Shirley Halperin, Executive Editor of the prestigious Variety Magazine, dreamed of writing for the popular magazine when she was young.
“It was my dream job,” she told Ynet about her long and illustrious career.
She was born in Yahud, a city in central Israel, but after Halperin’s father got a job in the United States in the 1980s, the family moved to New Jersey, where she entered elementary school.
“I studied with a lot of Vietnamese children, but it wasn’t until fifth grade that I learned to speak English well,” says Halperin. Her mother, a Holocaust survivor, encouraged her family to speak only Hebrew in her home, while she taught Jewish literature in the United States.
In the early 2000s, she traveled with American boy band NSYNC during their US tour following the release of their hit album, No Strings Attached.
“I loved it. Justin Timberlake was still dating Britney Spears at the time and I learned a lot about journalism from touring with the band. We were in the stadium and 70,000 fans screamed. It was something,” she says.
Halperin says her love for music grew during her summer vacation in Israel. She went to a party there. “I came here in the 1980s to learn about music. I was listening to Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, The Beatles, Elvis Presley,” she says.
European music was not popular in America at the time, and her knowledge of different musical genres gave her an advantage from an early age. Her teachers noticed her potential and her passion for writing and put her in her advanced English class.
“My SAT scores weren’t great and I didn’t think my English was perfect, but I still became a writer and proved that these tests don’t determine anything,” she says. .
Halperin says he grew up in a religious Jewish community and has always been a supporter of Israel. “I have learned a lot about what is going on in Israel from my friends, but I have never encountered anti-Semitism.”
But now, she says, some days are more difficult. “We are only being asked about the treatment of Palestinians and ‘apartheid’ in recent years. And I was thinking, ‘What am I going to do?
“I was studying Arabic at university as part of my Middle East Studies and Journalism classes at university, so I wanted to cover these topics on CNN.
“In college, I was an exchange student at the University of Haifa and enjoyed reading a magazine about marijuana called High Times Magazine. I thought.”
She joined the school newspaper and wrote the first article about Paul Simon’s concert in Central Park. “I love my job at the newspaper and was wondering if I wanted to cover more serious topics or continue covering music,” she said.
Halperin made the choice in the 1990s, when CDs were on the rise and the music industry was booming and lucrative. “At the time, even a novice reporter could experience the New York music scene, so I said, ‘Fuck, I’m just going to make my own magazine.’”
Halperin’s parents supported her and she founded her own publication. But she got her first shot at advancing her career as a journalist when she interviewed American rock band Phish for her article.
“In addition to the band members, a group of journalists were also present and smoking drugs,” she says. Noticing that they worked for High Times, she asked if they could intern for the newspaper and she was accepted. “I started with transcription, did photo editing, and was promoted to editor-in-chief. It was a fun job,” she said.
Halperin says managing the newspaper crew was difficult. “Even though we had a meeting at 11am, they didn’t arrive at the office by 12pm. I learned.”
Halperin remembers a photo shoot with rock legend Ozzy Osbourne for a magazine cover. “Marijuana wasn’t legal in New York at the time. We ‘rented’ tons of marijuana and only paid for what we smoked,” she says.
“During a photo shoot, I saw Ozzy steal our marijuana and put it in his pocket. He was then charged $800 for that amount.”
Halperin continued her career in various media outlets such as Entertainment Weekly, LA Times and Hollywood Reported before joining Variety in 2017 to launch the magazine’s music column.
The up-and-coming journalist excels at what she does, and the connections she makes through her work have opened many doors.
“When The Hollywood Reporter first launched, there was a big scoop about Jennifer Lopez trying to get on the American Idol judging panel,” she says. I called someone and said, ‘I have a scoop, but you have to give me a job.
“Someone tracked the private jet to tell us where Jennifer Aniston was and when Britney Spears got married in Las Vegas. We covered it all,” she says. her father almost every day
Halperin has funny stories like when he interviewed famous rapper Snoop Dogg. “I went to his house because it was interesting to see where he lived, because he liked weed.”
When they smoked together, she said it was a daunting experience. “You know what it’s like to be unsure about your next question and completely lose your train of thought? It was worse than that,” she says.
“Then we set rules for when we could smoke marijuana,” she says. time. “
Halperin has worked in entertainment magazines since 2010 and says he really enjoys the behind-the-scenes and business side of the industry. “There are more women working as journalists today, but not many,” she says. But she says there are advantages to working in a male-dominated industry.
“People didn’t take me seriously at first, but later I thought, ‘She knows what she’s doing.’ Especially when I talk to musicians who I can say have
The music industry has changed dramatically since Halperin started, and Halperin says he never uploads his own videos, but always uses TikTok.
“It’s interesting to see how things have evolved. Today, artists are signed based on very short videos. Most artists today aren’t even close to releasing a third album,” she says.
When it comes to the possibility of a viral online song being nominated for a Grammy or other award, Halperin said it’s a startling phenomenon.
“Today’s artists don’t have time to find their voices. Producers have to bet billions of dollars on artists based solely on short clips and without knowing the rest of the artist’s music.”
“But it’s not that I miss the days when white male rock bands dominated the scene. I still think about songwriters and how much they are paid.”
Halperin started out in Variety, hoping to focus more on the people who work behind the scenes and write about musicians who receive the recognition they deserve and compose music made for movies and television shows.
“This was not covered a few years ago and the composers did not pay attention to it. Today they are very interesting and covered in the press.”
She says she still listens to Israeli music artists, but doesn’t think Hebrew songs will do well abroad. Let’s go,” she explains. “But if a musician has good English, they should use it in the international market.
Halperin believes that Israeli pop stars Noah Killel and Jonathan Melgi could succeed in the US market under the right circumstances.
“Noah has everything a pop star needs. It’s not on the market yet, but it will take time.They have to spend a lot of time in the US and it’s a very competitive market,” she says.
Halperin says he plans to celebrate Israel’s 75th Independence Day with a special edition of Variety, hoping to draw readers’ attention to what’s happening in Israel.
“I want to highlight Israel’s creativity in bringing a new TV format to the industry,” she said, admitting she’s a fan of the ultra-orthodox drama Shtisel, which is streaming on Netflix.
She also believes the Abraham Accords have opened new avenues for international artists to perform in the Middle East.
Halperin is already working on ideas for the magazine’s next issue, including an article on the Captain America movie starring Israeli actress Shira Haas.
She also plans to write about Arab musicians and their reluctance to perform in Israel at the cost of becoming a pariah in the Islamic world. I would say: Who is running the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement?
“You have such a strong message, but who is responsible for it? Who runs it? Why do they focus on the music industry? , should connect,” she says.
Halperin still has a few music greats he’d like to interview. “I haven’t interviewed Paul McCartney yet. I would be happy to do so, but I don’t know what to ask him because he hasn’t been asked before.” I felt the same way about the late David Bowie,” she says.
“I’ve been close to these people, and sometimes the illusion is better than the reality,” she says. I also like people who read, like Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, and it’s great that someone I’m interviewing has visited Israel, like Justin Bieber.”