“Hardwork outdoes talent every time.” — Matte Babel, ET Correspondent
TV and entertainment reporter, Matte Babel, has had quite the career in the media industry. Originally from Toronto, he’s now an LA local with an impressive list of celebrity connections. From Mariah Carey to Usher and even Justin Timberlake, he’s had a remarkable run. Did we mention he’s also friends with Drake?
Babel hosted our February RealTalks event featuring TMZ legend, Van Lathan. Before he hit the stage, we chatted with Matte about all things success, workplace discrimination, and life as a Canadian in the US.
Here’s what he had to say:
Have you noticed any similarities between living in Canada and the US?
“California, in general, is a pretty liberal state. For the most part, people are pretty open-minded and accepting. I actually find the people there nicer than Canadians. This is going to sound crazy, but I think because it’s sunny there every day I mean how can you not be happy and friendly?
There are essential things that are similar on both sides of the corner. It’s pretty liberal, people are outgoing, they’re friendly. There’s a lot of Canadians in Los Angeles, so a lot of my friends end up being Canadian. And then my job, I work with all Canadians so it’s kind of like a home away from home.”
What is your #1 piece of advice for students looking to pursue a career in entertainment or news media?
“I would say whatever you’re going to do, immerse yourself in it and have a real understanding. I think we’re heading away right now from talking heads, so people who are given lines, given information and are just asked to regurgitate it. I think audiences now are looking for people who have more of an understanding of the environment and can actually offer real insight into what’s going on.
Make sure you really understand if music’s your thing. Have a database, listen to old albums where references come from so you can actually give a real take and offer some added value and insight into it.
Same with pop culture, if you’re going to be a critic, know what’s going on from front to back. And I think it separates you from just being a talking head, you start to become an authoritative figure.”
What trends have you noticed since starting your career?
“First of all, obviously with social media now, entertainment content is so readily available, I think that’s where the expert comes in. I think that’s where people who really live in that [space] are able to carve a niche for themselves. They can offer things you can’t get from a headline, from social media, or a quickly written article. They can provide something to substantiate what they’re talking about or a thought that makes you say, ‘Oh that’s interesting.’”
Have you ever experienced discrimination in the workplace?
“Oh for sure. I think everybody gets it. I don’t think it’s unique to ethnic minorities, I think we deal with it a little bit differently.
And then based on our history and stuff it has a different kind of impact. But then there are women I know who have been crazily discriminated against in the workplace. And that’s top to bottom.”
What are three qualities you think are most important for anyone working in the media industry?
“Hard work is obviously the first one. 100% hard work outdoes talent every time.
I would say you have to be a people person obviously. So obviously, hard work, be good with people, and then I would say great intuition.
I think when you’re in entertainment that intuitive ability to realize what’s going to be next. Or if you have a good eye for thinking that person’s talented and developing those relationships early. It’s funny sometimes, you’ll be like, ‘how did such and such get an interview with such and such’ and they’ll be like oh, ‘he or she found them when they were like just budding and gave them all this attention and now, they have this relationship.’
In entertainment, a lot of times you don’t know who’s going to blow up and if you develop those relationships early, they can be really fruitful down the road.”
For more on Matte Babel make sure to follow him on Instagram.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length. All event photos by Camila Herrmann.
Check out our exclusive interview with Van Lathan.
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