“I grew up in Albuquerque and went to college in California, where I studied creative writing and ended up writing a book. While I was in LA for school, I started writing for Angeleno Magazine, which is how I began working in journalism, too. Eventually I moved out to New York to get a book deal, which just happened two weeks ago! It’s called Controlled and it’s a memoir about sexual assault. I really couldn’t be happier that it’s getting published. It’s a really exciting time for me. [Ed note: Controlled (Heliotrope Books) will be available fall 2015.]
When I’m not working on the book, I write for New York Magazineand the New York Observer. I’ve been fortunate enough to interview some of my favorite people in entertainment for stories I’ve worked on—people like David Lynch, Drew Barrymore, Orlando Bloom, Barbara Walters…My conversation with Barbara was definitely one of the most memorable. It was also kind of controversial on a personal level because it was Woody Allen’s opening night of Bullets Over Broadway—not too long after his open letter went out in the New York Times about his relationship with Dylan—and Barbara Walters publicly supports him. I feel very strongly about this kind of thing and I do a lot of activism when it comes to sexual assault awareness. My editor was like, ‘You’re covering this!’ and I just said ‘OK!’ I didn’t think she was going to do interviews, but I just kind of jumped in front of her and said, ‘I’m Neesha Arter from New York Magazine! Can I talk to you for a second?’ and we got to talk, so that was great. I’ve watched The View since I was little and even if we disagree, I still admire her so much.
I also guest write for Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation about various issues dealing with sexual assault. And I did the social media for this documentary called Brave Miss World, which was written and directed by Cecilia Peck, Gregory Peck’s daughter. It’s about Linor Abargil, an Israeli who won Miss World in 1998 and was raped six weeks before she won the crown, and then later in life speaks out about it and travels around the world to help other victims of sexual assault. It’s really gratifying to be involved with such creative people making a difference. Everyone knows someone that has been affected by these issues. Sexual assault happens every day. I wrote an article for Teen Vogue about this and I had people writing to me from Australia and everywhere else saying, ‘I was raped and I haven’t told anybody except for you…’ and it’s just like, wow, that is a heavy thing. Nobody talks about it, which only makes it more important that the media shines a light on the cause. And if I can help somebody and say, ‘You’re not alone,’ then that’s all I want to do.
For my job and my activism, I go to a lot of black tie events to interview subjects and support causes close to me. But because I’m usually there to work, I don’t worry about if my hair or eye makeup is really ‘working.’ It’s not about being a celebrity, it’s about blending in and finding the story. I’ll do a darker eye—just pencil and mascara though, never shadow—and blow dry my hair. And then I’ll use what I use every day. I found MAC Powder Blush in Breezy because the lady at the store was like, ‘Oh, this one is probably good,’ and I’ve used it ever since [laughs]. I like powder formulas over creams because I find them easier to apply. My favorite mascara is Maybelline The Colossal Volum’ Express. My suitemate used it in college, and she always had pretty eyelashes, so I used hers before eventually buying my own. And I love lip gloss. I have so many! Paul & Joe Lip Color in Pink Ballerina is a good one, Stila Lip Glaze in Grapefruit is always a winner, and MAC Tinted Lipglass in Pink Lemonade is just fun to put on. Anything pink! It gives me that extra boost of confidence when I’m doing red carpet interviews or a one-on-one with someone I admire in the industry, so it’s definitely a product I can’t live without.
When it comes to skincare, I stick to the classics. I’ve been using Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash in Pink Grapefruit for as long as I can remember. I follow that up with their Oil-Free Moisturizer for combination skin. I use it during the day and at night. My mom gave me Clinique All About Eyes Serum because I have a huge issue with insomnia. Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair is also good for calming my eyes when I can’t sleep.
I actually use my favorite lotion, Soap and Glory Butter Yourself Body Cream, in the shower. It’s really good for when the air is dry in the winter. Then I shampoo my hair with Alterna Caviar Clinical Daily Detoxifying Shampoo and their Daily Root & Scalp Stimulator. They’re super fancy products that my friend gave me and I love the way they make my hair smell. I haven’t used Alterna Caviar Working Hair Spray since, like, prom, but I always keep it around just in case I need a little bit of extra volume.
And after a painful trip of eyebrow threading and a few failed pedicures, I swear by eyebrow waxing and painting my own nails. I just couldn’t stop laughing during those foot massages. Am I the only one who’s ticklish? So overall, I’m pretty low maintenance. I don’t have a ton of products, but the ones I do use, I’m very loyal to. I’ve gotten the most guidance from my mom, partially because there aren’t a ton of Indian women in the media—though I think Freida Pinto and I would be great friends.”
—as told to ITG
Photographed by Tom Newton.