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Gathering the glossy gossip - "I love my job!"

Sun 22 Apr 2007 In: People View at NDHA

Sebastian van der Zwan As entertainment reporter for the New Zealand Woman's Weekly, Sebastian van der Zwan, 23, interviews celebrities, writes stories and compiles all the gossip and pictures for their many scandal-hungry readers. He also puts together their reviews page – which involves watching lots of movies and DVDs, listening to piles of CDs and going all the best movie premieres. "It all sounds very glamorous, but our office is nothing like what you see in Ugly Betty or The Devil Wears Prada," he tells us. "We're just a bunch of really normal, non-bitchy people who worry about who Angelina Jolie is adopting next – ooh, pick me! – and what Britney Spears is or isn't wearing." So who was his favourite celebrity interview so far? "The artist formerly known as Sporty Spice – Mel C! I thought she'd be crap because she's been interviewed a million times over and must be thoroughly bored of the whole process by now, but she was phenomenal. She was very giving of herself, not guarded – very human. Nothing was off-limits. She talked about her eating disorder, depression, and time in the Spice Girls... It probably helps that I'm a bit of a fan. Knowing your idols are actually really nice people totally gives you warm fuzzies." Seb thinks he has "the bestest job ever", and it certainly sounds amazing – but the deadlines can be stressful and he says the high-profile role demands a lot of time outside the 9-to-5 office day. "I go to several movie previews and a few launch parties or events every week. If I'm ever at home, I'm usually making notes while I watch a DVD or listen to a new album. Or complaining about how hung-over I am. Drinking is a bit of an occupational hazard – it's really not good for my skin and I doubt my liver's too pretty." For Seb, the best thing about his job is the travel opportunities – he recently went on a cruise ship through the Bay of Islands, and last year explored Easter Island, Peru and the Galapagos Islands for the magazine's travel section. So what's it like being the only male in an all-women environment? Seb says he loves it. "Apart from everyone moaning about their diets and how fat they look," he jokes. "I win all the arm-wrestling competitions and get asked to carry heavy things and open jars – it's a great ego boost! "I'm definitely not an honorary woman. I really try to care about fashion, makeup, calories and weddings, but I usually just end up smiling and nodding and replaying the latest episode of America's Next Top Model in my head when those topics arise. As the office's ‘token testosterone', I make sure the blokes are representing by burping loudly, swearing and not caring what I look like," he laughs. Seb says he doesn't really have a 'coming out' story. "I've never sat anyone down and told them I'm bisexual because I don't think it's a big deal. It's not a secret and I'll happily talk about it if it comes up in conversation, but I'd prefer to be known for what I do rather than who I do. "A lot of people, both straight and gay, have trouble understanding that I'm attracted to both men and women. I get asked if I'm 'greedy or just confused' – and it's certainly not the latter. I don't know whether 'the one' will be male or female, but I'm going to have heaps of fun finding out." On rare nights in, Seb's favourite telly shows are Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, The L Word and Little Britain. "A lot of the gay male characters on telly and in movies are obviously stereotypical, but I think they're used to great comedic effect. I especially love Marc from Ugly Betty – I aspire to be that witty and evil! Oh, and Andrew from Desperate Housewives is hot! "Things have definitely gotten better since Brokeback Mountain, which was a beautiful love story that just happened to involve homos," Seb opins. "People are starting to realise that someone's sexuality doesn't really define their personality." For those envious people reading this thinking 'how can I get myself a job like Seb's?', here's the story. "It all started with a Bachelor of Communication Studies, majoring in journalism, at AUT. "Towards the end of the three years, I realised they didn't just hook you up with a job at the end and I was shit-scared I'd end up writing about cats up trees for the North Shore Times, so I started applying for every other job out there. The third place I sent my CV to was the Weekly," he explains. "I shaved off my Mohawk, went for an interview, sat a test, and the very next week after finishing uni, I was a sub-editor there. After a year and a few fantastic freelance pieces, they took me on as a staff writer. And because I'm so passionate about music and films and the people that make them, I scored the entertainment round. Yay! I recommend anyone who wants my job to back off! But, seriously, just do the AUT degree and cross your fingers. "It's all about luck and I count my blessings every day. Well, every day that isn't deadline day."     Matt Akersten - 22nd April 2007

Credit: Matt Akersten

First published: Sunday, 22nd April 2007 - 12:00pm

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