So you want to work at fashion magazine, do you? You think it’s all about the stylish clothes, razor-thin models and eccentrically fabulous fashion designers. Oh my dear, you are so right but yet so very wrong. To work at a fashion mag would be fierce for sure. It’s fierce in every way imaginable including fiercely cutthroat. And so obsessed with style and branding that even the devil wears Prada (you knew I had to find a way to get that in).
And if you want to get your foot in the door, you are going to have to start at the bottom as an intern. A coffee getting, errand running, don’t-speak-until-your-spoken-to intern.
The Style Network’s Running in Heels (Sundays 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific – Season Finale, Sunday, April 19) features three such interns who worked in the offices of Marie Claire magazine. There’s Ashley, a girl willing to slash and burn to get recognition from higher ups. If you stand in her way, you are sure to get cut. She has what seems to be an unholy alliance with Talita, an all to fabulous girl, if only in her mind, who is only slightly less cutthroat than Ashley.
And then there is Samantha. Samantha DeZur, a relatively easy going girl who works hard but doesn’t feel she has step on someone’s head to climb to the top.
Since I have developed a strong aversion to Ashley and Talita (something that may require a doctor’s care), I decided to talk to Samantha about her experience as a fashion magazine intern who just happens to be on a reality television show.
The Ride: Hi there, Samantha. Good to know that you are still here — meaning alive — and haven’t met some untimely demise at the hands of your fellow interns Ashley and Talita. How are you doing girl? Have you fully recovered?
Samantha: [Laughs] I’m not sure if I’ll ever “recover”, but then again I’m not sure that I want to. The whole experience was such a roller-coaster, what with all of the amazing assignments from the magazine coupled with the awful treatment by the girls at times. But even after the times when I thought my head was going to explode because I was so frustrated, I’m so glad I went through it and I would do it all over again. It was important for me to overcome a situation like that in order to build character. My personal character, opinions, and ideas were challenged multiple times per day and I learned to defend myself in a professional manner. I learned invaluable lessons about the industry and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
The Ride: Is the internship officially over? I heard that shooting took place during the summer. Are you still with Marie Claire? If so, what are you doing? And if not, what have you been up to?
Samantha: Filming took place from the beginning of September ’08 until about the beginning of January ’09. I don’t want to give away the ending of the show, but currently I’m finishing up school at the University of Wisconsin and I will graduate in May with a double major in Communications-Rhetorical Studies and Spanish.
The Ride: Are you, Ashley and Talita now bff’s or NOT?
Samantha: I talk with the girls on a regular basis. While we didn’t get along perfectly during the show, we share a bond. We went through such a bizarre experience together (being on a reality TV show while completing an internship at the same time) and we are really the only people that understand what each other went through.
The Ride: By the way, where did you hear about the internship at Marie Claire and what sparked your interest in pursuing it?
Samantha: I actually saw the internship listed on the Communications website for my school (University of Wisconsin-Madison). I thought it was a long shot because when I saw it, I immediately knew it was exactly what I was looking for. But, the day after I submitted my application materials, The Style Network called me for my first interview and it progressed from there.
The Ride: When did you know that you were going to be on Running in Heels and what was your reaction when you heard?
Samantha: When I got the call after my final interview (about 3 weeks after my first interview) that I was chosen to be on Running In Heels, I started screaming and crying. I absolutely couldn’t believe it.
The Ride: And now honestly, what was your reaction when you met Ashley and Talita for the first time? You can tell me. To me, they looked like they had crazy written all over them.
Samantha: When I first met Ashley, I thought we would be great friends. She seemed nice and fun and down to earth. When I met Talita, I was SO intimidated. I thought she was the most gorgeous girl ever.
The Ride: The haterism started so early with those two especially when it came down to the assignments each of you were given. At first, it looked like you were getting all the great assignments. Then they began to get better assignments but instead of being gracious lady-like creatures, Talita and Ashley began to rub the seeming reversal of fortune in your face. You seemed relatively Zen about the whole matter. Why was your reaction so different from theirs?
Samantha: I’m a much more relaxed person than either of the two girls, and I think it has to do with being raised in Wisconsin. I’ve always worked so hard for everything I’ve gotten, so this internship just seemed like any other hardship I’ve had to work through. Also, I took everything with a grain of salt. When people criticized my work, I kept in mind that it’s just one person’s opinion (even if it was Joanna Coles, the editor in chief). Also, not to devalue fashion, but there are much more important things in the world. How could I get upset about little things when there is genocide happening in other countries, soldiers dying in Iraq, and homeless people starving right here in the U.S.? You have to keep things in perspective and be thankful of the opportunities you are given, rather than complain when things aren’t absolutely perfect.
The Ride: In contrast to your fellow interns (I am trying to be a civil as possible towards those girls but it’s hard), the staff at Marie Claire seems great. Is this just a figment of my imagination or are they as cool as they appear to be?
Samantha: Most of the staffers were great! I became close friends with a few of them right away and they really made me feel comfortable in the office.
The Ride: You come across as sweet, sincere, but with a bit of a tough streak. This is just my opinion. Do you think the real Samantha was able to shine through or is there more that we don’t know and/or should know about you?
Samantha: I think you’ve hit my personality on the head, and I’m glad you are able to see it. Watching the show, I think sometimes it looks like I’m some pathetic girl that lets people walk all over her, and that is definitely not the case. I’m confident with myself and not afraid to stand up for what I believe in, and sometimes I don’t think that comes across in the show.
The Ride: Where is your hometown? What do your friends and family say about your appearance on the show?
Samantha: I’m originally from Oshkosh, Wisconsin but I have lived for the past 4 years in Madison, Wisconsin (where I got to college). Everyone supports me 100% and congratulate me after every show. My family especially gushes over how proud they are of me, which makes me so happy.
The Ride: I take it that you consider yourself a fashionista of sorts. Am I wrong to assume that? What sparked your interest in fashion? Were you that little girl who played in her mother’s closet? Were you that teen who sneaked out of the house with her mother’s most prized designer bag that just happened to go perfectly with that pair of jeans and fabulous top?
Samantha: [Laughs] It’s funny you ask that, because I actually don’t consider myself a fashionista at all. Buying expensive designer clothes is my guilty pleasure, but normally I try to express my personal style through more affordable clothing (J.Crew, Banana Republic, etc.). After all, on my college-student budget, buying a pair of my favorite J-Brand or True Religion jeans is a luxury that I don’t have very often! I come from a family that was not concerned with fashion in the slightest. Growing up as a kid in Wisconsin, we were always fishing, camping, snowmobiling, or doing other outdoorsy things. Even as I got older, I was more concerned with being an athlete (I played volleyball for 12 years of my life, up until this year).
Although, my interest in fashion really started in middle school, I always longed for the most expensive clothing, but we could never really afford it. So, when I got my first job when I was 16, I always saved as much money as I could so I could buy my prized designer clothes and it’s been that way ever since. I’ve never been able to buy tons and tons of designer clothing, but I save up and have accumulated a small collection. I try to incorporate one of my expensive pieces with other inexpensive pieces, and have found that it works. I’ve had to develop my own sense of style, as I was never really surrounded by fashion icons (what with growing up in small-town Wisconsin); however, I feel that that is what has given me an advantage. I grew up learning of the important things in life and was able to develop my own sense of style according to my personality. And, that is what fashion is all about: figuring out who you are and expressing it through your style.
The Ride: Who is your favorite designer?
Samantha: I love Marc Jacobs because he’s fearless. He is fashion forward, progressive, and I admire his passion.
The Ride: What and/or who will you be wearing this summer?
Samantha: My flip flops and whichever sundress I see first in my closet! I’m not one of those people who agonizes over what to wear or plans out outfits. I throw on whatever I’m in the mood for in the morning (depending on what I’ll be doing that day). Honestly, it isn’t about the designer you wear, it’s about wearing what makes you feel the most like yourself.
The Ride: Finally, what advice would you give someone thinking about an internship with a fashion magazine?
Samantha: Be confident, because if you aren’t, they’ll destroy you. Take things with a grain of salt. Whatever mistakes you make and however many times you get yelled at, life goes on. And remember, there is always someone else that has it worse than you.
It was Talita, not my dear sweet Samatha, who got the job offer at the conclusion of the internship. (Talita will be the mags “West Coast Contributor”) But the powers that be, thought Samatha did a wonderful job but was not suited for the industry. And as for Ashley, the read her like a cheap novel making note of her conniving ways.