For all of the budding journalists out there, I had the opportunity to talk to dance correspondent, mentor, and entertainment reporter, Kristyn Burtt. We talked all things dance, the entertainment industry, work-life balance and more!
After a busy couple of weeks, I am so glad I had the opportunity to talk to her. She is living the life, and putting a positive spin on entertainment news!
Kristyn Burtt is an IAWTV (International Academy of Web Television) award winner, but she didn’t always start out reporting and giving fans the inside scoop! Originally, Kristyn started out as a dancer, and eventually got cast as a host for a children’s dance video on how to do the Hokey Pokey, the Electric Slide, and other line dances. It received great feedback in North America.
This video got Kristyn noticed and she soon received landed many jobs because of it. Although she was good on camera, she needed some refinement. Her coach in New York City eventually told her that she is still going to work in her field, but in California.
Although Kristyn is from New England, she fit the mold for the typical “California Blonde”, All- American type. So she moved out to the west coast and started doing red carpet interviews. Kristyn stated that moving to California was “the best advice anyone gave me.”
This was a great opportunity for her because coming from a small town, where she had 59 students in her high school graduating class, moving to New York and eventually California, Kristyn wanted something different and bigger. Attending NYU was the perfect choice for her, and after spending years in New York, having the opportunity to move to the west coast was great!
Although her family lives up and down the east coast, one thing Kristyn does not miss about living in California is the snow! “I miss New York City and my family, but I love the California lifestyle, even though there’s a lot of traffic!, (laughs)” Kristyn states.
After moving out to the west coast, Kristyn started her own blog called Red Carpet Closet http://redcarpetcloset.blogspot.com/ before she began working for bigger companies. Breaking into the Red Carpet scene can be hard, but with her blog, Kristyn could talk about things like fashion, what events she attended and who she saw there. “It was a great calling card! ” Kristyn says. When She Knows approached her and asked her if she writes, Kristyn was able to show them her personal blog and they could see the articles and interviews she had done herself. Having that experience gave her a paying job!
Moving out to the west coast provided many job opportunities for Kristyn. She Knows is an entertainment company that Kristyn had heard of through a friend, who was a writer. She started writing three articles a day, five days a week for three hours a day.
This job taught her how to write, source and proofread articles really fast, especially with how quickly news breaks. “It was a great training ground,” Kristyn said. “You learn how to be efficient with your work.” Her work has expanded within the company and she has had the opportunity to work the Daytime and Primetime Emmy’s, Red Carpet events, On-Camera, their Soaps branch, and will even be doing some Facebook Lives in the near future. Kristyn is so happy with her role and says that “It’s really fun because it encompasses all different types of entertainment now!”
Along with She Knows http://www.sheknows.com/ , Kristyn is the lead correspondent on Dance Network.http://www.dancenetwork.tv which is a startup company, so they have to find which dance celebrities resonate the best with them. Although Kristyn thoroughly enjoys working for the company, it is harder because they do not have full access to all dance shows. Working with this company, Kristyn has to find unique ways to cover shows like Dancing with the Stars because she does not have all access to them. They interview many past and present contestants and pros (look out for a Kym Herjavec (Johnson) and a Derek Hough interview coming up soon!) in unique ways.
Photo credit: Dance Network
Kristyn tries to break the mold by not doing recap articles but writes opinion articles instead. This way the discussion can be open and the fans can put in their input too. Also, it shows how different this company is and the articles may get more buzz.
All of these companies that Kristyn writes for are online. The internet age has changed this industry rapidly. She did one of the very first live stream red carpets for the Streamy Awards in 2009. For that time it was very revolutionary, and people thought it was amazing! “Now no one thinks about,” Kristyn adds. “We ask, ‘where is the live stream? Why don’t we have access to it’?”
Social media also plays a big part in this field. “If I go to a red carpet, I better be posting pictures on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.!.” Kristyn states. Being fluent in the language of social media is required.
Going back to red carpet interviews, Kristyn said that “when it comes to big award shows like the Emmy’s or the Oscars’ everyone is asking the same 3 or 4 questions again and again, and it’s boring, and if that’s live, everyone has seen it.” Most of the time, Kristyn does taped interviews and has to think of the ever growing questions. “Do your research. Ask them what inspired them to be an actor. Think outside the box in moments like this.” If Entertainment Tonight or E! Gets it out there right away, it is done for the smaller outlets. That is why it is always good to think of unique questions.
I asked Kristyn if she ever gets nervous while doing an interview and she said that there have only been a few times when she was nervous in that moment. “One was Michelle Kwan because I love figure skating so much, and she was everything to me.” Kristyn has also fallen starstruck to one of her favorites, Barbra Streisand. “I love Barbra Streisand! My favorite movie is Funny Girl,” Kristyn said. She interviewed her for the movie Road Trip. Kristyn’s mother was flown in to ask her questions as well because the movie featured a mother/son road trip. Kristyn adds that “it was overwhelming, but it is still one of my favorite interviews!”
Some of Kristyn’s dream interviews would be with Mikhail Baryshnikov, a professional dancer, and choreographer, and outside of the dance world, she would have to pick George Clooney. “He is so much more than an actor. He is a director, writer, and a political activist, and is married to a really interesting woman.” One person that she never got to interview that she would have loved to was the late Debbie Reynolds.
Kristyn enjoys her job so much, but the work-life balance part is extremely challenging. “I don’t have a 9 to 5 job, 5 days a week. I work all the times including weekends and some holidays,” she states. The entertainment field requires late nights and early mornings. It’s like being a doctor in a sense. Although she is not saving lives and doing what most people would call “important work”, there are days where when we need the fluff.
A great example of this fluff is that although the tragedy in Manchester happened and reporters need to be cautious of what they post online, having shows on like Dancing with the Stars provides a relief in times of tragedy. “It’s great to see great music and dance, and happy people because there is so much tragedy right now that we are all worried about. We need the arts in times of chaos,” Kristyn states. “Having a work-life balance is important, and it is important to be a well-rounded person.”
Kristyn also added that “Events will come and go, but family events only come once, so make time for family!”
Kristyn put in some of her input for budding journalists/reporters who are trying to make it in the field. The first bit of advice she gives is Build your brand. “Even though you are trying to sell your body of work, you have to sell yourself nowadays, and that includes your social media of all types. The second tip is Be Accountable for what you put out there. “Make sure you source all of the facts you are putting out there. You don’t want one wrong fact to hurt your career.”
The last tip Kristyn gives is Patience and persistence in this field are the names of the game. “Follow up on interviews. Don’t give up if no one gets back to you.”
Kristyn builds accountability in her work by not giving aways spoilers. If she has a bit of information and hasn’t seen it from many sources, she will sit on it for a bit. Instead of being first, she tries to be accurate because “at the end of the day it’s about you and your reputation.”
Along with talking about work, life and advice, we also talked about the genre that we both know best: dance!
Photo Credit: Red Carpt Closet
Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) had a different tone this season, but the guest judges, Mandy Moore and Nick Carter gave great feedback They focused on one note and the couples took that back with them in rehearsals. “I think that's what we need from the judging panel. If you want people to have a journey and have improvement, they need a helpful note to take back each week.”
Moving into season 25 with new executive producers, there may need to be a rotation of judges. “This is not about firing any of the judges, but rotating judges may give the show a fresher feel,” Kristyn says.
DWTS Junior is coming up during the winter Olympics, and we talked on how that may succeed. “Junior versions of shows have typically not done as well, and if it came around season 8 or 9, it may have worked better, but I am still going to watch and cover it,” Kristyn states. Maybe they will tie in some of the older pros from the show to help out!
The new NBC show, World of Dance is coming up and Kristyn is “so thrilled” for it! “It’s time for the dance competition show to get a really big shake up.This is awesome for the whole world of dance! ” Kristyn exclaims. Check out World of Dance on the discover section on Snapchat, and watch the premiere after America’s Got Talent on May 30th!
The new Dirty Dancing reboot, which aired, Wednesday, May 24th, is another dance show we need to support. “It is so hard to step into Patrick’s Swayze’s shoes, but I think that Colts did a great job!” Kristyn inputted.
“It’s worth watching because you need to support dance on tv and musicals, despite the reviews it is getting!” Kristyn added.
After talking all things dance we dug a little deeper, and I asked Kristyn if she thinks being a woman in this field is hard. In the department she works in now, entertainment and dance, she says no, which is kind of a relief. But in the past, she has worked as a host for Toyota, which she loved also, but she encountered men to who only want to talk to Kristyn’s male co-host about the certain cars and technology she spoke for. Her co-host has no clue about it and directed the men back to Kristyn after they already bypassed her. “Sometimes you got spoken to first, though, because you ARE a woman. It works both ways,” Kristyn said.
“You have to support each other as women, no matter what industry you are in because upper management is still run by men, and you need the support from your fellow women coworkers,” Kristyn adds.
California and the entertainment industry can be tough, but Kristyn does not feel the need to be perfect. “It is stressful and encompassing. But there is pressure when you are doing the red carpet or an award show because you want to have great hair and make-up and be comfortable in the dress you are wearing.”
Although Kristyn doesn’t feel the pressure herself, she does think that there is more pressure on women than men to look perfect. “The more authentic I act, and show that I’m human, the more I keep the sense of who I am, Kristyn states about her image. “It’s important to stay grounded, and it’s important for the people around you to pull you down when you are getting too big for your britches.” It’s important for others to remember that you also have bad days, and good days.
“The more others relate to you, the more they will understand you and follow your career,” Kristyn adds. That is what we appreciate from Kristyn. She is human, humble, and can relate to her readers.
As for upcoming projects for Kristyn, DANCE FANS GET READY! Kristyn told me that “this summer is going to be filled with so much dance, your head is going to explode! It will be on a weekly basis! It will be a one-on-one with your favorite dance stars!”
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