Working for Men’s Health comes with some undeniable perks, none more rewarding than the people you meet. We cross paths with extraordinary talents and minds: doctors, scientists, athletes, artists and, yes, the odd celebrity.
While still in my journalistic infancy, I have picked up a few habits from more senior colleagues – one of which is to immerse myself in the world of my subject. A kind of ‘method journalism’, it involves trying to gain an insight into their life before we talk; to share a common mindset; to understand what makes them tick or, at the very least, to have had a shared experience. The goal is to break the ice, leading to a more authentic conversation – and, hopefully, a more interesting read for you.
Before interviewing Mark Wahlberg, for example, I rose at 4am for a workout. Before a photoshoot with Patty Mills, I managed to shoot a few hoops. And prior to hiking with Liam Hemsworth, I listened to Miley Cyrus break-up songs on the drive to Malibu.
This month, when I had the good fortune to land a chat with our cover guy, Jason Momoa, Sydney was in the midst of an interminable lockdown, limiting my ability to go full Momoa. Were we meeting in normal times, perhaps I may have gone for a ride on a Harley; or spent the morning bouldering; or even taken part in some axe-throwing – all well-documented Momoa activities. Instead, I settled for perhaps the most infamous (and easily accessible) of Momoaisms: sinking Guinness.
Although these pre-interview shenanigans will doubtless provide great fodder for story time with my grandkids, none of them resonated with my subject quite as I’d hoped. When I told Wahlberg I’d risen pre-dawn to hit the Hollywood trails, he snorted, not even faintly impressed, and said simply, “Poor you”. It snowed the day we shot Patty Mills in Denver, so my hoop dreams turned into a damp squib. And there was no way I was going to request a heartbreak-fuelled Cyrus sing-a-long with Hemsworth.
Yet there I was, sitting in my living room at 10:30pm on a cold Friday night, Guinness in hand. When Momoa materialised on screen, we chatted for a bit before getting down to the nitty-gritty. From off-screen, I produced my half-full bottle of dry Irish stout and admitted to trying to “get into character”, at which point Momoa revealed his own beverage: a mug of tea.
Oh, the irony! You see, I am an avid tea drinker. Green, lemon ginger, English breakfast, chai – whatever-is-in-the-cupboard or whatever-I-can-get-my-hands-on. Nothing is off limits. If I had stuck to my own routine and stayed true to myself, I would have had more in common with Aquaman in this pivotal moment of our relationship. As it turned out, the Momoa traits I should have been emulating were self-actualisation, self-confidence and self-acceptance.
Momoa’s unbridled authenticity is what endears him to millions around the world and is quite possibly the best lesson one can take from our chat.
Clearly one of the keys to his sustained success, staying true to himself has seen Momoa grow into a beacon of strength, positivity and vitality in a world that craves these attributes, now as much as ever. To be so unapologetically yourself that you create your own signature energy is a gift we can all take from Momoa.
If you draw anything from this issue, let it be that your best course of action in the pursuit of happiness is to be undeniably you. Sure, you may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But you’ll be a hell of a lot more palatable than a Guinness.
The November issue is on sale now.