The aspiring singer talks about being the daughter of a legendary athlete, her relationship status, and those other sexy pics.
This feature appears in Complex's August/September 2012 issue.
Social media is a gift and a curse. Paulina Gretzky learned that the hard way last November when she got carried away posting salacious photos on her Twitter account. The eldest daughter of NHL legend Wayne Gretzky soon found her pics plastered all over the ’net and TMZ cameras in her face. The classically trained singer, who’s working on her Universal Records debut, was written off as just another celebrity daughter gone wild. But the 23-year-old Los Angeles native is more than a racy socialite. It’s time for her voice to be heard.
Interview by Paul Cantor (@PaulCantor)
By no means. My dad’s accomplishments are completely different than everything I’ve done with my life and the career path I want to take. What he’s done has only been inspirational for me.
You were young when your dad was playing. Were you even aware of how he was perceived?
I knew what was going on. My parents kept us in a safe environment. Being a child in LA you don’t feel different. You feel very normal. I never felt I was treated differently. Maybe if I had been in Canada while this was all going on it might have been a different story. I live such a down-to-earth life. I’m completely normal. People are amazed by how I present myself. They think I’m gonna be this total brat when I’m not.
Did you spend much time in Canada as a kid?
I did, but it was to see my grandpa and grandma. I spent so much time there when my grandma was alive. Twice a year, big chunks of time, I was in Brantford—never the big city, always on the farm, at my grandpa and grandma’s house.
I should have been more aware. I never had to censor myself before.
Did you play sports growing up?
I did. I played everything, even hockey, but once I turned 13 or 14 I developed a passion for dancing and singing.
People know you from your pictures, but your voice is beautiful, too.
Thank you! People might think this has been easy for me but I’ve been working hard at singing since I was 16. I went to Interlochen [Center for the Arts]. I studied opera. I’ve paid my dues.
How would you describe the music you’ve been working on, the newer stuff?
It’s very pop mainstream. When I first started, I wanted this Avril Lavigne, Gwen Stefani rocker girl vibe, but then I grew up and changed. I have a very raspy voice. My inspiration has always been Stevie Nicks. Hopefully it won’t sound like what everybody else is doing right now, and hopefully people will see the uniqueness in my voice and fall in love with it.
Did it bother you that people have focused more on the Twitter and Instagram pictures and the TMZ video than your singing?
The only reason people are paying attention to that is because of my father. I don’t think they’d care if I was anybody else. I’m a normal 23-year-old. I know attention is part of the career I’ve chosen, but I wish I was presented in a different light. The rumor that my dad made me shut down my Twitter account is completely false. I want people to see that I’m intelligent. I’m not a bimbo. I have an 8-year-old sister. The only thing I want to do is be a role model. I’m not trying to say, “You should follow me, all you girls,” but I want my little sister to respect me and see how much I’ve accomplished. It’s hurtful when this older generation of people that doesn’t really understand me or take the time to get to know me trashes me.
That’s one thing my mother always taught me: You don’t chase men. They’re supposed to fight for you.
The outfit in the TMZ video was crazy though.
I did it to myself that time. I always think I should dress like myself and represent who I am, but I had something in the back of my head telling me that maybe it was not a good idea to wear that outfit to dinner that night. Of course, the next day TMZ said that I was going to nightclubs in lingerie. I wasn’t. I was at a restaurant eating dinner with friends. That’s my biggest problem with it, that people are lying about what I’m doing. But I should have been more aware. I understand that. I just never had to censor myself before.
Still, you looked great and surely got a lot of admirers out of it. Are you single?
I am, but I’m focusing on my music, my career, and my family at the moment.
So you’re saying you’re single but unapproachable. Cool.
[Laughs.] No, I’m not saying that. If you can make me laugh, you can approach me.
We’ll get to work on our stand-up. What are your turn-offs?
Someone who can’t be honest. I feel like there are so many guys out there that are full of crap. Just be honest. If you’re seeing someone or talking to someone else, there’s no reason to string someone else along. Oh, and bad breath. That is a no-no. Other than that, we’re good.
What about Internet dating? Can someone holler at you on Facebook?
I can’t meet people on the Internet. It’s just not real. I can’t connect. People think that you only talk to celebrities on Twitter or whatever. The only reason I would actually respond to a celebrity more so than someone that I didn’t know, is because I know who’s behind the screen. I want to reach out and talk to people and connect with them, but [the anonymity of the Internet] scares me a bit. If I Twitter back at Deadmau5, it’s because I know it’s [Joel Thomas Zimmerman]. Does that make sense?
Totally. It’s more fun and interesting to connect in real life, to have a conversation when you can look at the other person.
That’s another one of my turn-offs: If a guy texts me instead of calling me, it’s done for me. It’s absolutely not gonna happen. I just can’t do texts. If you wanna ask me out, you’re gonna have to call me and ask me like a gentleman. You’re gonna have to be a man about it. There are so many things in this day and age that men don’t do anymore, and a simple phone call is not gonna kill you. That’s one thing my mother always taught me: You don’t chase men. They’re supposed to fight for you. They’re supposed to show you respect.
ADDITIONAL CREDITS: (STYLING) Emma Trask. (HAIR) Stephanie Hobgood. (MAKEUP) Gloria Noto. (CLOTHING) FIRST IMAGE: Jacket by Manish Arora / Bikini Bottoms by Voda Swim / Shoes by Walter Steiger / Bracelets by SOHO Hearts. SECOND IMAGE: Bodysuit by Lublu Kira Plastinina. THIRD IMAGE: Sunglasses by Alexander McQueen. FOURTH IMAGE: Sunglasses by Alexander McQueen / Corset by Manish Arora / Shoes by Walter Steiger.