LAUNCHING:
EMILY ZEMLER

Company:

Journalist

Photo by Rebecca Hughes

THE BIG QUESTIONS

WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?

Journalist and writer.

WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?

I’m a freelance journalist and writer for various publications, including the LA Times, ELLE, Esquire, USA Today and Variety. On a day-to-day basis I pitch stories, interview celebrities and notable personalities, stay caught up on movies and TV, do research and send a lot of emails. It can vary – every day is slightly different. I also travel on quite a lot on press trips around the world.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?

I wanted to be many different things as a child, from teacher to vet to actor. In my teens I wanted to be a filmmaker and applied to film school.  After a semester in college, I switched my major to Cinema Studies and began writing about film, so it was a semi-natural evolution for me.

WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?

I have a BA in Cinema Studies with a minor in Journalism from American University, and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

Follow up. Everyone is really busy and it’s possible that you’ve emailed someone at an inopportune time. Silence doesn't always mean no, so it’s important to follow up and send another (polite) email. If you don’t ask directly, you’ll never get anything.

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?

My father. He’s an extremely hard worker who pulled himself up from less-than-ideal circumstances in his childhood. He believes in being dedicated and hardworking, as well as communicative. He recently retired from an impressive career in public service and local government where he made real changes in the community and I find that very inspirational.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?

I work from my couch, which can be quite nice. It also sometimes has its drawbacks, as you can imagine.

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD?

I think it can be challenging to work alone from home. I try to make at least one meeting or appointment every day to get myself out of the house and interact with other humans, but that doesn’t always happen. I’d like to find more ways to bounce ideas and thoughts off others as a freelancer from home.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?

My first book, “A Sick Life: TLC ’n Me: Stories from On and Off the Stage” is  a collaboration with Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, and came out on Rodale in September and I’d like to do more of those sorts of long-form projects. I’d also like to continue writing profiles of celebrities for newspapers, which are the type of outlet I most admire and value.

DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?

Yes. I’ve never had an issue with this.

WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?

This isn’t really applicable to me as I am the only person in my “company.” However, I am a woman, so seeing women in leadership roles is incredibly important to me.

DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?

Diversity should be a priority at all levels of business, in any environment and at any type of company. Anyone who doesn’t believe that to be true is behind the times.

HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?

My work/life balance is a progression. I recently got married after spending a long time as single woman and I’ve been learning to reshift my energy to create more balance. I passed up a work trip for the first time recently to spend time with my husband and I think that was an important step forward.

WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?

To be a successful freelance writer you must be detailed and very aware all the time. You have to juggle numerous projects for a variety of outlets and always pay attention to deadlines. If you have to be willing to put yourself out there and follow up with editors. You can’t worry about the people who tell you no or pass on your ideas, and you can’t let that dictate your confidence. You have to be an excellent listener and not make things about yourself. If you are a journalist the priority is the story, not you.

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