July 2009


Former beauty editor Nadine Jolie Haobsh released her debut novel Confessions of a Beauty Addict this year. She is also editor-in-chief of a blog and creative director of a new skincare line. She is currently filming a beauty TV show based on her beauty advice book Beauty Confidential. (Interview by Angela Smith)

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  1. Did you find the storyline for Confessions of a Beauty Addict flowed easily?

    The storyline flowed very easily, once I found the right groove. I started writing the book several years ago in my spare time, while an assistant at Lucky magazine, so as I worked my way up the masthead and learned more about the industry, I found myself editing and re-editing. After I was outed myself by the New York Post, it seemed a natural addition to tweak Bella's story!

  2. How much is Bella your alter ego?

    Bella is a much more exaggerated version of me. She's prettier, taller and thinner than I am, found herself higher on the masthead and with more power, and is also more awkward and chatty than me. She says and does things I would never dream of! But, yes, I do relate to her, and didn't so much write her as she wrote through me. Does that sound cheesy? It's really how it worked! The character created herself. I'd love to grab a glass of wine with her and tell her not to be so melodramatic!

  3. Why have you continued with Bella updates via Twitter?

    I created a Bella Twitter profile and sent updates into the Twitterverse for a while, which actually strengthened my affinity for my own Twitter page! Now I tweet personally, as Nadine, several times a day @nadinejolie. Sometimes I feel like I'm spamming my poor followers, so I try to restrict myself to interesting, informative or personality-driven tweets.

  4. How did you get exposed as the blogger Jolie in NYC?

    When I started my blog Jolie in NYC in 2005, many people knew who I was, and it was a pretty poorly kept secret ... as it wasn't secret at all! But once people outside my initial circle began reading and the blog was picked up through Gawker, Jossip and Fishbowl, I gained a much wider audience. A couple of weeks later, the New York Post found out through a publicist friend my not-so-secret identity and they ran a story about it. It was the most harrowing week of my life - lots of champagne was had to cope! In retrospect, of course, I consider myself extremely lucky - not only to have landed on my feet, but also to have found myself in the right place at the right time. The quote which most applied to me is "Luck is preparation meeting opportunity"!

  5. And how did you pick yourself up again?

    It's hard to fathom now, but there were almost no beauty blogs at the time, and when I found myself essentially blacklisted from magazines, I had to turn full-time towards blogging. I spent seven months connecting directly with readers and building a following - all the honest, straightforward beauty advice you couldn't necessarily find in a magazine! - and then worked on my first book Beauty Confidential in my spare time. It was a critical juncture in my career, but it allowed me to build a foundation and plant seeds that are still continuing to grow.

  6. What are the ingredients of a good blog?

    First and foremost, a good blog depends on interesting content. Blogging frequently and with passion and authority will hook people and keep them coming back. There are so many blogs out there that it's crucial to differentiate yourself if you're approaching your blog as a professional project and not just as an exercise in navel gazing! I think adding value to your readers, rather than just existing as a space of white noise, is key. Ultimately, blog readers are looking to procrastinate and/or to be informed, so it's important to keep them entertained while also educating or illuminating them! A pretty, clean blog with lots of photos and snappy, bite-sized content also helps. And you must not only know your readers, but know yourself! I encourage new bloggers to write a personal marketing plan; it'll guide you and keep you from veering off the rails.

  7. What drew you to blogging in the first place?

    A college friend (Alexis Barad, who writes wonderful children's books!) had started a blog that I enjoyed reading and I thought, "Hey, I can do this!" Writing had always been one of the two primary passions in my life (along with exploring new cultures) and I'd been working on a book in my spare time, but blogging was the hot new medium and it sounded fun. I decided to start a blog to flex my creativity muscles, and beauty seemed a natural topic as I loved it and it was consuming my life - plus, our jobs as beauty editors were fairly surreal. So, Jolie in NYC - a name I picked on a whim while in an elevator - was born. I was in the right place at the right time, and my personality, writing-style and passions are tailor-made for blogging ... so I just got very lucky.

  8. Can you go a day without logging on to the internet?

    Can I? Yes. Do I want to? Not really! I went without the internet for three weeks in Argentina two years ago and it was HEAVEN. I read, I rode horses, I ate, I drank, I took siestas, I swam and I finished my first book. But, I also lost - no joke - thousands of blog readers, who can be quite a mercurial bunch! There are a lot of beauty blogs now, but I was one of the few games in town then, and I received scores of first-confused-then-angry emails telling me they were upset that I'd dropped off the face of the earth. So, now I try to remain mindful of readers - they need their juice!- and am fairly attached to my blog. I try to keep it fresh so that I don't lose interest in what I'm writing, and I'm also superplugged into Twitter and Facebook. I was an early adaptor with both, but especially Facebook, which I've been on since early 2005 - before I started my blog! I just love being connected to people and exchanging ideas, and so I'm a natural social-networking geek. I heart the internet!

  9. What can you tell us about your third book?

    I spent last year working on a book about two sisters from Palm Beach who move to England (I am so excited about it; it's really fun and features a ton of insider stories from my time spent with the "jet set") and am now putting the finishing touches on another non-fiction proposal. It's completely in the same vein as Beauty Confidential - fun, relatable and (I hope!) very helpful.

  10. Any chance of a sequel to Confessions?

    I would love to do a sequel to Confessions. Bella feels like a close friend (I would hope so, since I spent five years "with" her) and I'm curious about what's going on in her life right now - especially her love life. Since finishing the book I've spent time in some awesome cities, like Buenos Aires, London and LA, so maybe Bella will get a little of the travel itch herself!

  11. If Confessions made it to the big screen, which actors would you cast as Bella, her former boss Larissa, her nemesis Delilah, her publisher James and model boyfriend Tom/Tristan?

    There are a few actors that immediately spring to mind as possibilities for the characters. For Bella, I picture Joanna Garcia, who was the star of Privileged and plays beautiful-but-awkward perfectly! Larissa is obviously Demi Moore, while AnnaLynne McCord would make an excellent Delilah. I think Chace Crawford would make a swoon-worthy Tom/Tristan, although somebody a bit older and beefier like Josh Duhamel (hello, Tad Hamilton) also comes to mind. James is the trickiest one to cast. He has to be highly sexy, but not as model attractive as Tristan - no pretty boys here! - with an air of gruffness, inner reserve and intelligence. I could picture James McAvoy, Ryan Gosling, Robert Buckley or Hugh Dancy. It's a shame Rob Pattinson isn't 10 years older, because he'd make a damn good James!

  12. What are your favourite chick lit books?

    Sophie Kinsella is fantastic, but I also love Emily Giffin who writes slightly deeper stories. My absolutely favorite writer of "chick lit", however, is Jilly Cooper. I can't get enough of the horsey, country manor sagas in the English countryside - they're as well-written as they are page-turning! I am in awe of her - she's been doing it for 30 years and she still rocks.

  13. What celebrity would you most like to make over?

    I have celebrity fatigue. I just don't care about any of them anymore. Rather than make over any existing celebrities, I would like to establish a new rule whereby you cannot be considered a celebrity unless you have talent ... however questionable! Anybody who has ever appeared on a reality show, who married their way on to Page Six, all men who have dated Paris Hilton, Paris Hilton herself - you are banned. I find non-celebrities who have accomplished great things, act as positive role models and rely on their intelligence and wit much more interesting.

  14. How much pressure is there on you to always walk out the door looking great?

    I try not to buy into it! Obviously, I walk out the door freshly showered and with a little feature-defining make-up on, but I'm not a fan of trying too hard or making yourself into something you're not. Out here in Hollywood, where I live, women and men are so judged by what they look like, and there's a real shelf-life on that. I want women to look and feel their personal best, to be happy and healthy, and to take care of themselves - physically and emotionally! Happiness, sleep and quiet confidence are the best beauty tricks - although a little dab of Bare Escentuals Clear Radiance on cheeks also helps!

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