One would think that after six years of living in New York City and not only surviving the crazy entertainment industry but also making notable moves within it, I’d have a clear idea where my career was headed right now. Try again.
I’ll never forget the day I moved to the United States: January 12, 2007. The 14-hour flight from Sydney to Los Angeles was a breeze, having previously gone back and forth more times than I cared to remember on missions of work, fun and love (“and in that order,” word to Momma Dee). The second leg of the journey to New York is always killer and when my flight arrived to a freezing dawn at JFK airport, I was physically and mentally exhausted. Running on excitement and adrenalin, I had to report to my new office that same morning.
Said office, located on the famous Broadway stretch but in super cool, downtown-ish Union Square, is none other than the headquarters of leading online retailer of street fashion, DrJays.com. It’s now become my home away from home, a beautiful space with views of the city. My city, I claim today. It’s here where I’ve conducted interviews with some of the biggest names in music, put together photo shoots for the hottest brands and most importantly, learned more about the business of the internet than I could have ever imagined. Tasked with creating lifestyle content for the first time not only on DrJays.com but its sister site DJPremium, with an additional project of re-launching the company’s trailblazing social network StreetStyle.com, I was thrown in the deep end from day one and kept busy around the clock. Till now.
Sometime last year, I started having my first meltdown. I’ve always been clear with my career aspirations; I had my heart set on becoming a journalist since I read a book called The Reporter in the fourth grade and immediately started a family newsletter. I’ve charged toward my goal like a bull towards a waving red flag, from interning for free to commanding a high salary. Something strangely negative clicked in me mid 2012, however, causing me to falter from my usual advancement. I stopped caring about my work for the first time and started to feel it was taking me nowhere. That career plateau is a mother of a feeling. Sheesh. Not only had I convinced myself my place within the industry (an industry I’d put my heart and soul into since a teenager) was diminishing, the quality of the industry was deteriorating before my eyes. Things had changed so much I honestly lost my bearing.
I started to reflect on days gone by when a record label’s publicity team would travel to my office to pitch their artists, instead of me having to chase them down for content. The good ol’ days when you were one of a select few to interview an artist and not lined up like cattle on “press day,” lumped in with a growing number of neophytes who’d decided to become reporters on a whim and through their incessant groveling on Twitter, stunningly did. “Twitter is where groupies have become journalists and journalists have become groupies,” I expressed at the time. The recent trend of massive conference calls with artists (read: countless bloggers, DJs, etc on one phone line) to promote new releases, a true insult for someone who actually takes interviewing seriously, ground my gears. Perhaps the biggest blow to someone whose moniker is “Boss Lady,” I started being passed up for once-in-a-lifetime, lucrative media positions in favor of women with flimsy reality television resumes and absolutely no experience in the field. This and more began to consume me, to the point where I actually considered stepping away from everything.
I kept my developing doubts and feelings to myself for months until one day toward the end of the year, a friend stepped in and made me face them. Living away from home for so long had taken its toll, and I needed someone from back home, someone who knew me when I was first getting my start, to get me back on track. That person is my brother from another, Andy Murnane from Dawn Raid Entertainment/Frequency Media Group in New Zealand. His model of success is the only one I’ve ever truly admired: from the streets to the boardroom. I’ve known Andy since I started my magazine, Urban Hitz, in 2003 and couldn’t be more proud of him. Andy and I discussed everything for hours (sorry to cry on your shoulder, bro; I’ll never be able to thank you enough) and the outcome was this: get focused, get disciplined and get back to loving the culture that made me who I am today. Embrace the hard work I’ve put in, put my ego to the side and stay low and keep firing. I decided to travel back to Australia to fully get my priorities in order again, not to mention remember the hunger that brought me to New York in the first place. It’s where I am right now, typing this extended first entry in my new weekly “American Dreamin’” column.
I’m now switching over to a new work visa, from an E3 category to an O-1B. It will allow me to have DrJays.com as my backbone (my loyalty to the brand is untouchable and I’m so proud to keep serving them as best I can) but also freedom to pursue the other incredible opportunities I have before me in radio, hosting, events and more. This particular process is time-consuming and it seems the paperwork is endless, but I’m in the best place (mentally) to handle it right now. I’m being patient, using my time in Sydney to rekindle old business, create new opportunities and most importantly, spend quality time with my family (especially my 90-year-old grandmother). Ideally I’ll be back in New York in another month or so, ready to give it everything I’ve got. Do I have a clear idea where my career is headed right now? The answer is not really, no. But really for the first time in my life (I am a Virgo), I’m truly okay with that.
“American Dreamin’” is about chasing my dreams in America. I’m just one of the scores of young(ish) men and women from around the world doing the same thing. Sharing this new leg of my journey will not only be therapeutic for me, but hopefully for others on the same path also (whom I’d love to correspond with in the comment section below and via my social networks, if I can be of help in any way). Rock with me.
*Dedicated to Vinnie “Vin Rock” Brown for leading by example. Always.