We had the good fortune of connecting with Marielle Wakim and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marielle, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
In terms of my career as a writer and editor, I attribute most of my success to having a number of Los Angeles magazine mentors who graciously and patiently nurtured my editorial instincts, my reporting abilities, and the way I think about storytelling. I would never be where I am today or have the bylines that I have if it hadn’t been for those brilliant people. So, step one: Find a bomb mentor, and, more importantly, listen to them. But I will also admit that I hustled—hard—in the early years of my career: After graduating with my masters in writing, I had five different odd jobs (from a gym receptionist to a freelance writer), plus an unpaid internship. The latter eventually led to my first full-time position, and it was at that job that I learned at the feet of those aforementioned mentors. Step two: Don’t hate on the hustle. In hindsight, there’s something romantic about it, especially in a city like L.A. As for the success of the business I started myself (the wedding hashtag company Happily Ever #Hashtagged), I attribute that to dumb luck. But I didn’t waste the opportunity, even though it was sort of handed to me on a platter—I took advantage of the media blitz my business caused and grew it organically into what it is today (you can see the article that started it all here). Step three: You’re in charge of your success, so make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I know I said this already, but man alive, I feel like I hustled to get where I am today. I said yes to pretty much every writing opportunity that came my way just to get a few bylines under my belt; I drove all over L.A. (and even flew to a few other cities) to meet with editors at various publications in the hopes it’d land me a job. Also, hot tip: The best piece of networking advice I ever got from a mentor was to take the editors you admire out for coffee—emphasis on the word “out.” The reason for this is twofold: 1. Editors love talking about themselves (see: this entire article I’m writing about myself). Getting in front of an editor is always better than emailing them, especially if you’re going out for a job or pitching a story. 2. The coffee in most media offices is trash, so editors will almost certainly view it as a treat to go elsewhere. I also had to swallow my pride a bit—when I graduated from my masters program, I was all, “Well I have a masters degree, so you should obviously want to hire me.” Wrong attitude. The only outlet I heard back from was Los Angeles magazine, and I was offered an unpaid internship. I almost didn’t take it, but I’m so glad I did. Taking that internship ended up being one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and nearly eight years after starting as a no-name 20-something intern, I left as the deputy editor. There’s almost no door that hard work and humility can’t open.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Food: My number one spot forever and ever is Hatchet Hall in Culver City. The chef, Brian Dunsmoor, is a marvel, and they cook most everything over an open hearth. The menu changes regularly, they have an incredible cocktail and wine list, the service is unparalleled, and, oh, the atmosphere—the atmosphere! It’s *chef’s kiss.* I’d eat there every day if I could. Plus it was in an episode of Insecure, so that’s cool for out of towners. In addition to Hatchet Hall, my top spots are Takao in Brentwood (sushi), Sunnin in Westwood (Lebanese), Republique on La Brea (at all times, but specifically for brunch and/or pastry time, the latter of which should be a time), Animal on Fairfax (also for brunch), Birdie G’s in Santa Monica (their lamb is stupid), Bavel downtown (the hummus and the lamb neck shawarma are also stupid)…the key lime pie at Fishing With Dynamite in Manhattan Beach, an Eastside cocktail from Perch downtown, coffee from Dayglow in Los Feliz accompanied by a pastry made by Thessa Diadem at All Day Baby next door (because #pastrytime), any gin-based drink from Genever in Historic Filipinotown…I could really go on, but I’m sure I’m boring you.
To-Dos: L.A. is a city that benefits the permanent resident more than the casual tourist—its sprawl makes it hard to get your arms around if you’re only here for a short time. But! That’s why you need someone to give you an itinerary that doesn’t include anything on, near, or around Hollywood and Highland. The best hidden gem L.A. has to offer is, in my humble opinion, a weekly jazz performance by Jeff Goldblum and his Mildred Snitzer Orchestra at the Rockwell Table and Stage in Los Feliz. Jeff Goldblum is most certainly not any of our best friends, but you’ll leave *feeling* like you’re his best friend, and that’s all that matters. Have dinner at Kismet before the show, and it’s all but guaranteed you’ll have the best night ever. Other favorites include the free docent-led architectural tour at the Getty museum on the west side, catching an outdoor movie at Cinespia in Hollywood Forever Cemetery, trekking to the Mission Tiki Drive-in in Montclair for a proper roll-up experience, any comedy show at Largo (if you can time it right, try to catch Middleditch & Schwartz, but all of their shows are pretty amazing), the Universal Studios tram tour (yes, seriously), hiking in the Palisades, roller skating at Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale, playing “Space Invaders” plus a million other games at the barcade EightyTwo downtown, going to a free LA Phil rehearsal at the Hollywood Bowl (look it up), renting a swan boat at Echo Park Lake, Huntington Library and Gardens, LACMA, the Broad, MOCA, Gallery 1988…again, could go on forever.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to dedicate my shoutout to the editors who opened so many doors for me and taught me everything I know about what it means to be a writer and editor: Amy Wallace, Shayna Triebwasser, Nancy Miller, Mary Melton, and Matt Segal.
Website: mariellewakim.com ; happilyeverhashtagged.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marielle.m.n.o.p/ ; https://www.instagram.com/happilyeverhashtagged/