Nestled in the far-right corner of her publicist’s couch, JasFly is ready. Caramel highlights and soft waves frame her face. The poised writer is wearing the same discerning expression that her viewers have quickly come to expect from her on Vh1’s latest reality series, "The Gossip Game." It's the face she makes right before launching into a sharp-tongued reading of an opponent who has tried her, the ones that have made JasFly a fan favorite. Tweets like “She’s the best one on the show, ” “I am Here for JasFly,” and “[Give] JasFly her own show,” confirm this.
“I’m a non-conformist,” she tells EBONY.com. “Even as a kid, if you told me to go left, I’m just going to go right.” Having found freedom in freelancing, JasFly's trademark candor penetrates her interviews with celebrities like Warren Buffet, Jay-Z and 2 Chainz, her dynamic op-eds and personal blog posts, and even her Twitter posts where she often sets the record straight on any drama in her life.
A book centered on the delights and difficulties of being a twenty-something is next up for the writer along with the revival of her online column. But right now, a steep 27 floors above the Avenue of the Americas where the tables have been turned on the entertainment journalist, JasFly is ready to reveal exactly what she’s been discerning this entire time.
EBONY: In the first episode of “The Gossip Game,” a clear delineation is made between the radio and print journalists and the bloggers. It was very hierarchical. Are you also from that camp that segregates the two?
JASFLY: There are people that sit there and comment on what other people do. And then there are the people that do it. I’m too busy doing it to worry about what somebody’s saying about what I’m doing. Regardless of who says what, where did you get your news this morning?
JF: Okay. So what are we talking about?
EBONY.com: As a writer, how have you incorporated social media into getting your personal brand out there?
JF: It’s so funny because a lot of the older writers sort of resent how much our generation uses Twitter. Because the old model of journalism is that you reserve all opinion. You keep your opinion to yourself, so that you can tell the story objectively. The magic of new media is that you get to rewrite the new rules; that even with all the objectivity in the world, you’re still human and you still have an opinion on things.
So I think that social media is important because it allows people to know where you stand. You know what to expect from Sean Hannity because you know his personal politics. I think that social media gives another glimpse into who you’re reading. It’s writing. It’s all writing. Whether I’m writing 140 characters or I’m writing 1,000 words for a publication, I’m still writing. Writers write.
EBONY: Out of all the interviews you’ve done, which ones are your favorites:
JF: I like the interviews that get people to come out of the idea of themselves. Like my [Young] Jeezy interview. I’m super proud of that interview because we just talked about love, and it was crazy because it was one of those interviews where the logistics of it were terrible. We were supposed to be in person, then I had to go to Chicago, and then he was gonna be [someplace else.] It was like this mess.
So by the time we got on the phone, we were both just a little like “What’s gonna happen here?” I knew I was speaking to a female audience, and I’m like “This is Jeezy,” he’s not necessarily known for being the most tender of guys. And I said to him, “I wanna talk to you about love.” He was just like, “Well, what about love?” … He was so great and responsive and he was very honest and he was very much himself. It was a great moment for me, because you didn’t expect that from him.
EBONY: What is the best advice about freelancing that you've ever received that you still follow to this day?
JF: Own yourself. I work every single day to own me. For me it made sense to freelance. I’m just not a 9-5 person. I’m not a “have a boss” person. I’m just not that person. But if you’re going to freelance you can’t let the freelance life own you. Meaning that you can’t be so caught up in I’m freelance that you’re living in fear of not having a check. That you are desperate in taking every job that comes along. That you are doing things that don’t make sense, even for what you want to do ultimately. You can’t chase a check, because then the freelance life owns you. You have to honestly be just a little more steady in yourself. So, I work everyday to be steady within myself, so that no one, not even the uncertainty of freelance life, owns me.
EBONY: So, how would you advise up-and-coming journalists to get to that point? Where should their mindset be, in terms of focus?
JF: I’d advise them the same way I’d advise an up-and-coming garbage man or an up-and-coming doctor. Know who you are. Get to know yourself. Know who you are and most importantly, who you’re not. Then remain focused. It’s focusing on the end goal, because there’s going to be a lot of stuff that comes in in-between, that’s just gong to try and take you here there or wherever and some of those paths you should go down. But for the most part, stay focused.
Also, one thing about writers is that it’s such an ambiguous thing, you know? And for me it took a really long time for me to be able to own the fact that I am a writer. A lot of times people don’t understand it and they try and fit you in a box. Or they say, “Oh, you’re not a writer if you didn’t do this,” or “Writers do this.” It’s like, no—writers just write. So, I would say my second part of that advice would be, just write. It really is just that simple.
Patrice Peck explores the complex intersection of culture, entertainment, race and gender as a multimedia journalist. Follow her musings at Twitter and Facebook, and visit her at http://www.speakpatrice.tumblr.com for more of her work.