Media, Darling: Sharlene Chiu

Sharlene Chiu was born in Vancouver and graduated from Ryerson University’s Radio and Television Arts program in 2005. Before starting MTV News Canada, Chiu helped launch MTV
in Canada in 2006, and worked behind-the-scenes as a segment producer for MTV
Live
. This included producing a music segment that ran on the show called On
the Radar
, where she established an exceptional reputation for selecting
and featuring new independent bands. 

Chiu introduced MTV News to Canada as a weekly segment
on the original hour long version of MTV Live. The regular segment featured
her traveling around the world reporting on music trends and covering
festivals such as SXSW, Austin City Limits, Osheaga, V Festival, and T in the
Park. This included over 250 honest and entertaining interviews with a wide range of artists, including
Coldplay, Rihanna, Kings of Leon,
Cee Lo Green, Vampire Weekend, Mumford & Sons, Phoenix and Feist.  

After winning the 2009 Travel Journalism Award presented by
VisitBritain for Best in Broadcast for her special, MTV News Pounds Britain,
Chiu created SHARLENE VS., an MTV News music travel series that takes
viewers beyond where the tourists go. In each city, Chiu meets artists of all kinds who take her under their helm, showing off unique, off-the-beaten-track spots that are special to them.

Photo credit: MTV Canada
Twitter: @sharlenechiu
Website: news.mtv.ca

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers
were on the horizon?
I
had always wanted to do music journalism on television when I was growing up.
If I didn’t go for that dream job, I would have gone into photography, which
was also a huge passion of mine as a kid.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
Five
years from now, I hope I have my own production company creating badass TV
shows internationally in the food and travel realm.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Patience
and perseverance!

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I’ve
been obsessed with Nowness.com since its inception 3 years ago – they feature
the brightest, most innovative artists in fashion, food, music, film, and art
in wonderfully written articles and beautifully shot film forms. I also love
watching the video segments on Vice like “Munchies.”

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Cat
Power in 2008. This was just after she had released the album, “Jukebox,” and
had gone through a rather public hospitalization/breakdown. She’s one of my
favorite music artists ever and I remember how easy this interview went. We
chatted for about half an hour and she was incredibly sweet and candid about her
childhood and her struggles with alcohol and performing live. The
press/interview grind can get monotonous, so it’s rare you get someone who’s so
open, genuine, and unrehearsed.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
From
my mom: “Work hard and never give up!”

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Follow
your instincts and (this one’s a hard one) try not to worry.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Know
who you are reaching out to and make the pitch personal. For example, certain
publicists know I’m a sucker for knowing what’s new in music, fashion, food,
film, and travel so when something comes up in those areas, I get a personal
email with a simple “heads up, you’re gonna love this…” I see so many generic press
releases so this helps to grab my attention.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about
#wins.
I
was at an event where manicures were being offered so of course I indulged and
while my nails were getting painted, I was telling the nail artist what a horrible
time I was having with my lips cracking and peeling out of nowhere. The
loveliest PR pro was sitting beside me and told me about a product that helped
her with her lips. The next day, I got a package with the said product and a
note saying how fun it was to hang out and that she hopes that the product
helps like it did for her. It was so unexpected and memorable.

I hate?
Liars.

I love?
Laughing.

Reading?
Cook
books.

Best place on earth?
My
bed.

Hero?
My
parents.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Instagram.

Pool or ocean?
Ocean.

Voicemail or email?
Email.

Media, Darling: Hannah Yakobi

Hannah Yakobi is an award-winning journalist and communications specialist.
Throughout her career, she has written for the
National Post, OK! Magazine,
Canwest newspaper network and dozens of publications worldwide. She is
currently the editor-in-chief of
FAJO Magazine, an international publication with staff in
Canada, U.S., U.K. and Italy.


Over the past decade, Yakobi has interviewed and photographed many fashion
and entertainment icons, including John Fluevog, Mariah Carey, Jeanne Beker,
Enrique Iglesias, Deepak Chopra, Catherine Malandrino, Paul Venoit and Bryan Adams. A graduate of Carleton University‘s renowned school of journalism,
Yakobi speaks four languages and has lived in five countries. In her free time,
she enjoys raising awareness and funds for various Canadian and international
charities.



Dress by David Dixon. Photography
by Robin Gartner for FAJO Magazine.



Twitter: @FajoMagazine,
@HannahYakobi

Web: www.fajomagazine.com 



Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on
the horizon? 

My career trajectory was somewhat unpredictable: I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I was very young (who didn’t?), for many years I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer (I even took some courses)
and later I briefly thought psychology was the field for me. But then, at 18, I became a
reporter and have never looked back. 


Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d like to continue to do exactly what I’m
doing now, but on an even larger scale.


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
You need to be hard-working and dedicated. Some
people have an expectation that fashion is all about glamour and fabulous
parties – it certainly does have that, but in order to stay in this industry
for a long time, you need to earn it. Expect long hours and plenty of stress.
When you start, say “yes” to almost everything. And never be rude to anyone –
it’s a small industry and the word about bad behaviour travels fast. 


What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I grew up reading Harper’s Bazaar, so that
publication has always had a very special place in my heart. And I love the
British edition of Glamour, the small, mini-size version – I’ve been reading it
for years.


Best interview you’ve ever had?
Dominique Szabo, Senior Vice-President of Estee
Lauder. She was remarkable on every level.


Worst?
This is a hard question. I’ve had some
interviews that didn’t start on a good note. But almost always, after chatting
with each other, the interviewee and I were able to get the conversation
flowing.



Many of my friends who are also journalists
frequently tell me crazy stories about some of their interviews. I think I have
been lucky to never experience that. At least – not yet.   


Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“University education is very important” is what
my grandfather always used to say. When I got my degree, I understood the value
of those words.


What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Hard work pays off. 

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Do the research before you contact media folks.
If someone says they are not interested in a pitch, do not pressure them.
Maintain relationships with people. 


Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
The folks at National PR. They are quite
amazing.


I hate?
Cold weather, pretentious behaviour,
unprofessionalism. 


I love?
Charity work, hosting parties, travel and
getting my hair done. 


Reading?
About to re-read Life of Pi. Just saw the movie
in December and loved it, so decided to read the book again.  


Best place on earth?
Barcelona, Spain.

Dinner guest?
Valentino Garavani. I have great respect for
that man. 


Hero?
My mother. She is an incredible woman, who has
dedicated her life to my sister and I. She has had quite a spectacular career,
and always has incredible business ideas. 


Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Instagram.

Pool or ocean?
Can I say “the sea”? Mediterranean sea!

Voicemail or email?
If you want to chat, I’m on my phone. If you
want a response right away and it has to do with business, email is where you
can find me.

Media, Darling: Malcolm Johnston

Malcolm Johnston is the front of book editor at Toronto Life magazine. His work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, the Globe and Mail, National Post and more.  



Twitter: @malcjohnston
Website: torontolife.com


Did you always want
to be in the media?
No,
but I suppose I was always decent at putting words together on paper (there’s
gotta be a better way to say that) and eventually realized it was a natural fit.
Along the way I was a sports-camp counsellor and a house painter, taught some
ladies in Burlington how to throw a Frisbee for their dogs – for which I pocketed
a cool, tax-free $60 – contemplated law school and wrote an anti-money laundering
textbook for bank employees.


Where would you like to be five years from now?

Same place and job, but with more abbreviations after my name.

Any advice for people
getting started in your industry?
Suppress
the urge to create a personal brand. You’ll look silly. Just produce great work
and everything will be fine.

What are your
favourite media outlets, not including your own?

Best interview you’ve
ever had?
Recently?
TSN SportsCentre anchor Jay Onrait was pretty cool. We consumed numerous
“brewskis” at his local in Kensington and blabbed for a couple of hours. Very nice
guy and highly candid, which is key. Other notables: Malin Akerman.

Worst?
Scott Speedman,
TIFF 2010. He was perfectly polite; I was unprepared. Never again.

Best advice you’ve
ever been given?
“It
takes all types in this world” – my parents.

What rule(s) do you
live your life by?
Don’t
act like you’re irreplaceable.

What’s the most
important tip you can give PR pros?
For
the love of Christmas, read the publication before you pitch to it.

Best experience
you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
It’s
hit and miss. Those who aren’t control freaks / habitual hoverers are infinitely
preferred.


I hate?
Sloth—the
habit. On the animal, I’m neutral.


I love?

Baseball, coffee.

Reading?
That
too!


Best place on earth?
Laurentian
Mountains, Quebec.

Dinner guest?
My
friend Lowell.

Hero?
My
pops. He’s a gentleman, a battler and very intelligent. Ma ain’t so bad,
neither.

Favourite app (or
whatever you are downloading these days)?
theScore
Mobile; AnkiDroid, a French language app.


Pool or ocean?

Both beat winter in Canada. If I were forced at gunpoint to choose…that
would be a very bizarre scenario. Ocean!

Voicemail or email?
If
it’s a spicy scoop and you don’t want to write it down, call, and quick!
Otherwise, email, please and thanks.

Media, Darling: Liem Vu

Liem Vu is the news/social media host of The Morning Show on Global. Before landing his current hosting gig, his passion for storytelling has brought him to the front lines of breaking news. He has written for the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and hosted a series of features for MTV News, focusing on issues like suicide and the radicalization of Somali-Canadian youth.



During the G20 summit in Toronto, Vu was detained by riot police in the Queen St. ‘kettle’ while shooting a video report for the PostPrior to his career as a journalist, he moonlighted as the lead singer of a barbershop quartet called ‘The TemptAsians,’ performing at weddings. 

Image courtesy of The Morning Show on Global.



Twitter: @liemvu
Website: morningshow.ca 


Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon?

I always knew I wanted to do something related
to storytelling. In high school I wrote for the student newspaper, which helped
me push through my undergraduate and graduate studies. It didn’t matter if it
was print, broadcast, or radio, I was satisfied as long as I was able to tell
someone’s story well.

Where would you like to be five years from
now?

Hopefully, I’ll still be working in
television! There are so many creative opportunities in the TV world that I
don’t think I’ll ever get bored. I honestly haven’t even thought that far ahead.
With the launch of
The Morning Show across Canada, I’m focused on
coming up with new ways to tell different stories that resonate with viewers
across the country.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?

Intern. Intern. Intern. I know the financial
reality of being an unpaid intern may not be that appealing, however it’s the
best way to cut your teeth in the media world. People say you should actively
network and shake hands, but I have a different view on things. You shouldn’t pre-occupy yourself with “networking.” Yes, it’s important, but the key is to do
good work. Doing good work will get you noticed, not just schmoozing. Trust me…I
was a shy 240-pound guy seven years ago…
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? 

Full disclosure: I love the Oprah Winfrey
Network. Next Chapter and Master Class are such inspirational shows. The
types of interviews she conducts inspire me to pick up my journalistic game on a
weekly basis.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
It was a series of interviews I did for MTV
News about Somali-Canadian youth in Toronto’s Little Mogadishu neighbourhood.
Since 2005, over 30 young Somali-Canadians died because of violence and at least
another 30 were recruited by a terrorist group called Al-Shabab. I had the
opportunity to interview a man who spent six months in the extremist group along
with young men who had lost their friends. It was an eye-opening experience that
I’ll never forget.
Worst?
There are always bad interviews, but you just
got to roll with it.
Best advice you’ve ever been
given?

Treat others how you want to be treated, and be
humble.
What rule(s) do you live your life
by?

Sleep. Nap. Exercise. It’s the only way you
can survive the early morning TV grind!
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?

Be willing to discuss the direction of an
interview/segment. As Vanilla Ice once said: Stop, Collaborate, and Listen.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.

Working with High Road Communications for my
inside look at Facebook Canada HQ. And working with APEX PR for my feature on
Google Canada. Both pieces turned out amazing, thanks to their patience and
willingness to give me access to these unique office spaces.
I hate?
Stepping on gum.
I love?
Spinning. For real.
Reading?
Toronto Life. Esquire. The Walrus. Daily
newspapers.
Best place on earth?
Canada!
Dinner guest?
Mark Zuckerberg. That man fascinates me…
Hero?
My parents. They risked their lives by
escaping the Vietnam war just so I could have better opportunities. I will be
forever grateful.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?

Instagram
Pool or ocean?
Ocean.
Voicemail or email?
Email. I always forget to check
voicemail.

Media, Darling: Briony Smith

Briony Smith is the writer and stylist
behind
The Grid’s fashion page. She was previously the fashion editor of
blogTO. Briony has also contributed to publications like ELLE Canada, LOULOU, Toronto
Life
, and glow. She recently appeared as a stylist on MuchMusic, and was named
by
Flare magazine as one of the Top 10 Best Dressed denizens of Fashion Week.


Photo courtesy of Flare, by Max Kopanygin.

Twitter: @TheGridTO
Website: thegridto.com 


Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I still remember the day my dad told my
10-year-old self what a masthead was—and my immediate obsession with getting on
one someday! (Other careers I toyed with, believe it or not, were cop,
obstetrician, lawyer, and librarian.)
Where would you like to be five years from
now?
Writing, editing, and styling stories and
packages that make people say to their friends, “Hey, I read the best piece
today.”
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Don’t. You will have to work ten times as
hard as everyone else, all the time. Forever. If you can handle that, and still
feel that passion for fashion, journalism, the arts? You’re in the right place.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? 
Vanity Fair, HBO, The A.V. Club, The New
York Times
, iwantapounddog.blogspot.ca.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
For crush factor (at the time), Will
Arnett. I behaved in a terribly unprofessional manner when I conned him into
repeating a line from a treasured Human Giant sketch.
Worst?
One musician scheduled a phoner immediately
after his dental surgery, while another actress scheduled the call during her
brief limo ride to the airport and kept barking what I should and should not
focus on in the piece. Oh, and Hawksley Workman.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
A common refrain in the Smith household was
“Life isn’t fair.” My corollary to that might be: “Failure isn’t falling
down—it’s not getting up.” Jesus, that sounds like something on one of those
inspirational posters. This quote from U.S. congresswoman Debbie Wasserman in
last October’s Vogue did, however, strike me recently: “I might not convince
you that I’m right, and I might not always win the day or be successful on
everything I set out to accomplish. But I’m never going to lose because I got
outworked.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
The usual things: Try to be kind. Smile
more. Work hard. Dress well. It’s the little things. This, too, shall pass.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
We know our fevered, last-minute emails
for products, images, and interview requests can be annoying, but super-prompt
replies are what make me really love some PR people—and loathe others.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
I cheer every time a PR gal sends me a
high-res, off-figure, on-white image just in the nick of time.
I hate?
Leggings as pants. Snobbery. Getting up
early. Sore feet. Bad TV. Bad style.
I love?
French 75s. Kindness. My friends. Work
ethic. Similes that give you chills. Trinity-Bellwoods. Great style. A
well-dressed man.
Reading?
Best place on earth?
Under the covers. Or maybe Thailand.
Dinner guest?
Louis CK. Karl Lagerfeld. Peter Kaplan. And
the Davids: Chase, Milch, and Simon.
Hero?
Roger Ebert.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
Flixster, Shazam, and Instagram.
Pool or ocean?
The sea! It’s one of the great loves of my
life. (Full disclosure: I’m from B.C.)
Voicemail or email?
Email. Never, ever voicemail. Don’t call
me. Ever.


Media, Darling: Jen Wilson

Jennifer Wilson is the technology and video games editor
at the Toronto Star. When she doesn’t have her nose in her iPhone, she can be
found hitting the sidewalks for a run, shoe shopping or settling in for a good
brunch with friends.





Twitter: @jenwilsonto @torontostar
Website: thestar.com 

Did you
always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
Two left feet meant that my little girl dream of
becoming a ballerina was out of the question – but I wanted to be a writer from
about the age of seven. Working for a newspaper was my first (and only!) real
career dream.
        
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Hopefully no longer working the weekend
shift! But seriously, hopefully I’ll be in a position where I still get to
inform and entertain readers – and both write and edit.
Any advice for people
getting started in your industry?
Be flexible. When I started out, I thought the only
journalism that was interesting was coming from Parliament Hill. But I also had
student loans, so when I got the chance to edit real estate and home décor, I
took it. And I don’t regret it one bit. While it wasn’t my dream job, I learned
to love it, and it gave me the experience I needed to write and edit content a
little closer to my heart. Plus, I’m now a pro at spotting Ikea furniture with
potential — and think I’ve got a pretty sweet Scandinavian inspired condo as a
result.
What
are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
New York Times, the BBC, the CBC and the Globe and Mail. I also rely on 680 News for breaking alerts and content shared
by friends on Facebook, Twitter and even by good old fashioned email.
Best
interview you’ve ever had?
The most surprising was when I interviewed Vanilla Ice about his home renovation TV show. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I
hadn’t anticipated him having stitches from an ice dancing TV show! He was so
genuine and down to earth in person – the time just flew by.
Worst?
I was sick and hadn’t prepared as much
as I would have liked for a company profile, and the person I was interviewing
was rather nervous. There weren’t many usable quotes from the conversation, and
I had to follow up by email.
Best advice you’ve ever
been given?
  You can
do anything if you put your mind to it. And, it’s only hair – it will grow back.
What rule(s) do you live
your life by?
Say yes. What’s the worst thing that
could happen?
What’s the most important
tip you can give PR pros?
Don’t send me an email with a billion
attachments. Inbox storage is always maxed out – especially around the holidays
– and big files are the first to go when I need to unlock my messages to
send/receive more pressing emails.
Best experience you’ve had
with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
It’s hard to name just one! But there’s
nothing that makes life easier than when you require a very specific source for
a story and the PR pro already anticipated it and made them available.
I
hate?
Accepting that I have limits and am unable to do
something.
I love?
High heels, hockey, long runs and good food. And, of
course, my family and friends.
Reading?
Constantly! In addition to the latest news, I love
picking up magazines and the latest buzz-worthy novels, as well as works of
non-fiction.
Best place on earth?
My parent’s house on Christmas Eve, when
it’s filled with family, friends and all my favourite food.
Dinner
guest?
That’s a tough one. Having just been the holidays, I’m going to go the sappy route and say my best friends and family over a
massive meal, with a good selection of desserts.
Hero?
I’ve been lucky to have many strong women who have
inspired me, including my mother and my grandmothers. On a broader scale, I’ve always admired Amelia Earhart’s adventurous streak – I feel like she was the
kind of woman who would, perhaps somewhat stubbornly, tackle any challenge
head-on.
Favourite app (or whatever
you are downloading these days)?
I’m still giddy over getting Google Maps
back on my iPhone. I have a terrible sense of direction and was, quite
literally, lost without it.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean, hands down. I’m a Nova Scotia
girl, and nothing compares to the salt air, the waves and the surf.
Voicemail
or email?
Always email. I always have my
smartphone in hand and am always on top of my inboxes. I’m way more likely to
reply to an email than pick up a phone call at any given moment.

Media Darling: Alexander Liang

Alexander Liang is an entrepreneur,
stylist and Editor-in-Chief of KENTON magazine. Originally from Vancouver, he broke into the New York scene graduating from Parsons School of
Design and cut his teeth in the fashion editorial world at Details
magazine, T: The New York Times Style Magazine and Mochi Magazine.  Also bringing in previous experience in fashion PR,
Alexander created
KENTON magazine on the basis of bridging the gap between the
commercial and avant-garde publications currently available to North
American consumers. 



Twitter: @kentonmagazine
Did you always want to be in
the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
No not at all.
As a child, I wanted to be everything from a farmer to an architect. When I
decided that I wanted to work in fashion, my first goal was to open the next
big fast fashion store. Later, things changed and I wanted to work in
advertising. That soon changed to PR and marketing, which then led to editorial
and media. I think I’ll stick with that for a while now, ha!
Where would you like to be
five years from now?
Five years from now, I hope to be doing even more in my current
role, with greater impact on the industry. I also hope that my business
continues to develop and reach new, still unknown successes.


Any advice for people getting
started in your industry?
Make sure you are passionate about what you’re doing. Set goals,
follow them and be professional. Work hard and try to learn as much as you can,
wherever life takes you. 

What are your favourite media
outlets, not including your own?
I get my news from a lot of different sources, but I enjoy
reading
WWD and The New York Times.
Best interview you’ve ever
had?
The best interview I’ve had was with celebrity stylist June Ambrose 
Best interview we’ve had in KENTON was with Joe Jonas.

Worst?
To me, a bad interview would be one where conversation isn’t
flowing freely. Luckily, I haven’t run into any situations that I found to be
that difficult!

Best advice you’ve ever been
given?
Be nice to everyone, because you never know where they came from
or where they’re going. For example, your current intern could become your
future boss.

What rule(s) do you live your
life by?

Seize the day.
What’s the most important tip
you can give PR pros?
Know who you’re pitching to and make sure your pitch is relevant
to them.


Best experience you’ve had
with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
My favorite publicists acknowledge the coverage we give their clients,
and show appreciation and support back to us. It can even be something as
simple as making us feel special, but we’ll remember.
I hate?
Olives.


I love?
Coffee.


Reading? 
My twitter feed.


Best place on earth? 
Hawaii.


Dinner guest?
Victoria Beckham.


Hero?
Ralph Lauren.
Favourite app (or whatever
you are downloading these days)?
Pool or ocean?
Ocean.


Voicemail or email?
Email.