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INTERVIEW: McKenzie Westmore throws support behind #teamgreyhound

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Photo: McKenzie Westmore recently hosted the new Face Off spinoff, Game Face. Episode one is titled Sy-BORG Showdown. Photo courtesy of Brandon Hickman/Syfy.


McKenzie Westmore, who is descended from Hollywood makeup royalty, has been a common presence on TV networks for a number of years. From her multi-year hosting job on Syfy’s Face Off to her roles on All My Children and Passions, the projects Westmore has been associated with over the years have given her the chance to show off her acting and entertainment skills.

In 2019, there is no slowing down for the daughter of legendary makeup artist Michael Westmore (Raging Bull, Star Trek, Mask). She has joined the cast of The Bay, the successful soap opera that’s now on Amazon Prime Video, and she is part of the New Year’s Day broadcast of the American Kennel Club National Championship Dog Show presented by Royal Canin.

Westmore, a dog owner and dog lover her entire life, has been tasked with promoting and championing the greyhound breed. Thus, her social media has become flooded with messages for #teamgreyhound, all done in celebration of her dog, Asha, a greyhound.

“Well, it’s a huge opportunity, and I feel so honored to be doing this, so grateful that this came along,” Westmore said in a recent phone interview. “I have an Italian greyhound. … I’ve always been a lover of the breed, so it worked out perfectly. They needed somebody for the hound division, and I’m the hound girl. I’m a full-on hound girl.”

Joining Westmore for this celebrity support are TV host Mario Lopez, singer Brett Young, Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, Hallmark Channel host Cameron Mathison, actor Kellan Lutz and Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen.

For Westmore, her duties on #teamgreyhound is the culmination of a life dedicated to dogs.

“When I was little, I remember my mom telling me this story,” she said. “We had this dog, and his name was Max. He was a German shepherd. I’ve always had a very special relationship with dogs. When I was super little, the house was up in levels in the hills of Studio City, and where the play area was there was a big flight of stairs down to where we would park our cars. And Max would actually lay his body across the top of the stairs whenever I was out playing, so that I wouldn’t fall down the stairs. And my mom didn’t realize at first what he was doing until it was happening every single day, and she realized that he was protecting me and making sure that I wouldn’t fall. So I’ve always had a great connection and a great love of dogs, all animals.”

As Westmore grew up and started building her acting career, she would work with local rescue shelters and help out wherever she could. She would often return home from her visit at the shelter with another dog to care for.

“I just kept coming home with dogs,” she said with a laugh. “I was always the bleeding heart. I took the ones that I knew were not going to get adopted, the ones that were injured, the ones that never would find a home ended up in my home, and I remember my family said, ‘You can’t, no more. We have a big yard, but just no more.’ So through the years I’ve always had this love.”

This year’s AKC show will broadcast Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 6 p.m. on Animal Planet. More than $150,000 in prize money will be at stake for the thousands of dogs in the competition. Sportscasters Russ Thaler and Sam Ryan will be in the broadcast booth.

For her contributions, Westmore had full range and freedom to promote greyhounds.

“It was very much the freedom of me speaking about the greyhound and the hound division,” she said. “We all have our own divisions. We’re like the spokesperson for that division, so I really got to sit and talk about my love of greyhounds. I know a lot about them, the history of them, going back to ancient Egypt. They’re one of the oldest breeds of dogs, not the oldest breed of dog. They are the fastest dog in the world. We have an obsession in our home with motorcycles and MotorGP. My husband was a racer. … So we have a collection of motorcycles in our garage, and we always joke that the greyhounds are really the MotorGPs of the dog world. So we’re like, all right, we have some of the fastest bikes in our garage; we need one of the fastest dogs in the world to go with it.”

IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY

It may not be much of a surprise that Westmore has taken to a life in the spotlight. Her family’s history in Hollywood makeup dates back many decades, and she grew up on the sets of Star Trek: The Next Generation and other shows and films.

At first, when trying to decide on a career path, Westmore didn’t know whether she should follow in her parent’s footsteps and become a makeup artist, or whether she should consider becoming an actor. Westmore decided on the latter, but she has never been far from the world of Hollywood makeup: She hosted Face Off, a makeup competition show, for 13 seasons and also has a line of beauty products called Westmore Beauty.

“When I was a teenager, I remember seeing an article on my dad,” she remembered. “They called him the last of the living dinosaurs, basically saying that he was the last one to do it all. Now everything is compartmentalized where you have your designer, you have the person in the lab, you have the person on set. My dad did it all, so when he was doing movies like Raging Bull and Rocky, and then when he transitioned to Star Trek for 18 years, he did everything. He would draw up the aliens. He would be in the lab running the rubber, and then he’d be on set overseeing these makeup artists and even helping with application. So when they called him the last of the living dinosaurs, that broke my heart. I thought I need to do this.”

Westmore started taking makeup classes and even attended school to become a makeup artist. She became immersed in the world of her family’s history, but still …

“I remember going to my dad and saying, ‘Dad, I love our family. I love our history, but this just isn’t where my heart lies,’” she said. “I sing opera. I dance ballet. I act Shakespeare. I really want to be in front of the camera. He said, ‘I don’t know why you’re stressing yourself out. I followed my dream and what I wanted to do. You follow your dream, and your mother and I will support you in anything you want to do.’ And they did. They always supported me in everything that I dreamt of and wanted to be.”

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

The AKC National Championship Dog Show presented by Royal Canin will air Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 6 p.m. on Animal Planet. Audience members can follow McKenzie Westmore’s #teamgreyhound campaign on her social media accounts. Click here for more information.



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