By Carly Robinson
I interviewed Keaton Bell, a former OU student and current Entertainment Associate for The Talent Group. The Talent Group has representatives from every Condé Nast magazine who do all entertainment booking for everything Condé Nast-related. While writing is not technically a part of Bell’s job description, he was recently published in Vogue for his piece The Girl in the Spider’s Web’s Sverrir Gudnason Knows That His Life Is About to Change.
The article focuses on an interview with Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason, and his appearance in the upcoming film The Girl in the Spider’s Web. When asked what the most challenging aspect of writing the piece was, Bell explained that Sverrir was, in his terms, “boring”. He had two interviews with the actor, and was convinced that his interviewing skills were lacking. After speaking with colleagues who had interviewed the actor before, he learned that they had the same experience. I admire Bell’s ability to create such a compelling article by putting his own spin on the subject matter. Sverrir didn’t provide the most exciting content, so Bell went in another direction, focusing more on the film itself, and the narrative surrounding a famous Swedish actor entering American cinema.
Bell encouraged the concept of knowing your audience when conducting an interview. He described Sverrir as rather rigid and “buttoned-up”. In this case, he simply asked each question and moved on to the next, but, in other cases, he finds value in making the subject feel comfortable by avoiding the most generic questions that they’ve likely been asked hundreds of times before. He also emphasized the importance of allowing a piece to shape itself if possible. In some instances, that isn’t possible because of time restraints, but for the most part, he doesn’t impose his own ideas.
Considering that this piece was not very controversial, Bell didn’t receive backlash or any surprising responses. However, in past articles, he doesn’t invest much time and energy into negative commentary. He primarily writes about pop culture, and has run into angry Ariana Grande fans when he didn’t list “Dangerous Woman” as the best album of the year on his list of the best pop albums of 2016, and Stevie Nicks fans were furious when he referred to her as a witch in one of his reviews of her concert. For the most part, he simply finds these comments humorous.
I was the most amazed by how Bell arrived at his current position at Vogue. After a frustrating post-gradation season of internship and job denials, he guessed the email address of Rolling Stone’s editor-in-chief, explaining why he deserved to be a summer intern for him in New York City. Within an hour of sending the email, his assistant had emailed him back to set up an interview. The next day he had an official offer. From there, he moved from Oklahoma to New York, made connections through Rolling Stone, and made his way to Vogue.