Wired Women: Jillian Leff10:48 AM
Wired Women profiles successful women with ties to Boston who are pursuing their passions. These women serve as an inspiration not only to myself, but to women and girls everywhere who are eager to make waves in their field. These fab women will be sharing their stories twice a month while sharing their experiences. This week I'm profiling fellow Emerson Alum Jillian Leff. Jillian and I met in college through mutual friends and I've always been inspired by her drive for success. Jillian currently lives the fab life in Los Angeles and is a Senior Editor at PerezHilton.com, Host on AfterbuzzTV, and vlogger!
|Photos by Hope Kauffman Photography|
Style Wire: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in entertainment?
Jillian Leff: I've always been a natural performer, singing and dancing throughout my childhood and teens, so I knew musical theatre would be the perfect route while attending college. However, last minute I decided to gamble and try journalism because I enjoyed storytelling and on-camera hosting. On my first day at Emerson, I immediately knew I was different. All of my broadcast journalism peers were talking about market numbers and local broadcasts, while I was reading Us Weekly on my laptop. I never felt a connection with hard news and would actually come home from human interest assignments or interviewing Boston politicians feeling so unfulfilled. My junior year, I was lucky enough to be chosen to cover the Primetime Emmy awards in Los Angeles. After interviewing over 80 stars on the red carpet, I knew two things: this is what I want to do for the rest of my life AND I need to move here ASAP. Cue lots of hard work, ups, downs, tears and hugs – and I'm the woman I am today. I even still sing, though that's solely reserved for the shower, my car, or Koreatown karaoke bars.
SW: What's a typical workday like for you?
JL: I work east coast hours, so up and in the office by ! I actually love getting things moving before the sun because you still feel like you own so much of the day. I tend to sift through pitches, websites, and emails before the rest of the staff comes in. At 6, it's all hands on deck. I work with a talented bunch of entertainment obsessed writers, which makes my job as Senior Editor a breeze. We push out some amazing trending celebrity news, original content, quizzes, silly GIF animations, and more! I can't go into too much detail about the specifics of my job because of confidentiality -- but just know it's fun, challenging, and different every day.
After working on the site, my day is far from over. I also host podcasts for E! host Maria Menounos' AfterbuzzTV in the evening. With over 20 million weekly downloads from over 150 countries, viewers finish watching episodes of their favorite shows and can watch or listen to a post-game 'after-show' for that series. Right now, I host ABC's How To Get Away With Murder and ABC Family's The Fosters. My favorite part about recapping and hosting is connecting with the audience. My fans are the best and I've even done some meet-ups in Los Angeles with a few of them. Being glued to social media is a huge part of that work, so I love live tweeting episodes. On top of the recaps, I also do one-on-one interviews with actors and influencers. My favorite sit-down EVER has to be with YouTuber and author Tyler Oakley. This guy has over 7 million subscribers and is one of the most humble people I've ever talked to. We sat and gabbed for over and hour and it was like catching up with an old friend. I'll always treasure that interview.
SW: I think you have the coolest job! What do you love most about it?
JL: I love that everyone comes to me for the latest news. When I tell people what I do, they're so fascinated with how much I actually know and consume on a daily basis. The flow of news is sometimes overwhelming, but I always enjoy answering questions or giving daily recaps full of gossip. So in a sense, I enjoy sharing stories and my opinion. It's still weird that some look to me as an entertainment expert, but I dig and own it!
SW: It's essentially your job to follow all the latest gossip, which celebrities are you guilty of obsessing over?
JL: Like, love, or loathe, I am enamored with the entire Kardashian family. The gossip about them is fun, but the business empire Kris Jenner built fascinates me! To think, it all started with Kim Kardashian-West's sex tape – #NeverForget. I'd pay good money to find out how they spun that into being financially set for the rest of their lives. I am guilty of marathoning their shows and attempting to emulate their style, though I refuse to pay monthly for the sisters' apps. I find out all the specialized content working in entertainment news anyway. Loophole perk!
SW: How do you keep your cool when doing interviews on the red carpet?
JL: This is going to sound so gross and dumb – but it ALWAYS works. If I'm ever nervous I just think, “Jillian, chill out. They poop too.” It makes me giggle and realize these people are just like us. It's both of our jobs to be here, and that's that! Try it out the next time you meet a famous face. Just make sure you don't say poop out loud, because that would freak anyone out.
SW: You recently ventured into vlogging, what inspired you to start your own channel?
JL: I started my own channel as a creative outlet. Journaling wasn't working since I like talking way too much! Rather than push out average content, I upload when I'm feeling it. The channel focuses on fun, food, and fangirling over anything and everything. I actually have a few cooking videos in the works at the moment. I like to change it up and it helps me channel some artsy energy that can sometimes get locked away from sitting at a desk all day.
SW: You've always been determined to make it in the industry, what are your long term career goals?
JL: I would love to host and produce my own entertainment news show, staying in the web space. Everything online is quick and immediately satisfying. Plus, everyone has an app where you can consume information so much faster. People are thirsty for details all the time, and I just want to be on your screen with a full glass of cold celebrity-filled lemonade.
SW: What advice do you have for anyone trying to make it in the pop culture syndicate?
JL: Fake it till you make it! Confidence is key in my industry and if you don't have it naturally, pretending is just fine. I find that people will believe anything you say if it's mixed with the right amount of passion and conviction. It's also important to be aggressive and hustle, even on your days off. I work seven days a week and wouldn't change it one bit.
SW: What were your favorite Boston spots when you were at Emerson?JL: First off, Boston will always own a chunk of my heart. I love the city and would move back in a heartbeat if it was a true hub of celebrity news. Some of my favorite places... Parish Cafe (still dream about the Zuni Roll), Trident, all of Newbury St., the BPL, Public Garden, and doing schoolwork at the South End Buttery. I miss it everyday!