The position Julia Stuart is currently privileged to occupy wasn’t even on her radar when she started out as a print journalist. “I wasn’t sure what to study after matric, which is why my gap year was so important…” she says.
While working in the field of journalism, Julia had opportunities to do guest appearances on radio and television shows – and that’s when she first considered broadcasting as a career. “It just goes to show how you can end up in a totally different industry if you follow what you’re passionate about,” she says.
Getting into broadcasting
Social media offers an excellent platform to build a brand. “A following in sport is a great way to showcase your talents, whether through articles or podcasts,” she says. According to Julia, the world of sports broadcasting can be very tricky to get into because most of the top broadcasters have so few spaces for presenters. Julia rates radio as a great way to get your foot in the door because there are so many stations to choose from.” There is no formal application process like with other jobs, but there are auditions for new presenters every once in a while.” She rates radio as a great way to get your foot in the door because there are so many stations to choose from.
Unlocking our potential as women
“As women, we’ve been socialised to believe we are in competition with one another, when the truth is there is so much room for all of us to shine. Look at the power and the networks the “old boys’ club” still possesses. If we could unlock that potential as women there’s no telling what could be achieved,” says Julia.
Don’t wait for opportunities – grab them!
The media industry is all about networking and making contact with editors, producers and decision-makers. “I literally went up to the editor of a newspaper who gave a guest lecture at my university and asked for an opportunity,” she says. Start by sending out emails with examples of your work, or a demo tape. And don’t forget follow-up emails, which can often seal the deal.
An online presence can work to your advantage
“As mentioned, social media platforms are a great tool for media hopefuls. It gives you access to some of the top journalists and broadcasters from around the globe and also allows you to voice your opinions, engage in discussions and provides a space to share your work when you’re ready,” says Julia.
Taking on self-criticism
Julia’s job requires her to put herself on display, so you’re open to critique from all corners. “Sometimes the smallest thing can cause that nagging doubt – do I have lipstick on my teeth? Live television is so unforgiving. I’m constantly over-analysing what I should have said and done; if I’ve mentioned an incorrect stat or figure it can bother me for weeks,” she says.
Given that the industry is so male-dominated, there are times when simply being female already puts you on the back foot. “I’ve become way better at managing those kinds of reactions and thoughts though. Now I move along swiftly from a mistake or a bad interview and chalk it up to experience. There are enough doubters out there – you don’t need to be hard on yourself too,” says Julia.
The subtle instances of sexism
It’s still very difficult for women in sport in South Africa. Julia says the sexism becomes explicit when she has to conduct interviews with sports coaches. “We are judged by different standards (weight, age, marital status, looks etc) to the men. And sometimes it’s the way a coach will behave in a post-match interview simply because he’s being questioned by a woman, for example, that causes the most frustration,” she says.
Every hit is not the end of the world.
A few of the life lessons Julia has gained in the course of her career:
1/ Take the lesson from every bad situation and use it to grow and improve.
2/ The working world is cut-throat: each position brings its own challenges and politics.
3/ Remember that you need to control what’s within your ability to control and steer clear of the rest as much as you can. That will make for a much happier working environment.
Our time is now!
It’s so easy to get caught up in negativity and be brought down by naysayers… “[But] there are more opportunities now than ever before, more scope for women now than our mothers and grandmothers could have imagined. We need to take them! South Africans are doing amazing work on a global scale and whether your dream or goal is international or focused on your community, it really is the time to go for it,” says Julia.
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I love reading books with life lessons…
Julia believes everyone should equip themselves for life through reading. “I’m sure we’re doing less of it and spending more time on our phones and computers. I love reading books with life lessons that I can adopt, like my current read “The 5am club” by Robin Sharma and classics like The Alchemist,” she says. She also enjoys inspiring success stories, such as Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime.
Self-care is so important
“Sometimes it’s as simple as a glass of wine and a good book because quiet time is a treat. I schedule things like manicures or massages, so that I’ve literally set up an appointment to have that me-time,” she says. Julia is intentional about listening to a motivational podcast or sermon to take care of her mental and spiritual health in times of need or uncertainty.