Most nine-year-olds spend their free time playing with friends, watching the Disney Channel or reading Harry Potter. However, fourth grader Shayna Rose can be found interviewing politicians, professional athletes and other celebrities in her free time. This intellectually curious Jewish pre-teen from Southborough, Massachusetts, has redefined precociousness; in the last two years alone, Shayna has personally interviewed some of the country’s top personalities, including Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, a feat that would impress even the most senior of journalists.
Shayna’s poise and intelligence belie her young age and give resonance to her sweet yet childish voice. Articulate and knowledgeable of current events, she has charmed the likes of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Gene Simmons, Rob Gronkowski, Meredith Vieira, Nancy Grace, Gary Gulman, Jessie Chriss, Melissa Rivers, among many others. Well-mannered and professionally dressed, Shayna has made a name for herself as a respected and accomplished interviewer – and all before hitting puberty. She has remarkable interpersonal skills for someone her age, which explains how she has most likely interviewed more celebrities than any other child in the United States.
Shayna interviewing Rabbi Harold Kushner at Temple Israel of Natick in Natick, MA
Her journalism career began at the end of 2014, when she was in second grade. A bookworm by nature, she started her own newspaper, The Rose Reporter, as a way to connect with her classmates. Her skills at interviewing classmates has since blossomed into a full-fledged talent. While her mother has helped arrange her celebrity interviews, it is Shayna’s remarkable interview skills and poise as well as her hard work and integrity that succeed in getting her subjects to open up to her.
Shayna’s celebrity interviews have grown into a substantial social media presence and can be viewed on Facebook and YouTube. Her reputation as a respected celebrity interviewer despite her young age has also been written about in numerous local news outlets. Known as Boston’s youngest reporter, Shayna has earned the respect she is receiving – from celebrity interviewees and audiences alike. Not only is she a wonder kid but also a role model – for people both younger and older than her – about determination and professionalism.
Shayna Interviewing Gloria Allred in the New York Times Building, New York, NY
Below, is our interview with Shayna of The Rose Reporter. Find out what drives this little girl with the big ambition and journalistic talent. Here, she articulately discusses what is behind her inspiration to connect with others and how her team makes the interviews happen. She also reveals interesting details about some of the stars she has interviewed and the topics that most interest her.
When did you start your activities?
I started my newspaper in January of 2015 while I was in the 2nd grade. The first edition came out shortly after Christmas break of that school year.
It wasn’t until August of 2015 just before I started 3rd grade that my parents and I created the Facebook page.
Why did you want to do it at all?
I actually started the paper as a way to try and bond with my classmates better. When I was in the 2nd grade I was not really into playing on the
playground and I preferred reading by myself instead of playing sports or games with my classmates. After a while my teachers told me I could not read anymore and needed to find a way to interact with my peers. I tried forming a book club but I think I was the only 2nd grader that wanted to do that so it didn’t go over too well. That was when my mom suggest to try writing a class newspaper. I could interview the other kids at recess. Everyone
loved it and that was when I had the idea to start trying to interview not only classmates but singers, athletes, politicians and all these great people!
How did you then organize yourself and go about it to make it happen?
My parents got me a reporter’s notepad and a pen to take with me at recess. My father and I would then arrange it on the computer on the weekend and I would then put the paper in my classmates cubbies on Mondays. After I interviewed Donald Trump though and the children took it home some parents actually complained to the school about bringing home a paper with Donald Trump on it!!
From that point on I couldn’t put it in their cubbys anymore and the principal set up a table in the front of the school to put a stack of papers on at the
beginning of the week.
With whom was your first important interview with?
My first celebrity interview was with Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts at the State House. It was funny because I had originally wanted to talk to the Governor about the Boston Marathon Bombing because at the time the trial was the biggest story in the news. The big decision was if they would decide on the death penalty or not which is not allowed in Massachusetts and I wanted to learn how the governor felt about that. Ironically the exact day and time I was supposed to meet the Governor was exactly when the jury came back to announce their decision. I was in the State House with my family waiting for the Governor when the news broke. I thought for sure he was going to cancel my interview but instead they took me to the front row with all the other press and let me cover his press conference! Right afterwards he came right up to me and took me to his office for the interview!
How did you obtain your first high profile interview?
That interview with the Governor took a long time to make happen! Initially my parents got an address to mail some samples of my paper for them to review. After that my mother and my grandmother called almost everyday following up and eventually they were able to coordinate a day and time.
What do you say to these people to give you some of their time?
Well after the Governor I was able to get an interview with singer Idina Menzel, she was performing at Mohegan Sun and my grandmother was able to make some calls and got the right people at the concert hall to talk to her and agree to do it. After that we are lucky enough that the presidential primaries are all focused in New Hampshire which is close to where we live.
We started going to some of the rally’s and were able to talk to the politicians security team and were able to ask Mrs. Clinton two questions and Mr. Trump two questions at a separate event. We were also calling and emailing the New England Patriots a lot to try and interview Tom Brady.
Unfortunately he had that whole lawsuit situation going on with the commissioner and ultimately the team said it wouldn’t be possible given the
circumstances. I was upset but then they said how about Rob Gronkowski instead!! It was awesome and even though I didn’t interview Tom Brady I was able to meet he and Robert Kraft while I was there and Rob Gronkowski was awesome!! After getting all those
interviews it started getting easier to get other people to agree to do it!
I always want the person I am interviewing to have a great time and feel good about the interview so I don’t ask anything controversial. I am very appreciative they give me these interviews so I want to learn about them and get some interesting information but always keep it fun.
My paper is about trying to show a different side of these celebrities you wouldn’t normally get to see when they are doing there job.
How many interviews has she done already?
I have done 42 celebrity interviews! I have interviewed both presidential candidates, one governor, one congressmen, athletes, actors, musicians, authors, journalists, reality stars, artists and entrepreneurs!
With whom does she wish to interview but thinks she might not be able to?
That would be Kate Middleton! I would also say President Obama as well. I was close to interviewing Gloria Steinum but she is travelling for the next several months. I also really want to interview a few Disney stars but I’m not giving up on those yet.
With whom was she most impressed with and why?
Well the governor being my first big interview was probably the one that had me the most in awe of what was happening.
More recently though I did a Skype with Nancy Grace. It was so much fun because she really enjoyed talking about things that I like. For example she is a huge Harry Potter fan and so am I so we talked all about that and I really had a good time with her!
What are some good behind the scenes stories? Especially funny ones?
I have had some amazing experiences on these interviews. As I mentioned the story with the Governor and attending the press conference or when I interviewed Rob Gronkowski they surprised me by taking me to meet Mr. Kraft and Mr. Brady.
When I interviewed Gene Simmons I actually spent the whole day with the entire KISS band and then they had me sit in the front row for their show! They kept coming over to me during the songs and singing to me! When I interviewed Larry Silverstein they gave me a whole behind the scenes tour of the World Trade Center and even took me to the 27th floor of Tower 3 while it was under construction and I got to meet all the construction workers! As for a funny story the one that always makes me and my mom laugh was when I interviewed the sports journalist Jackie MacMullan of ESPN.
We were doing the interview at her house and when we got there I could hear dogs barking inside and I get scared by big dogs!! I went to the car and had my dad knock on the door and see what was the deal with the dogs! He knocked on the door and when Mrs. MacMullan opened the door one of the dogs came out and bit my dad!!! He wasn’t hurt so it was very funny for my mom and I on the ride home!
The list of Shayna’s Interviews:
Melissa Harris-Perry, Political Scholar and former MSNBC host