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An Interview with Beatrice Hazlehurst

The first article I read by Beatrice Hazlehurst was titled "We Asked a Couple of Experts How to Nail Awkward Small Talk." I had clicked on this Vice story after googling variations on the phrase "small talk tips" (an incredibly pathetic sentence) in hopes of strengthening my social graces/networking skills and maybe easing some of my social anxiety before I started my summer job. Although I did enjoy reading the advice the expert's gave (and maybe it did improve my egregious small talk skills ever so slightly), I ended up more interested in Beatrice's voice than the information presented in the article.

Even though the topics she covered varied greatly (from small talk to how fashion's tokenism overlooks inbetweeners to how Barbie became an Instagram influencer) and the publications she's contributed to also differ in terms of voice, I really admire how Beatrice always seems to bring her descriptive, recognizable style to whatever she writes about. My favorite pieces by her, though, are her profiles. Whether she's writing about an afternoon off with Chloë Sevigny (I'm so jealous), or how Nezzy found a vision of their own, her writing has an almost theatrical element to it. I always feel transported when I read her work. She has a unique understanding of the human spirit, and her ability to interweave universal revelations with specific anecdotes is truly something to marvel at.

Who are your biggest inspirations and what lessons have they taught you? That one is particularly tough because I'm so often inspired — by friends, colleagues, my family members, even. My mum, my older sister, are awe-inspiring to me. To reference a public figure, Roald Dahl (problematic, I know) mostly because of the versatility of his career. The concept that someone could be a petrol salesman and fighter pilot in one life impressed me so much, especially since I'm still battling with this misconception that if you step off the industry conveyer belt you will never get back on. 

What work are you most proud of? I think I'm cursed in the fact I'm so rarely proud (the imposter syndrome runs deep). I'm really, really proud of my relationships and often feel undeserving of them, l‘m proud to have (hopefully) pulled up others with me. I'm most proud of pieces that saw the talent open up to me — often against their better judgement. I kind of get off on that connection.

What's been the most transformative experience of your life? There have been so many. Being broke, being heartbroken. Moving to a non-English speaking country across the world, moving to an English-speaking country across the world. Disappointing people and being disappointed. Every time I've given up control has always been the most transformative: falling in love is the most clichéd transformation, as well as leaving jobs or people or places behind even though it seems impossible in the moment.  Using a metaphor, how would you describe your creative process? It's a treadmill: I really don't want to get on it, I'll be fully kitted in activewear performing mental gymnastics to rationalize not hitting 'Go.' Then once I'm on, I won't stop until it's done. Then I ride the high until the next deadline. It's chaotic and definitely misguided (relate to me, someone).  What do you think is the most important skill for a young writer to develop? Oh, for sure empathy. It will help you best connect with your subjects, therein engendering trust, and it will help you to be able to best articulate their world. Humility is also important — to be edited, but also to generally get over yourself. Everything else can be learned and achieved with practice.  When did you realize you wanted to go into journalism? I kind of fell into it. I grew up figuring I would act because that's what I was best at, then I decided to study film and direct (in hindsight because I wanted control). My parents hoped I would pursue classical singing after 10 years of training. I think the reality is I wanted to be good at, and inevitably do, everything. I was fascinated by music, clothes, culture, and film, and I pursued them all in some capacity, but as a writer I'm able to access all of it. I was also a little intoxicated by the power of press, and that they're truly the mediator between talent and the public. When I really realized I could make a career out of this, it was after an article I had written went viral (when I was 20). My friend sent me a photo of the lecture hall she was in at the time, and rows and rows of laptops were open on my story. I don't think I've ever felt more mutually distressed and inspired.  What's your most prized possession?

Oh god, so I'm terrible with my things. My parents call me a "product tester" and a school report once said, "Beatrice leaves a trail of destruction in her wake." Jewelry, electronics, you name it, I've lost or ruined it. To be practical, I'd be truly crippled without my phone and laptop, but existentially, my most-valued possession is my published work. Often I'm too embarrassed to read it, but on the odd occasion I do revisit past pieces I am sometimes hit by a wave of hot-photo-from-four-years-ago-its, like, "I used to be so much better, what happened?" 


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