From shooting a demo reel to exchanging vows on a loading dock

TV host Jessi Cruickshank on sharing her first date with Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz

Etalk reporter, Canada’s Smartest Person host and former Midtowner Jessi Cruickshank on a cross-border romance with her film editor husband, Evan Gatica, and how he helped kick off her career.

How they met
MTV was holding a nationwide search for hosts, and the deadline for video submissions was looming. I was determined to put together a tape, so I called my dad who had a friend with a production company in New York. I landed in New York and went straight to their offices to ask for help. I knocked on the door, nervous, sweaty and fully expecting some slick old man smoking a cigar to open the door. Instead it was Evan. He was young, tall, handsome and a film editor there. Somehow I convinced them to let me borrow a camera for an hour to shoot my reel in Times Square. Even more miraculous, Evan agreed to stay late on a Friday night to edit it with me. We laughed together for hours combing through the footage and putting that tape together. I sent the video off that Monday and got the job at MTV a few months later. I like to think I’ve been repaying Evan ever since.

The first date
When I got the job at MTV, I went back to his office to bring him a gift. I got him a $10 iTunes gift card. Yep, it was the worst gift of all time, but he pretended to like it and casually asked me if I wanted to grab dinner. He took me to a cool little restaurant in the Lower East Side where Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake were quietly eating in the corner.

The first few years
I was working full-time at MTV in North Toronto, and Evan was becoming a successful film editor in New York, so we decided to stay “friends”for the first two years of our relationship. I would visit him; he would visit me; and we genuinely developed a strong friendship before we made anything official.

The proposal
Evan had a whole plan to propose to me in the little New York restaurant where we had our first date. I was shooting a show, and I was supposed to meet him in New York before we went to join my family for Christmas. Of course, my shoot went long. I had to cancel the trip, and Evan had to scramble to rework his proposal plan. He decided to propose to me on Christmas morning in front of my entire family. It was an incredibly moving and beautiful proposal. My entire family was crying with joy. I was crying in part because I was fresh out of bed wearing neon polka-dot pyjamas and a dirty hoodie.

The wedding
When we first set foot in Big Daddy’s Antiques, a jaw-dropping warehouse in Los Angeles filled with stunning vintage furniture and old light up signs, we begged them to let us use the space for our wedding. We had our ceremony on the loading dock, and our reception in the warehouse, with guests seated amid hundreds of incredible old antiques. We had five days between our wedding and my first shoot day on Canada’s Smartest Person, so we did a quick trip to Maui and Kauai!

Their lives now
We moved to L.A., but I still film two shows in Toronto. Being apart for months is not easy. He has spent some long days on set with me at the CBC, and we try to go on one big trip together each year. We just spent a month in Brazil and Argentina.