Angelena Bonet of Crystal Heart Productions On The Five Things You Need To Create A Successful…

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Angelena Bonet of Crystal Heart Productions On The Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A Journalist

Passion — this industry is very competitive and not nine to five so you will need to be absolutely passionate about your work. Having passion is a key ingredient to being successful as it will make you work hard and also enjoy the process and persevere.

As a part of our series about Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Journalist, we had the pleasure of interviewing Angelena Bonet.

Angelena Bonet is an Australian multi-award winning journalist, documentary filmmaker, singer-songwriter and inspirational speaker based in Toronto. She is a former international model and actress who has hosted the FIFA World Cup Show in Canada and then created Crystal Heart Productions eight years ago. She has created five documentary films, their original soundtracks/music videos, and two web series Heart Of The Matter and The Angelena Bonet Show. She writes, directs, edits and produces her work in their entirety, including co-writing and singing the soundtracks and describes it “purely as a labor of love”! Her documentary short film Change The World recently screened in Hollywood, Europe, South America and Japan and is now available on YouTube. Angelena is the recipient of over 300 film festival awards worldwide, including the ‘Humanitarian Award’ at the Jane Austen International Film Festival in the U.K. and the ‘Human Spirit Award’ at the DOCS Without Borders Film Festival in The Bahamas. Her online talk show Heart Of The Matter has also won the Social Awareness Award (Award of Excellence) at the Vegas Movie Awards and it was her interviews that inspired the VMAs to create that specific category. She interviews inspiring women all around the world and from all walks of life and is dedicated to having women’s voices heard. She also reports on the red carpet of film premieres and award shows. Angelena has been a Jury member of The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards (AACTA) for the past four years. Angelena is a regular keynote inspirational speaker and her films feature many of her public speeches. A natural and confident communicator, Angelena speaks from personal experience and the heart, whilst shedding light on human rights issues that generally get swept under the carpet. From Australian international model to multi-award winning singer-songwriter, documentary filmmaker and humanitarian she is devoted to shining a light on violence against women and her message is one of peace, love and unity.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory? What led you to this particular career path?

I grew up in Sydney, Australia first appeared on national television at the age of four on a preschool show called Romper Room with my twin brother. It was filmed at Channel 7 Television Studios near where I lived and I remember having such a magical day. It no doubt had an impact on me. I began ballet lessons that same year and piano lessons at six. Dancing was my passion and I studied jazz and tap from the age of ten. I then continued my dance studies as well as singing and drama at The Australian College of Entertainment during high school. I loved school, particularly music and English classes and was a social butterfly! I then went to Business College at eighteen to study a Secretarial and Travel & Tourism course and was discovered at a hair salon that year and asked to model for a shoot that appeared in Vogue Australia. I then modeled part-time while studying and got my first office job as a secretary the following year. I signed with a top Sydney modelling agency at twenty and things just took off from there. The very next day I was booked on a television soap opera “Breakers” where they wrote me into the script and I was on that show, which aired in 50 countries, for the next two years. I was then on the cover with a ten page spread of the three biggest selling issues of ‘Inside Sport’ magazine and was named ‘The New Australian Supermodel’ on national news when I returned to Sydney after modeling in Milan.

In early 2010 I then signed with a talent agent in New York and moved to Toronto, Canada. I fell in love with the city, the people and loved working in their TV and Film industry. I hosted the FIFA World Cup Show that year and was on an episode of the TV Series ‘Ghostly Encounters’. I came home in 2012 for a visit and six days later I was a victim of a horrific violent crime in Melbourne. Once again my life was turned upside down and I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the crime and had to also deal with the police investigation. This experience changed my life and today I can say for the better. It completely opened my eyes to the pain of this world and the cruelty that some human beings are capable of inflicting and also opened my heart with a feeling of immense compassion for all of us women who have suffered. To say I was disgusted with my perpetrators is an understatement and I’d never felt such rage. Once again I was suicidal and this time I really didn’t think I could go on. I also lost loved ones afterwards because of their denial as they too had been manipulated by the main perpetrator and that was when I decided enough was enough and I was going to go public with this injustice. I was told by one of my case workers at the time that sexual violence against women is a silent global epidemic and that 1 in 3 women and girls will experience some kind of abuse in their lifetime. I couldn’t bear to think of another woman going through the suffering I was experiencing and I felt a very strong desire in my heart to help other people. This was before the #MeToo movement began and no-one was talking about rape but I found my courage and made the commitment that I would not be silenced, nor would I own any shame for their behaviour. I then began my humanitarian work in 2013 by aligning myself with ethical non-profit organizations that support women and girls. I believe that when we come together, with united voices, we can change the world. I started my production company Crystal Heart Productions when I returned to Toronto in September 2014 and I put all my energy into this. I was tired of the vacuous shows I kept seeing on television and wanted to channel my skills in front and behind the cameras into a show for women that had purpose and meaning. And that is how my vision for my talk show Heart Of The Matter was born. It was created from my heart to allow women to not just be seen but heard and in turn inspire each other. When I won the Social Awareness Award, the category that Vegas Movie Awards created after watching my show, I was truly touched because this project means so much to me. To contribute positively to society is what is really important to me. My journey has been very challenging and painful but also really beautiful and magical. I have gone with the flow and always followed my heart and woven my life into my art and I am very proud of what I’ve been able to overcome.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

I was in Los Angeles and decided to go to a live taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno by myself. Jay came out before the show to warm up the audience and he asked if anyone wanted to come up on stage and say hello. I immediately put my hand up and he picked me to come up! I was so excited to meet him and we had an amazing rapport and I felt right in my element. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him I was a model and working on an album. He noted that I had an Australian accent and made reference to the late Steve Irwin, whom he had had on his show as a guest many times over the years. He then asked me to sing something so I sang one of my songs Downtown a cappella. I was then invited back to the show a few weeks later on my birthday and got to meet Canadian actress Evangeline Lilly and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian U.K. star Ben Barnes. Feeling completely at ease with Jay on his set was another television appearance that had an impact on me.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started my modelling career and shooting with different photographers, I was doing a lot of beauty campaigns and fashion editorial. To fit those sample sizes you have been so thin and I tried to diet to reach that unhealthy weight and I realised that I wasn’t prepared to starve myself or jeopardise my health to fit some warped idea of beauty. I stayed my naturally slim shape and my modeling agent discovered that the swimsuit and lingerie clients loved my look and they are the markets I really excelled at. It was wonderful for me because I could do what I love but still eat hamburgers and pasta and live without constantly eating lettuce leaves and counting calories. I was not prepared to give up carbs because the body needs them. I do not advocate for size 0 and encourage women of all ages to embrace their natural body type and be the healthiest you can be while enjoying foods they love in moderation. There is no way I could have made four feature films, one documentary short film, seven music videos, two web series and everything else I have achieved without nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Food is medicine and fuel and restricting calories can negatively impact our healthy and beauty. There are too many dangerous messages in advertising and social media for women. I aim for health and balance rather than deprivation and starvation.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am currently in the pre-production and research stage of a non-profit project to support women and girls fleeing violence and experiencing trauma. I am also writing my first book to share the wisdom I have gained from my life so far and help others with their healing journey. I am covering the red carpet for the Australian Music ARIA Awards in November and hoping to be at the Oscars next March.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I have been blessed to have met many amazing and talented people. I really enjoyed interviewing Chief of Staff to President Obama, Tina Tchen, and while speaking at a V Day One Billion Rising event met the Founder, Eve Ensler. These two women have each inspired me and meeting them was an incredible experience. The work they have done for women’s rights and creating change has been remarkable and it was great to personally thank them for their service to women.

What advice would you give to your colleagues in the industry, to thrive and not burnout?

My advice for colleagues in my industry to thrive rather than burn out is be very clear that you’re in this business for the right reasons. If you are in love with the arts and very creative then you will be able to persevere and deal with the set backs and long hours. Getting clear on what genre you resonate with and honing your skills is also imperative. I produce all my work in their entirety and even though it is a ridiculous amount of work, I love the whole creative process and how it unfolds organically. Filmmaking is definitely not a nine to five job so being passionate about what you’re wanting to create is the number one ingredient so you have the drive to persist with your project. Don’t be afraid to take risks either because being in your comfort zone as an artist is never a good thing. Being uncomfortable is where the magic happens so believe in yourself. Trying to find some balance is a tricky thing but taking time out to recharge the batteries and take care of yourself will ensure you don’t burn out and have the energy to keep creating.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Having a platform to use my voice for those who can’t speak is something I am very grateful for. Giving people hope and bringing comfort to those who are living through a nightmare is what makes my heart sing. Creating social awareness is the first step in changing the world. Making people aware of just how prevalent violence is in our society and how it is unacceptable is all about bringing goodness and light to the darkness. Standing up and speaking out and saying enough is enough gives others the courage to do the same and in turn heals people. I am honored to use my success to bring goodness to the world.

I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?

What drives me is wanting to make a positive difference in this world. I am passionate about allowing women to not only be seen, but heard. Our voices matter and I am all about us controlling our own narrative. For far too long, we have been silenced and suppressed but thankfully times are changing. I envisage a world where we are all free from violence and respected and treated as equals. Creating documentaries and web series’ are powerful mediums to get the message out.

According to this Gallup poll, only 36% of Americans trust the mass media. This is disheartening. As an insider, are there a few things that journalists can do to increase the levels of trust? Can you give some examples?

I think with the introduction of social media and many more news outlets people are unsure who to believe these days. We saw this with the past couple of U.S elections and I can’t help but think of Princess Diana and what she suffered at the hands of the media. Tabloid magazines don’t care for truth, nor do they care about the celebrities they make stories up about. It is disheartening and at the end of the day it all comes down to compassion and respecting people. A few things journalists can do the increase the level of trust is by doing their research thoroughly and not making up a story just for a buck. Television stations can ensure their news reports aren’t all based on fear and lies to manipulate the masses. As a consumer you can research the media outlets you are consuming and make choices according to your ethics.

Ok wonderful. Thank you for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A Journalist” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

I love this question and for me it’s all about the five P’s!

Passion — this industry is very competitive and not nine to five so you will need to be absolutely passionate about your work. Having passion is a key ingredient to being successful as it will make you work hard and also enjoy the process and persevere.

Preparation — being prepared is critical. From researching to presenting in front of the cameras or on air is imperative to being a successful journalist. Whether I am interviewing women from the White House or a celebrity on the red carpet I ensure I have prepared my introduction to camera and researched the people I am interviewing. That includes reading any books they have written and taking notes.

Presentation — how you present yourself is so important is you want a successful career as a journalist. If you are on television or the red carpet, taking pride in your appearance is part of the job. I once met another woman interviewing on the red carpet and she gloated that she didn’t care about how she looked and needless to say, that lack of care spilled over into her preparation and the work she was putting out on the internet. Having your style and being well groomed is essential to being a professional in this industry.

Purpose — bringing integrity to your work and that sense of purpose for me is very fulfilling. It guides the shows I create, the people I interview and how I edit my documentaries. I love hosting shows that are sharing a positive message and highlighting important issues. The red carpets are also purposeful for me as I get to engage with other creative people who are using the arts to share love and positivity.

Professional — becoming a professional journalist, like any other career takes time and dedication. Learning how to deliver your lines to the camera and connect with your audience through the lens is a talent and even if you are a natural, it still takes time to hone that skill. For example, the podcast market is flooded these days and the ability to create a website and use social media to share your work is wonderful, however, being professional will make you stand out and become successful.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am part of the women empowerment movement and we have the suffragettes who fought for our right to vote to thank for getting the ball rolling. Women’s rights have come along way in the past century but we still have a fair way to go, particularly when it comes to equal pay and abortion rights in the U.S. The Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade ended the constitutionally protected right to abortion after nearly 50 years and this is a huge step backwards for women’s rights. Progress isn’t always linear and it can seem like we are taking ten steps forward and twenty back but I have faith we are heading in the right direction. When you look at prominent Hollywood men now in jail for their sexual crimes, or the billionaire paedophile and his female accomplice who were convicted it shows that the darkness is being exposed and victims are being heard. We have many warrior women around the world fighting for our rights and I am doing my part to shine the spotlight on sexual violence and how to recover from PTSD. The more women stand together and drop their competitiveness the better. It’s about strength in numbers and uniting as one so we can create a more healthy world, not just for our generation but for our daughters and their daughters and so on.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have a private lunch with Gloria Allred. She is the most famous woman attorney practicing law in America today. She is a tireless and successful advocate for victims whose rights have been violated. Her high-profile legal battles have led to many landmark precedent-setting court decisions and hundreds of millions of dollars for her clients. I loved the Netflix documentary Seeing Allred and am currently reading her daughter, Lisa Bloom’s book “Think”. I would love to meet her and congratulate her for standing up for women rights and her courage to fight these lawsuits. Her strength is so admirable and I would love to pick her brains!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can connect with me on the following socials:-

Facebook —

Instagram —

Linkedin —

YouTube —

Website —

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Thank you very much, I really appreciate it!

Angelena Bonet of Crystal Heart Productions On The Five Things You Need To Create A Successful… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.