Freelancer entertainment writer & editor; associate editor for Sunseeker
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Heather Turk’s byline has appeared everywhere from the Los Angeles Times to Playboy.com — with her review of “The Truman Show” making the front page of The Detroit News‘ movie section when she was just 17 years old. Throughout her career, she has interviewed some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Jim Carrey, Will Smith, Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore and George Clooney. She is currently the associate editor of Allegiant Air’s in-flight publication, Sunseeker, and continues to write for a variety of other outlets, including the Los Angeles Times Las Vegas Travel Guide, Front Row Features, ShowTickets.com, BestofVegas.com and Alaska Beyond.
THO recently spoke with Heather to get the rundown on her career and journalistic style:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your path to journalism.
My mom used to tell stories of how, when I was a toddler, I would walk around our apartment with a notebook and pencil in hand and tell everyone I was going to write in my “journal.” Mind you, at this age I couldn’t read or write yet, but my mom says all signs were there that I was going to be a journalist. In middle school and high school I was always involved with the school newspapers, and when I was in the eighth grade, our county newspaper in Michigan was looking for some local movie critics. I submitted a review of “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit,” and it was chosen for publication. They started publishing my reviews every Thursday never knowing I was just a kid. I continued emailing in my reviews every week for publication until I was ready to go to college. By the time I moved to Los Angeles and started college at the University of Southern California (where I double majored in Print Journalism and Film/TV Critical Studies), I had more than a hundred movie reviews printed, including my review of “The Truman Show” which ran on the front page of The Detroit News’ movie section when I was 17 years old. By Christmas break my freshman year at USC, I had already interviewed two of the top three celebrities I wanted to interview at some point during my career – Will Smith and Adam Sandler – and worked on a movie set with the other, Jim Carrey (I would later go on to interview Carrey for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Majestic” and “Bruce Almighty.”)
What is your favorite aspect of the work you do every day?
Being in Las Vegas now, I love that there’s literally something I can write about every day, whether it’s a show, a movie screening, a restaurant, a spa or some big event. I’m also just a short plane ride away from Southern California, so I go back and forth often to cover things there as well. There’s never enough time to cover everything, but I make sure to typically RSVP for at least one thing a day so I can write about it later. There’s no point in living in the Entertainment Capital of the World if you’re just going to sit on your sofa at home! That’s the fun part of my job—but there’s definitely a work part too, where I’m writing, fact checking, interviewing and proof reading.
What is the best pitch you’ve ever received?
There was some new party bus in Las Vegas launching a tour and I got a cryptic email from a local PR firm asking when would be a good time for someone to make a delivery. I didn’t know what to expect. When the day/time came and I opened the door, there was a mime on my doorstep holding a cake. You had to eat the cake to get to the official invite inside. Not only was the whole pitch creative, it was one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had in my life!
What are some tips for people who want to pitch you a story?
Just like anything else, know your audience. I know I freelance for a variety of places, so I don’t mind getting last-minute press releases because you never know if I might be able to use it someplace, but a lot of the print outlets I write for are quarterly or bi-monthly. It’s always nice to receive pitches as early as possible so I can try to include them in some print publications, too.