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Interview: Jazz From Awards Daily

Following my candid little interview with Awards Daily founder Sasha Stone last year, I decided to latch onto the site’s contributor Jazz Tangcay (AKA Jasmine Elia) for some juicy film industry details. And some more personal insights too. Being the busy woman that she is interviewing writers, actors, directors, editors (basically the awards season names we wish we were acquainted with) it took a while for us to finally sit down and devote some time to an informal Q n A. It was worth the wait.

Robin Write:   Let’s be cliched and start with beginnings. Give me a couple of your earliest memories of watching the movies as a kid?
Jazz Tangcay:   (laughs) Oh gosh. My first memories of watching movies? I remember the first time I went to the cinema, I was probably 4 or 5, and I went on a play date with my best friends Andy and Nita to watch Sleeping Beauty. I also remember watching E.T. when I was 6. Disney and Spielberg. I started off good. (winks) Oh, I saw Kramer Vs Kramer at a really young age too, and I was obsessed with it. I think I wore out my VHS.

Robin:   Wow, that’s not a kid’s film. (laughs)
Jazz:   Right?
Robin:   Well, it’s about a kid. But, divorce?
Jazz:   I come from a single parent family, so maybe subconsciously I could relate to it. Apparently I’ve been a Meryl fan my whole life.

Robin:   A Meryl fan? Who knew!? Okay, so which film or films should have won Streep Oscars then?
Jazz:   Oh you’re mean. Hmmm, let me think. She should have won for Julie & Julia. That was Meryl at her best. I think A Cry in the Dark too. That was such a great performance as Lindy, all that emotion as a mother who’s child is missing. Yes. That role too.
Robin:   Did you want to work in movies when you grew up? What else did you want to do or be?
Jazz:   No! when I was really young, I was really into space and wanted to be an astronaut. I even considered applying to Space Camp, but I’m sure my mother didn’t allow me to go. Then I hit my teens and decided I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be a criminal lawyer until I actually took my A level in Law and failed miserably at that. Meanwhile, I was taking Media Studies at college and excelling at that. So, I started working in advertising sales, and stayed in sales for ages.
Robin:   What is your current day job? Is it what you wanted to do? Do you enjoy it?
Jazz:   I’m currently in social media marketing. Social media is an exciting world, constantly evolving. It keeps me on my toes, there’s always something happening. Ultimately, I’d like to get into film marketing, PR . That’s my passion.
Robin:   Yeah, it’s a passion that has grown with me, it is an industry all of its own to some extent. Tell me a bit about your life in England. How long did you live there? When and why did you move to the States?
Jazz:   Well, I was born in London and grew up there, pretty much until I was 38. So I had my career in sales and marketing. I’d been in a long distance relationship for 3 and a half years going back and forth from London to L.A. I finally moved to L.A. in 2014 when I got married.
Robin:   I too though did the whole long distance thing. For 2 years. Married now too with second kid on the way. We have ideas for a movie. Not sure the long distance love stories have really caught on yet.
Jazz:   (laughs) Right? I’m sure there’s a movie in there somewhere. I met Jennifer on Twitter of all places, neither of us were looking, we just connected and I was in New York City the same time as she was. We met and even then it didn’t get serious. It wasn’t until she went back to L.A. and I went to London that we started talking and connected. She sent me roses on Valentine’s Day, and I lured her to the UK with Madonna tickets.
Robin:   Classy.
Jazz:   And no, Hollywood hasn’t really caught on to long distance relationships, right?
Robin:   We ought to write a movie. Great stories not being told.
Jazz:   I smell a script and the revival of rom-coms.
Robin:   Rom-com slash high drama slash feel good melodrama.
Jazz:   I’m feeling it. Oh and she turned up to NYC thinking it was a date. I thought it was just a casual meeting so I brought my mother. There you go, it’s all coming out now. You’ll have to tell me your story too.
Robin:   Maybe you need to interview me at some point then.
Jazz:   It’s a deal.
Robin:   I think it is fair to say we are good friends in this business, and I am sue you would also agree we don’t know a lot about each other and are still learning. No, wait, first question, are we friends?
Jazz:   Yes, we are friends
(both laugh)

Robin:   Is your personal life completely separate from this professional online life? How much of the real you do you let spill out on Twitter / Facebook?
Jazz:   I also agree, we don’t know much about each other, but that’s how friendships evolve right? You find something in common, you find more things in common and you become friends. Right?
Robin:   Right. And my previous long-winded question…
Jazz:   As for the second part, I think I’ll post more personal things on Facebook because I know who I’m friends with. And some people just don’t use Twitter, so I keep up with them on Facebook. With Twitter, I don’t know 3000 people. (laughs) I won’t post so much personal stuff there. However, I’ve been known to have full blown conversations on Twitter with people. You’ll see the real me on both.
Robin:   Yeah I keep Twitter professional in the sense I don’t post pictures of family or where I live, but sure do get involved in some debates there. Facebook is much more personal.
Jazz:   I tend not to, I hold back on getting into any sort of debates. I like to watch though.
Robin:   Oh yeah I watch a lot. Lurk. Wondering if I should get involved. The times I’ve written a huge response to a poster or comment and not sent it.
Jazz:   I have done that many a times too, typed up full responses, but never actually hit send. I just don’t think it’s worth it. Maybe it’s the Virgo in me, I just can’t be bothered to get in to it. Watching or lurking is more fun.
Robin:   Which kind of brings us to Awards Daily. Their comments sections can be inflammatory at times. However, it’s a site I have been following for 15 years. Which is a huge amount of time in the internet era. Fancy a bit of Awards Daily chat then?
Jazz:   Of course.
Robin:   Unless, of course, you would rather not. Sasha won’t read this. Honest.
(both laugh)
Robin:   So how did you land this gig? For those that don’t know, what is your role at Awards Daily?
Jazz:   I’ve been following the site for the longest time, admiring and respecting all that Sasha did. I always enjoyed her predictions and thoughts on films, following from the beginning of awards season to the Oscars and so on. Anyway, I saw a tweet when she was looking for someone to join the team, and I replied straight away. I started working for her from London, but then once I was here in L.A. it became easier. I started doing interviews , my first one was Jenny Slate for Obvious Child in 2014, and then in 2015 I sort of ran with that area. So, I’ve been covering that for the site, and reporting film news too.
Robin:   I read all your interviews, I think they give the site a superb dynamic.
Jazz:   Thank you!
Robin:   How do you propose we get the readers to respond more to your interviews? It is hard to gauge how many read them but for me some of the insights interviews bring should spawn far greater discussions that what we see elsewhere on Awards Daily sometimes. And that’s nothing against other posts obviously.
Jazz:   Hmm, I don’t know. I know we do get responses on Twitter, through the sharing. I think the interviews are more there for people to read and get an insight into the film, right? Maybe I should tweet when I’m doing interviews and get readers to send in questions. What do you think? I’m open to suggestions.
Robin:   You could do, but I think it is more people’s perception of an interview, plus if they have not heard of who you speak to perhaps. I personally love that shit, as you well know, and try to expand the audience myself however I can. Something I am really envious that you get to speak to so many important people in the industry. How do these interviews come about? Do you get nervous?
Jazz:   Well I tweeted that I was interviewing Sarah Silverman, I think I’ll try that moving forward. Let’s see what happens. The interviews come about  through the greatness of the studios and marketing. I really love the teams I’ve been working with this season, and also my passion for the film making process, in speaking to the film-makers you learn so much about the film. Do I get nervous? I’ve had moments. I think I was unexpectedly nervous interviewing Harvey Keitel, because he’s Harvey Keitel, right? I sat there and was sweating in this peach shirt. (laughs) But he was a real darling to interview. I was nervous interviewing Spike Lee, just because, but we ended up talking for 22 minutes.

Robin:   How do you approach and prepare for them? Through what mediums do you conduct these interviews?

Jazz:   I watch the movie, sometimes a few times, if possible, and knowledge. You’ve got to have the knowledge of the person you’re speaking to. Listening is key because I like to listen to my subject, and they’ll almost always give you great information to move the interview forward. I either do phoners or in person.
Robin:   Any tips or free passes for someone like me still way behind in film writing industry involvement? Any jobs going?
(both laugh)
Jazz:   My only tip I’ve learnt is never to give up, and keep trying. Keep writing and build that portfolio up. I started off writing for entertainment’s section. And I ran with it. When you get an opportunity, run with it. That would be my advice.
Robin:   Do you read my site? I know it is better than Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, but does it cut the mustard?
Jazz:   Of course i read your site. It totally cuts the mustard! It’s the dog’s bollocks.
Robin:   Excellent. And thanks for positive feedback. We’re near the end now – this is going to be epic. Ever met Sasha or Ryan or Craig in person?
Jazz:   Ah, not yet.
Robin:   Okay, to wrap it up I have a few questions on, oh I forgot what they call them now, hang on, those gold bald guys – Oscars. The Oscars.
Jazz:   Ah, gotta love the Oscars.
Robin:   What is your stand on the Academy Awards generally? Love the glamour and glitz? Do you care about the politics of the awards race?
Jazz:   I love it all. It’s fascinating!
Robin:   Which category excites you the most?
Jazz:   I’m going to be boring and I have to say they’re all exciting. Honestly, they all excite me. This year though, the actress category got me intrigued. What would happen to Cate and Rooney? Would Vikander get a double nom? Would there be any surprises?
Robin:   Who is winning Best Director?
Jazz:   George Miller is my pick, although Tom McCarthy might win.

Robin:   To finish then, best film of the year for you.
Jazz:   Oh my God. There were so many I loved. Sicario. Love & Mercy. The Revenant. Spotlight. Carol. Mad Max. Room. And of course Star Wars. Don’t make me choose just one. I liked Furious 7, and the tribute that it had to Paul Walker. Straight Outta Compton I loved. I can’t choose. Sicario, Love & Mercy,  The Revenant,  Spotlight, Carol are my faves of the year. (laughs)
Robin:   Thank God you are not an Academy member.
Jazz:   Trumbo! I liked that a lot, but if I have to pick just one. I’m picking Carol. (laughs) It was hard, but I loved it on so many levels.
Robin:   Thanks for talking to me. See you back on the social media film stratosphere.
Jazz:   (laughs) What’s your fave of the year?
Robin:   That’s not fair. It’s down to about 5 or 6 – so tough. 3 of those were not involved in awards talk this year due to release date shenanigans. I’ll explain all soon.
Jazz:   i look forward to it. I hope the answers were okay though.
Robin:   It was great, great, great.
Jazz:   it was so much fun.
Robin:   It was. Thank you again. Reverse the roles next time. Write your questions…
Jazz:   i will definitely. Back drowning in awards season, but it will happen.
Jazz has relentlessly published her many, many great interviews over at Awards Daily and can be found lurking on Twitter @jazzt. There’s nothing more to read here, so what are you waiting for?


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