Girl Profile / Leona D’vaz

Dear Leona,

I met you at a Girl Geek Academy workshop on Branding. I looked up your website beforehand and was really impressed — the design of it, the fact that you’re a freelance journalist, the photography, the interests on your “about” page. Then I met you and you were, of course, just as interesting as all that… and then you started coming to some Girls Club workshops! Which was a delight.

So. We’d love to hear more about you. Here are our questions!

WORK + PLAY

How are you today?
Great. I’m currently interviewing some Canadian and American musicians, so writing up features for them, getting on top of my invoices and just finished an article on the Girls Club’s very own Shannon Steinfort’s band The Girl Fridas!

What do you do for work?
I’m a freelance writer, journalist and marketing communications consultant.

What does that involve day to day?
Interviewing, creating frameworks and structure to deliver communications and of course a lot of writing. It’s an inevitable aspect of the trade, haha.

How did you get to this role, this field, from school?
After highschool I went to TAFE to study Travel Consulting and three languages (I was going to be a tour guide), whilst working as a waitress. So, it wasn’t a clear cut path. I’ve always had a great love of connecting with people and learning their backstories – it has really morphed from there.

What do you do for play?
As strange as it sounds, I love weight training and then running afterwards. It helps dissipate all the inner mechanics of my mental chatter. I used to be a dancer and personal trainer, so I have a great love of movement. There’s even a hula hoop in my study! (And, I do use it when I need to check out.)

I’ve been a full-time uni student for the last six months, so the ‘play’ element of social events has reduced dramatically. That being said, it’s a real treat when I do get out to something. You appreciate it so much more. Plus, I really enjoy my studies [journalism] and the music writing, so often the research feels like play. Note to self: editing and referencing doesn’t though!

FAVOURITES

Do you have any favourite sites or blogs?

  • Toggl: As a freelancer, I’ve found it’s helped me keep track of what I am doing. And for a while, I was completely addicted to it.
  • eBay: as I am currently downsizing my goods; surprisingly I’ve met some great people and really enjoyed offloading my stuff;
  • Youtube: as I love discovering music and doing online yoga classes;
  • SBS on Demand: watching foreign films is an addiction I am proud to have (I have a deep seated love of compelling screenplays);
  • Bandcamp: I’m a massive fan of this platform, it such a great way to listen to artists music.

What TV/music are you currently enjoying?
I’m a music journalist, so I am also constantly reviewing upcoming and rising Australian\International talent. For my current feature writing, it’s been Canadian bands as mentioned before: Midday Swim, Naysa Band, Stan Simon & The Holy Bible and also, Shannon put me onto Glaswegian outfit Honeyblood – their clips are visual masterpieces.

Last month I dialled back to Dinosaur Jr and Mudhoney [I’d been watching a Sonic Youth documentary and went a bit 90’s grunge for a stint]. Speaking of the 90’s, right now Double J are playing ‘Dub Be Good to Me’ by Beats International from 1990. Classic!

TV wise, I’ve been watching all my old episodes of The Mighty Boosh, I unabashedly love Noel Fielding. I go through these phases where I listen to artists or watch UK series over and over [especially anything New Wave].

Who are favourite females in your life?
My mum, my best friend Jessica – she’s the most well travelled person [been to 50-70 countries!], Tania Sheward [awesome, awesome journalist], Emily Cheung [she’s in music PR and the most optimistic person I know] and my great friend Leah Nicol – she’s super adventurous and athletic. These five women have strong physical and mental discipline, which is super important to me. And they are all super funny!

Are you part of any other meetups/groups/etc that you recommend?
Melbourne Minimalists, Action for Happiness, Writers Victoria, Awesomeness Fest and ASA [Australian Society of Authors].

THE BIG PICTURE

What are your passions?
Sport and fitness, cooking – I find it really cathartic to create; plus I grew up in a Burmese household, food is a big part of our culture and my mum cooks every single day [no recipe books ever, amazing!], education; it is undoubtedly the biggest elixir in my life. I wake up every day because I am driven by something beyond myself – I’m very big on people being empowered by knowledge, I think it is essential and ever since I was five I’ve been studying something. My friend Natalie Sisson [The Suitcase Entrepreneur] dubbed me a ‘leading learner’ – I like that! And lastly the beach, I grew up in WA [which should explain it!].

What are you looking forward to, coming up?
Teaching classes at Laneway Learning with my friend Tania [cue favourite females in your life].

What would you do, if money were no object?
Get a Masters in Journalism, then do my PhD and teach all through SE Asia and South America. I’d also do some sociology based documentaries along the lines of Sudhir Venkatesh, Andrew Jenks, Michael Palin and Louis Theroux – they need girls doing that stuff too!

COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE

I’d like to promote…
The upcoming classes Tania and I will be teaching. The series is called ‘Rookie Writes’. The first two are designed for bloggers and upcoming writers who want to learn how to do great interviews for their websites, and craft compelling stories. We are going to transform girls from feeling nervous and lacking confidence to having poise while writing captivating prose!

LAST WORD

If other girls are reading this, is there anything you’d like to ask them / say to them?
I live by a quote from John Patrick Shanley, a Pulitzer prize playwright and Oscar winning screenwriter … “Where the terror is, you must go.” It is self explanatory, but I believe impactful transformation happens when we plunge in. It takes a lot to be brave, it really does. You never really grasp the full magnitude of what you are capable of, until you sit on that precipice. Time and time again, I’ve been astounded at how resilient, more-than-capable and triumphant I’ve felt when I conquered something I was achingly nervous about. The more you do it, the more it builds and becomes a part of your DNA.

CONNECTING

How can people connect with you?

Twitter: twitter.com/ldevaz
LinkedIn: au.linkedin.com/in/leonadevaz
GooglePlus: plus.google.com/u/0/+LeonaDevaz/posts
Email: curious@leonadevaz.com
Website: leonadevaz.com
Instagram: instagram.com/thecuriousoutsider/

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