Twenty six year old Lenay Dunn has accomplished more in the past 6 years than many could hope to achieve in a lifetime. From her stints at Red Bull that included hosting: “Red Bull First person” (where she did everything from Rallying with Travis Pastrana to stunt flying with Kirby Chamblis),“Red Bull Roadies”(a series of webisodes that followed Lenay on a road trip to the Red Bull Flugtag events in Tampa Bay, Portland, OR and Chicago.) and a European event titled “Can You Make It”, to a gig at dirtbag.com and on to her current position as host of MTV’s 10 on top; Lenay has paid her dues and continues to climb the ladder of success.
Most recently, Lenay was crowned American Rag’s “It Girl”. To kick off the campaign, VIPs Dia Frampton, Alex Winston, Cory Kennedy, Chelsea Leyland, Hannah Bronfman and Tracy Antonopoulous (along with Lenay) took over the underground venue W.I.P. (Work In Progress) to celebrate her new role. Music and fashion insiders, trendsetters and style bloggers got a preview of Spring 2012 American Rag music tour looks (via some very lovely models) before dancing the night away to music by famed electro-pop DJ duo Holy Ghost and sipping festival-inspired cocktails (like South by Southwestern Peach, Bamboozle Sunrise and Warped Punch). As the official American Rag brand ambassador, Lenay will be reporting backstage from the hottest music festivals including: SXSW (check out her recent coverage here), Bamboozle, Warped and Lollapalooza Brazil.
With an undying love of music, a passion for band culture and the wanderlust to be everywhere in order to score the scoop, Lenay is the perfect American Rag correspondent. As an insider source, Lenay will be the brand’s backstage pass to festivals and behind-the-scenes roving reporter interviewing bands, scoping the latest trends and more. Lenay will be blogging about her experiences interactively every step of the way via American Rag’s Raggedmag.com.
DeFY. was fortunate to catch up to Lenay.
What’s up Lenay?! I know your super busy, so I’d like to thank you for sitting down with DeFY.
DeFY: When did your passion for making/editing video’s start?
LD: When I was in middle school I found my parents VHS video camera (old school!!!), I started video taping me and my friends.. and my cat… and then editing the videos on the VCR. One time my dad taped my school play (of me as a singing tree), right over a video I made of my cat Tasha poking a stuffed animal with his paw. I was really upset. I may or may not still be super mad. ok I’m not.
DeFY: Good Ol’ Dad lol. Word on the “Internetz” (as Dallas Penn would say) is that, usted habla español and you even hold a degree in Spanish education. What drew you to the language and has it helped your career in anyway? Might we find you hosting a show on MTV’s Tr3’s someday gettin’ down to Omega & Don Omar?
LD: I love languages!!! & different cultures. If I had the time I would learn French next. & then every language in the world after that. I speak Spanish fluently but don’t know if I would ever use it in a full time TV gig since my Spanish accent is very ‘gringa’ (white girl), but I love speaking to anyone I can in Spanish!! I sleep walk a lot and when I lived in South America my friends said I slept talked in Spanish. Spanish is the best.
DeFY: Wepa! How did your career path go from Spanish teacher to host of MTV’s top 10?
LD: I was in college when I got a call from Red Bull HQ in LA one day wondering if I would host shows for them because they had seen my youtube videos. I didn’t quite know what that meant at the time, but it rocked my world and changed my life! It turned my passion and hobby into a career.
DeFY: During your childhood you moved around quite a bit. You went from Africa to Chicago, then to Wisconsin before settling in Minnesota. Do you feel that travel early on in life has better prepared you for your career?
LD: I have a mental list of the most ‘magical’ moments in my mind from traveling. Most of these are sights I have seen. Sometimes when I’m having a bad day or need some inspiration/motivation at work I remember one of them and it takes me to a far away place in my mind and it makes the problem I’m dealing with seem much smaller, and really inspires me!
DeFY: I caught a picture of you and your families “Emo Christmas card” on Twitter (it was so funny and unexpected I almost spit my drink out!). You stated it was your dad’s idea, was this type of creative humor typical in the Dunn household?
LD: Ha! Yes my dad is just like me if not even goofier. We both have crazy ideas. Sometimes he’ll call me and be like… hey Lenay … I have an idea for your show. And then I hear it, and it’s super weird. And then I know for sure I am his daughter lol. Then about a year ago, my mom tried figuring out good times to say ‘that’s what she said’, so that was pretty awesome.
DeFY: American Rag recently named you as there It-girl (Congrats btw!). How did the relationship start?
LD: Why thank you! Macy’s reached out to me and said they knew I loved music & fashion and they loved the way I dressed, and asked if I could represent them and be the new face of their brand. I was like oh my gosh wow thank you so much and YES! (That’s a huge compliment when Macy’s says they like the way you dress!). I was a fan of American Rag already and loved their clothes, so it’s like a partnership made in heaven 🙂 xo
DeFY: How was the celebration at W.I.P.? See anything from the American Rag spring collection 2012 you just had to have?
LD: The launch party in NYC for me being the face of American Rag was so awesome! I didn’t know what to expect but I walked in and my face was wallpapered everywhere, models were posing all around in the Spring collection clothes, and the place was packed! Dia Frampton and Chelsea Leyland among others came to hang out and it was super fun. The dress I wore to the party isn’t even out yet but I had worn it to a photoshoot a few months ago, fell in love, and requested it for the party :p
DeFY: I understand you’ll be blogging about all your experiences as American Rags correspondent interactively on Raggedmag.com. Will readers be able to ask questions and or interact with you through a real time video feed like Ustream at any point (possibly backstage at a live event)?
LD: Yes, I’ll be going to all the summer music festivals (with my video camera of course), and interviewing/blogging from backstage! So I’m kind of like your backstage pass 🙂 I’m always checking my twitter so I always answer fans’ questions on there! I do a live Stickam.com chat online every Friday night 10pm EST from wherever I am (usually at MTV in NYC, or at home in TN). But haven’t tried doing that from a festival yet… not a bad idea though!
DeFY: Always happy to help ;). Is there any one event you’ll be covering for Raggedmag.com that you’re particularly excited about?
LD: I’m going to Lollapalooza Brazil in a few weeks and I’m pumped! I’ve never been to Brazil… or Lollapalooza :p So it’ll be fun. Plus we get body guards so I can’t wait to ask them to tell me their life story on my video camera.
DeFY: Are there any artists/bands/celebs that you’re really looking forward to interviewing?
LD: Mariana’s Trench will be at one of the festivals this summer, they are one of my favorite bands from Canada. The singer Josh Ramsay produced their entire last record himself and had a live orchestra on some parts. So if I get to interview them I’d ask him about that. And about Tim Hortons. I’m also excited to meet everyone else.
DeFY: DeFY. New York is a sneaker heavy site and I’ve read that you ran track in highschool, so I have to ask, what’s your favorite sneaker/brand?
LD: I don’t know if I have a favorite per se, but just bought a new pair of sneakers in Tennessee from New Balance! They are comfy. I tie them to my suitcase so I have them traveling back and forth to NYC. I like to jog in Central Park and get lost.
DeFY: What advice can you give to someone that’s trying to break into television, possibly to host his or her own TV show on a major network one day?
LD: Have fun, be creative, and be different! Growing up people all try to be the same and fit in (like in school), then in the real world everybody realizes it’s cool to be different. Like suddenly in college wearing my cat shirt became cool again. Ok maybe not, but other unique personality traits could be just what a TV show is looking for in someone they cast. So don’t try and be the same as everyone else, because then you won’t stand out.
DeFY: This question is for all the nosey people out there, is there a significant other in the picture?
LD: Yes he’s really hot, he’s from Canada, and his name is Jason :p
DeFY: With everything going on this question may seem far away, but how do you spend your down time?
LD: Scootering, jogging, editing videos, thinking of ideas, writing to-do lists in my notebook, buying new notebooks, watching ‘Modern Family’… drinking tea.
DeFY: Where do you see yourself in five years?
LD: Executive producer of shows that I am on, and that I am not on. Hopefully still at MTV (I love MTV).
DeFY: Are there any other projects in the works?
LD: Yes… ‘MTV Sleepover’!! I helped make a sizzle reel for my friend’s show idea (here: https://vimeo.com/39129213), and helped her pitch it to MTV, and now it’s getting picked up for 1 trial weekend (April 27, April 28th)!! MTV already airs movies on Friday/Saturday nights. So ‘MTV Sleepover’ would be 2 half hour shows cut up around each of the 2 movies on a weekend. I’m hosting it and we have 8-10 girl extras each day, we are all in PJ’s like its a PJ party. It’s kind of like… “Hey you guys are already watching these movies at home having PJ parties so we are going to throw one here at MTV and watch it with you!” Complete with special guests, maybe performances, and Skyping with other people have sleepovers. So everybody watch it and think it’s awesome so it keeps going past the trial weekend :).
DeFY: Where can everyone go to follow everything Lenay Dunn?
LD: Be my friend on twitter!! @lenaydunn
Make sure and check out Lenay’s track “Daylight” below and follow her at RaggedMag.com!