"I sometimes describe myself as an entertainment or showbiz news channel, except I'm a one-woman show. I share everything that happens with celebrities, and I have a podcast where I interview many of them," Amanda Hirsch explains about herself.
For those who are not familiar with her yet (and it's a shame, but here's a good opportunity), let me tell you that Hirsch, the daughter of an American father and an Israeli mother who used to live in Israel and now resides in New York, has achieved in recent years what many dream of and has become one of the prominent names in the Hollywood entertainment industry.
She hosts a successful podcast called Not Skinny But Not Fat where she has hosted several of the biggest Hollywood names. She has a popular entertainment website and an Instagram account with over 771,000 followers, including some you might recognize: Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian. Patience, we'll get to them soon.
Hirsch resides with her Israeli husband and their son in New York, but during her latest trip to Israel for a family visit, she gave us an interview in almost perfect Hebrew, despite her mother tongue being English.
"It's easy for me, I feel like I'm talking to a friend. But when I have to write an email now… then I don't know how to handle it at a higher level," she says.
How do you define yourself, more Israeli or more American? "Half and half. When asked, I say I'm Israeli."
Some people may not react positively to that. "You're right, but I'm very proud. I saw that Joey King was here, and I shared her post because she got a tattoo of 'hummus.' I love it when people from abroad come here and share. It's sad that all the comments she received were negative."
Are you not afraid to receive negative reactions as well? "Never mind I'm not on the same level as her, but when I visit Israel, it doesn't surprise anyone. I feel like I've built my community – a repulsive word - but people know who I am and what I am, and they won't say anything to me. That’s who I am, and that’s a part of me."
Why is the term 'community' repulsive? "Here, you guys use it... they beat it to death."
How do you refer to your followers? "I've never called them a community in my life. I also don't call myself an influencer; many do call themselves that, but I don't feel like one."
So, what do you consider yourself? "That's the question we're trying to figure out. I think I'm a 'podcaster' or an entertainer on social media. I'm trying to find the right word for it, but I haven't found it yet."
Perhaps that's why they categorize everyone as influencers. "That doesn't satisfy me."
Do you have an Israeli audience? "Yes, it's really nice. People write to me, they see me, it's really nice. It's nice to have that recognition here."
You've been building yourself for several years, and in the past three years, you've had a tremendous breakthrough. Do you think there's something about your Israeli background that contributed to this success? "It's a thing. Israelis love saying that, as if there was a meeting where everyone decided that's the reason. Maybe, maybe there's something to it."
So, how did success come about? "I know I'm not the first one to talk about pop culture and entertainment, but if I try to think about it, it definitely has something to do with my passion. Many people ride on something just because it might interest others. They say, 'Maybe I'll talk about pop culture because people are crazy about it.' Well, no, I'm the one who's crazy about it, I live it and I would talk about it even if I didn't make money from it. So, I think that's part of the appeal, my crazy 'passion' for this topic and also my personality.
In the United States, either you're bad or you're a 'suck-up,' there's no middle ground. I think my middle ground, a little bitchy but still someone the people you're talking about would still love, that's the recipe."
Your podcast has become one of the most talked-about in the business. "I started it in 2019, and I was told that I needed at least 5,000 listeners before anyone would even consider advertising on it. I have a passion for these things, so I persisted. I never said, 'Well, this isn't working.' I kept going week after week. Even today, I invite my guests myself and do everything except production and editing."
Where did the idea come from? In 2019, the genre was still in its infancy. "It felt like the next thing to me, something I couldn't wait for. It's not like Instagram that you can start immediately; it was more like, 'How do I do this?' Then I found someone who could produce it for me, but I didn't have the patience, so I started doing it myself. It burned in me, 'Bring me a microphone already!'"
Who was your first guest? "Some reality TV star, I think."
How do you invite them? "I send them a message on Instagram."
And that’s how you set this up? "Yes. Some do it over Zoom, and some come to my house. Kim Kardashian's hairstylist came to my place, which was funny. I initially interviewed many people close to them. Hair stylists, makeup artists, until I eventually reached them."
Hirsch's podcast grew and flourished, but even she couldn't anticipate what came with the success - when Kim Kardashian was revealed as an avid fan. Instead of Hirsch reaching out to her, it was she who received the call from the family's side.
"They reached out to me! I received an email from Hulu (the network on which Keeping Up with the Kardashians is aired), asking if I wanted to interview them for the new season. I thought to myself, 'How disgusting is it for a person to pull a prank on me like that, it's off-putting.' And then I realized it was the real deal, and it was mind-blowing."
When they arrived, your excitement must have been through the roof. "Yes, but I was composed. And I was the one who went to them. The premiere of the show was on Thursday, and I was supposed to interview Kim on Friday. I said to myself, 'How come they didn't invite me to the premiere?' And then, just before I flew, my agent called me and said, 'Not only are you invited to the premiere, but you're also going to interview them on the red carpet.' The night before I interviewed Kim? An interesting icebreaker. It was a very Kardashian week."
Is this the kind of interview where they tell you in advance what you're allowed and not allowed to ask? "We had prepared questions, she saw them and took out one that wasn't too important. She answered about Kanye, she was very open. What mattered to them the most was going over the photos. Besides that, it was really cool."
Were they nice? "All three of them were very nice. I also talked to them before, all my communication with them was built on Instagram messages, and then suddenly getting to know them... They call me 'Kamanda,' like Amanda with a K, get it? So, that was cool. They are the sweetest.
With Kourtney, I feel like she's the one who resembles someone who could be my friend, and she's very friendly with me. She invited me to her fashion week in New York and sent me clothes. I also hung out with her."
Did you stay in touch with them? Like on WhatsApp or something? "Not WhatsApp, but comments, stories, things like that."
What other big names have been on your podcast? Andy Cohen was recently on, Jemima Kirke from Girls was on not long ago, and Eva Longoria was on this week, from Desperate Housewives. She's super cute, perfect, looks amazing.
It feels like the world of gossip is more sensational and aggressive in America, not afraid to talk, for example, about infidelity or outing people. "I heard that you don't touch on that. But even there, they have it too. I work a lot with the E! channel, and there are many things that I know come to them, but they won't share, like the things you mentioned, infidelity and coming out of the closet.
I, too, would never do that in my life. I will only publish gossip if it's already been published. I highly respect those things. But I don't feel it's more aggressive, I just feel there's a lot going on."
How do you keep up? "I talk about what I want to talk about. If I see this movie, then I'll talk about it, and if I'm addicted to this series, then I'll talk about it. If I don't like this celebrity, then I won't talk about them."
Do you follow what's happening here in Israel, in the entertainment world? Of course, I'm crazy about it. I was just trying to figure out what's going on between Noa Kirel and Anna Zak. We follow and I know everyone.
Would you ever enter Big Brother? “Once... Oh my God, don't go into the archives, I auditioned. Ok? But that's exactly the point, let's talk about being pathetic for a moment – Because people who want to succeed in something often think it’d be pathetic to try, So, I was constantly trying, like, all the time.
I joined an agency here because I told them I learned acting - sorry Perry Kafri. And it's like I was always trying. And I'm saying pathetic not in a negative way, like, many people can say, 'Wow, it will take away from me if I really try' or if I try again and again, but that's what I did, so it's not a coincidence. My whole life was directed toward something, and it's crazy that in the end, I got this because I directed myself toward it so much.”
Where did the name Not Skinny But Not Fat come from? “We returned to the United States after living here in Israel. I was feeling a bit down, and memes made me feel really nice. I said, "Well, I'm a writer, and I can write funny, I'll write memes." And that's how I started, and everyone I followed at the time had such names. I don't know if you're familiar with it here in Israel, but it was ‘The Fat Jewish’ or ‘F*ck Jerry’ or ’MyTherapistSays,’ so, I knew I needed a name, like, You can't just go without it. In hindsight, I’m screwed because it's a silly name and it's not related to what I do, and in the United States, it's a very sensitive subject to say skinny or fat. They're like... they start sweating."
Here in Israel too. "Oh no, I always rely on the fact that here it's 'live and let live,' at least in this regard."
Is there anything in that name that touches upon your body image? "Yes. Initially, when I started, it truly came from a place of how I felt, so the name felt right to me. Many people do dig it from the standpoint of feeling that way their whole lives. Like, there’s something about it, where you can say, 'I'm not fat and not skinny.' Like, I'm in the middle. And many people took it to a different place - in life, 'You're not here or there, you're in the middle,' which is nice that they interpreted it that way, but that wasn't my intention."
When did you start seeing concrete results and an increase in followers? "It was a very slow build. Nowadays, on TikTok, you can reach a million within a day, but back in 2015 when I started, it wasn't like that. You start with one follower, then your family, and the challenges I did were a great way to grow because people would tag and share with others. It was very slow. By 2020, there were already 100-something thousand, and from that point, I started getting an income from it."
Is it a respectable income? "Yes."
Can you say that you became wealthy thanks to the podcast? "Yes."
You say it very nonchalantly. “I'll tell you what, I'm not greedy at all. Like, it's unbelievable. What I do, I love it so much that it's not for the money, you know? So for me, it's still crazy that they pay me for it at all, but yes, that's the world. The world I'm in, the entertainment industry in the United States, is not proportional to life, to what they earn from it. So, like, it's a lot of fun, but it's also, of course, hard to think about how much you can earn from an ad compared to working a month in a regular job. But I’m still very picky about it, I’ve been offered a lot of money that I won’t do because I don’t vibe with the product.”
Here in Israel, all the influencers always say, 'I won't promote something if I don't connect with the product.' "Oh no, do I sound like them now? My friend here in Israel calls it 'the shopping channel.' That's not how it is for me. I won't do more than a certain amount per month, certainly not every day. Even on my podcast, I won't do more than five advertisements per hour."
Here in Israel, a successful influencer can make a hundred, two hundred thousand shekels a month. How’s it like over there? “More. In general, you can make lots and lots of money from it.
Here, someone can sell a sponsored story for NIS 20,000. How much do people typically sell them for abroad? "It depends on the number of followers and exposure, but it can be tens of thousands of dollars."
What do you consider a very high number of listens? "I won't give you specific numbers, but it's in the hundreds of thousands. It's more than the ratings of a TV show, which is why they realized that the podcast is the place to be."
Have you interviewed any celebrities who were really nice, or someone you were disappointed with? "I recently interviewed Andy Cohen, one of the biggest reality TV hosts there, like Guy Zu-Aretz here. I was afraid of him because he can be very blunt, and he didn't seem nice to women, usually nicer to men. But he surprised me and was really kind. I recently walked the red carpet and met Emma Stone, who told me she listens to my podcast, and I was blown away. Now I'm in talks for her to come for an interview, and I also hope Gal Gadot will come."
Did you get to meet Gal? "No, I didn't, but Netflix reached out to me now regarding other projects, and I told them, 'Wait, you have this project coming out with Gal Gadot.' So they connected me to the person handling her film Heart of Stone, and she wrote to me, 'I'll give your details to Gal, is there anything I need to know?' I replied, 'Just that I'm Israeli.' It could be cool."
What other big stars have you met? "I met JLO on the red carpet. They scared me saying she's really unpleasant, they wished me luck, like, oh my God, what is she going to do to me, like, is she going to beat me up? But she was really nice and pleasant, she complimented me. The moment someone compliments me, that's it, she could also murder someone that same evening, and I wouldn't care."
How do you go about asking personal and not always pleasant questions? "If someone comes to be interviewed on my podcast, my goal is for them to leave with the feeling of 'What a great time it was, I would like to come back and tell my famous friends to come too.' So I prefer not to ask the yellow or sleazy stuff.
I interviewed Zach Braff and asked him several times about his relationship with Florence Pugh, and on the fourth time, he said to me, 'Alright, enough about Florence.' Usually, I don't do that, I don't like getting into situations, and I didn't want to annoy him, but I felt the interview was a bit dry."
Who else would you like to interview? “Britney Spears would be a dream… I would have liked to have Hailey Bieber, but for some reason, she didn't come.”
Did you try to get her on your show? “Yes. I guess she doesn't like me. She's very anti-gossip and stuff… and I think she also doesn't take things lightly, so I know I praised her a lot and maybe I said ‘She's not the most charismatic person in the world’ or, you know, stuff like that. And I think there are those who take things lightheartedly, and there are those who can't even take a little joke.
In the end, I don't want to fight anyone, but I also don't want to please them all the time. I establish my own boundaries. Some will like you and some won't, I'm not extreme.”
What's the next step? "My dream is to have my own television show, something nightly but not as intense as men's shows, more in the vibe of my podcast, warmer and more intimate."
So maybe next time we talk, you'll already be on the small screen. "With the help of God. Maybe not, and that's okay too."
Photos: Amit Selickter
Styling: Hila Gerbi
Makeup and Hair: Yifat Zur
Production: Eran Rahmani
Video Production: Nitzan Dror
Representation for Amanda Hirsh: United Talent Agency
Look 1: Blue striped suit set - H&M, white tanktop - Zara, socks - Zohara, shoes - H&M
Look 2: Pink blazer dress and shoes - Adi Karni designer, black leggings - Terminal X
Look 3: Ruffled jeans - Story, denim pants - Zara
Look 4: Cream vest set - Giovanna, white jeans - COS
Look 5: Dress - Adi Karni designer