When Marie Claire’s new reality show, Running in Heels, premiered on the Style Network on Sunday, March 1, the magazine’s senior shopping editor, 29-year-old Zoe Glassner, watched herself on the flat-screen TVs at t.b.d., her neighborhood bar in Greenpoint, with about 20 of her closest friends. A bartender named Chelsea let the group rearrange the furniture, and another friend made red sugar cookies in the shape of high heels. Most of the guests drank beer, while Ms. Glassner downed three Shirley Temples. (She’s not a big drinker.)
“All my friends were like, ‘Oh my God, this is so hilarious, but it’s so you!’” Ms. Glassner told the Daily Transom on Monday.
Every reality show has its unexpected breakout star—Ms. Glassner’s new boss, fashion director Nina Garcia (whose arrival at Marie Claire is breathlessly chronicled in the first episode), is arguably as recognizable these days as her Project Runway co-star Heidi Klum. And the adorable Ms. Glassner, with her charmingly unkempt curls, crocheted dress, and Brooklyn ZIP code, has already upstaged the other fashion editors, whose dramatic hair (peroxide blonde, flat-ironed) and outfits (stilettos, leather) seemed almost boringly predictable.
As intern coordinator, Ms. Glassner is welcoming but stern with the interns, telling them, “No speaking unless spoken to — these are people who are paid for their opinion. Your opinion is not valuable to them unless they’ve solicited it.” Later in the episode, she gives out assignments and tells Ashley, an intern from D.C., that Ashley will be assisting her while another intern gets to work with editor in chief Joanna Coles and Ms. Garcia. Ashley quickly retaliates, pouting sarcastically to the camera, “I get to work with Zoe” and motions with her hand just how low Ms. Glassner is on the power scale compared to Ms. Coles.
Seeing this, Ms. Glassner’s friends at the bar uttered a collective gasp.
“I was so surprised by Ashley’s underhandedness. I had no idea she hated working with me so much,” said Ms. Glassner. “My feelings were really hurt, I have to admit.” (The season has finished filming, but Ms. Glassner still has to see Ashley since she now lives a few blocks away with Jeremy Spears, senior fashion editor Zanna Roberts’ assistant.)
But Ms. Glassner had a bad feeling about Ashley from the beginning.
“When I first met Ashley, I thought she was a nice kid,” she said. “But she told me that she didn’t like dogs and I remember saying to Ben [Goldstein, a photographer], ‘Dude, she doesn’t like dogs!’ And he goes, ‘We cannot trust her!’”
Despite being insulted by an overly entitled intern, Ms. Glassner thought the first episode was quite entertaining. “I kept thinking while watching it, ‘Would I feel compelled by this?’” she said. “And I decided that I think I would!”
Ms. Glassner has been at the magazine for eight years—she started as a receptionist—and seemed like a natural choice for a character on the show about the magazine. But she admitted that she was unsure about the prospect of appearing on a reality show.
“I’m actually a really shy person, but Joanna just said ‘You’re going to be great!’ So I was like, ‘Okay!’ But I was definitely frightened,” she said. “I just saw it as part of my job. Reality TV is just part of our culture now. It’s part of the evolving media.”
Based on the first episode, Ms. Glassner felt she was fairly represented. “It was important to me to act as normal as possible,” she said. “You can’t control what other people say, but you can control what you say on camera, so I tried to just be honest.”
But Ms. Glassner said she soon became more comfortable with having cameras around. “By third or fourth episode I even stopped wearing concealer!” she said.