Who is Toronto socialite and reality TV alum Kara Alloway? The answer is more complicated than what can be captured on The Real Housewives Of Toronto.
Kara Alloway came to prominence as one of The Real Housewives of Toronto, a reality series that aired for a single season in 2017. You’ll remember Kara as the person who indisputably became the season’s villain; she was portrayed as a Christian Mean Girl, but just like in actual reality, there’s more to all of us than the stereotypes we’re assigned, and Kara Alloway is no exception.
Despite the name of the franchise that introduced Torontonians to the socialite, it should be noted that Kara Alloway was never just a housewife. That antiquated and reductive term underserves all to whom it is applied, particularly a woman as busy and dynamic as Kara. She’s the privileged woman who wears Hermes bathing suits in Instagram vacation posts, but she’s also a person who volunteers for countless charities; she regularly dines at Toronto’s finest restaurants, but she’s also keenly aware that grocery prices have gotten inaccessibly high for the average Canadian. In short, she’s a real and complex person; she spent years putting her career on the backburner to raise her sons, but she always carved out time to work and volunteer as much as she could. She’s not exactly a bundle of contradictions, but she is complicated.
When I first met Kara over Zoom, she was effervescent and warm. I immediately disclosed that I wrote recaps of RHOT when it aired. And she good-naturedly quipped, “Oh, I’m gonna go and look you up now and see what you said about me.” But while some people (and certainly the rest of the cast) saw Kara as the season’s villain, I assure the Hoggs Hollow resident that I never hated her. In fact, I frequently sided with her. After all, her greatest conflict with the other cast members came when she “judged” them for skinny dipping at her cottage, in front of her children (FYI: you should probably not get naked in front of other people’s minors).
Today, Kara is doing the rounds to promote her new novel, Most Hated (published by RE Books). Most Hated a delicious romp about a fictional reality TV series that chronicles the lives of New York’s most notable women (sound familiar?). And while the book is not a carbon copy of Kara’s time on Real Housewives, she admits the experience was a source of inspiration.
“There’s a little bit of me and every one of the characters,” concedes Kara, whose book includes a colourful group of fictional socialites, including a football wife, a renowned Broadway personality, a retired pop star, and an actress who married a British aristocrat (Yes, we’re all picking up on the Meghan Markle vibes).
While her stint as a reality star may have provided fodder for Most Hated, Kara has been fascinated with the dynamics of female friendship since her time at the defunct Ursuline School, an all-girls’ preparatory institution that used to educate some of Toronto’s well-heeled families.
The girl-on-girl bullying she purports to have witnessed at the school left an indelible impression on young Kara. A graduate of McGill’s English program, Kara always aspired to write a novel one day. After finishing university, she moved to LA, where she first worked as a party planner and then for Allure Magazine. During her salad-eating days in California, Kara rubbed elbows with the glitterati and honed her writing chops. Later, she returned to Toronto to wed prominent lawyer Graham Alloway. Kara describes falling for her husband because he was “so cool compared to, you know, la scene. He was like so refreshing.” Today, they share three grown sons, all of whom have studied – or are currently studying – engineering.
While Kara spent the early years of her kids’ lives as a stay-at-home mom, ferrying them to school and co-curricular activities, she never stopped writing. She recalls finishing freelance articles in her home office at 11 pm: “I would do it after the kids went to bed.” For Kara, a devout Christian, it was vital to raise her children in her faith. To this day, her family attentions The People’s Church in Toronto, which Kara appeciates for its casual vibe. “We wear jeans!” she tells me of church’s sunday services. By the time The Real Housewives of Toronto came calling half a decade ago, Kara was already working to get a reality TV career off the ground – but as a producer. A committed fan of the genre (She talked at excitedly about how well Vanderpump Rules handled Scandoval in our interview), Kara had an idea for a show about the trials and tribulations of high-end event planners. She pitched the concept to the same producers who came back and suggested she should instead be on RHOT.
When she was offered her spot in the Housewives cast, Kara was told it could act “as a sizzle reel” for her event planning series. Although Kara insists she only ever wanted to produce, she thought, “Well, if this is how I have to get it done – going in the side door like this – I’ll get it done.”
The show about event planners never materialized. Instead, RHOT transformed Kara from a stay-at-home mom known in high society Toronto for her philanthropic volunteering to a Louboutin-clad shrew. The season began with Kara complaining about how the cosmetic surgeon husband of fellow housewife Ann Kaplan had botched a procedure she received, resulting in a “face hickey” (a reasonable complaint, if you ask me). But as the show progressed, Kara’s “villain edit” – as unfavourable reality TV portrayals are known – only intensified…
As I mentioned earlier, the other cast members referred to Kara as “so judgmental” when she
took issue with castmate Joan Kelley Walker disrobing at a dinner party. Shockingly, the event
took place in view of Kara’s adolescent sons. For some reason, Kara’s peers didn’t seem to be aware that it is, in fact, not okay to get naked in front of random children. Later, the series also mocked Kara’s volunteer work, casting doubt about to what extent it actually helps children’s charities. As for her sincere faith in God, it felt like the show was playing it for laughs.
By the finale, Kara was the pariah of the cast. Her TV nemesis Roxy Earle went as far as branding Kara “a woman who brings nothing to the table.” Roxy later added, “I don’t want you to ever say my name again.” To make matters worse, the kids at school occasionally mocked Kara’s children for their mother’s turn as a reality star. Some would write the whole experience off as a fiasco.
So, does Kara regret turn as the Cruella De Vil of RHOT? “At the time I regretted it because I was like, have I ruined my children’s lives? Are they going to be ostracized at school? But, my kids are so tough.” Today, Kara is also grateful to RHOT for “the doors that it’s opened for me and the people that I’ve met as a result of that.”
More than six years after the show’s finale, Kara seems to have turned her infamy into a promising career. Most Hated, the novel she dreamt of writing for decades, is now available nation-wide. She’s also producing a new reality show about “extreme foodies” who travel the world in search of delicacies.” While the series has yet to be picked up, Kara’s enthusiasm when she discusses her ideas is palpable.
Whether you like her or not, it’s obvious Kara Alloway is bringing something to the table…