If you’ve been glued to ITV2’s The Exclusives over the past few weeks (like I have) then you’ll no doubt know who Hayley Newnes is! She is the wonderfully confident and utterly gorgeous aspiring celebrity and magazine journalist who appeared on the show and impressed several of the UK’s top editors and creative directors with her interviewing skills and enthusiastic approach to work.
As an aspiring journalist myself, who watched in awe at Hayley – who didn’t let any task faze her – I was delighted when she agreed to answer my questions, as I had plenty to ask her about the world of journalism and it’s perks (and it’s negative side!). I know there’s several other aspiring journalists who share my interest in the show and read my blog, so hopefully this interview will be as beneficial to you as it is to me!
What initially sparked your interest in the world of journalism? I understand you also do a little modelling on the side too, has this ever overtaken your aspirations to work for a magazine?
I completed a degree in English Language and Literature and within the degree there were a lot of modules which analysed the media, which I really enjoyed so I decided to complete a part time course in journalism. I thoroughly enjoyed my education and grew more and more interested within the media and journalism, so this then lead myself to read more articles as well as practice my writing within my spare time. Some of my friends are glamour models and they use the money from their shoots to fund their education, so I thought that this would be a good opportunity for myself [whilst at university] as one shoot would be the equivalent of one week’s wage at my workplace, so I decided I could spend more time on my assignments earning money from shoots and only doing one day a week, rather than working more hours for less. I decided to enter the Student Glamour Awards which is a competition for all students who wanted to show that they have brains and beauty, and from then on I appeared in a variety of men’s magazines. I loved modelling and I found myself making valuable contacts within the magazine world whilst doing so which helped me develop my journalistic skills, so my modelling actually assisted my journalism greatly. I have always wanted to be a journalist and celebrity interviewer.
I am just a bit more melodramatic at showing my uniqueness!
Despite narrowly missing out on the winning spot, you did come really far in The Exclusives, especially since you beat off stiff competition prior to filming in the audition stages. What do you think sets you aside from other aspiring journalists?
It is very hard to get a job especially within the journalism, so it’s all about being unique and original which we all are, but I am just a bit more melodramatic at showing my uniqueness. I am also willing to do anything and everything to get where I want to be, so I think they wanted to see how far I would actually go.
When you initially heard about the show, did you have any reservations applying or did you immediately know it was for you?
When I initially heard about the show I thought that this would be an amazing opportunity to be able to show Bauer what I can actually do. I have waited in Bauer’s reception many of times, asking if anyone would give me work experience or a day in the office, yet due to the thousands of people approaching the company on a day to day basis, I was not successful. Knowing firsthand how hard it was, I knew that an opportunity like The Exclusives does not come round very often, so I was determined to not only enter but also to get to the last six.
I live and breathe everything celebrity and showbiz!
You obviously have a really keen interest in the world of celebrity and showbiz. Is it that side of journalism you are still looking to venture into? Or do you enjoy other aspects of journalism too?
I live and breathe everything celebrity and showbiz, and on the show not only did I have an interest within this genre of magazine, I was successful at the celebrity journalism. I would love to venture into this although I would also like to pursue the broadcast journalism element, as I really enjoyed it during the show.
Since filming ended, what have you been doing? You must have made some invaluable contacts on the show – will you keep in touch with the magazine editors and Bauer Directors?
I am currently setting up my own website which will be launching in August; this will be about celebrities and fashion. I have learnt such a lot from the process and I aim to channel it into my next career move, whatever that may be. I have met some amazing people along the way, and the mentors and judges have been so supportive both during and after the show, so with their help and support I am sure I will reach my dream job.
Will you work with any of your contacts in the future?
I hope to work with my contacts in the future, yet I am concentrating on my website at the moment as well as my initial future, although the contacts I have made have gave me valuable advice which I shall definitely take on board.
To me the elements which people would call negative within journalism, I loved.
Journalism is often seen idealistically, with many people considering it just an opportunity to mix with celebrities and try out the latest products. Did you see a ‘darker’, more stressful side to journalism (or the reality of journalism) whilst on the show and did this put you off at all?
Journalism does have its amazing perks, for instance mixing with celebrities and attending film premieres yet the job of journalism is not a nine till five job it’s a lifestyle, and to be a successful journalist you have to immerse yourself within the magazine you’re writing for in order to get the stories. It is full of late nights and early mornings but I am so captivated by the world of journalism that I found myself not wanting to sleep, but to write and do more research. To me the elements which people would call negative within journalism, I loved.
Despite it being a competition, you seemed to have a really close bond with your fellow ‘rookies’. Are you still in touch with them? Were there any hard feelings when Ellie won?
The six of us shared an experience that anyone else would not be able to understand, we had our highs, lows, tears and tantrums but this has only brought us closer together. We spent a considerable amount of time together, and you do not only learn a lot about yourself, you learn a lot about each other. We all couldn’t be more different yet when we are all together we create an atmosphere which is electric. I still talk to them all, yet I talk to Ellie every day, she is an amazing woman who I now see as my best friend and sister for life, and the fact that she won made me feel so proud and happy for her. I am very close to Stuart and I talk a lot to Chris as well, both amazing guys who I am truly fond of.
You were able to meet some amazing celebrities whilst on the job (VERY jealous). Who was your favourite celeb to meet and why?
The favourite celebrity I interviewed was Amy Childs, she is the kindest most generous lady I have ever met. She is ever so similar to me, which made us bond straight away, it was an honour to meet such a lovely lady.
It must be difficult watching the show back and seeing the judges talk about your weaknesses (as well as your strengths). Has watching the show over the past few weeks inspired you to change anything about yourself or the way you approach journalism?
After watching the show and the feedback from the judges it has only made me that much more determined to take on board their advice and work on it. The criticism I received was from the best in the business so I am honoured that I received their advice in the first place. I would not change anything about me, although I am definitely going to work on being able to adapt my writing.
You expressed an interest several times about interviewing Cheryl Cole! Are you any closer in doing so? If you could interview her, even just for five minutes – what would be the burning question you had to ask her?
I have now got her agents direct phone number so I will be pursuing her for an interview in the coming future, yet if I could ask her anything it would be… ‘What would she have done differently in her life given the chance?’
I would love to have my own television show which documents a week in the life of different celebrities!
What have you taken from The Exclusives experience?
Throughout The Exclusives I learnt that research is key in able to become adaptable. It was important to immerse yourself in the magazine, understand the reader and to be able to change your writing to conform to the house style of the magazine. I also learnt a lot about myself in regards to strengths as well as weaknesses, which have helped me to understand which path of journalism I should follow, as well as what I need to do in order to become more employable.
Where would you love to be in ten years time?
I would love to have my own television show which documents a week in the life of different celebrities. I would spend a week with the celebrity and show the public what it is actually like to be that celebrity.
What advice do you have for an aspiring journalist like myself? What tips would you give regarding getting your foot in the door or rather, keeping your foot in the door?
Ensure you do your research, take on board any criticism with open arms, as well as read and write everything and anything. You have to be determined, and never stop trying, regardless of how many people tell you to give up, don’t. Try and look at yourself positively and think what makes me unique, then use that to help you stand out.
I am currently toying on the idea of going to university and gaining a degree in journalism (or at least trying to anyway!) or going straight out into the world of work and attempting to secure an internship. As you have an English degree yourself, would you recommend going through the university route or would you advise otherwise?
I loved university and I learnt a lot about myself during that time, for me education really helped me develop and mature. Yet I believe that anyone who has a dream can achieve it regardless of who you are, as long as you have positivity, enthusiasm and self belief you can do anything. Regardless of how many jobs turn you down, how many auditions that turn you away, and how many people knock your confidence stay strong and keep believing because the more you put in the more you get out of life.
I definitely think you’d make a brilliant female Piers Morgan, as you seem to have a knack of making the interviewee feel very comfortable and allowing them to open up a little. How do you manage to do this?
I believe you should be yourself and open up to the celebrity how you want them, to open up to you, make them feel comfortable and gain their trust. They are real people just living an element of their life within the public eye, just approach the situation like you are talking to a stranger in the street.
If you could conduct a full, in depth interview with any public figure (apart from Cheryl Cole) or have your own one off ‘Hayley Newnes Life Stories’. Who would you choose to interview? And what questions would you ask?
I would like to interview Kim Kardashian and I would love to ask her about her new relationship with Kanye, why her relationship with Kris did not work out? Also what would she be doing if she wasn’t a global commodity?
You were always so positive, enthusiastic and keen whilst on the show – even when stress was getting the better of the other aspiring journalists. How do you keep calm and keep stress at bay?
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed, yet I try and channel the negative energy into something positive. For instance when I was trying to find a celebrity to interview, I spent the night worrying so instead of worrying I sat up in bed and tried to think of various ideas and avenues I could go down ready for the next morning, which helped keep stress at bay the following day. I see stress as a form of determination and this helps me focus and keep calm.
Follow Hayley via Twitter for updates on her upcoming website!