With almost 30 years of experience in-front-of and behind-the-camera, Patrick Riley is a force in media and entertainment. As an independent personality, pop culture expert, producer and writer, his know-how has landed him clients such as BET, NBC and HBO; and opportunities to interview many power figures, specifically President Bill Clinton, Diana Ross, Beyoncé, Master P, Quincy Jones and more. Riley, who graduated from Atlanta’s Morehouse College with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, believes that the digital era has leveled the playing field for aspiring on-camera personalities, and that anyone can be anything they want to be if they put the work in.
Using apps and platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook, everyone from the nanny, college kid, makeup artist, hairstylist, poet, actor or comedian can build an entertainment career on her own terms, in her own time, and being in front of the camera is a great way to do it.
If you dream of chatting with your favorite celebrities or creating video content that makes you stand out, keep reading for multi-media giant Patrick Riley’s tips!
Study the Best
I recommend that you study, not necessarily through college, if that is not your thing. However, study what is in the marketplace that looks like what you think you want to do. Then mimic it, until you can make it your own.
Connect With a Mentor
It’s necessary to have someone in the industry to help you prepare for your future, steer you where you want to go, and secure once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. For me, it was the National Association of Black Journalists. It could be anything from the Society of Professional Journalists, to Black Girls Rock.
Practice Makes Perfect
Just do it. Not only will you have the opportunity to strengthen your muscle, because you will make mistakes, you will ask the wrong question, and you will have someone who even walks off from an interview because they didn’t like what you said. But you’ll also, over time, have the benefit of seeing yourself having improved. And because many of these things can live on social media, you’ll also get the benefit of feedback. You’ll be able to take a look at what people responded to, not just from who you were being as a talent, but from who you were interviewing and how you interacted with your interview subject.
Lead With Confidence
Sometimes we aren’t as sure about who we’re going to talk to, where we’re going to talk to them, or what the backdrop is going to be. I always recommend that my talent lead with confidence from the minute they walk in and interact with the handler, to the minute that they’re placing that mic before the mouth of their subject.
Use Your Instincts & Do Your Research
I interviewed Janet Jackson once, and she wasn’t in the mood. But my research and preparation had me know that her birthday was the next day. It was unrelated, and I didn’t know that I would even use it. But because she wasn’t in the mood, I said, ‘This must feel like an early birthday gift.’ The instinct of me having that intel, and knowing when to use it, would have Ms. Janet Jackson open up and be a dream interview.
Don’t Assume Anything
Assumptions usually come in the spur of the moment, and I don’t think they work well. I’ll just give this as an example. You read that someone is married. You’re interviewing them now. They don’t have a ring on. Are you going to assume that they’re separated? You shouldn’t because the ring could be being, in the words of Angela Simmons, ‘resized.’
Don’t Bring up Anything They Told You Not to Bring Up
Always follow this piece of advice, but consider the exception to the rule. Sometimes the subject will open the door themselves. If they do, you now have another beat to consider if you want to go any further. But again, don’t do it before they do.
Build The Career You Want Now
Use the tools you have to demonstrate what you do, what you can do and what you hope to do. Before you can get the dream job, establish your platform on YouTube, establish your platform on Snapchat. Build your audience and following through the realm because now we don’t need permission to be any of this, but we do have to take the time to build it.
|Patrick Riley on the set of Arise Entertainment 360 with singer Tamia and host Lola Ogunnaike|