Keeping It Real: Talking Authenticity with Haylie Duff of The Real Girl's Kitchen

Haylie Duff is not just another face that you remember from the silver screen. 

After Haylie began making the transition from the traditional world to producing online content, one key that she made sure to always hold was authenticity and always being herself. Since 2012, she’s been able to share her true self via her blog The Real Girl's Kitchen, her amazing culinary talent, her family, and has invited her fans to get to know the real her. (It wouldn’t be called The Real Girl’s Kitchen for nothing, now would it?) Today, not only is her blog online, but she also has her own cooking show on the Cooking Channel too. Talk about killing it!

As we’re gearing up for Create & Cultivate Dallas this weekend, we caught up with Haylie to learn more about what keeping it real means to her, how her transition from actress to blogger was like, and how she deals with the busy trap as a mom/blogger. Also, make sure to catch her on panel on Style Vibes: How to define your personal brand, manage transparency, and define your voice this Saturday at #CreateCultivateDallas! 

What were some unexpected challenges/surprises transitioning from on stage/in front of a camera to online? 

I didn't really find them all that different! Technically you are still "on camera,” even if it is online. The level at which people are producing online content continues to surprise me though! I am constantly impressed and inspired. 

You started your career playing other people, but as a blogger you have to play (AKA BE) yourself. Was that transition scary? 

I guess it was, yeah. I tried to not give it too much thought. I tried to just be as genuine as possible and just have fun! I feel like if you are having fun, people will tend to want to jump on the bandwagon. Who doesn't like to have a good time, y’know?!

How do you manifest authenticity and get that across to your readers? 

This is one of those tricky things. I have been told many times that "I'm exactly the same person IN PERSON as I am on TV,” and this always kinda blows my mind. It is meant to be a compliment, and it's flattering, but I find this funny. How can you be a TV personality (as yourself) and not be yourself? I can only attribute this to all of us watching too much reality television. I can remember my first acting teacher telling me not to watch anything I was in because I would become "aware" of myself. With so many ways to watch ourselves, this seems unavoidable now. But I do believe that viewers can smell the fakers. I really do. They aren't dumb and they don't like to be lied to. Being yourself, flaws and all is always the best approach. 

"Viewers can smell the fakers. Being yourself, flaws and all is always the best approach."

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Your favorite moment as female entrepreneur? 

Joining the Create & Cultivate crew is certainly a moment I am looking forward to! I love what C&C is doing by connecting so many talented and successful women, and I’m very excited to be included! My favorite female entrepreneur moment happened last year when I filmed the 2nd season of The Real Girl's Kitchen and then a Summer Special for Cooking Channel all while I was very pregnant with my daughter. I felt like I was really killing it! 

What kind of example do you hope to set for your daughter? 

This is something I think about all the time. I hope to show her that she can be anything she wants. That she can have a career and a happy home life. She can be a mother, have a job that she is proud of, and be a good partner to someone. I hope to show her that her life is always more important than her work. That her girlfriends will be the ones standing there if everything crumbles, so take care of them, and I hope I show her that she needs to be good to her mother in her old age!

What is it about the brand that you think resonates so well with such a wide span of women? 

My recipes are simple, that's a big one! We are all juggling jobs, families and social one has time for 100 ingredients! 

What are some ways that you keep it “real?” 

I think I keep it "real" by being all about balance. My producing partner calls my food style “healthy decadence,” I really believe that no one can live on a diet all year long, but I fully support a healthy lifestyle and love to eat healthy. So my outlook tends to be make good choices (most of the time), but keep it real by having that naughty pasta or dessert every once in awhile. You only live once. 

How do you handle the mom-work balance? 

I'm not sure to be honest. I start shooting a new show for Cooking Channel in March, so we’ll see! I’ve been able to stay home with my daughter Ryan quite a bit these last few months and have truly cherished this sweet time. My plan of attack is to be as present as I can with her on my days off, thank my mother 1,000 times a day for helping, and hopefully be home by bath time. 

When you’ve had a crazy day, what is your go-to, knock it out of the park recipe? 

Chili! I make Turkey chili with veggies all the time. It’s healthy, and so easy to keep in the refrigerator. Can't beat it.

What do you do when you have downtime? 

18 months ago, the answer to this question would have been VERY different! Haha! Most of my downtime is spent with my family...or a girls night out for margaritas or a good book. 

How many hours of sleep do you need? Do you know what sleep is anymore? Need? 

I mean, a whole weekend would be nice! Any mother that has nursed a baby will tell you that you learn to function on very little sleep! Once Ryan started sleeping through the night my whole life changed though! I try to get about eight hours a night. I was never good at the "nap when the baby naps" thing, so I try to go to bed shortly after she does at night. 

What’s next? Another book? 

I really want to do another cookbook, but next will be my new show with Cooking Channel.

Priscilla Castro

Director of Social Media at Create & Cultivate