By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Southborough – Although she is only 9 years old, Shayna Rose has truly mastered the art of multi-tasking. Besides excelling in schoolwork in her fourth-grade class at the Margaret A. Neary Elementary School, she loves to read as well as work on writing several books, participates in Girl Scouts, attends Hebrew school and enjoys arts and crafts. Together with her younger brother Alexander, she creates and decorates t-shirts.
Somehow, with this very busy schedule, she also has another hobby – interviewing well-known people for her own newspaper, The Rose Report. And it’s not just a few celebrities that she has managed to connect with since it started last year; it is well over 100 and growing. Some of the names include New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, the esteemed author Rabbi Harold Kushner, Broadway star Idina Menzel, Jeff Kinney, author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Shayna didn’t set out to be a reporter. It all came about, she said, because she felt like she didn’t always fit in with the other kids at her school.
“Sometimes kids were mean to me because I was different,” she admitted.
She prefers to dress in what most adults would consider “business casual,” favoring button-down shirts, skirts or dresses, with her long hair pulled back by a headband. At recess, she was more apt to be off reading a book instead of playing with the other kids.
Her teacher wanted her to try to interact with the other kids so she tried to get her classmates interested in starting a book club with her. When that didn’t work out, her mother, Julie, suggested she
start a newspaper instead. That response was more positive as kids and adults alike loved being interviewed. What began started out as “The Woodward Weekly” soon grew into “The Rose Reporter” as she started a Facebook page for the paper.
Then, things started to get really interesting.
Shayna is a well-read, intelligent young girl, with strong opinions on many matters, including the death penalty. When she heard about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted for his involvement in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured more than 200, she wanted to discuss her thoughts with Gov. Charlie Baker. And thanks to the diligent persistence of her family, who contacted the governor’s office numerous times on her behalf, she was able to attain an interview with Baker. By coincidence it happened to be on the day a jury sentenced Tsarnaev to death.
Inspired by the success of getting that interview, Shayna and her parents decided to expand The Rose Reporter and seek out other high-profile interviews. The list of those who have agreed is nothing short of astounding, ranging from politicians, television celebrities, athletes and musicians.
Although she has had such success, and as a result, gotten much attention herself from many media outlets, it has not gone to her head. She is not boastful or precocious but rather sweet and well-mannered. Those traits have charmed all of her interviewees.
Her parents, Julie and Chris, definitely help her identify and contact subjects to interview, they said, but stress they do not have any special inside connections in any field. Rather it is persistence, they say, in contacting people that wins Shayna more interviews. And, as her reputation continues to grow, that begets her more success as well.
It’s important to the Roses that her interviews are positive, not only in the questions she asks, but also in the subjects themselves.
“We try to identify people who are inspirational, powerful and driven,” Julie said. “Someone who is a positive role model.”
Listening intently to her subject, it is clear that she absorbing what they say. Advice from her subjects helps her navigate the ups and downs of her own life, she said.
Particularly inspiring, she said, were Melissa Rivers, an author and television personality, and Nancy Grace, a well-known former prosecutor and television host and commentator. Both women encouraged Shayna to always stay the course and stick to her beliefs, no matter what life throws in her path.
Quoting Shakespeare, Grace told her, “To thine own self be true.”
Although she is having a lot of fun now, Shayna does not actually aspire to a career in journalism. Rather she wants to be a hedge fund manager (“because I like math”) – or perhaps a lawyer. In the meantime there are still a few interviews she is hoping to get, such as Disney Channel stars Sofia Carson and Sabrina Carpenter.
“And Princess Kate!” she added, referring to Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.
“I hope that I can inspire other kids to achieve their goals,” she said. “I want other kids to know it’s OK to live your life and do what you want, as long as you are not hurting anyone.”
“Being smart is not bad,” she added. “And you shouldn’t be mean.”
To view Shayna’s interviews, visit The Rose Reporter’s Facebook page.