In less than six years, Nojan Aminosharei has gone from assisting an entertainment director to assuming the role. With that ascension, its’s safe to say Aminosharei has some star power of his own. Below, Hearst Magazines Digital Media’s celebrity guru dishes on making bold career moves, what TV show to watch now and why he’s so not over meeting the stars.
How did you decide you wanted to go into entertainment journalism?
I’m from Vancouver, Canada. I got a bachelor’s degree there in criminology. I always wanted to be a lawyer since I was a little kid. I studied criminology as a precursor to law school and I remember the exact moment — I was in a class, and I looked down at the giant textbook in front of me — I realized I didn’t want to go into law. So I went home and I thought about why I was so attracted to that career in the first place and I realized that it was because I was such an avid viewer of TV shows. And this was the early ons, so everything was a crime procedural like Law & Order, SVU, Ally McBeal. I was more attracted to the creation of those shows than anything else. I also happened to have stacks of magazines around my room. So kind of on a whim, I applied to NYU, so that I could come to New York and basically report and write about TV.
What was your first job?
I started as the assistant to the entertainment director at Elle magazine. There actually wasn’t strictly an opening at the time. The editors there noticed me during my time as an intern in a couple of ways. One was just making it very clear in the work that I did that I had an interest in entertainment. I remember once transcribing an interview with an executive, a behind-the-camera person, and I was really excited about it. And I think that was kind of a signal to editors that, “Oh he’s actually interested in this world and knows something about it.” One the other hand it’s just having an attention to detail and doing all the small tasks that you’re given, well. It’s surprising that just being competent and trying to do a good job isn’t something that a lot of people project, so it actually does make you stand out more.
What advice would you give to people who haven’t been able to land an entertainment-focused internship, but really want to pursue a career in it?
I think once you’re actually in an editorial position and once you’ve been in the industry for a while you see that everything and everyone is interconnected. So I think that if you do a good job at your internship striking up a rapport and building a relationship with one of your editors and just talking about what your interests are, they may have connections at other places that might be more your speed.
One of the big fears junior editors have is a lack of upward mobility in the magazine business. How did you find that mobility?
I think it’s a matter of finding the opportunities and taking them when they’re presented to you. Everyone always tells you to take the meeting and I think that’s an important piece of advice. I always take the meeting. I think in my time in the industry I’ve taken meetings where within a week I’ve sent them an email saying, “Thank you so much for meeting with me, but I think I should stay put for whatever reason.” And you never know. Two years later that person might recommend you for another job. I’ve been here in New York for 8 years, the first year and a half was the internship. Then it was starting out as an assistant at Elle and I worked my way up to associate editor there. Then I went to Details and I was the entertainment editor there. Then I went to GQ as a senior associate editor in entertainment. And then became a senior editor. And then came to Hearst Digital Media. I was at each of those places for about two-and-a-half years before moving.
What’s a typical day like for you?
At Hearst Digital Media there’s a group of us that work with all the brands and that makes everyday different. Some days I’ll come in and most of my day will be dedicated to a photo shoot for HarpersBazaar.com. Other days it will be a string of meetings for Elle.com, then an Esquire meeting for a Snapchat Discover channel and a meeting with the Marie Claire editors for this new thing we want to book. But the constant throughout all of them is coming in and finding opportunities for each brand and putting things into motion at the right time.
Years ago, a magazine cover was the ultimate currency for a celebrity. Do stars get just as excited about doing something online or for social media or is the print cover still the ultimate goal?
A lot of celebrities just want to do a cover for their movie and that’s it. It’s what they’re contractually obligated to do and they can build a set around it, do it, and then go back to their lives. Others are engaging with their audience directly through social media in such a grand way, so it really depends on who it is and how they serve our audience and how we help them do something new and fun.
When you wake up, what’s your need-to-read celebrity news?
Page Six, which I only started reading every morning a year or two ago at a recommendation of a friend. I can’t believe I lasted six years without it becoming part of my daily routine. Vulture. I have friends that write for them and I love their coverage. It straddles the line between a trade outlet and general interest outlet. It scratches my itch as a voracious fan. They’ll do deep dives into things you thought you wouldn’t be interested in. I get all the trades: The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Entertainment Weekly. I get the print copies of those which I stack behind my desk and which are always stolen.
Have you ever been star struck?
Yes, absolutely. I’m not going to say that I’m over it or jaded. There are definitely certain kinds of people that are very specific to me. I remember being on the phone with Jessica Walter and having tears in my eyes and meeting Linda Gray from the original Dallas and trying to keep it together. But then I also am star stuck by very traditional celebrities. I remember being on a photoshoot with Cate Blanchett who is amazing in every way that you would dream and amazing in ways you would only discover when you meet her. Same thing with Tilda Swinton, who is just kind in so many ways that make you feel so special. The list goes on. I remember being surprised by how star struck I was by Rob Lowe. He looks like you in the eyes with those baby blues and you’re like, “Oh my God, it’s Rob Lowe.”
What’s your favorite on TV right now?
One of the problems with watching so much TV is when someone asks you what your favorite shows are and you draw a blank. It’s kind of like the Three Stooges Syndrome. But there’s a show Netflix just announced called The OA that I’m excited for people to see.
Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat?
Instagram. I think there’s an ease of use to it. I know people who are phenomenal for Snapchat but I do not have their stamina. Instagram, I’m able to take a photo, run it through some filters, think of a quippy caption and then I’m good for the day. If you want to engage with Snapchat the way it’s meant to be engaged with you need to be on it all the time.