there's always a model search or two going around town, most of them
are localized and very few branch out into a nation wide search.
And the ones who do are usually either a gimmick or part of a reality
show and 99% of the time aren't even worth the effort. Which is why
the recent Bud Girl Search has seemed like a nice change of pace as
Budwiser has been looking for a new model out of Utah for its
Leading the charge for the search has been XPOSE Photography (with local division company Studio One), holding competitions all building up to the finale this Wednesday night. In preparation for this week's event, I got a chance to chat with the current Modeling & Promotions Director, and former In This Week writer, Amanda Chamberlain. Talking about her career in publishing and the work she's doing now, the competition, thoughts on local media and a few other topics.
Gavin: Hey Amanda! First off, tell us a bit about yourself.
Amanda: Hi, Gavin! Wow, it's so surreal to be on this side of the interview! This is my first time being an interviewee, besides a few college paper features. So let's give this a go: I am happiest when I'm on my motorcycle, hanging out with my fiance/family, writing, TV hosting and traveling. I have a few tattoos, I love heavy metal, and I will stop at nothing until I reach my dreams. I love people and aim to be kind to everyone I meet.
Gavin: What originally drew your interest in wanting to be in media, and what inspired you to make it a career?
Amanda: In high school I was into art, so I signed up to be the cartoonist for the student newspaper. It was Spring Break and a writer went out of town early, so the adviser asked me to write an article in addition to my weekly comic. I fell in love with arranging words in a way that felt as artistic as drawing cartoons, and I got addicted to making up these little creative "zingers" that made the articles my own. I was so addicted to it that after high school, I dropped my initial plan of art school for a journalism program at SLCC and signed up for the school paper. Even when I got the job at In, my addiction kept me finding for other ways to showcase creativity, leading me to meddle in TV, radio and social media.
Gavin: You put yourself through college at SLCC. Why did you first choose community college as opposed to heading to a university, and what was it like for you taking part in things like the school paper and television show?
Amanda: It was cheap! My family couldn't afford to send me to college, so after I graduated I worked full-time and payed for my full-time classes as I went along. My schedule was intense because, as I worked my way up at the SLCC’s newspaper to Senior Editor, I basically had three full-time jobs. I'd work from 8-4, go to school from 4-9, then work at the paper until 2 or 3AM. But I had the support of mentors like Nina Edgmand - a professor who recommended me to host campus TV shows - and Nick Burns - the paper's adviser who taught me everything I know about print journalism – to help me along. I can say with 100% conviction that it was my SLCC family and the experience working at The Globe newspaper that have helped me achieve a degree of success.
Gavin: How did the opportunity come about to work with Cosmic Pictures?
Amanda: I was working at a West Valley call center for Smith's Corporate Office. One day, I turned an article in to the corporate newsletter (as I did every month); this one about how the company advertised that they gave all this money to charity when in fact, the amount consisted almost entirely of employee and customer donations. After that realization, I got pretty jaded and started looking for a new job. I interviewed with Cosmic Pictures, a great production company, and loved the fact it was a creative, family-owned business. Luckily, they liked me, too!
Gavin: What was your experience like working there, and what was it like creating and working on the "Stalking Santa" project?
Amanda: It blew my mind, the change I felt switching from a cold environment to a creative one. I learned loads about the production process from pros like Cosmic Pictures owner and renowned director Greg Kiefer. I got to entertain my growing passion for on-camera work by stepping in for commercials when they needed a small part (I'm the hand that dips a fry into the sauce in an Arctic Circle commercial, which I still see on late night TV sometimes!). And it ruled working there as the team wrote, filmed and edited the feature film "Stalking Santa" narrated by William Shatner. I can’t claim credit for any of the film, but I did promote the hell out of it at Vail when we made it into the Vail Film Festival, and I also started its first marketing campaign by setting it up a MySpace, through which I’d contact film critics for reviews.
Gavin: What made you decide to head to the U for your Journalism degree? And how was their program compared to SLCC?
Amanda: I wanted a full bachelor's degree, and read that the U boasted the best program in Utah (it's also a top-100 rated school). I'm grateful for the scholarship and hands-on classes with which the U provided me, but I really think that without those years spent at SLCC with my mentors and The Globe Newspaper, I wouldn't be as well-rounded.
Gavin: At this time, how did you eventually get the job working for In This Week?
Amanda: In launched during my last year at SLCC, and I remember my professor Nick Burns telling me about the new publication. Even when I was doing hard(ish) news at The Globe, I'd slip in articles about Cradle of Filth and Arch Enemy. So when it came time for an internship at the U, I thought of In because I wanted to further explore that type of journalism. I approached In's then-editor Michael Yount, who hired me as an intern/freelancer. He patiently helped me transition from the news world of The Globe into wider-spanning entertainment coverage, and encouraged me to hone my passion for music, style and nightlife into magazine-grade articles. If SLCC was the impetus for my journalism career, then Michael Yount was the one for my entertainment career. When the semester ended, he unexpectedly offered me a job as one of the four in-office staff writers, which my 20-year-old self gladly accepted. I'll always be very grateful to him for giving me what, really, was my first big break.
Gavin: What was it like coming into that publication, becoming one of the main staffers and having an influence over content?
Amanda: It was a collaborative editorship over at The Globe, so it was a relief to find out In was the same way. I appreciated the freedom I had to choose my own content, and I believed in the magazine so much that I made it my life to not only write and research articles, but also tell people about them. I started finding new ways to do this, which led to my radio, TV and event appearances. I’d write, then promote, which - at the time - was an unheard for someone on the editorial side of things. I did a lot more than was in my job description (and my paycheck), but since I believed in the product so much, and genuinely enjoyed meeting all these great local scenemakers, I didn't mind. And content-wise, I feel the direction I tried to take was more relatable to our readers since I was the demographic: The somewhat-mainstream yet culture-curious 20-something who liked to go out.
Gavin: Over time with promos, photo shoots, radio gigs, appearances and overall exposure, you arguable became the most recognized face of the magazine. How did you deal with the sudden local fame and recognition that comes with that?
Amanda: Psh, I’m no celebrity! But I am a people-person, so I genuinely love when people introduce themselves to me at clubs, events, the grocery store, wherever. There are people who think I’m this total attention whore because of my amount of Facebook friends or whatever, but in reality, I simply enjoy meeting people because I can learn from them, so in my opinion, the more, the better! Oftentimes, I’ll go places alone to keep myself free to meet new people and reconnect with those I’ve already met. What I don’t like is when people ask me for favors all the time without ever reciprocating. I’m happy to help, but there’s only enough time in a day, you know?
Gavin: Most recently you left In with not much public knowledge as to why. What led to your eventual departure, and what's your take on your experience at In as a whole?
Amanda: After three years at the mag, I started feeling creatively frustrated. In was a small staff of four, and with a weekly deadline and large workload (which also included designing the magazine every week), I felt that I did not have enough time to produce quality work. I pushed management often to utilize freelance help, but a “lack of budget” prevented them from action. Couple that with the fact I was doing all of this additional promoting and content directing without any reward (on the contrary, I often got in trouble for promoting efforts), and you can see how I grew weary of it. It was a tough day when I realized that I had given all of my identity and time to a company that did not reciprocate. And apparently, I was replaceable, as my managers made very clear to me one day. That blew my mind, given the amount of time and loyalty I devoted to the magazine.
Gavin: How did the opportunity to work with XPOSE come about?
Amanda: Up until about last November, my Facebook and MySpace albums were dominated by pin-ups and drink-in-hand party-girl photos. I realized I needed some professional photos for my budding TV career, so a friend referred me to Studio 1 Photography - a division of XPOSE Photography. I was so happy with the experience (getting professional hair/makeup, two incredible photographers and a great batch of photos) that I kept in touch with the general manager Russ Smith. I found out that they were hiring, and recommended myself for the job. They hired me so fast that after leaving In, I was technically only unemployed for one day.
Gavin: Right now you're the Modeling & Promotions Director for the company. What exactly does your job entail on a daily basis?
Amanda: It’s a pretty nebulous title that entails everything from managing the modeling department of a photography studio (the other department does weddings) to partnering with other brands to create promotions and events. At In, I built relationships, promoted and helped plan events, so I had the foundation required for this position. But now, I get to be a manager to four wonderful employees, as well as interact with all of the same local movers and shakers on a business level. I feel I’ve grown not only as a professional, but also as a person. I’m more assertive, have tougher skin, and am more confidant in my decisions. I kind of grew up.
Gavin: What kind of events and promotions and services do you usually handle, and what major companies do you work with?
Amanda: XPOSE has a very unique business model. Not only is it a full-service studio with a staff of respected photographers, hair/makeup artists and photo editors, but with the amount of young, beautiful models and brides who come through its doors, it’s also a gold mine for businesses seeking direct contact with that demographic. So the promotions part of my job entails creating model searches and events that not only gives aspiring models exposure to brands like Budweiser, but also pairs these third-party businesses with XPOSE’s desirable clientele. In addition to that, we are a preferred photographer for all of the reputable agencies in Utah who send us their talent to get portfolios done, and the wedding arm, Studio 1, books more weddings than any other studio in Utah.
Gavin: Speaking of, tell us about the Utah Bud Girl contest and what you have planned for this final round.
Amanda: XPOSE, Urban Talent and Budweiser launched the Utah Bud Girl Search in February, which gives models the opportunity to be a part of the Utah Bud Girl promotional modeling team and win $8,500 in cash and prizes. It’s a real job that Budweiser is really hiring for, so it’s a prime opportunity for models looking to launch their career. It’s incredible that there’s so much buzz around both the search and the preliminary events that we’ve held over the past three months. I’m biting my nails to their beds with how excited I am to announce the winner on April 28! We’re holding the grand finale at Elevate, which will entail a Personality Pageant with the top fifteen finalists judged by Bev the Bud Mama who runs the promotional modeling team, and Urban Talent who represents them. Clubgoers can expect to mingle with some of the loveliest, friendliest ladies and be truly entertained with the candid (and probably humorous) answers contestants give during the pageant. All of the local scenemakers will be there, so if there’s an event to kick off the summer right, this is it.
Gavin: After this, what other major events does XPOSE have planned throughout the year?
Amanda: I’m currently working on our next two model searches, since we aim to have them year-round. Hint: One deals with fitness and another with tattoos. Also, we’ll be launching our own TV show in May, for which I will be the host. And there’s never a dull moment around here, so I’m sure there will be other things that pop up in between all of that.
Gavin: Going local for a bit, what's your take on local media in Utah, both good and bad?
Amanda: I think we have a vibrant alternative media scene with a diversity that would make a big city jealous. You have SLUG reppin’ the underground, City Weekly reppin’ the underdog, Catalyst reppin’ the new-agers, QSaltLake reppin’ the GLBT population, and In acting as - according to one club owner - the “nightlife newsletter.” And as long as they make sure their online and event presences are as strong, if not stronger, than their print, they should survive. At least I hope they do.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make things better or more prominent?
Amanda: I feel that print and TV news staffs need to get out more in order to stay in touch with the people and places they profile. Radio DJs are great at this - always out and about - which I think makes them relatable and thus worthy of their local celebrity. And to hard news journalists, please try to be as unbiased as possible. People deserve to form their own opinions, not have you do it for them.
Gavin: Considering the number of events that have been coming to SLC in recent years, do you believe we'll become a hotspot for major publicity down the road or stick to being more of a secret location?
Amanda: Until Ozzfest comes to Utah, I’m not convinced. Just kidding. I am really digging the thickening skyline (I love skylines) and think that the Downtown Rising initiative has improved Salt Lake’s repertoire with tourists and locals alike. I do think, though, that local nightlife needs to step it up. Things are dead right now. Us clubgoers used to be able to count on certain clubs for certain nights, and now clubs are focusing less on honing in on a niche night and theme, and more on generalizing. I’d like to see us get back into that groove where every night of the week, there’s one or two clubs killing it. Not a bunch of clubs just going through the motions Tue–Sat. People want to be entertained, not filed in like dollar signs.
Gavin: Who are some of the people in our local scene that you believe people should be paying attention to for their efforts in promoting the city?
Amanda: I think you’re doing a great job, Gavin, in seeking out people who deserve good press but are often bypassed by the media. I think local business owners in general should be recognized for enriching our local economy and culture. I have the pleasure now of working for a local business and I appreciate their transparency and individual attention. Also, Salt Lake is lucky to have DJs like Juggy, Brisk, JSJ, Sayo, DC, and many more. As well as nightlife veterans like Mara Marian, Dustin Esson/Camila Grover, Bryan Borreson, Vaughn Carrick/Konstantine Deslis, Shaun Kimball, Adrian Chiaramonte, etc., who give clubgoers a reason to go out.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?
Amanda: Personally, I'm going to continue to support the scene by attending events and spreading the word through social media. I’ll also continue to do TV and event hosting gigs, and I hope to have a book published by the end of the year.
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Amanda: Well, I guess you know where to find me, Facebook or Twitter, as well as AmandaChamberlain.tv. I’d like to thank you for the interview, Gavin, and thanks to your readers for taking time to get to know me! I’m very humbled.