Personal Experiences Really Do Pay! By Katreen Hardt

Leafing through Jane Magazine at my local Barnes & Noble one afternoon, I came across a column entitled, It Happened to Me. It’s a column in which readers are given the opportunity to submit a true story, approximately a thousand words in length, and, if printed, are paid $1000. (However, according to the magazine’s website,, writers are encouraged to “do it for the love.”)

Inspired by the fee, to be completely honest, I went home that night and wrote a humorous piece about my experience as body double for Gwyneth Paltrow on the set of the film, Great Expectations. As an actress pursuing a career in New York, I’d spent a considerable amount of time working as a stand-in, photo and body double for some of Hollywood’s creme de la creme.

The following morning I submitted my article, secretly hoping that Jane Pratt herself, Editor-in-Chief of this off-beat woman’s magazine, would be getting in touch within the hour. She did not. Approximately four weeks later, however, I received an email from Senior Editor Esther Haynes informing me that my article, newly dubbed, I Almost Had Gwyneth’s Butt, along with a photograph of myself, if possible, would be appearing in the April 2004 issue.

I almost fell off my chair.

This would be the first article of mine ever printed in a magazine. Up until then, I’d only written once or twice, also about my experiences on stage and in front of the camera, for online publications.

And it opened doors.

It’s been a little over a year now and I’ve since written for a number of leading national and international women’s magazines. The things I’ve done as an actress, from attending the Cannes Film Festival to being a part of the German premiere of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, certainly provided enough fodder for my work as a writer. In the meantime, I’ve gone on to write on a variety of other subjects including winegrowers in Slovenia to 9/11 widows who’ve fallen in love anew.

My point?

Pursue your dreams – but don’t forget to write about your experiences along the way. More than likely, someone will want to pay you good money to read about them.

Katreen Hardt is a freelance writer and actress who divides her time between New York and L