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#WHOISTHISFUNKTIONAL Part 6 / My Interview Style

1:55 AM

Me, right, Interviewing the cast of "Ghost Team One" (Photo by Jenny Becerra)
I don't ever go into an interview thinking I will make a friend, sometimes it's just the way it works out

Written by Jesus Figueroa

From the start, the biggest obstacle in my journalistic journey has been the human touch to every story.

I am the quiet person that takes in the room and can describe things well and detailed.

Writing my stories includes people, especially when I feature those who have inspired me along the way, through their art or their perseverance.

Talking isn't my go to, the visual usually is, but as I have been thrown in to the deep many times to do interviews with local artist who I admire and well known actors who get talked about internationally, I have developed a style which is me.

Sitting across a table or room from the subject of my focus can be the most easy moment of the entire process.

The moment I am granted the opportunity to interview a person becomes the second most terrifying moment, the first most terrifying moment being the moment the interview is over and my focus has shifted or morphed or even mutated into something different.

Getting that interview can cause a panic because I don't talk well with people, I have a fear of interacting with people and I hardly ever know what I am going to say until I am there waiting for the words to come out. I spend hours each day until the interview reading as much as I can on the subject, their projects, their history, other interviews and even their interest. The research brings a tiny bit of assurance and the nerves calm slightly.

When I first began interviewing, I would constantly have pen and paper with me and I would rely heavily on notes to hit every point, so every interview sounded dry and almost prepared.

As I have done more, I began to only do bullet points with words. These points would become topics I needed to hit before my time was up and in doing this if my time ended before my points were done, things always felt incomplete.

Sitting across the table with artist Rob Prior I began to talk more freely. I had gotten the interview on the date at noon and was to sit down with him at 6:15 p.m. it left little time to do research, even if I knew his career a bit it wasn't enough to feel comfortable.

I had challenged myself to do this interview differently. I would read just enough to where I was comfortable I had enough for 10 minutes of conversation. No notes were taken and I would just go in and ask of the things I remembered to ask. I would only get the information that was important enough to remember, because everything else would have slipped away because it wasn't as important. That 10 minute interview turned into 45 minutes, those 45 minutes turned into an evening hanging out, shadowing Prior.

What I liked was that I studied as much as I could to get the best questions to stick and let the less important ones go. I was knowledgable enough to not go in there blind.

What actually happened, the interview which was had became the best interview I have had. The peaceful genuine nature of the interview can be heard as the conversation goes from music to art and through to belief, and none of it was taken negatively. The genuine nature of Prior came through to the interview and shaped it in a way that felt right.

I don't ever go in thinking any of the famous people I interview will be friends with me by the end of that 5 to 10 minute interview, I'm just not there for that, but sometimes it gets to the point where it naturally leads to that.

I guess the best interviews happen when two strangers come together and by the end of the interview they leave having established something as close to a friendship as possible.

The best questions aren't researched, because if you can find the answers during the research, it's not the best question, it can just lead to it. I started off always wanting to get a question people had never heard before, something that made them actually have to think and not spew out some rehearsed line they have said a hundred times before.

Now, to anyone who is wanting to do interviews better, who is thinking of writing about someone, the best questions come not from what you already know about the person, which if there's interesting parts that you want to as you can, it comes from genuinely listening to the person talk and when that moment comes when they say something that catches your attention, you ask about it, because if it caught your attention it will catch other people's attention.

Just like when meeting a person for the first time, it may not always come to a friendship, but the best friendships do happen naturally. An interview with a person isn't a random meeting, they usually have a purpose, so if any ever lead to what feels like something that can lead to friendship, that could possibly be one of the best interviews, with some amazing stories.

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