Jabeen Waheed talks Journalism, DESIblitz & Hollywood

Explore Jabeen Waheed’s inspiring journey from DESIblitz to Hollywood’s A-list, fuelled by her profound passion for entertainment journalism.

Jabeen Waheed talks Journalism, DESIblitz & Hollywood

"One day, you'll get a yes that will change your life"

Within entertainment journalism, there are those who carve out their own path and leave a tantalising impact on the industry.

Jabeen Waheed, a remarkable freelance entertainment journalist, is one such individual.

Her journey from humble beginnings to Hollywood’s red carpet is nothing short of inspiring.

Over the course of more than a decade, Jabeen has made her presence felt with a plethora of bylines in publications such as Glamour UK, POPSUGAR, OK! Online, MailOnline, Stylist, and many more.

Her portfolio reads like a who’s who of the entertainment world, featuring interviews with A-listers like Tom Hanks, Rita Ora, RAYE, and the enigmatic Lady Gaga.

However, what sets Jabeen apart is not just her impressive roster of celebrity interviews but her remarkable journey that began at DESIblitz.

Today, as she jets between London and Los Angeles, Jabeen is a shining example of tenacity, talent, and the ability to break barriers.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into her early days, her transition into Hollywood’s inner circle, and the experiences she’s had within this field. 

Can you tell us about your early days writing for DESIblitz?

Jabeen Waheed talks Journalism, DESIblitz & Hollywood

The early days were tough.

I was trying to find my groove in the industry and figure out what kind of stories my style of writing was suited to, what type of projects editors were trying to commission, and what sort of staff positions were going.

However, I persevered and gained a few internships and some freelance gigs, including DESIblitz.

It made me a much more confident writer and gave me the feeling that my voice was heard.

Soon after, I utilised that very confidence and skills to secure a full-time position at MailOnline.

When I left the company four years later, I had a much deeper understanding of what it took to succeed in the cutthroat world of journalism.

And, I knew what it took to stand out in an industry where thousands of people were fighting for the same position.

What motivated you to pursue a career in entertainment journalism?

I was a shy and intentional child, and sometimes it was hard to find my place amongst my peers.

So, movies and television, where there seemed to be many fictional people like me or people I aspired to be like in the future, were always a safe place and a significant sense of escapism for me.

“In that sense, DESIblitz contributed significantly to boosting my position in the industry.”

It was a one-stop place where people who looked like me and had my background could tell their stories and champion creativity in a British Asian culture that didn’t stereotypically do so.

In what ways did writing for DESIblitz help develop your skills?

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I had some key moments to sharpen my in-person interviewing skills at DESIblitz.

One memory I will never forget is being chosen as the lead journalist to get some exclusive content for the website during Pakistan Fashion Week, which was held in London.

During my time writing for DESIblitz, I also highlighted terrific achievements made by females in the South Asian community.

For example, documenting Priyanka Chopra’s humble beginnings in Hollywood and the career of Puneet Bhandal, a Bollywood author.

Can you share any memories from your celebrity interviews?

Many celebrity interviews usually end up being a blur of excitement and adrenaline, especially if it’s on a red carpet.

That whole experience can end up being ‘every man for themselves’.

There are many moving parts to that sort of high-paced environment, and you never truly know how it can turn out or whether you’ll actually get to chat with the celebrity you want to.

“In terms of my most memorable moment, it would have to be Lady Gaga.”

Being the star she is and how aware she was of all the people who had come out to see her, she took her time with every film journalist.

She thoughtfully and passionately answered everyone’s questions while making direct eye contact at The Star Is Born premiere.

What challenges did you face entering entertainment journalism? 

Jabeen Waheed talks Journalism, DESIblitz & Hollywood

DESIblitz was an excellent springboard for me to transition into writing for nationwide and even global publications.

I already knew what to expect in terms of pitching, researching, and writing pieces under a tight deadline.

However, my main issues stemmed from the industry being so competitive.

So, getting those publications to notice my previous experiences and how I could contribute to them proved a challenge initially.

Off the back of that, there’s also a sense of pressure that you have to deliver and not let editors down.

You’re aware that a lot of them are running international publications that require writing seamless in-house content, meeting deadlines, and being constantly aware of the type of content people are consuming.

How has the landscape of entertainment journalism changed?

I remember being encouraged to start a little something called a Twitter account in the early days of my internship days.

I literally had no idea what a massive deal it would become, even just a few months later.

And in the last decade alone, social media has spiralled into this global phenomenon that journalists would be lost without today.

It is the critical tool I have used to see what is trending, what people are actually talking/debating about, and what they’re looking forward to in terms of future trends, rising stars, and hot topics.

As many cons as it has, it has been invaluable in the strategies journalists have utilised to stay relevant in a constantly changing industry.

Unfortunately, given the speed at which digital media has reigned supreme, it has meant the sad demise of print magazines.

“I grew up reading them and thought I would be writing for them in the future as a young girl.”

Nowadays, some magazines have managed to cling on, but the last time I worked for a print magazine was in 2020, and sadly, it immediately went down due to the pandemic layoffs.

Can you discuss the importance of diversity and representation?

Jabeen Waheed talks Journalism, DESIblitz & Hollywood

While we have made significant strides in this arena, diversity and representation in entertainment journalism is still a work in progress.

Unfortunately, many people in our community still think that any creative career is unattainable due to cultural stigma.

Still, we should push forward the narrative that you should authentically follow the career and hobbies you enjoy and not live your life for anyone else.

I believe my work has contributed to this as I, as a South Asian woman, have had a lot of opportunities to interview some incredible high-profile South Asian women.

It’s always a massive pinch-me moment when other South Asian women get in contact with me to say they have enjoyed those interviews and felt inspired by them.

I also recently had the opportunity to interview Sarita Choudhury for And Just Like That.

But I’ve known her since her Mississippi Masala days alongside Denzel Washington, so that was probably the most star-struck I had ever been!

What’s the most rewarding aspect of covering high-profile events?

Being invited to a high-profile event that I have grown up watching is rewarding in itself.

It’s such a major moment, and nothing that I would have ever imagined being in attendance at when growing up.

“It proves I have come a long way due to my hard work.”

I’ve pushed through specific stereotypical narratives and cultural expectations that I was expected to oblige.

Hands down, standout moments include being face-to-face with celebrities I grew up watching, such as Tom Hanks.

And, speaking to others whose works I’m obsessed with, such as Elizabeth Banks, Rita Ora, and Gabrielle Union, who have been completely dialled into what I’m asking them.

How has the international perspective influenced your work?

Jabeen Waheed talks Journalism, DESIblitz & Hollywood

Experiencing an international aspect of journalism is vital.

While the entertainment industry makes the world go round and everyone needs a bit of light relief, it can look different in certain parts of the world.

The type of media consumed in London compared to Los Angeles can be quite different.

It’s interesting to see what sort of things excite others across the globe that you may not commonly think about.

I have also utilised that when back home and pitched specific topics that I have seen done elsewhere, and they have done brilliantly for whatever publication I was working for.

I’ve always been lucky enough to spend a year working in Australia, and they are big on reality television compared to star-studded Hollywood movies and shows, so that was interesting!

How do you adapt your writing to suit a publication’s voice?

I make sure to do my research.

I have a huge people-pleaser side when I want to ensure that I understand a publication’s house style and its readership.

If I don’t, I feel as though I’m wasting the team’s time. Of course, these places offer extensive training.

“If they don’t, and you’re entirely left to your own devices, it’s a huge red flag!”

I also make sure to take everything, make notes, and be in the mindset of willing to learn, even though I do feel confident in my skills.

If I have a problem or don’t quite understand anything, I have no problem asking an editor for further guidance.

I spent the early years of my life hesitant to ask, but it’s true what they say: ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Jabeen Waheed talks Journalism, DESIblitz & Hollywood

Again, research, research, research! Know what kind of journalism you want to get into.

Do you want to cover the latest movies and television series or do you want to get into reviewing new projects and being big on the festival season circuit?

Do you want a staff position covering breaking celebrity news and juicy gossip or do you want to interview and write profiles on stars?

There are so many avenues that if you narrow it down, get some work experience, and have something like a blog or a dedicated social media account, there’s no way an editor won’t take notice.

And the biggest advice that has been tried and tested by me is to be persistent. Of course, without crossing a line.

I cannot tell you how many emails and messages I have sent to some editors I wanted to work with who have eventually gone on and hired me as a freelancer.

You have to get used to hearing ‘no’ because you’ll get a lot of them.

But one day, you’ll get a yes that will change your life.

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you’re excited about?

I’m currently continuing my freelancing commitments as I feel content with where I am.

I plan to evolve as an entertainment journalist by pursuing an international perspective on things, whether abroad or helping publications build global verticals of their already established entertainment content.

At the end of the day, the entertainment industry and journalism are rapidly changing.

“I just want to make sure I feel secure and confident in keeping up with the changes.”

As we bid farewell to our conversation with Jabeen Waheed, it’s clear that her journey from DESIblitz to the bright lights of Hollywood is a testament to the power of passion and perseverance.

Her remarkable career has given her the opportunity to interview some of the biggest names in the industry.

But she has also opened doors for aspiring journalists, particularly those from diverse backgrounds, to follow in her footsteps.

From her insightful commentary on Hollywood’s film and television shows to her thorough coverage of award seasons, Jabeen’s work continues to resonate with readers across the globe.

Her career serves as a reminder that dreams are within reach, and with dedication, one can turn a few articles into a flourishing career.

Discover more of Jabeen Waheed’s work here

Balraj is a spirited Creative Writing MA graduate. He loves open discussions and his passions are fitness, music, fashion, and poetry. One of his favourite quotes is “One day or day one. You decide.”

Images courtesy of Instagram.

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