You’ve been there: Standing in the check-out line, waiting for the customer ahead of you to hand over all their coupons, when a headline grabs your attention from the corner of your eye: “Brangelina’s Secret Wedding!” “Are Bey and Jay Calling it Quits?” “Teen Mom’s Pregnancy Shocker — Not Again!” At first, you tell yourself to ignore the celebrity gossip, but then… well, who would it hurt if you sneak a peek at Angie’s dress or get the lowdown on Blue Ivy’s parentals? The covers of celebrity mags like In Touch and Life & Style call out to us with their promises of the juiciest news about the stars we love (and love to hate) and of course, the sweet snapshots of those too-cute-for-words superstar tots.
We have editors like Rebecca Fontana to thank for keeping us up-to-date on all things Hollywood with these mags. Since 2011, she’s been helping to get those tabloids on newsstands everywhere, rubbing elbows with the likes of Hugh Jackman (and dodging packs of rabid Swifty fans) in the process. We sat down with the talented celebrity magazine editor to hear all about how she got to the news desk, her best star sightings and what she’s got on tap next.
Feather Magazine: How did the opportunity to work for Life & Style come about?
Rebecca Fontana: I became interested in journalism while studying English in college, and I got a job interning for Life & Style the summer after I graduated in 2011. After a few months of doing lots of transcribing, I was offered a position as a full-time freelancer (a permalancer). Several months after that, I became a full-time staff member, working for Life & Style as well as In Touch magazine.
FM: What sort of experience did you have that qualified you or let you know you wanted to work for a celebrity magazine?
RF: While I was still in college, I had also interned in advertising and for a business magazine. Once I wound up at Life & Style, I quickly realized that writing for a celebrity magazine is a much better fit for me—its content typically covers topics (aside from the Kardashians) I’m interested in anyway. As for experience, I’d written about celebrities in my journalism classes at college, and produced some of my best work while doing so. Once I began interning at Life & Style, I got the hang of the language of the magazine and was soon writing blog posts and conducting interviews.
FM: What is a typical workday like for you?
RF: When I first began at Life & Style, I did a lot of running around, interviewing (and stalking) celebrities. There were a lot of parties and exciting movie premieres, but now I’m focusing more on in-office work. I’ve helped write for the blog and post on social media, including live-tweeting TV shows or events. I’ve also written several sections of the magazine, and I help copy edit the entire magazine, as well. Right now, I’m filling in for the managing editor, keeping the whole office on schedule and making sure our many deadlines are all met.
FM: What has been the most challenging part of your career to this point?
RF: Meeting all of the deadlines. Life & Style and In Touch are weekly magazines, so there are strict deadlines every single day. Whether it’s getting pages written on time, conducting and filing interviews late at night after an event, or making sure all the pages get sent to the printer promptly, I always have to be very aware of timing. Sometimes there’s barely time for a spell check, but there’s constantly breaking news in the celebrity world and we have to move quickly to stay on top of it!
FM: And the most rewarding aspect of your job?
RF: Having a great interview with a celebrity. It doesn’t matter if they’re an Oscar winner or just a “star” of The Bachelorette—sometimes I’ll be completely surprised when someone is genuinely nice and giving intelligent answers. Some of the nicest? Matt Damon, who helpfully moved his chair out of the way for me and chatted with me at a dinner party, Hugh Jackman, who kindly apologized for not having time for a full interview instead of just running past me, and Mandy Patinkin, who graciously let me interview him after a red carpet had shut down—and we’d both nearly gotten trampled by Taylor Swift and her massive crowd of fans.
FM: What advice do you have for someone looking to work in this kind of media?
RF: Take the initiative in whatever you do, from pitching story ideas to offering to help conduct research. At Life & Style I never said no when someone asked for help—and now I’ve worked in multiple departments and I have experience in web writing, copy editing, and reporting. Also, make sure to keep everything you do organized, detailed, and on time (or early!). It’s a very fast-paced industry, so it’s easy to throw together something sloppy, but knowing how to do quick, quality work is an indispensable talent.
FM: What’s next for you?
RF: I actually just moved to New York City to put myself in the middle of the celebrity and journalism world, so packing and unpacking has been taking up most of my time! I’m hoping to do more writing soon, though, and I’ve been working on several nonfiction pieces about my experiences both in the celebrity magazine world and life in general, as well.
Photo via Luke Fontana Photo