Today marks the release of our sister publication, The L Magazine‘s “30 Under 30″ feature and we thought we’d highlight a few of the people featured by running Q&As with them. One of these people is writer/editor Jazmine Hughes. At just 23 years old, Hughes is the Contributing Editor at The Hairpin (the only other full-time position on the beloved site other than editor-in-chief), has offered her opinion on the topic of clickbait with the New York Times, and been published in The New Yorker. While it might be tempting to read this list of accomplishments as being the resume of an almost unrelatable prodigy, the plain truth is that Hughes has gotten to where she is through talent and intelligence, yes, but also determination, hard work, and a few false starts in New York. Read all about Huhges below.
How old are you?
Tell me a little bit about the path that took you to where you are today—both in your career, and just, you know, in Brooklyn.
I have moved to New York three times and this last time has been the charm. The first time was the summer before my senior year of college; I interned at New York magazine and lived in Fort Greene and I was like, “Yes, ok, this is it. This is where my life is supposed to be. I’m going to graduate from college and work at New York magazine and move back to Fort Greene because I will able to afford it.” Only half of that was true. The second time, I’d just graduated and moved to attend a summer program at Columbia. I wrote the following Facebook status: “I am moving to Manhattan. I hope to never type those words again.” So hip and tortured!!!!! Then I finished that, ran out of money, moved home, got a job, commuted for a bit, thought I’d save money, didn’t, moved back, and now I am here.
I started working at New York after I finished the summer program, first as a factchecker and then as a producer, neither of which were the “hotshot cover story writer” that I envisioned myself being. I learned a lot, though, especially that “not everyone who works at a magazine writes for that magazine,” and that was invaluable. I wasn’t writing, though, so after a year there, I started freelancing and making stupid jokes on Twitter, and then a Canadian angel hired me to help her edit the Hairpin, which was literally my dream job—I once emailed Emma Carmichael when she was running it and told her I dreamt she hired me and we started a wine vertical. I should tell more people about my weird dreams.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, because the cynical, whip-smart friend in TV shows is always a lawyer and I wanted to be that girl. So I cut my hair short and declared a major in government in college, but it wasn’t really my scene— I edited the school paper and hung around the English department so much and took so many classes that everyone sort of thought I was an English major, including the English department. They recently invited me back to be on a panel and I had to remind them that I was a big phony. Majoring in government was actually a very screwed up blessing in disguise — I realized too late, to the downfall of both my sanity and my GPA, that government wasn’t a field I wanted to go into, but it was such a writing-heavy concentration that I was constantly was exercising that muscle. I also discovered a muscle I didn’t know I had, the fabled bullshitting-about-foreign-policy muscle. I still use both to this day!
Has it ever been challenging to be taken seriously because of your age?
More from myself than anyone else, though I have heard my fair share of Doogie Howser jokes. I find myself using my age as motivator but also as a shield to keep myself from doing things that I am too afraid to do. It’s easy to postpone goals when you’ve convinced yourself you have an extra two years to do them. But that’s such limiting, poisonous thinking, and I have to try really hard to get myself out of it. There’s no excuse not to do anything right now.
What advice do you have for people who feel like they don’t have enough experience/aren’t old enough to go after their career dreams?
There’s no excuse not to do anything right now—hello, are you even reading this?! I just said that. You are the person who wants it, so you have to be the person to do it, case closed. Things like age or a lack of a college degree or stage fright or ebola shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to do. Do it big and do it now.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Well, first and foremost, I will be, like, wildly hot. Scorching, mindboggingly hot. Sometimes believing this is the only thing that gets me through my still-pimply twenties. So I’m super hot, likely married, with a kid whose first word was “TK” or something. Career-wise: I’d like to be a managing editor, because I LIKE to write but I LOVE telling people what to do. I’d also like to have a sandwich named after me.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen