Sen. Hillary Clinton isn’t the only woman campaigning for votes. Talia Russo needs your support too only her destination isn’t the White House, it’s the Playboy Mansion.

“I’ve always wanted to be a Playmate, and I’m going to try my hardest to make my dreams come true,” says Russo, 28.

The actress/model befriended Hugh Hefner during a brief stay in Los Angeles last month. In town to promote The Dead Sleep Easy, a low-budget action flick, Russo told her friend it’d be a dream to meet the Playboy tycoon. Her friend then placed a call to actor Dick Van Patten’s son, Jimmy and voila — the golden gates parted.


“The biggest misconception (is that) everyone is always naked at the mansion. It wasn’t like that at all,” says Russo. “Everyone was very civil and Hefner was very chilled. He is 82, so not a party animal as we all would think.”

And no, he didn’t make any moves on Russo, but he did offer this word of advice: “You never know until you try.” That’s what fellow Torontonian, Jayde Nicole did, after all, and she wound up being this year’s Playmate of the Year, the second Canadian to win that title.

“She’s a smart business girl and knows how to promote herself,” says Russo, who met Nicole during last week’s autograph-signing blitz.

It’s one step at a time, however, which is why Russo is gunning for Miss January 2009 Playmate. 2009 is particularly special for it marks Playboy’s 55th Anniversary.

Russo’s bid is posted on People are asked to vote for their favourite Playmate after viewing the non-nude two-minute video submissions. The Top 3 gals win a trip to L.A. for a mansion tour, test shoot and interview. The winner struts away with $25,000 along with all the glitzy privileges the mansion affords, not to mention a career-boosting dose of publicity.

For Russo, the last perk is the most alluring. “My favourite Playboy model, though never titled a Playmate, is Carmen Electra. I love what she did with the exposure,” explains Russo referring to Electra’s ability to mount a successful showbiz career. Wait, there’s also Pamela Anderson and Shannon Tweed, but let’s not lose focus here.

Russo has been working in the business for nine years. She’s trained with Second City, Equity Showcase and danced with Electric Circus. This August, she appears in the The Rocker, a big studio film directed by Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty) starring Rainn Wilson (The Office).

Commendable accomplishments considering Russo is self-represented. “I’m naturally a self-promoter. I can sell anything.” That includes the dream. “Life is short and I learned that the hard way from my father. He died (of cancer) when I was seven. I grew up believing in living life to the fullest and that anything’s possible.”