We love that you’re a former Spartan. How did you become the host of CelebTV here in Chicago?

I’ve always wanted to be a sports anchor and reporter. I thought if I was a cheerleader [at Michigan State] that would help me get closer to the action. I would go up to the reporters and ask, “Hey, how did you get your start?” and one day one of them said, “You know, the truck is right outside,” so after a game I went and knocked on the truck of Fox Sports Chicago. The guy gave me his card and I ended up pestering them until I got an internship. That was the year before my senior year in college. I came out here that summer, interned at Fox Sports Net and fell in love with Chicago. Eventually I made my way back here after living in L.A. for a couple of years. I have always just loved Chicago and the vibe here. I thought that I would be coming back for a sports job but it turned out to be entertainment which was a big surprise.

Can you see yourself getting back into sports reporting?

Ideally my dream job would be a crossover, like an ESPN-slash-Hollywood type of deal.

Have you had any awkward moments on camera?

I’ve had some uncomfortable encounters. I had one with Robert Downey Jr. that was really public and really embarrassing. It was on the red carpet here and he was receiving an award with “The Hangover” director [Todd Phillips] and I had asked him a few questions which I thought were great. I was with Giuliana [Rancic] the day before and I was like, “What do you think I should ask? You’ve been in this business longer than me.” But at one point he had said, “Do you have anymore baseless and meaningless questions for me?” It was dead silent and everyone was listening to my interview so he basically humiliated me in front of all the Chicago media. It’s been really hard. I’ve been doing this for five years here now and they didn’t respect CelebTV at first, they looked at us like we were paparazzi so it’s taken me awhile to earn people’s respect and that just knocked me down. He later came back over and said, “I’m so sorry.”

As an entertainment reporter, what are your thoughts on the current Kardashian craze?

Here is why I’m conflicted with the Kardashians, Kim and Khloe are two of the nicest girls I’ve ever met. I’ve hung out with Kim socially a few times and she is so nice. One time I was at a Super Bowl party with her when she was dating Reggie [Bush], she doesn’t drink but I was drinking this like double vodka something and she went to grab her purse and knocked my drink over. She was like, “Kelli, I’m so sorry! Let me get you another!” Genuinely nice and so sweet.

Do you have to be mindful of how you act in public knowing people could recognize you?

With anything I do I imagine my boss being in the same room. There is no time that I’m out where I’m just letting loose unless I’m at someone’s home. You never know who is in the room and everyone knows everyone. I’ll go to the Underground for a fashion show but you won’t see me there after midnight.

Do you have any tricks for looking fresh faced on camera?

There is e3Live. It’s at Whole Foods in the freezer section and you just thaw a little bit every day. You pour it like a shot of wheatgrass, it tastes kind of the same and it’s amazing.

Are you single?

I’m dating someone now and seeing where it’s going. You guys saw me with him a couple of times. I was in a relationship before and now we are still good friends but I learned a lot from that. I learned about the public displays of a relationship in this city and the impact it has when you breakup. I tried online dating for a while after we broke up but that was disastrous. I met the person I am seeing now through mutual friends and he was on eHarmony at the time randomly. I took my profile down after the third, “You look like Kelli Zink!”

What would you consider to be the perfect Chicago date night?

A sporting event, hands down. Or a walk along the lake.

Most important quality you look for in a guy?

Sense of humor.

Do you think you’ll settle down one day?

I want a life partner and a teammate but I do not want to get married, I think it’s ridiculous. I don’t want a wedding. I think it’s the most insane waste of money, waste of time and stress for no reason and all my girlfriends know that. I went to my first wedding shower this year because I’ve always said no in the past. I ended up having a horrible experience because someone said I was dressed inappropriately. Everything that I thought would happen did!

How would you describe dating in Chicago?

Dating in Chicago is very incestuous, everyone knows everyone. It’s impossible to date someone who doesn’t know someone you’ve either dated or are friends with.

Favorite restaurant besides here at Barcito?

I really like going to Hugo’s. It always changes. I love the Bristol, their brunch is amazing. I like simple, good food.

If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?

Matt Lauer. I think he’s so knowledgeable and so succinct and it would be really interesting to see how he is and what he orders to drink.

You can tell a lot about a person by their drink order.

Totally! If he’s like, “I’ll have a cosmo,” I’d be like, “You’re out!”

Photography by Neal Agustin

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