Girl In Media: Jessica Jane Sammut

Jessica Jane Sammut, editor of Profile magazine. Art by Sophie Baker.
Jessica Jane Sammut's life story reads like an exemplary curriculum vitae: girl grows up in England, studies Law, travels the world, falls in love, finds her writer's voice and settles in the rural outskirts of Noosa with her Australian husband and son, Zac Xavier, to take up the editorship of a glossy lifestyle magazine and make a home in "Roseberry Cottage" amidst an acre of tropical gardens. 

"I could spend a whole afternoon flicking through my Country Style magazines to get decor ideas, absorbing the creativity!" she says. "I love nothing more than hanging out with my gorgeous hubby and my two-year-old son (my little ball of fire) - cooking, gardening, eating chips on the beach as the sun sets, or tucking into tapas and a cocktail at Bistro C, Noosa."

It's enough to make your average girl green with envy. But Sammut, 33, is industrious to a fault, admitting that she could happily work 24/7 and has to give herself permission to relax. "I love what I do so much that to me it is not work!" she says. "I manage my time efficiently – setting myself time limits and goals, and allocating time off."

After qualifying as a commercial lawyer, she realised that that career path was not for her. "It stifled my spirit and suffocated my creativity," she says. "Law was amazing to learn, as it taught me about business and how to apply myself. It taught me the judicial rules of the game that is life. It taught me to be tough. It expanded my mind. It also taught me that I hated being told what to do, felt oppressed by corporate boundaries and was more creative than I realised."

She attended a Catholic convent school, the Ursuline Convent, which gave her five of her best girlfriends, whose friendship she maintains till this day, and a dogged work ethic, but her faith was left wanting. "I do not believe in God," she says. "I believe that the journey we take formulates every inch of our being and each experience in life teaches us something."

In childhood, she relished holidays to France with her family, running through the woods on Wimbledon Common each autumn in search of Wombles, writing screenplays on a typewriter, shopping in London and drinking hot chocolate in the French Dome Cafe in Wimbledon Village.

One of her formative literary influences, the work of Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion – she says is, "Beautiful and so cleverly written, romantic, historic. I love period books – it takes me back to a time, place and culture; back to an England of old. It is my heritage."

Mrs Moon, a primary school teacher, was someone quite strict and scary but who she greatly respected. She also cites her mother as a strong female role model ("I saw how she raised us and her dedication to the sense of family") and her father ("who always told me I could do anything I set my mind to) for her drive. "I was a bit of a geek," she says. "I was very conscientious and worked hard."

Sammut started her writing career in legal publications, which gave her an appreciation for the importance of research material, and has freelanced for the likes of Body + Soul (The Sun-Herald/Sunday Mail) as well as corporate clients. She maintains an impeccable website and brand presence through Linkedin, Facebook and the Australian Magazine Professionals network she started. 

"Often work is commissioned without an editor even meeting you in person, so if you don't behave like a professional – with an online presence where editors can view your work and learn a little bit about you. How can you expect an editor to take you seriously as freelancer?"

Her current position, editor of Profile magazine, a glossy lifestyle publication for the Sunshine Coast, sees her sifting through event invitations, ideas pitched by PRs, planning editorial and researching her features, including the cover stories which often feature interesting local women.

"I wrote a cover story on Jessica Ainscough, a beautiful 25-year-old suffering from terminal cancer who is undergoing the controversial Gerson therapy," she says of a recent edition. "Writing this piece was very emotional and such a challenge as it was so important I got the piece absolutely right. The reviews I received were very complimentary and so I was extremely happy that I did her story justice."

In Sammut's highly capable, polished hands, it's hard to imagine she'd fail to do anyone, or anything, justice. "I write because it is the greatest thrill to have a voice," she says. "Seeing my work (and name) in print is the greatest rush ever - it gives me a 'hit' every time. I love it." 

Girl With a Satchel


Natalie Tink - Coast to Coast Media said...

Jessica is one of a kind, she writes in a very unique way making readers excited by what they will read next. I have been fortunate enough to have been interviewed by her early this year and she is an delight to work with.Jessica is a truly beautiful woman inside and out, so pleased to see she is getting the appluase she deserves.