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Cate Blanchett and my 5 seconds of fame.

Posted by JSYL on Monday, November 13, 2006 in , ,
Okay, so unless you've been living on Mars, in a cave, under a rock, with your fingers in your ears (Simpsons reference muahaha), or, made the massive mistake (of equal proportion) of not talking to me or reading my emails or my blog of late, then you should know that I got my first byline at Reuters on Thursday, followed by a second on Friday. And here's how it happened:

I've written stories for Reuters all year- The process is, you write a story, put your name on the bottom next to "reporting by", it goes out on the wire, and clients take it from the wire and put it on their websites or print outlets citing "Reuters" as the source with the reporter left unknown. (This would explain why many people when told I work at Reuters, often make a face and then go 'OHHHH rooters....they're in the paper sometimes.' In actual fact, Reuters is the largest international media agency in the world. But life goes on.) If you're lucky enough to get a byline for a bigger story, your name appears on the client's website, magazine etc, as the name would suggest, underneath the title, along with the Reuters logo.

I haven't been writing many stories lately because I need to get out of work on time to rush to uni or home to Foucault essays and whatnot. But for some reason I really felt like writing one on Thursday. So I asked Mike Perry, the general correspondent there on the day, "Hey, any lifestyle stories today?" I did a Reuters version of the announcement that Cate Blanchett and her husband are becoming the new creative directors of the Sydney Theatre Company. Pretty standard stuff. Called up the company to confirm the announcement...and got put on hold by admin about a trillion times..(all I wanted to know was whether it was true, and what capacity they'd be employed in- you'd think the STC was the new CIA. Geez. I hardly think...hmm let's not go there. This isn't China yet but if you've been to a U.S. border or airport lately you'd know to watch yourself a little more closely.)

I asked the same kinds of questions when finally put through to a media publicist (usually the only person willing to speak on behalf of the company/firm etc...clearly admin people are in fear of their livelihoods too.) THEN....she finally told me that all these questions would be answered at a press conference that was happening the next day...yep...with Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton, Robin Nevin and a bunch of other STC execs...yep got it. Wait a SECOND! Cate Blanchett?! Say what now?!

Now here's something interesting for those who are remotely interested in how a media agency works. I think that even after, what is it now, 11 months, I still expect the newsroom to be like 'Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman', where two journalists are always needed on every story in manner of undercover cops in any of the Law and Order programs, with Jimmy trailing close behind in some huge team effort to put a single story together. But its not all cheery, inefficient and counter-productive- it just doesn't work that way. Each department is responsible for their output, which I learned when I told Baris, the head of Reuters TV about it over the phone, as in- so we're going tomorrow yes? To which he replied, "Am I going? I don't know if I want to go." And to which Mike said, "Well he's head of TV, I guess its his call."

To the announcement of a press conference, Mike said- Great, are you going?
I said- "Yep" (While thinking: ARE YOU FREAKING CRAZY OF COURSE! ITS CATE-ELIZABETH I: I-WILL -KEEP-HIM-ALIVE-TO-REMIND-MYSELF-HOW-CLOSE-I-CAME-TO-FALLING- VIRGIN QUEEN BAD ASS CATE BLANCHETT!! SPELLED WITH A C!)

The next day I strolled in at 9 on the dot, to find my boss asking: "Did you see Tim (photographer) on your way in? He's left already you'd better call him" (F--K!) Composure quickly waning, I did. He was on his way. F--K F--K! He was no Jimmy Olsen that's for sure. The previous day's lesson dawned on me- yes, photos is separate to print also. Photos can be picked up by clients independently. I was very much alone on this story, without trusting Jimmy and Clark in tow. And without the cute shiny brown bob and skirt suits my Superman counterpart always managed to look resplendent in. And, alas, no dreamy Dean Cain to tilt his clearly-fake glasses down his nose and giving a knowing smile....back to the story though.

Tip: do not wear boots on a sunny day, when walking from Wynyard to Walsh Bay. Dripping with sweat I managed to muster my: I know I look about 10 yrs old but I'm a very serious journalist look, shot off a "The press conference?" quip to the guy at the door and the pair outside the room. Journos, cameras EVERYWHERE. Sound checks. Notebooks ready in laps, tape recorders out. Dark but for the lighting on the table. Door on the side they were sure to enter in from. I needed to position myself- strategically, where I could easily make eye contact with the person directing the conference and indicating to different reporters that it was their turn to speak. Aisle seat, third row. Not too ostentatious, not too far removed. Perfect.

WIthout too much gushing, I must say the room froze when she walked in. Cate Blanchett that is. None of that anorexic child-like-in-manner-of-Kate-Moss-and-model-from-Portmans-prettiness. She is beautiful- graceful, articulate, witty, and so on. And most notably, very much aware yet unfazed by the million flashes poked provokingly right into her face the entire 45 minutes.

Newsday was a blessing in disguise. Determined to make my presence felt, I made sure I kept up with the rhythm of the questions rather than getting sucked in awe by being in the presence of someone who has accomplished so so very much in such a short time. I made sure to get my hand ready for raising right in that 2 second pause between the moment the question has been answered and the moment eye contact has been made and the reporter asks his/her next question. Its amazing really, but I GOT TWO QUESTIONS IN it was EXCELLENT. We had to identify ourselves - "Jane Lee, Reuters news" before asking questions just like in those press conferences you see in those patriotic-alien American movies like Independence day with the President of the day. Sure, I stuttered. Sure they weren't stellar thought-provoking story making questions but they were nevertheless legitimate and respectful, not warranting the rebuffs she gave a journalist from the Australian, and from the ABC and rightfully so (they were about 10th to ask similar questions of her):

Journo 1: Something to the effect of : "Cate you're a well known celebrity, what effect will this have on Australian theatre?"
"Its interesting, when people want to compliment you they call you a serious actress, internationally recognised, works to acclaim...and when they want you to insult you, you're a celebrity."

Journo 2: Something to the effect of: "How much time will you realistically be able to devote to STC with your film schedule being the way it is?"
"The acceptance of the role of co-creative director of this company is not a dalliance. It is an absolutely firm commitment,"
"Sometimes I may take that (three months) up, sometimes I may not but my primary responsibility is to co-manage and lead this company whilst also maintaining my own engagement as an artist."

Damn straight. Haha.
My two questions:
1. "What is the significance this role holds for you, in coming back to the place where you started your acting career?"
2. "What is your opinion on the state of the Australian Film Industry today it seems to be in a bit of a slump despite the fact we have so many talented actors of our own like yourself doing so well overseas?"

My 5 seconds of fame:
If you watched Today Tonight or ABC news on Friday night you would have seen a wide shot of the desk Blanchett Nivin and Upton were sitting from the back of the room, and a funny silhouette of a person leaning into the aisle in the middle of the room, arm shaking and nervously oustretched with a tape recorder in hand- THAT WAS MY HAND! Clearly , I'm still excited. That's because the best part is- I got my first real byline out, and it went GLOBAL. The two stories are in the Washington Post, Reuters UK and Reuters Alertnet (where I hope to work some day) American abc, MSN Newsbot and Yahoo news, as well as a lot of smaller news websites.

Work-wise: It was even sweeter because seconds after the first story went on the wire Mike said :"Ha, Jane you're famous!", as he'd been messaged online by a lady from the Singapore bureau, who said: "Mike you're a star!! (He edited the story) Who is Jane Lee?" My boss told me the lady, who's actually met me once before on a previous visit to Sydney is head of editorial content in Reuters' Asia Pacific region for general news, and fairly tough to impress. After the press conference on the second day, a guy from the Canberra buro who I've also met once before came in for a visit. I told him what I was working on and he said, "Oh yeah I read your piece yesterday it was great. Apparently Singapore were thrilled." (We report to the Singapore buro).
My boss also texted me when she saw the shadow of my back on ABC hahah...
And today, Mike told me the American papers, like the Washington Post are particularly difficult to crack into. Hopefully I'm well on my way.

Daydreams of the press conference that didn't come true:
Before I asked my question, I imagined Cate Blanchett saying: "Wait, wait. Hold up. You are so beautiful you have the face of an academy award winner, STOP THE PRESS CONFERENCE I need to take this stunner under my wing and get her ready for STC's ensemble of actors. SHUT UP ROBIN I know my contract doesn't start till 2008 but Goddamnit this can't wait. Her youth is draining out of her as we speak. Let's get her into makeup and wardrobe and start rehearsals straightaway. Come here sweetheart you're my new protoge. I'm 37 and have two boys but I can pass my wonderful legacy on to you before its too late. Money? Don't worry about it I'll fund all your acting/vocal training, get you a record and movie deal and ship you off to my penthouse in L.A. tomorrow."

Sadly, no.

But all in all a great couple of days to end J2.

And I'm now much more focused as a result on where I want to end up:
Top 3 Goal Workplaces:
1. Reuters- NY bureau
2. Reuters- UK bureau
3. Reuters- Alertnet




Photographer: Tim Wimborne



Loving it.

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2 Comments


glad to see you're loving your job =D


GO JANE!! wowee! congratulations! HAHA! exciting indeeed.

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