Mel Evans, senior features writer for Australian Cosmopolitan

"The biggest thing I’ve learnt is that you should never have an expectation of what someone is going to be like before you interview them. You really have to go in there with an open mind. " Mel Evans tells Alexandra Duffy about writing features for Australian Cosmopolitan .

Where did your career begin?

I always had an interest in writing growing up. I remember back when I was in primary school. I did a fiction writing workshop and I ended up writing this book. People laughed at it and I saw it really brought enjoyment to them and I knew that I wanted to write so I can make people laugh or I could teach people something. I did work experience at Dolly magazine, I went back continuously until I was able to get an internship. From Dolly I was able to go to Cleo, Rolling Stone and Famous. I went wherever anyone would take me as an intern, which is what you need to do. Right before I graduated from university I got a job at what is now, Sunday Style, as a features assistant writer. From there I was able to work my way up to features writer, senior features and then I was lucky enough to land a job at Cosmo.

What are the challenges?

Being in print is a massive challenge within itself. You need to know how to navigate media. However, in saying that there are so many different avenues you can travel down. At the end of the day it is a challenge to be print in Australia, as a lot of talent is hard to come by due to the fact that they don’t come here. You have to do interviews at US and UK times and chat to someone for almost 20 minutes and sometimes it might not have been a good story or you don’t get enough information.

Do you have any anecdotes about the interviews you’ve conducted with celebrities?

The biggest thing I’ve learnt is that you should never have an expectation of what someone is going to be like before you interview them. You really have to go in there with an open mind. For instance, this comedian in the US named Tracy Morgan. He is an extremely funny guy and he comes across as someone who is always up for a laugh. I didn’t know if I had caught him on a bad day but he was not wanting to be interviewed at the time. This was more towards the start of my career and I felt pretty crap for not getting a good interview. They always say, ‘never interview your idol.’ That was the biggest thing I took away from that interview.

What has been your most rewarding experience or story?

Quite selfishly, I think if I have come off a good interview I will feel on top of the world, especially if the talent is known to be a bit prickly. For instance, I interviewed Amy Schumer about 18 months ago. It was before she had come to Australia and a few of my friends had interviewed her and the consensus was that she wasn’t interested in doing interviews and people were quite pissed off about it all. However, I interviewed her a few weeks prior and we had a great chat and I thought she was fantastic. When you come off something you didn’t think would go well and it goes great you feel as if you’ve successfully sold a story.

What advice do you have for aspiring journalists?

An age old answer is: write whenever you can, and approach anyone and everyone. For every five emails that go unanswered, one can lead to something great. I don’t believe if you email someone you are annoying, I think it shows initiative and those people in the industry remember you. Every few months, update your resume and stay connected with those you’ve made connections with. Some people can find it to be quite a nice ego boost as well.

What is next for your career?

My dream always changes. Growing up I wanted to be an editor, but now I am more interested in being a great writer and being someone that people can read my articles and know that it’s mine, without seeing my name on the paper. Right now, it doesn’t get much better than Cosmo, it is a great place. However, this doesn’t mean that my dream won’t change as of next week. I just want to establish my writing more.