Chantel Simmons is the Hair Editor of The Kit and a beauty expert on The Marilyn Denis Show. After graduating from Ryerson’s Journalism program, she got a gig proofreading at the Toronto Sun, and quickly learned that accompanying the male photographers on the Sunshine Girl shoots at Cherry Beach paid better than finding typos in the paper. It was then she realized she must really like words.
She has worked at ELLE Canada, TV Guide, Elevate and Sweetspot.ca and has written for FASHION, Best Health, MoneySense, Maclean’s, FoodNetwork.com, WNetwork.com and HGTV.ca. She’s also the author of two bestselling novels, and teaches magazine writing and editing at Centennial College in Toronto.
All this is just a front for the fact she’s a stage mom to her cat, Mr. Baz, who has appeared in exactly one film, but has a whole wardrobe of costumes in case he gets a call from George Clooney.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I always wanted to be a writer and I’ve always been a magazine junkie (isn’t that what the space under beds is actually for?). So when I discovered I could marry the two – and never have to buy another mascara – I was sold. Though when I was five I was sure I was going to be a cashier. I could really man a plastic till back in the day.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Say yes to every opportunity (within reason). You never know where it will lead.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? (i.e.: what do you read/listen/watch?)
The Grid, The National Post, The Globe & Mail, Marie-Claire, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Ted Talks. And for real news, TheBloggess.com and Dear Sugar’s advice column on TheRumpus.net.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Hilary Duff. It was a phoner, and every question I’d ask her, she’d repeat to her publicist (who was clearly sitting beside her in the car). The publicist would then tell her what to say and she’d repeat it to me. I felt like saying, “Why don’t you pass the phone to your publicist and we can get this over with quicker.” In fairness, she was really young at the time.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s never too late to be what you might have been.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Success is 99 percent hard work and 1 percent luck. And always pack a sweater.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros:
Include prices in the press release. It saves us both another round of emails.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Too many to mention, but a few things that make me love certain PR reps on a daily basis: knowing the magazine they’re pitching, coming to the rescue within minutes to help me meet a deadline, and being understanding that sometimes, things get cut. It’s not the product, it’s just life. (Okay, sometimes it’s the product.)
Best place on earth?
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Pool or ocean?
Voicemail or email?