Photography by: Emma Arsenault
Writer, body image advocate, all-around-brat, Amanda Scriver, known as Ama by friends and fans, bears these titles and many more. She lends her voice to publications such as Flare, Vice, Allure, The Walrus, The Washington Post, and Buzzfeed. Her topics range from body politics to mental health awareness and cannabis.
We had an opportunity to sit down with Ama recently and get the real nitty-gritty on what it’s like to be a freelance journalist, how she gets sh*t done, and what personal rituals and routines make for a great day.
Tell us about a time that life handed you lemons. Did you make lemonade?
When I graduated from Humber’s Public Relations program I almost immediately landed a dream job. I was so excited to work at a large agency with some pretty big clients. As the story goes, within the year the housing market crashed and the agency’s largest client dropped them. I was laid off, last in - first out. This situation set me up to handle anything that life can throw at me. I knew that I had to make sh*t happen for myself. I volunteered, created jobs for myself and through a program provided by EI, began to work with the Parkdale BIA. The work program enabled me to get the experience my resume needed, opportunities to work on great events like Luminato, take on a “make sh*t happen* attitude, and work directly within a community experiencing a renaissance.
Describe your ideal work environment to get sh*t done.
I have been freelance for 4 years. In that time I have found the perfect environment to get sh*t done. Knowing that I need to leave the house to get anything done, I’m a member at my local coworking space. I enjoy the social feeling of coworking spaces but what makes them perfect is that everyone else is getting their sh*t done so they’re not bothering me.
Tell us about your transition to freelance.
I was working as a manager at a digital media agency and the agency was struggling. Layoffs were happening regularly, the workload was increasing as staff size was shrinking, and I realized that having a salary did not equal being happy. I was already a side-hustlin’ freelancer so it was just about taking that step and going full-time. I took the leap with the support of my partner and haven’t looked back.
I really love the ability, especially as a journalist, to tell other people’s stories.
How do you measure success in your career?
*laughs* People tell me I’m successful but I don’t necessarily see that success. I mean people want to hire me so obviously something is working. I laugh and ask what keeps her so humble? It’s mostly imposter syndrome and self-doubt. *laughs* PLEASE HIRE ME! I get very generous reader feedback but it’s like it doesn’t absorb.
I knew that I had to make sh*t happen for myself. I volunteered, created jobs for myself…
What excites you most about your career?
I really love the ability, especially as a journalist, to tell other people’s stories. For example, for Leafly, I’m interviewing Canadians about cannabis use: Drag queens, cancer survivors, runners. Interviewing people and sharing their stories. The emotional labour and exchange of values. Being trusted with their stories.
Do you have a mentor? What role have they played in your success?
My therapist! Shout out to my therapist that I see every other week. My accountant is business therapy. My friend group - they uplift and support me.
Remaining fresh and innovative as a business owner can be hard. How do you stay creative and where do you look for inspiration?
She also takes inspiration and joy from drag shows, she loves to make zines, small creative outputs, the internet: Insta memes. Shout out to gay twitter! Reality television.
You're 30 minutes away from walking into an important meeting. What do you do to get yourself in the right headspace?
Just show up. Into the club, purse first. Confidence. Put on a great bold lip and just show up. Let’s do this. You asked me here for a reason. You want me and who I am so that’s what I am going to bring to the table. Try to be the most authentic version of myself.
If you’re wondering, her hype song is Sicko Mode.