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The FishbowlDC Interview With WaPo’s Fashionista Janet Bennett Kelly

Say hello to WaPo‘s Janet Bennett Kelly. She just moved over to WaPo Magazine where where she will, among other tasks, help write a new Style column, work fashion week and write wedding vignettes. She grew up on Great Neck, Long Island, where her mother indoctrinated her early on into the “creativity of clothing, what it means to have a good eye and the wonders of discount shopping at Loehmann’s.” She tells me, “I often find myself thinking when I put together some outfit or other, ‘What would Mom think of this?” What she likes best about her job so far: “I just started this past Monday and work with an extremely talented pool of people, who are not only smart but generous with their time.” She hasn’t always been into writing or fashion. In fact, her dream years ago was to be a Classical archaeologist. She says, “the connection between now and then is, I guess, that I love digging up new things.”

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? I prefer non-carbonated, but if I had to pick, it would be Pellegrino.

How often do you Google yourself? I’ve Googled myself twice.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)? You must be joking!

Who is your favorite working journalist? I have a few: Robin Givhan, Hadley Freeman, Maureen Dowd.

Do you have a favorite word? minimalism

Who would you rather have dinner with – First Lady Michelle Obama or Bestselling Author and former V.P. candidate Sarah Palin? None of those. I’d like to have dinner with Tina Fey.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? Marimba

When did you last cry and why? When I saw the film “Inside Job” and realized what pain so few had inflicted on so many.

Find out why Tim Gunn was her favorite interview of all time and why Kelly McGillis wasn’t after the jump…

What word do you routinely misspell? This sounds totally arrogant, but I hardly ever misspell anything.

What swear word do you use most often? I say these together:  shit fuck

What word or phrase do you overuse? Totally

What TV show do you have to watch? “Mad Men”

Where do you shop most often for your clothes? I shop the twice-yearly sales at Relish.

Whom do you prefer for daytime talk, Dr. Phil, Ellen, Oprah, Tyra or the women of The View? I don’t like any of them.

Pick one: Leno, Letterman or Conan? Letterman

If you were trapped on a deserted island, which public official would you want to be trapped with and why? This is tough because I’m so a-political.

Who is your mentor? The late, great Stephen Birnbaum. Birnbaum was an editor at Esquire and was referred to because of gossip columnist Cindy Adams, “the Perry Como of travel.” He founded a travel magazine called Diversion (now a party of the Hearst empire), and I worked as an associate editor and exec editor under him. The man had (he died in 1993) amazing energy and enthusiasm. He taught me a lot of what I know about writing and editing.

What’s the best advice you ever received in the course of your career? Success is believing in yourself.

What and where was your first job in journalism? Editorial assistant at World Tennis magazine in New York City.

What’s your most embarrassing career moment? I was editing a magazine on Disney World, and I screwed up a location on a map.

Which one interview of your career did you enjoy most? Tim Gunn. Gunn has to be the most polite and gentlemanly person on earth. He makes you feel as if you’re the most important person he has to be talking to right at that moment. He has a distinct philosophy about hard work and a no-bullshit approach to fashion. It’s refreshing to talk to him.

Which one interview of your career did you enjoy least? Kelly McGillis. It was a mid-morning interview, and McGillis had not slept at all the night before. She was due to perform at the Shakespeare Theatre that night, and my interview with her was low on the totem pole. It took almost half an hour to get her to loosen up and answer my questions.  When she finally did, I got some good material, though.  It was just damn difficult.

What’s the biggest scoop you’ve ever had? Not really a scoop, but an interview with Michelle Obama two years before she became first lady.

When and why did you last laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes? When Tina Fey impersonated Sarah Palin.

When and why did you last lose your temper? Anytime my husband and I are on our boat, and he tells me to do something I have no clue about.

Which movie title best describes your journalism career? “Working Girl”

Who would you want to play you in a movie? Debra Winger

Name some jobs you’ve had outside of journalism. (Can start as young as teenage years): Summer gopher for my father’s company, public relations for a travel association.

Finally, please come up for a question for our next FishbowlDC interviewee. Make it good. Why are you in this business, anyhow?

From last week’s interviewee, The Daily Caller‘s Mike Riggs: “Which D.C. journo would you Fuck/Marry/Kill?” There are some journalists I like a lot, some I don’t, but I can’t think of a one I’d want to fuck, marry or kill.

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