Crowns Earned by Experience
By: Julie Levin
Allow me to introduce myself! My name is Julie Levin, and I’m a late 20-something woman working as both a digital producer for a viral video TV show and as an on-air anchor at a radio news station. I live on my own and view myself as a compassionate, independent, determined person set on reaching my goals and enjoying the world around me. My greatest pleasure in life is being around my loved ones and maintaining my relationships with family and friends, doing anything I can to support them.
I strongly believe my childhood and life experiences set me down the path to earning my “crowns” in strength, wisdom, creativity, love, and compassion. In order to understand how I came to be as a person, we need to take a quick trip back down memory lane!
The Levin family — we might experience bad luck and difficulties in life, but we always soldier along. Being strong is in my blood, and I owe so much to my family for setting me up for success and teaching me how to be on my own. Growing up, my parents and grandparents expressed the importance of hard work and always doing your best no matter what. Although my immediate family is a bit small, it made for close relationships with my parents, younger brother and grandparents, especially on my dad’s side.
Almost our second set of parents, my Nanny and Gramps first taught us the meaning of perseverance. My grandmother grew up with a mentally abusive mother and an absent father. Her father worked multiple jobs to provide for the family starting in the 1930s, and that meant he was hardly home. My grandmother was also expected to work throughout her teen years and had to hand over her earnings to her mother. At 16 years old, she was lucky to meet my grandfather. Coming from a more well-off family, my grandfather was an only child with loving parents. Still, he dealt with tremendous difficulties and lived all his life with a rare blood disorder that caused his legs to swell and required operations and treatment.
After the two married, they raised a family and saved money by living with in-laws for many years. My grandfather both worked and put himself through school, earning a degree and working in the automobile industry. Enter my dad. Inspired by my grandfather’s leg issues, he sought to become a doctor and worked his way through college and medical school. Eventually opening up his own practice, my dad has owned his own business for much of his career and gone thrown many trials and tribulations. My mom also went to college, becoming one of the first in her family to earn a degree and now works as a realtor.
Fast forward to my childhood. Surrounded by positive role models, I developed my own sense of self and strength through the wisdom of my family. My younger brother and I were taught the family motto of always working hard and doing our best, and that has certainly translated into our lives today. Other family lessons included treating everyone equally. Gender was never an issue, and my parents made it clear there were no favorites. My grandmother even still gives us both gifts on each other’s birthdays!
Everything changed when I was 14 years old. My well-intentioned parents suffered our wrath when we moved from the East Coast to Arizona. It was our first time moving anywhere, and although it was the best thing to do at the time for my dad’s job, it wasn’t so easy for my brother and me to adjust and make new friends all over again. This experience was one of the first times I truly recognized my own strength, and after a year of going from group to group, I finally found the right friends for me. I’m still friends with them to this day! I look back now on the move as something although difficult was definitely necessary, and I know my life would be completely different had we not left New Jersey.
After high school, I went on to both undergraduate and graduate school, earning a master’s in journalism and communication. My studies helped to develop my skills and prepared me for the career I chose, but the creativity and love of expressing myself developed from a very early age. I loved singing as a child and performed plays and skits with my brother and friends. My parents always wondered where my singing talent came from, and my mom always proudly announces she was in choir in middle school, so that must be where I got it from! I supplemented my love of music by performing in musicals at school, joining multiple choirs, taking voice lessons and doing state competitions. Since I was never shy talking and being in front of others, it was only natural that I fell in love with journalism. In addition to singing, another strength throughout my life has been my writing, a skill I believe I picked up from my dad who was a newspaper writer in high school and college.
I made the transition from AP English classes to writing articles and scripts for TV and radio. Through internships and amazing opportunities such as covering the 2012 Olympic Games in London, I’ve continued to develop my skills. Some have questioned my choice of career throughout the years including members of my family. Working in media is extremely competitive and does not always make the most money. For a few years, I worked in marketing in addition to my media work. Although I was earning more, I was sacrificing my happiness, and I’m happy to say that I’m now completely doing what I’m passionate about, although it has lead to more financial struggles. I am also proud to be one of a few people from my grad class still working in journalism, and I will never give up on my dream. My career gives me the chance to help others, another reason I’ve kept my foot in the door for so long. In the world we now live in, the news is being questioned more and more, but I do the best I can provide the facts while being compassionate, enlightening and entertaining to my audience.
Another huge part of my life is the “why” behind my crown of love. Growing up seeing healthy and loving relationships with my parents and grandparents, I’ve always wanted one of my own. From having a serious boyfriend to bad breakups and a love-hate feeling with online dating apps, I have many stories to tell, and I like to think I’m wiser for all the hard times I’ve been through. I can’t wait to share those stories in more detail as I think my experiences are relatable for everyone going through the ups and downs of dating!
I’m excited about my creative journey to continue as I switch from writing for others to writing more for myself, and I’m so honored to be part of Crowned Chics. I hope my personal stories will motivate you to follow your dreams and never give up!
Julie is a digital producer, on-air news anchor, writer and a self-proclaimed history and classic rock geek. When she's not behind the scenes or mid broadcast, she's hitting the town trying new restaurants or meeting up with as many friends as possible in one day.