El Vaq Alum Joal Ryan Shares Her Mission

Glendale College alumna Joal Ryan, who wrote for El Vaquero two years, built a career as an award-winning author and entertainment journalist.


A Glendale College student in the 1980s, Ryan was inspired by the 1976 film “All President’s Men” and her El Vaquero adviser, J.G. Thomas. Ryan said he was, “everything I imagined a journalist to be. He was an old-fashioned newspaperman who said his first job was refilling the inkpots at reporters’ desks.” She said Thomas “let his students take the lead.” She transferred to Cal State Northridge and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. “From there, I got internships, my first job, and so on and so forth,” Ryan said.

She won a Los Angeles Press Club Award in 1993 for entertainment reporting. She has written for E! Online, the Los Angeles Times, Yahoo!, Variety, Us Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle and “Marketplace” on public radio. She was an editor for the San Gabriel Valley Newspapers, Hollywood.com and E! Online.

She authored several books, including “Former Child Stars: The Story of America’s Least Wanted,” “Katharine Hepburn: A Stylish Life” and “Sylvia Plath Totally Ruins Father Knows Best: 50 Poems About TV, TV-Watching and the Existential Sadness of Conan O’Brien.”

Ryan also co-wrote “Miracle on 42nd Street,” a documentary about the famous Manhattan Plaza.

She had four-fold advice for aspiring journalists:

“Internships. Paid or for college credit they’re invaluable for beefing up the resume and making contacts” Ryan said. “Two, be a go-getter. Establish your niche on your own. Three, become a better writer the old-fashioned way: read a lot; write a lot. Four, don’t write for free. Write for yourself. Write for college credit. Write for pay. Don’t devalue your work, and the work of other writers.”

Today, Ryan produces and hosts a podcast called “The Joal Ryan Thing” about child stars, teen idols and other celebrities.

Throughout her career, Ryan said she learned that, “reporting is reporting is reporting. Whether it’s for a student enterprise or for a professional enterprise, the mission is the same — get the story right.”