Name: Elizabeth Wagmeister
Job Title: Contributor on Page Six TV; TV Reporter at Variety
College Name/Major: UC Santa Barbara, Communication major/Multimedia Writing minor
Snapchat: @EWagmeister (she’ll be snapping behind the scenes from Page Six TV!)
Founder and Campus Correspondent of UC Santa Barbara’s Her Campus chapter, Elizabeth Wagmeister launched her journalism career as a collegiette. After working for TV Guide, Hollywood Life and in her current reporting job at Variety, Elizabeth snagged a spot on new entertainment show Page Six TV, which premieres tonight on Fox. We sat down and talked to her about her career, her new gig and her advice for future journalists.
What have been the most prominent milestones in your career path from Her Campus to Page Six TV?
Elizabeth Wagmeister: I know it sounds cheesy, but honestly I consider every day to be a milestone because every day is different and I still feel like I’m learning. Going from Her Campus to TV Guide to Hollywood Life and to Variety, I’ve learned so much along the way from all of my career mentors and from every story I’ve written. But I would say getting the gig with Page Six TV is definitely a big milestone because it’s my first regular role on a TV show, and that’s not something that I really ever expected to happen and certainly not this quickly.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned from your work experience?
EW: I think that what I’ve learned is that you never say "no" to anything because there’s a reason for everything and every closed door leads to an open one. I have covered events that I wasn’t necessarily interested in, but I met someone who was standing next to me on the red carpet or who was standing next to me at the bar who became a really great contact or source for something else.
What has been your biggest obstacle thus far and how did you overcome it?
EW: I think my biggest obstacle has been myself. What I mean by that is that I hate uncertainty and I second-guess everything. My parents always tell me to stop worrying. I need to tell myself, “You just need to go for it.” I really think that you just have to take risks and tell yourself not to worry.
What is your experience as a woman in such a competitive career path?
EW: I actually really feel so lucky and embraced as a woman, but I think that I really have not had the same experience as everyone. I’ve actually only had female bosses, which is amazing, and that is something that I definitely contribute to my success. These strong women (Debra Birnbaum, Cynthia Littleton, Bonnie Fuller) have risen the ranks, and in their generation—the generation ahead of me—it was even more tough to do that in male-dominated workplaces. But I’ve also been to different industry events where I’m just trying to talk to a source or talk to someone that I’ve worked with and felt like they were hitting on me. I think you should know how to deflect that and say to yourself, “I’m here to do my job. I’m here to work, and if someone wants to hit on me it’s not going to work.” You’ve got to keep your eye on the prize.
How do you feel your skill set has developed since you left college?
EW: I learned so much as a person in college. But, in terms of working at a magazine—the only way you can learn how to work at a magazine is by working at a magazine. When I was at TV Guide, I really learned how to navigate the workplace and get a good interview when you’re only given two minutes on a red carpet. I learned how to do really good, thorough research. I learned how to just write a good story. Then, when I went to Hollywood Life, I learned how to write on deadline for a breaking news website, how to write gossip and celebrity journalism (that’s actually nothing I had done before), and SEO and social media. That was also the first place that I ever was on camera. When I went to Variety, I had to learn everything. I felt like I knew nothing about the entertainment industry compared to the industry veterans I was working alongside, and I truly think I’ve learned more in the past year and a half at Variety than I have in life. Going into work every day when you don’t feel like you know everything and still have a lot to learn I think makes you focus and more eager.
What advice would you give to current Her Campus writers who are interested in developing a strong journalism career?
EW: I would say definitely Her Campus is a great place to do that. Like I said, you can really learn to be a journalist if you’re actually a journalist! The great thing about Her Campus that I loved is it was really just a bunch of college students who weren’t working journalists, of course, but we all wanted to be. So it was just a fun, creative space to be able to brainstorm with everyone and interview on campus. But I would say do that during the school year and intern during the summer. If I hadn’t interned, I wouldn’t have gotten my first job, which then lead to my other jobs. Also, try to have informational interviews. I know that’s what everybody says, but I reached out to so many random people and I've ended up working with a lot of them now!
What about Page Six TV are you most excited for?
EW: I am really excited because I am a print journalist and reporter and writer, but I love doing TV work. But what I’m more excited for is for people to see it because it’s just so much fun. As an entertainment journalist who covers TV, I know what’s out there and there are so many panel shows and so many entertainment news shows, and this one is truly different. It’s a format that we’ve never seen before. It’s fun, it’s fast-paced, and it’s easily digestible for viewers. After a long day, if you watch it, you’re going to have fun and you’re going to learn something.