From appetizers to hiking in Malibu, freelance journalist Dana Damato covers entertainment, celebrities, travel, fashion, and dining with the kind of talent and sophistication that we admire at College Lifestyles! Below, we catch up with this University of Central Florida graduate…
Courtesy of Dana Damato
College Lifestyles: Your website mentions your passion for writing beginning at a very young age. How did you develop your talent for writing and realize your passion before attending college for English- Creative Writing?
Dana Damato: I actually always knew I loved writing, but never thought of making it a career. So therefore, I actually spent most of college with a focus on going to law school. I realized my sophomore year that to go to law school, there isn’t a specified degree you need so I went ahead and declared my major as English-Creative Writing. I loved it a lot, got an internship with a fashion magazine and the rest is history. As you can see, I didn’t end up going to law school and followed my dream of being a writer.
CL: How did you cultivate your passion and talent for writing while in college, outside of class?
DD: Intern, intern, intern. As much as I possibly could. I did two semesters at a magazine and they brought me on as a contributing writer after. Then I started my blog, traveled, met the right people and hustled every bit of the way.
CL: How did you choose freelance journalism as your career? Did you consider or are you still considering other paths?
DD: I chose freelance journalism because I really love being eclectic in my writing. I don’t like to feel like I have to write about a certain topic for a certain publication just because I work there. Freelancing gives you the freedom to pick and choose what you want to write about. I like that. I am actually looking to get into working in Public Relations. Freelancing is great and I did it for a while, but there came a time recently where I wanted to settle down with a steady job that provided a steady income and freelance on the side.
Courtesy of danadamato.com
CL: As a freelance journalist, you’ve written on a lot of topics, including fashion, entertainment, restaurants, and travel. Why did you choose these areas? Is there anything in particular that you love to write about more than anything else?
DD: My favorite thing about writing is putting an experience into words. I love re-creating a destination I went to or something delicious I ate and crafting it a certain way to make the readers feel like they are at the destination or that they can taste that remarkable meal. I live in a fantasy world of story telling and when I get inspired by one of those topics, I want to turn it into a story. It’s all about what inspires you to be creative.
CL: As a fashion writer, what current styles or trends are your favorites?
DD: The funny thing is, I really love fashion and find it to be such an art form but my own personal style is so simple. I really love maxi dresses (HYPERLINK TO CL ARTICLE), maxi skirts, and anything that is sophisticated and chic. I never really have a trend favorite, it’s always what catches my eye and it’s usually pretty random. I do have to say though that I do like these gypsy inspired clothes, which is an upcoming trend. It’s unique.
CL: You’ve also interviewed a lot of celebrities, athletes, and designers. Which of these interviews would you say was the best, and why? Do you have any advice on interviewing for aspiring journalists?
DD: I have interviewed quite a few people but my favorite was Giuliana Rancic. I say that because I admire her for so many reasons and she is just as lovely in person as she appears to be. I have so much respect for her and all that she has brought herself to become and all that she has been through. She is just an all around amazing person.
For aspiring journalists, when you’re interviewing a celebrity just remember they are just people. When you have them right in front of you, it’s like they are just another person you are having a conversation with. Make it fun, be risky and ask questions that no one will expect. Stay away from what media has already covered about them. Do some digging!
CL: Can you tell us a bit about your family’s restaurant business? Did this influence your decision to write about restaurants and chefs?
DD: Yes! I come from a very large Italian family and Italian restaurant entrepreneurs, nonetheless. So I have been around food my whole life. I never had the itch to work in a restaurant (outside of the family business), but I loved food. So therefore I started expanding my palette with different flavors and really enjoyed talking to chefs about what inspires their menus and recipes.
CL: Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring journalists and writers?
DD: Follow your passion. Work as hard as you can. Intern as much as you can. Never ever give up because one day you WILL get a phone call from a magazine that will change your life. I remember when I got the phone call from a national magazine to be their online editor. It was like a dream come true and all that hard work and struggle paid off. Just stick with it, it’s all about persistency.
For more on Dana Damato, and to check out her blog, visit danadamato.com!
Hannah Borland, a senior in Dietetics at Michigan State University, is a Health and High School Writer for College Lifestyles. Road trips and hiking are her two favorite parts of summer!