are as a par­ent and it brings a new per­spec­tive,’ says Chrissy. ‘I ➤

‘You think you re­ally KNOW some­one, then see­ing them as a PAR­ENT brings a NEW per­spec­tive’

have a child­like sense of won­der and I love silli­ness, so I’ll make forts with Luna and have an imag­i­nary friends’ tea party. John is the pa­tient one. I would never be able to get the chil­dren to sleep on a plane be­cause I am very anx­ious and they need some­one calm­ing. John is amaz­ing at that.’

Also part of their do­mes­tic setup is Chrissy’s mum Vi­lailuck, who lives with them, help­ing with child­care and ‘cook­ing all day ev­ery day’. Her fa­ther Ron lives ten min­utes away, de­spite re­main­ing mar­ried to her mum, and visits daily. This un­con­ven­tional setup ‘suits ev­ery­one’, says Chrissy, and John agrees. ‘She’s great – so sweet and lov­ing, and she cooks the most de­li­cious Thai food. When you have kids, you re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate your mother-in-law.’

Chrissy’s voice wob­bles when we get on to the topic of John’s ca­reer, and his re­cent EGOT (which he clinched in Septem­ber when Je­sus Christ Su­per­star Live In Con­cert – a TV spe­cial – won the Emmy for Out­stand­ing Va­ri­ety Spe­cial). ‘I am so proud of him for putting his name on projects that he feels pas­sion­ate about. And he’s done it all so young! I’m like, “What’s next? A dou­ble EGOT? The No­bel Peace prize?” John is home for din­ner ev­ery night too.’

John’s com­mit­ment to fam­ily life even saw him take over the cook­ing from Chrissy when she was knocked side­ways by post­na­tal de­pres­sion after the births of both chil­dren. ‘I was re­ally suf­fer­ing and spent most of my time hor­i­zon­tal,’ she says, ‘but I would get up from time to time to show him a bet­ter way to chop an onion. Now he’s an in­cred­i­ble cook – he even goes off-recipe and adds his own touches.’

‘I’m happy to be Chrissy’s as­sis­tant,’ says John. ‘Chop­ping is my thing.’ Chrissy adds: ‘It’s im­por­tant to us – when we’re rac­ing around in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions – to carve out time at the end of the day to bond over a meal.’

Cook­ing is Chrissy’s pas­sion and, as she re­cov­ered from de­pres­sion, it was ‘what helped me feel nor­mal again. When I’m in my kitchen, chop­ping herbs, mak­ing a sauce, with Real Housewives play­ing in the back­ground, that is my anx­i­ety ther­apy. I got my love of food from my mum. Grow­ing up, she would make amaz­ing Thai dishes, like pad thai and pa­paya salad [one chap­ter in Chrissy’s new book is en­ti­tled ‘Thai Mom’]. My dad loved meat and pota­toes; I would help to peel the pota­toes, and I re­mem­ber how it would calm me.’

The Crav­ings ti­tle of her cook­books is Chrissy’s play­ful nod to her preg­nancy crav­ings, with one re­leased in the year of each child’s birth. With their em­brac­ing of all in­gre­di­ents and em­pha­sis on en­joy­ment, the books make a re­fresh­ing an­ti­dote to those ubiq­ui­tous clean-eat­ing tomes. ‘I do buy those, too,’ says Chrissy, ‘but I wanted to share no-gim­mick recipes that could be­come fam­ily sta­ples – dishes to bring to some­thing like a Thanks­giv­ing potluck party.’

And what of Christ­mas in the Teigen-Leg­end house­hold? Now that they have kids, it is usu­ally spent at home, they tell me. ‘Last year, we ate beef welling­ton on Christ­mas Day, and it was so good that I think we’ll do it ev­ery year,’ says John. ‘Mu­sic is a big part of Christ­mas for us, too. My fam­ily of­ten visit from Ohio and we’ll do a big sin­ga­long with all the kids, un­cles and aunts gath­ered around the pi­ano. Luna is old enough to re­ally get into it this year.’ This Christ­mas will also be es­pe­cially fes­tive with the re­lease of John’s al­bum in time for the hol­i­days. It fea­tures plenty of nos­tal­gic clas­sics, such as ‘Have Your­self a Merry Lit­tle Christ­mas’, as well as more mod­ern num­bers, such as Ste­vie Won­der’s ‘What Christ­mas Means To Me’.

And did Chrissy get a say in choos­ing the songs? ‘I al­ways want to know what songs she likes,’ says John. ‘It would be hard to put some­thing out there that she didn’t like.’ Chrissy adds: ‘And, of course, he can al­ways count on me to be hon­est with him.’

‘I’m HAPPY to be Chrissy’s as­sis­tant in the KITCHEN. It’s im­por­tant to BOND OVER A MEAL at the end of the day’

The cou­ple got mar­ried on the banks of Lake Como, Italy, in 2013

The fam­ily on hol­i­day in Bali, above

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