My origin story
How did I become a full-time freelance writer and theatre artist? Here’s an abridged version:
My journalistic journey began when I was 18, earning my first byline when I pitched a story idea to The Toronto Star about the lack of faith within Jewish youth. That published story likely got me into Ryerson’s journalism school (my GPA wasn’t too impressive) and I loved the four years at Ryerson learning about reporting, feature writing, media ethics, newspaper layout and so much more.
I remember when I was working on the Ryersonian, the flagship newspaper for the j-school, and an instructor said I had a real knack for coming up with story ideas. I knew then that working for a daily would be something that suited my skillset, since I had always been whirring with stories I think deserved to be published.
Fast forward to a couple years after graduation, circa 2004, and I’m hired by fledgling news network Digital Journal to lead their magazine and online news network, the latter focusing on citizen journalism and giving voice to the many voiceless reporters around the world.
Once again, I was in a position to come up with pitches that our team would agree to report on for the magazine and news site, and I was in love with this approach of my ideas turning into insightful articles that were being read beyond Canada. That was just a gratifying feeling, so much so I never stopped pitching.
While at Digital Journal, I wrote sparingly for other publications, especially when I became editor-in-chief and also quarterbacked sister publications such as B2B News Network. But when I left Digital Journal to become a full-time freelance writer, I found my calling. I think I always wanted to be my own boss, and write on stories that may not fit with just one publication’s mandate, and instead find a home for articles that deserve their 15 minutes of fame.
Monday is not like Tuesday. That’s what I remember from my first day at Ryerson when the professor noted how our lives as a journalist would hardly be routine. No matter our beat, we’d tackle a different interview every day, or have to pour our time into researching an entirely new subject matter from one day to the next. And I loved that variety; I wasn’t, and still am not, the kind of person who wants to work to earn a paycheque, happy to pull the same levers day in day out. No, I’m curious about how the world works, the human condition in the face of it all, and I knew journalism would give me that kind of access.
As a freelance journalist, I’ve written for some of the most respected publications around, such as The Washington Post, The Globe & Mail, BBC News, New Scientist, Popular Mechanics, Business Insider, etc. I never get bored coming up with ideas to pitch editors, and as a news junkie I’m constantly brimming with ways to share someone’s story with the world.
As a theatre artist…That origin story is a lot quicker because this is somewhat new territory for me. I’ve long been a poet and spoken word performer, so getting on stage has been comfortable and inviting, and often thrilling. But to write an hour-long solo show that I have to memorize, it was frightening, despite it having a solid position on my artistic bucket list.
Three years ago, I began to work on Jewnique, my first solo show, thanks to funding from the Ontario Arts Council, and I wrote about my complicated relationship with Judaism, while also profiling various trailblazers within the Jewish Ontario community. It was exhilarating to finally bring Jewnique to audiences in 2018, debuting it in Toronto and then touring the show to Ottawa, Calgary and Blue Mountain Resort. I was hooked.
You know when somethings just feels…right? It’s like the comfort of home has invaded your nervous system and your anxieties and self-doubt fade to black. That’s how I felt performing Jewnique. I was proud to accomplish what I set out to do: develop my first theatre show, with the goal of bringing more solo shows to audiences.
And so my origin story brings me to today, where I’m now researching and about to write my next show, this time focusing on mental health. I’ll reveal more in the coming months, and will also likely track my progress on my IG feed.
Writing this outlook on where I’ve come from has been cathartic for me, I realize. I can sometimes self-inflict impostor syndrome as if I really shouldn’t take the stage because who wants to really hear what I have to say? That kind of thinking can be damaging to artists, especially for those of us who may be known for other accomplishments (like my work with Toronto Poetry Slam) than my artistic projects. But I’m loving how this post has taught me to lean into confidence topped with the cherry of pride because, hells yeah I’ve done a lot and come a long way, and I’m smiling wide right now when I think about what I’ve brought to audiences across Canada…and what I’ll continue to do as a theatre artist, journalist and lover of words.