“I said to myself ‘I’m not going to let this big, scary city defeat me.'” #P2P Vol. 2: Ciara McVey
This week, I’m sharing the story of Ciara McVey — a 24-year-old entertainment reporter right out of Los Angeles. I met Ciara during college at Central Michigan University, where she and I had a couple of classes in common.
Ciara works for Hollywire, reporting on the latest entertainment news and gossip. As social media coordinator and junior reporter, Ciara handles most of the social media for Hollywire while writing just about all of the articles. She even has her own YouTube segment, a Hollywire Hot Minute that recaps the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries (spoilers in the URL). In order to get to where she is now, Ciara took an incredible risk to move across the country — it paid off. I spoke with her about her journey.
A change of scenery.
So, how’s L.A. been?
“I love it here! I don’t plan on leaving any time soon. I have a good set-up out here so I’m pretty happy. L.A. is not for everybody, of course, but I got really lucky.”
I love the city, too. What do you love about it?
“Oh, I’ve always had a fascination with this place. I moved out here without even visiting and I completely fell in love with it. It helps that I’m surrounded by a really good group of friends.”
A good group of friends can make all the difference.
“Definitely. We hang out at each other’s houses, or we’ll go out for dinner and drinks or something like that.”
Isn’t it pretty expensive to go for drinks out there?
“Yeah, so that’s why we don’t do it often. [Laughs.] We always end up just hanging out at each other’s houses mostly because it does add up.. It’s easy to find fake people in L.A., but I got really lucky finding friends who are 100 percent real. They get me and we have fun together. My job doesn’t hurt much either.”
Let’s talk about this. What was with that photo I saw of you and Ian Somerhalder?
“Getting my face licked by Ian Somerhalder was probably the best moment of my life. That was probably the coolest moment I’ve had at work, but a lot of the time when I do events I get to see celebrities but I don’t always speak with them unless I’m the one doing the interviews.”
What do you usually do?
“Usually, I go along with Chelsea Briggs and I’ll help out. I’ll be doing social media, or if someone’s coming up on the carpet I’ll jump on my phone really quickly and Google all of the recent stuff they’re up to so we can have very relevant, recent questions.”
Oh, nice. So you’re not always getting your face licked.
“Haha, not always. Most of the time, I just see people. Actually, a lot of times I just see people. When I went to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire premiere, I was really close to Jennifer Lawrence which was nuts to me because I am completely in love with her.”
Yeah, she’s great isn’t she?
“I love going on Tumblr and seeing all of the memes or gifs from interviews with Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence. They have the funniest relationship ever. I want to be friends with them.”
So, do your parents call a lot to see how you’re doing now that you’re thousands of miles away?
“My parents called a lot in the beginning. Now, we’re on the phone about once a week. I try to get on the phone with my mom every Sunday for a phone date. My parents get really excited about what I’m doing, so it’s always cool to call them and tell them about it.”
Does your mom freak out about all of the celebrities you see?
“Sometimes my mom will know the big people, but our demographic is young. Sometimes she’ll ask me who I’m going to be meeting and I’m just like ‘You will have no idea who they are, but it’s really big for us!’ There’s moments when I’ve seen bigger named people and she’ll get excited, but she doesn’t really follow celebrity gossip or anything. She mostly keeps up with TV and movies.”
Who is the biggest celebrity you’ve interacted with?
“Biggest celebrity I’ve exchanged words with was George Clooney, which was late 2012. I covered a charity event he was being honored for and he was coming down the carpet with Stacy Kiebler.”
Good ol’ George! What happened?
“Well, he wasn’t really doing interviews so people were shouting at him to try and get his attention. I shouted ‘Why is it so important for younger celebrities to be so involved in charities and philanthropic organizations?’ He stopped and turned to look at me. He said to me ‘I think it’s really important that everyone gets involved,’ smiled and just kept walking. It was like the smallest moment, but to me I looked at my videographer and went ‘Oh my god, did that just happen!?’ I was so starstruck.”
Life in lights.
How’d you even get started with Hollywire?
“I started as an intern. Chelsea went to Central too, so I met her when I was a freshman and she was a senior. She had interned for MTV in New York and moved to L.A., and I found out she was working for Hollywire and doing on camera things there. So, I kept in contact with her and messaged her whenever I had questions about the entertainment industry.”
So, the networking led to a job?
“Well, I went online one day and saw that Hollywire needed east coast interns to write for the site every morning so that stories would be posted by the time the team went into the office in the morning in California time. So, I interned for a year and was offered a full-time position in the office as a writer. I accepted it without even telling my parents about it, picked up and moved to L.A. two weeks after graduation.”
And that’s when you started on the carpet?
“I just started writing, and slowly the other duties started coming along.”
What are all of your duties at Hollywire?
“I’m the only writer for the site now, so I write approximately four stories a day. Then, any video articles or hot minutes we have I’ll write text for. I’m the social media coordinator and junior reporter, so I do the Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, everything. I also help with events when Chelsea needs it, so I usually do smaller ones where I’ll prep questions, go out on the carpet and conduct interviews. And every Friday I do highlights of The Vampire Diaries, so I count down the top three moments from the night before.”
Oh, that’s cool. Do you like the YouTube stuff?
“Yes! It’s exciting now because fans are finally starting to recognize who I am instead of wondering where Chelsea is.”
So, what’s your favorite thing to do?
“That’s tough! Hm. I like doing events most and doing The Vampire Diaries highlights. The highlights are something I’ve been wanting to do for so long, and it’s something I feel like I’ve worked really hard at trying to achieve. So, it’s nice that they’re giving me the chance to see if I can do it. And the fact that it’s doing decently well makes me really happy. But, I really do love events.”
How do you feel when you’re on the carpet?
“It’s such an adrenaline rush. It’s fast-paced and you have to always be on top of your game. You have to know what questions to ask, because you can’t have your questions sitting right there in front of you. You have to know who’s doing what, who has an album coming out, who has a movie coming out, things like that. You have to have it all in your mind.”
You probably have to be really interested in entertainment news in order to do that.
“Oh, yeah. I’ve always loved entertainment, even when I was younger. I was obsessed with *NSYNC, Britney Spears and everything on MTV. I always figured I wanted to be on Good Morning, America or something. I wanted to be a news anchor. It wasn’t until my freshman year at CMU that I figured out that entertainment was for me.”
And you knew you wanted to work red carpets?
“I didn’t really consider interviewing. I mainly thought I wanted to do on camera stuff, like E! News. So, when I got the opportunity to start doing carpets I was nervous. I’ve never done anything like that in my life. It’s a very unique job that not a lot of people get to do. It’s something I have really found a passion for. It’s gotten to the point where I just want to keep doing new things to get better and hone my craft. It’s awesome. I love it.”
What does a moment of success look like for you?
“I remember the first carpet I ever did by myself. It was the Total Recall premiere. I got interviews from Kate Beckinsale, Colin Ferrell, Jessica Biel and others. I remember thinking ‘That was really cool!’ My videographer turned to me and said ‘Do you realize what you just did? You just got these interviews that we never expected we would get.’ So, moments like that is when it’s cool for me.”
That must have been awesome!
“It was! There’s so many times that I get emotional about things because I can’t believe this is what I get to do. I can’t believe I had this happen. But it’s the best feeling in the world when you finish something, like a carpet, and take a step back knowing you got a really good interview. It makes it all worth it.”
You’ve had a lot of great opportunities.
“I’ve been so blessed with everything I’ve been able to do. I was put on carpet a year after I started working here and a lot of people don’t even get to see the carpet. The thing with all of it is that Hollywire sees my eagerness. I never pass on an event.”
Do you think that’s why you get all of the work you end up getting assigned to you?
“Probably. The thing about this industry is that there is always going to be someone who wants it more than you. There’s so many people who want to be on carpets, who want to be on camera, who want to talk to or about celebrities. So you have to work your ass off.”
How do you stay so focused?
“Obviously, there’s times you get caught up in L.A. and you lose sight of things. Sometimes, you want to stay home or you want to hang out with your friends. But you have to always remember why you’re here. It’s great to have friends, and great to have this life, but the whole reason I’m here in the first place is for my job. It might sound like a workaholic approach, but I always feel so lucky to do what I do because I love what I do. I want to show my work, I want to work really hard so that I can move up. I want to be where Chelsea is, so I have to work hard for that like she did.”
Reward that is worth the risk.
I remember you saying you moved out here without ever seeing the city?
“Yeah, I did! At the time, I knew it was a big risk but I didn’t really realize it was a risk until the moment I got here. It was not at all what I thought it would be like. It’s not glamorous by any means, and it’s not as pretty as the movies and television make it look. It’s honestly congested and it’s dirty sometimes. So, I remember that moment when I was by myself, my family was across the country, and I sat back and thought ‘Is this a good idea?'”
Oh, yeah. That’s definitely a risk.
“It was! It was a huge risk. I picked up my things, moved across the country two weeks after graduation and worked three jobs to make ends meet. I did it all for a job that I didn’t even know if it was going to work out. I didn’t know what to expect. I only knew one person here. I had to make a completely different group of friends which I had never had to do before. I moved to a place I had never been, one of the biggest cities in the nation.”
Was there ever a moment where you were afraid it wouldn’t work out?
What was that like?
“Two weeks after I moved. I had no friends, work wasn’t what I expected and L.A. wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It was really scary, I was really homesick and I had that moment where I said to myself ‘What am I doing here? Is this even going to work out?'”
Were you starting to feel defeated?
“It was sad. I was at a really low point, which was really sad because it was such an exciting moment for me to start a new chapter in my life. I thought everything would be great, I thought I would have a whole new group of friends, that I’d be living the life in L.A. but I wasn’t at all.”
What happened then?
“I remember the exact moment I turned it around. My mom came to visit and I was driving her back to the airport. I felt really down, really bummed out. And I remember that I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t happy. That upset me. I wasn’t as happy as I should have been after all of the risk, after everything I did to get there.”
So what did you do?
“I’ve always been the kind of person that if I’m not happy with something, I fix it. It was right in that moment that I admitted it to myself that I started changing things. I completely threw myself out there. I ended up making one of the best groups of friends I ever had out here. I started pushing myself at work, going above and beyond what they were asking. All of that helped. I started getting more things to do at work, more responsibilities. With my friends, I started discovering new parts of L.A., trying out all of the things there is to do here.”
You took your happiness into your own hands.
“Right. I realized I had made this huge move, I worked my ass off to get to L.A. I said to myself ‘I’m not going to let this big, scary city defeat me. I worked this hard, so I’m going to make it work.’ So it was really scary at first, but I completely changed it to make it work. And it did.”
“Now it’s great. It was a huge risk altogether, and I’ve had a few moments where I almost feel like I’m failing. But I’m so happy right now. This is probably the happiest I’ve ever been.”
So does it feel like home now in L.A.?
“I feel like no matter where you go, the people you surround yourself with will make it feel like home. I was completely away from family, I didn’t have anyone out here. But luckily, my friends — who I call my California family — are there for me when I am feeling down, when I want to go out, or if I want to stay home and relax. I just got really lucky with the people I surrounded myself with. Thankfully, they’re creative people, they’re driven, they’re honest. It’s made L.A. feel like home now, which is good.”
So which would you say is worse: failing or never trying?
“Never trying. Totally. Because you never know what’s going to happen unless you try, even if you fail you know in your heart you gave it your best. You’ll never have that thought of ‘what if.’ You learn something from it. If you never try, you’re not taking anything away from that except regret. Five to 10 years down the road, you’ll think to yourself ‘What would have happened if I had taken that job or that big risk?’ So, not even trying is way worse than failing.”
So what would you do if you knew couldn’t fail?
“Hm, I don’t know. That’s a really lame answer. I guess I’ve never thought about it. I guess I just always try.”
Do you feel like you’ve already accomplished everything you’ve dreamed about?
“Yeah, kind of. For so long, all I cared about was getting to L.A. and working for an entertainment outlet where I could talk about celebrities and pop culture. I wanted to be in that environment. Now I’m figuring out new goals. I’m saying to myself ‘I’ve gotten here. I’ve accomplished it. Now, what do I want to work toward next?’
Any ideas so far?
“Maybe one day I’d want to go to a bigger outlet. I’ve gotten to do a lot working for a smaller company like Hollywire. Jumping to another outlet, a bigger one, may mean I don’t get to do as much as I have. So, maybe that’s a risk I’d take if I knew I couldn’t fail.”
So what are your more immediate goals?
“I’ve been trying to figure that out. Right now, it’s all about moving up at Hollywire. I would really like to get another show, maybe doing TV recaps twice a week or something — that’s a goal of mine for 2014. I want to become a bigger face for the audience so they know who I am without getting the ‘Where’s Chelsea Briggs?’ comments. It’s all about taking things one step at a time. We’ll see what happens.”
Preference on getting dumped via text message or in front of friends.
“Oh. Ugh. Maybe text message? I feel like if everyone’s there in front of you, your friends are surrounding you and just going ‘Aww, it sucks to be you.’ At least through text, it’s just you and him. Kind of.”
On doing what it takes to succeed.
“Always work really hard and always, always believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. If it’s something you really want, work your butt off. Show the world you want it, and it will happen. That’s when things always happen.”
On whether or not she’d quit her job if she won $10 million.
“No. To be honest, I’d be bored. I’d only be satisfied with the money for a little bit because eventually I would miss what I did. This is my passion.”
On who’s the cuter couple: Noah and Allie from the Notebook, or Landon and Jamie from A Walk To Remember?
“A Walk To Remember.”
Is it crazy that I’ve never seen either?
“You’ve never seen it!? Not even The Notebook?”
“Aw, come on Danny! You’re like the last person in the world who hasn’t at least seen it. [Laughs].”
So, we’re mid-20’s now, which is crazy right?
Do you think that’s okay to not know what you want to do?
“Yeah! For now, it’s okay to not know. You’ll figure it out, but right now in our mid-20s this is the point where we’re figuring out who we want to be. You always have that moment where you’re going to ask yourself ‘Is this really who I want to be? Is this what I stand for?’ We’re all going through that, and we probably will for a few more years. But we’ll all figure it out one day. Right now, take it day by day.”
Do you think there’s a point in your life that you’ll just know what you want to do for the rest of your life, or is it always a journey?
“I personally think it’s always going to be a journey. I feel like I never know what I want to do. Look back to a year ago. What I wanted to be a year ago is different than what I want to be now. I’ll reach a point where I’ll be content and I’ll want to stay there for 10-15 years or whatever. But, I think it’s all about the journey. And I think that’s what keeps life exciting.”
Ciara’s story is a part of #P2P, a recently launched blog series that profiles the choices, risks and lifestyles of influential people I come across. For more on my personal journey with #P2P, subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter or subscribe to me on Facebook.