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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Royal Point of View



A Royal Point of View: Princess Gabbara Interview


Princess Gabbara is a journalist and writer with an illustrious career writing for Ebony, Essence, and xojane.com. Graduating from Eastern Michigan University in 2013, Princess had already written for well-known publications and magazines. Her ability to cover an array of topics is a testament to her hard work and special talent for writing. She has created her own blog A Royal Point of View sharing her work and experiences as a writer. She has continued to build her remarkable resume with her sights set on becoming an editor and chief of a major magazine. Princess Gabbara with her skills using the pen shows that there is more to a name and that you can in fact write your own story.

Age: 23

Hometown: Canton, Michigan

How did your passion for writing come about?

I’ve always been a writer. It just took me a while to realize that was my calling. In my early years, I would spend hours in my room penning original songs and poetry and even screenplays, daydreaming about joining the yearbook staff, and reenacting local newscasts with my younger sister as we sipped our make-belief cups of coffee. I can remember being in math class in 7th grade and my teacher always had a rack of the hottest magazines – YM, Teen People, Cosmo Girl, Seventeen, etc. – and I remember being so fascinated with them. I was a great student, but during lectures, I couldn’t stop staring at all the magazines while mentally picking out which ones I’d be taking home for the day. And whenever my mom would bring home magazines from the supermarket, I never wanted to throw them away even after reading through them all [laughs]. I still remember the first magazine I ever purchased (J-14) – and I remember being captivated by it and subscribing right away. So to answer your question, I’ve always been passionate about writing, but in my case, it was just a matter of paying attention to the signs around you. Once I started doing that, everything sort of fell into place and the minute I started writing and reporting, I instantly felt at home.

In your personal essay for xojane.com ‘My Name is Princess And Yes, It’s Unusual – Get Over It’ you talk about taking ownership of your name. What is the biggest misconception of you that you’ve had to debunk?

As you can probably imagine, having the name Princess hasn’t always been easy, but at the same time, I wouldn’t change it for anything. There have been many misconceptions that I’ve had to debunk over the years, but I have to say the biggest one is convincing people that I’m not some spoiled, stuck-up little brat who thinks the world revolves around her. Just how we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, we also shouldn’t judge a person by his or her name, but I do love proving people wrong whenever I get the chance.

You have written for a vast number of publications such as The Eastern Echo, Metro Times, Eastern Magazine, and The Ann Arbor News among others. How have your experiences there helped you grow as a writer?

Every publication that I’ve written for has helped me grow as a writer. That’s why it’s so important to intern and write for as many different publications as possible. I’d say that my time at The Eastern Echo was a chance for me to get my feet wet and make my mistakes. There, I got a chance to work my way up from a writer to a copy editor and then finally the managing editor.

My first internship ever was at Metro Times and there, I learned how to write under pressure, and I also had the opportunity to write about new topics, (food and business) which was very challenging and a little frightening at the time but so necessary when I look back. Side Note: Writing about food is not as easy as it seems [laughs].

Eastern Magazine was my second internship. I fought so hard to get that internship since they only bring on one intern per year. I was very persistent, but it paid off because I got the position. That internship is memorable because the staff there treated me like I mattered, as if I was one of their own. When they would ask for my opinion, I could tell that they genuinely cared about whatever it was I was going to say. In addition to being encouraged to pitch ideas frequently, I was also given the opportunity to help produce the university’s annual holiday card video, which was a big deal. From start to finish, I was a part of the process, even operating the cameras on the actual day of production. It was so rewarding to see the finished product because it was truly a team effort. It was also nice to step outside of my comfort zone as a writer and wear a different hat for once.

My most-recent internship was at The Ann Arbor News. That was probably my most difficult internship to date only because I had to produce 3-4 articles per week under really tight deadlines. But now I can produce four or more articles per week under tight deadlines without a problem because I’ve already done it. Also, I had to review a film and write an obituary – two things I had never done prior. The entire internship was a learning experience for me.

As I look back, I realize that I spent an entire year straight just interning at different publications. Whenever I walk into interviews and the employer glances at my resume, that’s one of the things that always seems to stand out to them – the fact that I have a lot of internships under my belt. So my advice to aspiring journalists is to write and intern whenever and wherever they can. It definitely pays off!

In your post Work Now, Play Later you talked about your desire of becoming an editor at the magazines of Vogue, Ebony, or Essence. Do you feel like that dream is now becoming more of a reality?

Absolutely. I still have some ways to go, but yes I do. But to be completely honest, I’ve always felt that my dream could turn into a reality. I mean, why not? I’m smart, diligent, and talented. My motto is “Dream big or go home.” There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big as long as you have a plan and stick with it. And that’s what I’m doing. I spend nearly every second of my day taking part in activities that I know will bring me one step closer to my dreams. It’s just a matter of time at this point.

How did you get the opportunity to write for the websites of The Glamazons Blog, xoJane, Ebony, and Essence?

Honestly, I just pitched them my ideas. Of course, I studied the publications to make sure that the ideas I pitched hadn’t already been covered by another writer. After perfecting my pitch so that it would be near impossible for them to say ‘no,’ I did my research and tracked down the contact information of each editor I needed to pitch. I hate to sound cliché, but as they say, ‘The rest is history.’

The way I began writing for The Glamazons Blog is interesting because it was sort of an accident. At the time, they were looking for a social media intern and I thought it would be a great opportunity, so I went ahead and applied for the position. I heard back the following morning from the founder/Editor-in-Chief. She basically told me that she was really impressed with my clips and would love for me to write for her blog instead. I was so flattered – I couldn’t say no!

I love the piece you wrote for Ebony.com entitled Dorothy Forever where you express that Dorothy Dandridge deserves a lot more credit than she gets. Why did you feel it was important to write that piece?
Thank you so much! That was the first-ever article that I wrote for a major publication, which makes it extra special to me. It was important for me to write a piece celebrating Dorothy Dandridge because I was coming across way too many people who had never heard of her. I also couldn’t believe how all these young Black girls had Facebook and Twitter accounts dedicated to Marilyn Monroe but knew absolutely nothing about Dorothy Dandridge. It was disheartening really. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with Marilyn Monroe. I just think it’s important to know your own history first. Obviously, I’ve never met Dorothy, I can imagine that she felt like everyone had forgotten about her toward the end of her career, including her own people, which is heartbreaking since she is the one who paved the way for all Black actresses today in Hollywood. Essentially, the article, “Dorothy Forever” was a way for me to pay tribute to the iconic actress in the best way that I knew how to and that was through writing.  I just wanted to let her know that I along with many, many others have not forgotten about her, appreciate her work, and vow to keep her legacy alive.  

Through your freelance writing career you’ve covered an array of topics spanning from entertainment, pop culture, beauty and fashion, health and wellness, to hard hitting news. Which topic do you find yourself gravitating towards the most?  

I don’t really have a niche, which I think is an advantage because it means that I can write about anything except for sports [laughs]. But, I tend to gravitate the more toward news and entertainment. I would love to dive more into pop culture and personal essays as I move forward in my journalism career. And I recently started contributing to an online health and wellness magazine and surprisingly, I’m really enjoying myself. I wasn’t expecting to – I assumed that writing about health would be really boring, but it wasn’t! I was learning as I was writing and that made it fun. I love to learn new things and educate myself whenever I can.

How difficult was it balancing having internships, being a student, and being a freelance writer?

Believe it or not, there was a time when I was juggling an internship at Metro Times; working as a freelance writer for Ebony.com, Essence.com, and The Glamazons Blog; a full-time college student; a managing editor at my campus newspaper, The Eastern Echo; and a front office assistant at my college’s radio station. I cannot tell you how many times when I felt really overwhelmed, but it was also a thrill because every time I’d complete an assignment, I felt so accomplished. I just kept telling myself, “This is all going to be worth it someday.” It was a challenge for sure, but I learned how to balance multiple projects at once. That’s life.

What compelled you to begin your blog A Royal Point of View?

It actually started as a requirement for one of my journalism classes, but after realizing how much I enjoyed it and learning that blogs are the way to go these days, I just continued blogging long after the class was finished. I’ve been doing it ever since. It was, and still is, a great way to express myself and my thoughts while connecting with people.

On A Royal Point of View I like the way you captured the culture in the cities of Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Detroit through your photography.  What inspired you to do this?

Honestly, that just sort of fell into my lap. My family and I enjoy traveling whenever we can – and I tend to be the person responsible for taking all the photos during vacation [laughs], so it was just a way to capture the places we were visiting. But now that I’ve gotten a taste of it, I’ve grown to appreciate photography more, and it’s definitely something that I would love to dive more into in the near future. I’m really intrigued by it all because if done correctly, a photo can really tell a story, or capture a moment in time – that’s what really drew me to it. It’s such an art. And after taking a photography class in college, my level of respect for photographers grew tremendously [laughs]. Like journalism, it’s hard work making it look easy.

So far who has been the most memorable person you’ve interviewed and who would you like to interview?

Well, first, let me say that I’ve been able to interview a lot of interesting people so far in my career, and I learn something new from every person that I interview, however, I have to say Mally Roncal not only because she was my first celebrity interview, but because I had been a genuine fan of hers prior to interviewing her. The funny thing is, I had been trying to interview her for my campus newspaper for a while, but I never heard back from her people, so I just assumed that it would never happen. About a year later, I was chatting with her for an even bigger publication (Essence).

As I move up the latter in my career, there are so many people I’d love to interview. Mariah Carey is the first person who comes to mind since her music has been so life-changing for me, especially her album, Daydream. Aside from Mariah, I’d say Beyoncé because who doesn’t love Beyoncé? [laughs], Oprah Winfrey because she’s the queen of talk shows and she broke barriers for people of color in television; Wendy Williams because she seems so down-to-earth and she’s hilarious on her show; and Madonna because hello, it’s Madonna and who wouldn’t want to interview the queen of pop? Truly though, there are so many others that I can’t think of right now. The list goes on and on. But I will say this: The one person that I always dreamed of interviewing/meeting someday recently passed away. I was so sad when I heard about Dr. Maya Angelou’s death. So much wisdom. She always knew exactly what to say and how to say it. I’m going to miss her.

What has been your favorite piece you’ve written either for a publication or one you’ve written on your own blog A Royal Point of View?

My favorite piece so far is “’Girls of Color’ Take American Girl Place” because I truly loved the story. I loved the fact that this teacher overheard his students talking about how American Girl was only a place for white girls and set out to prove them wrong. He went over and beyond for these little girls. He raised $14,000, which allowed him to take 27 girls and provide them with a limo ride to and from the store, private security, stylists to do their hair and nails, private dining at the store, and a doll, of course. He could’ve simply raised just enough for the dolls, but the fact that he cared enough about them to make them feel special and let them know that with enough education and hard work, anything can be theirs was so beautiful to me. I literally had tears in my eyes as I was writing the article. With so much bad news in the world today, it’s good to know that there are still some good people out there. It’s just a feel-good story. Also, not to brag, but I think I did an excellent job of telling a story. I didn’t just report what happened. I actually told a story from start to finish. I’m very proud of that piece.

Which upcoming articles have you written recently that you are most excited to share with your readers?

I have a few that I’m really excited about, but I can’t really talk about them at the moment. I really want everything to be a surprise. Plus, it’s really important to protect your ideas in this business. But, the one article that I can talk about is for Sesi Magazine’s fall issue, which should start shipping very soon. It was an in-depth, 2,700-word piece regarding Black Greek life. The whole purpose of the article is for it to help high school seniors decide which sorority is right for them or if Greek life is for them at all. I interviewed four girls – one from each of the four major Black sororities: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, and Sigma Gamma Rho. And in this upcoming article, I dived into nearly aspect of Greek life from community service and stereotypes to why they joined and their advice for incoming freshman. So far, this piece has been one of the most challenging articles I’ve ever done because there seemed to be so many obstacles in the beginning. Many of the girls that I was supposed to originally interview bailed on me the day of, leaving me to start over and find someone new, which was very difficult and stressful but so worth it in the end. It’s going to be such a rewarding feeling to finally be able to see my byline and my words glide across those pages. I think it’s going to be a big spread. And the fact that it’s print makes it extra special. Also, I just picked up a new writing gig at BlackDoctor.org. I will be contributing daily, so if you’re into health and fitness, you’re definitely going to want to check that out.

Looking forward, where do you see yourself going as you further advance your journalism career?

Well, the ultimate goal is to become an editor-in-chief of a major magazine. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but all things are possible. I would also love to serve as someone’s mentor along the way. But more importantly, I hope to inspire others with my writing and reporting. For instance, in my field, I admire Lisa Ling, Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, and Soledad O’Brien to name a few – but I hope to master my craft so that others will look to me for inspiration and an example of someone who’s knows what she’s doing. I want my words to have a positive impact on someone’s life. When people see me on television or read the articles I will have written, I want them to acquire information that will enrich their lives. Through my reporting and writing, I hope to enlighten different parts of the world.

Where can people reach you?


Dorothy Forever by Princess Gabbara

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