Finding Balance with Jamila Pomeroy

Jamila Pomeroy is an internationally published journalist who has contributed to the likes of BBC, Red Bull, Daily Hive, and is the owner of an indie print publication called Avocado Toast Post. As a signed model with Stranger Agency, commercial actor with Division 73, and the author of 2 books- it was a must that we tap into her entrepreneurial mind.

So being a journalist usually isn’t the first option creatives undergo as a career. What excites you enough to want to be a writer in the first place?

To be honest, the career found me which is both crazy and beautiful. I’ve loved storytelling since I was a kid, and I think I’ve expressed it through many different channels throughout my life. During high school I was creating short stories, writing lyrics in bands, and ultimately transcended into me writing my first book.

I went through a massive cancer scare that turned into stomach surgery and forced me to be stuck in bed for the better part of a year. It’s something you never expect to experience in your early ‘20s. That book was the only thing that held me together, and the response I got from sharing excerpts from it made me realize there was some sort of potential. I got scouted by a couple of local publications here in Vancouver, and the rest is history.

A few days ago we spoke briefly about your involvement in the entertainment industry, and you mentioned how you’ve evolved throughout the experience. What changes do you see in yourself today in comparison to when you started?

Evolution as a multidisciplinary creative is a profound feat and makes you question everything you’ve been taught. When you go from writing a trending article and two cover stories one month, to getting all your pitches rejected the next three months, you will experience a lot of crushed confidence. There are a lot of highs and lows in the entertainment industry, and no matter how hard you try to protect yourself, it will eat at you in some way.

That’s what happens when your passion becomes your career. I’ve learned a lot about dedication and having faith in the universe because sometimes, you don’t score a gig you really wanted because there is something better waiting for you down the road. 

Most times being a writer is a mysterious art, as readers typically don’t dive further than the writing itself. As of lately however, you’ve been visually putting yourself out there with a bit more of a model aesthetic. Do you feel as if this is a necessary move in today’s world, and how will it ultimately impact your craft?

It is a mystery indeed. I’m still unsure of whether it is good or bad for my career, but it feels like the right thing to do. 

If you told me that I would be signed to both a modeling and acting agency last year, I would have laughed! People have told me I should model for quite some time and I think I looked down on the idea. I just felt like becoming a model was a statement that I was okay with not being intelligent. That idea is RIDICULOUS, but girls have that drilled into them at such a young age and truly believe that beauty and intelligence are mutually exclusive. You don’t have to choose between the two to be accepted, and that’s the message I try to bring to the world.

Has being a woman, and more so, a woman of color, affected your career at all? 

It affects me every damn day in so many ways! I spent the summer applying for over 300 positions and contracts while I worked on freelance projects as well. Many of them I would get into the third round of hiring, and as soon as they saw me for an in person interview, the energy would shift. I hate to pull the gender or race card, but when a BBC international masthead contributor is denied simple copywriting jobs, it’s hard not to.

The literary sector of media is still so white male dominated, regardless of what story the media is trying to project. Even the topic of gender and race equality is still dominated by white men and women. I’ve run into so many situations where I am trying to explain to editors why they can’t sensor the POC experience. It’s just awkward! And my morals surrounding the topic have led me to leave projects and have people not want to work with me because I won’t lie or perpetuate harmful stigmas. 

What do you believe is the biggest responsibility a writer has in this day and age?

Our biggest responsibility is to write the truth. And this applies to TV, movies, and the advertising industry as well. I don’t see much truth in anything I read, and that is  probably the most shocking part about being a journalist. I learned that it is of more significance to my peers that they chase ratings rather than make an impactful difference.

Media is a strange place. You get sent free things often, and when people find out who you are and who you’ve talked to, they treat you differently. It is a place overrun by egos and a lust for vanity. That isn’t why I got into it, so I try to let my work speak for itself and keeping who I am out of it. However, you start to realize that you can’t really separate the art from the artist, and perhaps in this day and age, we need a woman of colour at the forefront of these topics who is unafraid of who she is and what she stands for. I am definitely not her yet, but I’m working on it.

And lastly, tell the people what they can look forward to from Jamila leading into 2020.

I just got signed onto a really awesome new series as a researcher and writer. I can’t talk about it at this point, but to anyone who knows what I stand for and what I’m all about, this is the show I have been wanting to write my whole life. I have a few TV pilot offers on the table, so it is hard to say what I will be doing next year. This past weekend I filmed a big box car commercial that will air before Christmas... it is my first big commercial so I am pretty stoked!

I’ve also got a book of poetry that I will be putting out as soon as I find the time to format it. I have a full novel that is about the human condition, which is kind of esoteric and based on my love for philosophy, but the story line is purposefully built to apply to a wide audience. I’ve also got a serial killer novel that I’ve been working on for two years. To be honest, I have about five solid stories in me that could be turned into movies or TV shows, and it’s just about finding the time and being given a chance. As for modeling and commercial acting, I’m going to stick with it until I’m ‘too old’. I think remaining present in that realm is just as critical. All women of colour simply need to be present, period.

One thing I have realized throughout all of this is that words are extremely powerful, and I think the biggest way I can optimize my plight for change and equality is by writing. I can go to all of the auditions I want, but until the narrative changes, it will always be an uphill battle.

Jamila Pomeroy