Brianna Williams 0:01
From the School of Communication at American University in Washington, DC, this is “Media in the Mix”—a space where we explore topics and communication at the intersection of social justice, tech and innovation, and popular culture.
Brianna Williams 0:20
Did you know that before 2016, there was no definition for the term “influencer” on dictionary.com? The term is one that is so widely used in common conversation these days. But the concept of being an influencer is still new and remains, if nothing else, a bit taboo. In this episode of “Media in the Mix, we explore the idea of being an influencer and how a person can make an impact in the real world with their online persona. We chat with SOC alum, Andy Lalwani, who is now the host for Culture Q a weekly show on Revry TV, about news, pop culture, politics, and more for the Queer community. As well as we have Paige Kaiser, who is currently a junior in SOC, studying Public Relations and Strategic Communication. And she’s also a YouTuber with over 300k subscribers. We chatted up about what it means to be an influencer, creating content, and the responsibility they have to their followers in the digital space.
Brianna Williams 1:22
Paige, Andy, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I’m super excited to interview both of you guys today. Just for anyone who is listening, what is something that someone should know about you? If they didn’t know, if this was their first time hearing about you, understanding what you do, what would you say to them?
Andy Lalwani 1:41
Paige, you want to go first? I’ll let you take a stab at it.
Paige Kaiser 1:44
So I’m Paige. And I would say I’m best known for the YouTube channel that I created during my freshman year of college, which now has over 300,000 subscribers and it’s just a place where I share lifestyle content, college vlogs, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with a couple brands along the way.
Andy Lalwani 2:00
Now I get to go second. I’m like—cool. I started a channel back in college, it was not the same day and age, time, not as successful. My time—I actually am a reporter and host. So I work for a publication called whatstrending.com. In my time, I’ve worked in a lot of digital spaces with brands, affiliates, and more. So I’m not only managing a day to day for a publisher, but also my own endeavors as a reporter and host that I work with.
Brianna Williams 2:24
Awesome, we love to see it.
Andy Lalwani 2:26
Love to see it.
Brianna Williams 2:28
With this concept of being an influencer—it’s still kind of, you know, relatively new. Of course it’s gained a lot of traction in the past few years. And so how would you guys define the term “influencer,” as, you know, someone who would be defined as an influencer?
Paige Kaiser 2:45
Yeah, I mean, I think I’ll speak a little bit on that first. I think the term in and of itself is hard to define, especially nowadays, just because anybody can be a YouTuber or an influencer. Anybody, and everybody is a content creator. Everyone posts pictures on Instagram or videos on Tik Tok. And that means that they have an influence. So in that sense, I think, depending on if it’s a macro influencer with a million followers, or someone who’s micro with maybe less than 10,000—I think that has really expanded to include a whole bunch of people nowadays.
Brianna Williams 3:16
Andy Lalwani 3:17
Yeah, the word “influencer,” for me it’s kind of weird. Because the word “YouTuber” used to be thrown around back in the day. People would just be like, “Oh, you’re just like a YouTuber.” And now it’s scaled to like a “Oh, like YouTubers, now like a prolific word.” Where people see you have like a big standing, you have talent. Sometimes people throw the word influencer as like, “You’re just like, an ‘influencer;’ you don’t have much going on.” So there’s whole different scales. Sometimes people look at the word influencer and really see someone has it going on. Other times, someone’s just like, “This is just someone posting photos online. What’s their talent?” Like? They just have people who go behind them. But for me at least, like, there’s a lot of people who now—at least when I was growing up in high school, I Google searched, “What is ‘gay?’ How do you catch ‘the Gay?’ It’s contagious.” And I came across Gay YouTube on that time. And now it’s like, there are so many more stories of people being able to, like, tell their own narrative. From Tik Tok to Twitter, to Facebook to YouTube, and like more platforms coming up; versus four years ago, even. Look at such a different time, and day and age.
Brianna Williams 4:22
Yeah, absolutely. And even looking at just how it’s progressed, what would you guys say you thought of about the term “influencer” before you were in the steps that you are in now? Before you’re in this phase of life?
Paige Kaiser 4:35
Oh, yeah. I mean, I think Andy hit it right on the head before when he said, “Oh, you just post photos online. You’re just an influencer. That’s—you don’t really have any talent. There’s no work behind it. It’s easy. Everything’s handed to you.” And obviously, after being on the other side, being a so-called “influencer,” you realize there’s a lot more that goes behind it from an execution standpoint.
Brianna Williams 4:54
Andy Lalwani 4:56
Yeah. I think it’s, like, a lot of learning. I think a lot of people really look at digital media because it’s still new. When you look at digital media advertising, you have a lot more that goes into it. Where you’re now learning a lot of metrics. You’re learning about, like, impressions, reach, CPMs, and a lot of different skill sets that people don’t really think about. So some people get contracted to work with brands or markets that are looking for work. Some people are like, “Hey, you have a business. And I’m looking for help. As that business, I see you have a dedicated following.” So a lot of these people have been able to like use those skills as well to work with a wide variety of different markets.
Brianna Williams 5:36
Yeah, and with that, what would you say, or how would you say you guys use those skills that you’ve learned or that you’ve acquired in your everyday?
Paige Kaiser 5:44
I mean, I feel like for me, when I first started my channel, I wasn’t as aware of all of those things. I was really focused on engagement. I didn’t know what impressions were—how to, you know, like, solicit more views. Though, a lot of it was kind of learning as I went. Kind of pick up on the YouTube algorithm, at least in my case, and realize how to optimize the search engine and all the views on your channel. And it’s funny, because Andy was saying too, like, a lot of those skills people don’t think about, but they are so applicable to everyday industry. In in all my marketing classes, we’re constantly talking about CPM, and how to drive, CTR and all those things. So I think it applies to a lot more than people think.
Andy Lalwani 6:22
Yeah, I mean, like, definitely when I was back in college—which is a few years ago now, and it’s like weird to say and be out of college—I remember being in SOC, doing all the things, learning my best. And I was in the Film major program, and at that time, like, still, as it is now, the word “influencer marketing,” or “digital marketing” is so new. So when I focused like, on film, cameras, tech, and I was like, “I’m focused on digital, you know, media,” everyone’s like, “I don’t understand. I wanna work at NatGeo. I wanna work at Animal Planet, you tell me you want to make videos online? In short form content?” I was like, “Yeah. Get at me. Like, what do you want?” So in my time, at AU, I was like, focusing and learning through a lot of my friends. You know, Photoshop, a lot of different skill sets of “Let’s talk about, like, print media, let’s talk about, like, journalism ethics.” So all my different things I tried, quote, unquote, in college, I tried, you know, doing a lot of journalism ethics classes, I tried working in like a lot of writing, did a lot of social for brands. And then I obviously, like pursued a lot of video initiatives. So now I oversee a publisher. And it’s great, because this is the first time I can actually use all those skill sets of social, editorial, and video all in one roof, and be able to speak to different strategies that in the day-to-day, like four years ago, five years ago, I’d be like, “I don’t know, like, I’m only in this one pocket.” But because I was able to focus so much and think about different ways that we consume digital media, I’m able to speak to all three different fronts. So not only being in front of the camera, but behind the camera, I’m more, I’d say versed. But that also came behind like a lot of the skills I tried to focus on in college.
Brianna Williams 7:59
So for both of you being people that got higher education, who went to college, and who now have benefited from having, you know, worked in the digital and online space, would you guys say that it’s of importance to get that background knowledge of having an education or to just practically do the work?
Paige Kaiser 8:22
That’s a really good question. I feel like if you can do it, so that you can just create a portfolio, put something together yourself and never have to go to college, or pursue higher education, I think, honestly, in this kind of space, that’s fine. And that’s doable, and it could work out for you. While I’m interested in media in the digital space and influencing, influencer marketing, I don’t want that to be the only thing I can do. I don’t want it to limit me in that sense. So higher education was worth it for me just so I could have more opportunities when I leave college. But I think someone could very well work on it on their own, at their home and DIY it, basically, and not have to pursue higher education.
Andy Lalwani 8:59
Yeah, portfolios [are] really helpful. Like, a lot of people don’t learn til they’re in a situation where you’re still trying to figure out what to do. Like, there are times we all sat and be like, “I think I understand. I’m not sure.” And that’s where the real learning comes in. When it comes to like a higher education. Not everyone has the chance to get a degree or go pursue any form, which is, you know, something that’s really thankful for a lot of us to go to AU. When I was in my time at American I definitely had some years where I was like, “I’m in a slump. I kind of know what I’m doing. I feel like the oddball of the class.” But there are specific niches where I found in SOC or other territories, I was like, “This helps me as a as a whole.” My best class I’d probably say I took at AU—one of them was called “Negotiation,” like the skills and tactics and negotiation. Other one was called “Leading High Performance Teams.” In those two things. You have a mix of, like—I took a Kogod [School of Business] plus SOC route where I started to learn more about like rights acquisitions and digital media in general. So you think of the strategy when people are asking, “I want this one little piece of content.” If you think about the strategy behind it as a communications perspective, everyone wants to put content everywhere, what is the most way you can maximize that? The Kogod side of me thought of like, “Okay, I need the most money for this. I need the licensing rights. I need the exclusivity rights.” When I’m working with anyone, whether it’s for myself or specific brands, or even just yourself in general, like, “What rights do you have?” So that’s the interesting part—the creative side kicks in. But there’s also the, I’d say “agency” side of yourself that you have to remember. And I think that’s the big thing. Like, a lot of people forget that you are a walking billboard, as a person in your own field. Whether you have what you think is an influence or not. You have a lot of things that people ask you to do. And you’re like, “Well, what are my rights? Do I need to do this? And what can I walk away from?”
Brianna Williams 10:54
Yeah, that’s really good, especially in terms of like learning this new space. If it’s one piece of advice that you guys could give to students, or really anyone who is looking to, kind of, if you will, follow in your footsteps, what would it be?
Paige Kaiser 11:10
Well, I guess I would target my advice more towards students just because that’s where I’m at right now. I haven’t yet had that outside experience after graduating the industry. But I would say the biggest piece for me, which was the hardest to overcome, is not being intimidated when you first get started. Everyone has to start from the bottom. Everyone has to start with zero followers, subscribers, whatever it is. And it can be disheartening to put all your work, put all this creative work and energy into a project and then have it not get the results or the views or the likes that you wanted it to. I definitely had—it took me a while before I actually had a successful video. Probably a couple months. So in that sense, I would say you have to stick with it, you have to be passionate about it. And you can’t get daunted by the fact that you’re not going to see instant gratification or instant success.
Andy Lalwani 11:56
Yeah, even like as an adult people don’t remember that it takes time for things. I’ve had so many countless calls with people in their 30s, 40s who’re like, “Why am I not getting results in this right now?” And I’m like, “This takes data. This takes time, honey. Let’s just sit through this, and soak it in, and marinate it.” But I have to say the same thing. Like, you have to have so much patience with anything. I always think of like, okay, young people in general. Gen Z is like one of the biggest consumers when it comes to platforms like Tik Tok, for example. When you think of, okay, “There is a limitless pool of opportunity in the world—take advantage of that.” My biggest advice is still—try everything. Because my best learning is, as you get older—obviously, I’m still in my mid 20s—when you think of, okay, you get older, you have a lot of opportunity ahead of you, it narrows in, because the risk factor grows bigge. It is just you and you’re young, you have no family, as much ties, you have no significant other at times, depending if you want that or not. But your risk goes higher and higher as you get older. You have a career path you kind of picked out, maybe you do like a pivot of some sort. But if you do pivot, let’s say you start a family and you’re like “I want to get in digital media and I’m in accounting,” your risk factor goes up. Maybe you’re with your significant other, maybe household income, maybe you have children. Whatever it is around you, you have a lot less risk being in college to try something and whether you’re scared or not. It takes time. But just remember like being in digital media those skills are so, as we said, applicable to different markets. You have so many things that you get to touch that you can take to other industries. Obviously, this is a unique territory in influencer marketing, digital marketing, OTT platforms, and more—like, media in general is so versatile. So these skills are not just, again, a one size fits all, but you can take them while there’s a sprinkle, where it’s like a good chunk, to any other place. But I’d say, don’t be afraid of go take that risk when you’re young.
Brianna Williams 13:58
I love what both you guys said about, you know, risk and just having patience. And you know, it takes time. It really does. And so kind of going off of that I was wondering if you guys could share that video, that post, that piece of content, that kind of, you know, set it off for you that made you see that you could do it. It could be something that was super successful, or it can be something where you’re just really proud of it and you’re like, This is what I want to do for you know, for the foreseeable future.
Paige Kaiser 14:28
Totally. I remember mine like it was yesterday. It was one of the best days of my life. I had been posting videos for a little while—like senior year of high school I’d say. And finally I went to college and I knew I wanted to do this move in vlog because it was very niche in the category that I’m in—very big. So I was like, “Okay, this is going to be it.” Posted it. And almost overnight, I think I went from 2000 subscribers to like 20,000 subscribers. It was crazy. Of course, like, that’s such a huge gain. Everyone’s like “Oh my God, this success came in a blink of an eye.” They didn’t see all the work that—all the failed videos that went up before that. But still, that was the first time I knew and myself was like, “I could actually do this.” I think I could continue postin. People like these videos. It was just like, the best feeling.
Andy Lalwani 15:12
Yeah, I definitely remember that video where you’re you feel the instant gratification. I had, my first video I ever published on my channel when I was actively pursuing that—which as an adult, it’s harder when you get more opportunities, and you’re like, “What is making me money right now? I made videos in college consistently. And it was fun. And it was also stressful every week by weak making something and failing at something. But the first video, off the bat had like, quite a few thousand views. And my first video online was like “DC college girls explain, like, slang.” I was just like, “I’m just gonna go talk to my friends.” Like, when I moved into college, all these people were saying “hella,” and “bet.” And I’m like, “What is that? Like? Who are you? I am from middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, please explain to me all these things.” So I was just talking to my friends. And I got a lot of experience being able to talk to a camera and learn how to make it my best friend. So I got those experiences, being able to talk to my friends and just have fun. But people on campus would be like, “Oh, you’re the YouTube kid.” I was like, “I don’t know who you are. Like, sure. Like, fine.” And you’d have, you’d have so many highs and lows when you’re making stuff. But like the biggest thing is, when you’re having fun, and you’re not even thinking about it as much of like, “What is the outcome of this?” That’s when I realized like, this is just why I want to stick with it. I definitely at times where I was like, figuring it out and putting so much work into it and being disappointed with the outcome. But I learned to have less of a, I’d say, expectation. Because those videos sometimes you think of the least about, or media in general, you never know at times. As long as you have fun. You remind yourself why you’re doing it. And you think about, “Okay, is this important? And what way? Why is it important to you? Does the person next you find that same thing important?” Maybe that resonates with somebody else to get you that gratification.
Paige Kaiser 17:12
That’s totally true for me too. I think as I went through the process of making videos longer than just like, the first week, I had a successful video, it’s started to become—I put value more in the process of making videos, what I was putting into my videos, and how creative, how the angles I could use, whatever else it was for me, rather than the output and all the external validation of likes or comments or whatever it was. And that’s when you just need to find like reward and success in the creative process of it rather than the external validation.
Brianna Williams 17:45
Absolutely, I definitely agree. So for both of you guys, even with that piece of content that kind of just took off for you. Did you ever see yourself in the position to where you are now? Like, was this something that you saw for yourself?
Paige Kaiser 18:02
Oh, absolutely not. I don’t even feel that now.
Andy Lalwani 18:06
She’s like, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
Paige Kaiser 18:07
I still go to campus nowadays and have people stop me and say, “Oh my God, are you the YouTube girl?” And I’m like, “So weird!” still. I’m not, I’m still not used to it. And I’ve had many of those interactions. And it’s not just on campus, it’s around places. You’d be surprised. I got stopped in Chicago once, I was like, “Oh my God.”
Andy Lalwani 18:23
You’re like, “Gain? What?”
Paige Kaiser 18:24
I was like, “Okay?” So no, never saw it coming for myself. But definitely, I honestly thought I would be doing YouTube all throughout college and like maybe like post-grad life vlogs about that kind of material too. And more recently, I’ve kind of been evaluating, like, “How much longer do I want to do this?” Like, how much is this adding in terms of career? So I don’t know, like, it’s weird having this platform at such a young age. And like having to decide what I want to do with it. And where I want to use my influence and my energy.
Brianna Williams 18:53
What about you, Andy?
Andy Lalwani 18:54
Yeah, I mean, like, you know, and your mom’s like, “You’re a special kid.” I’m like, “Mom, I already knew that.” Like, I knew I was special, but to think about that career path now. No, God, no, I had no thought. And in my mind, I was just like, look, “I don’t see any brown boys online. Who am I supposed to look up to?” I’m like, “I have two people, Mom and Dad.” They’re divorced now, whatever. But I’m like, “Who do I look up to?” And like, “Who do I navigate?” This very young, gay life, you know? And I just kept Google searching a bunch of questions. So I didn’t think that being gay would help me learn about myself in media and my career. I’m just like, that’s just who I am. But it’s weird that like people again can make what they want about their own personality in life. And media is constantly changing. So like, it’s scary because what I thought of myself five years ago is now different from when I think of myself now. The landscape changes, your risk changes, and how you see yourself changes based on the territories. Again, there’s highs and lows in everything. And I’m like, I’m more confident than last year. Cool, great. But it’s something I still never expected.
Brianna Williams 20:04
So and even with this not being what either of you guys expected or saw for yourselves, you kind of just fell into it. And so with that, like, over recent years, there’s been a lot of talk about an influencer or public figures responsibility to the people that, you know, who follow them. And so do you think that influencers have a responsibility to their followers, even though following is by choice?
Paige Kaiser 20:29
That is such a good question. And that’s one that I’ve been grappling with, especially as I’ve decided if I wanted to move forward with my channel or not. I mean, people don’t really realize, like, the pressure that’s behind it on having to deliver a video every week. And then I started getting all this pressure from fans or subscribers who wanted to see the videos come out now that represented me when I was like, two years ago. They wanted to see “Freshman Level” Paige. They were like “Where are these vlogs? We missed ‘this!'” And I, I’m a totally different person than I was two years ago, like, the vlogs aren’t going to be the same, baby. I’m sorry. I had to grapple, like, am I going to be fake on this video and pretend to be more like my freshman year self? Or am I going to be who I truly am now? Because people are, like, you’re putting yourself out online, you’re gonna get perceived and hated on or whatever it is. So that was big for me. And I think we, to some extent, we owe our followers, what they want to see because they do subscribe to us by choice. But to another extent, I think we owe it to ourselves to be ourselves and post with authenticity.
Andy Lalwani 21:30
Yeah, it’s—following is a choice. If you don’t like it, you can unfollow. Plain and simple, end of day. It’s a choice. Obviously, there are private policies of every platform, because you’re in a public forum. It’s a private-owned compan. as long as you’re agreeing to those terms, you’re not violating those terms—cool, cute, fine, you’re good. But when someone has to tell you, like, “You should be doing this,” it’s like, you have a choice. In marketing, every product in its state eventually dies. Like growing up, we all grow up at some point. We’re not gonna stay the same, as Paige said. Like cute 18-year-old moving in with vlogs. You’re like, “I’m different now. I have a different subscriber base. I have different needs of my own. I’m in my whatever year of college, and y’all don’t know I’m going to TDR on my lunch break, like trying to cram for this midterm. You guys just see me doing fun stuff.” So there’s a moral responsibility. There’s also realizing your audience and what they do want. How do you balance that?
Brianna Williams 22:24
Absolutely. So even with all of that, there has been brand deals, partnerships, collaborations, and even misinformation at the hands of influencers online. And so I want you guys to speak a little bit to just the power of being an influencer. Like, what’s at your hands? Even, there might be people asking you to speak on certain topics that may or may not align with your platforms, or share your stance on something that you might not even want to share about. So can you guys speak a little bit about that power that you have online in a digital space?
Paige Kaiser 23:00
I mean, totally. I think brand deals and just sponsorships in general, were the biggest thing I didn’t see coming. Yeah, I didn’t see myself ever in a million years when I first started my channel. So and you don’t realize how much power comes along with that. These brands are giving you talking points, you’re doing their advertising for them. And this is the channel that they’ve chosen to reach their followers with. So there’s an extreme amount of power with that, in the sense of you need to remain true to yourself, you can’t say yes to everything. You don’t want to represent a brand that doesn’t align with yourself, your channel, your values. And then also the social responsibility you were talking about. I remember through Black Lives Matter movement. People were leaving comments like, “Paige, are you gonna say something about this?” I was getting DMs, or people would say, “Hey, look, this person was affected, I’d really like you to say something on your channel.” And even if it’s just one follower here or there, it’s still like a demand. It’s like your any other brand, or it’s just corporate responsibilities. Having a sense of social responsibility at this point. So that was definitely something I had to navigate too, is “I do want to speak on this topic.” I didn’t know what my audience wanted to hear about it or not. But once they made it clear that this was something they were interested in, I was like, “Okay, it’s time I say something.”
Andy Lalwani 24:12
Yeah, I mean, like. You have to remember end of everyday, “Am I the person to lead this charge? Or am I someone who’s supporting this?” And there’s spaces where we all come in, whether it’s people of color, to trans rights, to, you know, anything that we’ve seen, obviously and Miss Panorama. There’s a whole slew of things. And you have to remember like, “Where do I fit in? Am I just saying this because people are asking me to? Or am I the right person because I’m actually passionate about this. And I’ve actually said something about it my entire life.” You’re—you look like performance based activism, performance based models. Because if you’re just performing and like, what are you doing? You don’t want to put on a show for anybody. So it’s finding the right place, and when it comes to money too—like when money talks—scary. But then you have to remember, “Okay, what is the dotted line like?” You can also ask for your terms and service of any agreement. So before you sign, you see everything, you ask a lot of questions—don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for money, ask for like “Hey, I don’t feel comfortable saying these things.” You have to find a way to find a mutually beneficial partnership outside of personal values to hold different conversation. But when you are each signing a contract on what works for each party, you have some give and take too. So it’s, it’s always scary thinking of, okay, dollar signs get bigger. What do I want to do? Can I manage all this? I have 14 things going on. This is a look, we’re inauthentic if I do this.
Brianna Williams 25:39
Awesome. Thank you guys for sharing. I love what you said, Paige, about it being kind of like corporate social responsibility. I’ve never heard it put that way. But I think that’s almost the perfect way to describe it. Even though you guys aren’t necessarily corporations or entities, but you’re still—you work for yourself. And so it’s kind of like, what is my stance on this? How do I see this? How am I going to? Not in a performative way, but how am I going to put out a PR statement that is representing who I am? You know?
Paige Kaiser 26:12
Exactly. And that’s what consumers are expecting from their brands now, be it personal or professional brands.
Brianna Williams 26:18
Yeah. So for you guys, there has been—and I’m sure you’ve heard of it, I’m sure you maybe even participated in in it—this debate between an “influencer” and a “content creator.” And so I want to know from both of you, what would you say is the difference between the two and how would you describe yourself?
Andy Lalwani 26:38
There’s some debate, I feel like. I feel like the word “content creator,” the word “influencer,” and the word “talent” get crossed around. Anytime—obviously, I work in [publishing,] I see a lot of contracts—I see the word “talent” a lot in the contract, because that’s the legal term we’ve now seen a lot more because influencing can have, digital or not, you can consider a celebrity and influencer, anyone who has just like a power—when you’re contractually signed to an agency, it’s like who is the beneficiary?We’re benefiting a talent. Like the talent of some sort, the talent to to gain a following, the talent to be notable, the talent to be in the spotlight, or the talent to create content. Content creator, I think, approaches the term of you made a product, you made a physical product. Influencing is “I could have just told you something in passing, and it had an action or an impact on you.” I’ve definitely seen a lot of people, again, steer with both. But I prefer, for me, the word “talent” because everyone’s talented in their own ways. Kim Kardashian has a talent to make people buy SKIMS. Like sure, I see those ads, and I’m like, “Cool. I may want to buy it for myself.” There’s a talent to everything and for some people to not recognize any of those as talents—whether you have a following or not, everyone has a talent that someone’s always interested in.
Paige Kaiser 27:51
Very true. And I think definitely, at least for myself—cause I feel like I fall in between “content” and “influencer” for what I do on YouTube—but I’m always referred to as “talent” on contracts when signing with brands. And I think in the Venn Diagram and the scheme of things, “content creator” is someone who makes, again, produces their own product via print or digital. And “influencer” doesn’t necessarily do that; they can overlap. But more so they maybe receive a product from a brand and, you know, have an influence where they can try to promote it.
Brianna Williams 28:24
For you guys, what is one thing that people might not know about being an influencer, whether it be the lifestyle that you live, your workflow, the opportunities? If you could share just one thing that people might not know, from, necessarily the content that you put out?
Paige Kaiser 28:41
I would say that it’s not the full picture you’re seeing online. And I tried so hard to be as authentic and genuine as possible in my vlogs, because I want to have that real connection with my community online. But still, people will make assumptions. People will presume things about my life. They meet me on campus, they think they know everything. They’re like, “Oh, you’re the YouTube girl.” I’m like, “That’s not my entire identity.” I’m like, “Okay, geez, like. Don’t put me in a box, man.” And I think that’s probably what happens the most. I, and now when I see other YouTubers, and content creators, or whatever it may be—influencers on Instagram, I’m always very cognizant of the fact. I’m like, this is just what they’re showing us. It’s not necessarily everything.
Andy Lalwani 29:20
Yeah, I have to say mine’s like, kind of like a pivot. But I think when you get asked to do stuff, it’s fast. Like, when you get asked to do something—whenever someone as a friend even askes you like, “Hey, can you help me move this one day?” That’s already in your head, and it’s like constantly spinning. And then someone will remind you about it and ask. And you’re like, “I still want to think about this. I still want to take my time with it. I don’t want to offend you. I don’t want to say no, but I don’t think I’m free.” So you have to think about too, there are some people who will contact you on daily basis at times. And all these negotiations and more happen fast. Sometimes people ask for things, wild timelines. They’re like, “So, now that we’ve agreed to this, you’re free tomorrow, right?” The thing is people think that also talent have indisposable time. And so the timelines are weird for a space in digital media, because whether you’re talent or not in the brand side, media moves fast. And so just because sometimes someone thinks they can contract you, there’s also rights. At a day-to-day 9-5, you have benefits, you have HR, you have more. When you’re by yourself, there are liabilities that happen. Whether it’s you contract someone on top of your contract, or more, there’s just so many more things you have to think about of like, can I do this? And is it gonna happen without a domino effect falling? So I always think about that, at least. There are so many things people don’t know. They don’t see the behind the scenes of “We’re about to do this thing. Pull the lever, Cronk. Like, let’s go.” And I’m just like, “Okay, give me some time. That’s it, like.”
[00:30:57] Brianna Williams: Cool. And so, last question. Where do you guys see your careers going from here? I know that’s a very big question and you might not have all the answers, but I think that would be cool just to see, you know, what you’re doing now and even what you aspire to do. Just so listeners who are, you know, a part of the conversation, so that they know that there’s more to your career than just when you present online. Like you were alluding to earlier, Paige.
[00:31:25] Paige Kaiser: Yeah, totally. And I mean, if you asked me this question a year ago, I would have said “I’m going to be YouTube for the next four years. Probably do it after graduation for as long as I can.” But asking me now? Current Paige thinks that I’m probably not going to do YouTube forever. I would love to try to parlay some of the digital video editing skills into some other type of area. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet, but any other department, [00:01:00] advertising agency, would love to work in one. Be an account executive, account management, and anywhere I can just try to use the digital and social media skills that I’ve kind of garnered already, just through this thing that fell into my lap, would be fantastic.
[00:32:04] Paige Kaiser: So I don’t hope to do YouTube or influencing forever per se, but I would love to work in a realm that still has those things and incorporates those things.
[00:31:13] Andy Lalwani: Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know what happens from here. I mean, [the] Pandemic and all happened and we all saw the biggest shift in our lives. Like, if you told me two years ago, what I’d be doing now—making videos from home for a publisher, teleprompter and all, lights that live in my living room, I’d be like, “No, don’t know her.”
[00:32:34] Andy Lalwani: And it’s just wild—the life changes. Everything. Five years ago versus now, I can’t recognize that person. So I can tell you like, okay, “My five-year game plan is this, but what life has for me is, Rubik’s cube, something else.” It’s twists and turns. [00:32:49] I don’t know. I really enjoyed, you know, being able to tell stories online, being a reporter, being able to be an on-camera host. And now, it’s something that I am very humbled by still. And I try not to like sit and be like, “I’m the top 2% of whatever field.” I’m like, things change. Things change fast. So just being grounded and having a plan financially, personally. All changes. And that’s my biggest thing, is like, just to sit, stay grounded, and just keep things low.
[00:33:22] Andy Lalwani: Like, if things happen, cool. Still livin’ on the DL. I’m still bopping around and sitting at home on Friday nights, watching movies. Not like anything’s changed, I’m still the same old person. But in terms of what I know is coming next, I don’t know. And I’m just gonna, I guess, still be counting my blessings, thank the people around me and, and just continue being Andy.
[00:33:44] Paige Kaiser: Aw, I love that.
[00:33:45] Brianna Williams: I love that as well. Do you guys have anything that you wanted to add that we didn’t get a chance to touch on?
[00:33:51] Andy Lalwani: I just had to say, like, make sure you get outside. That’s my thing, like, online is a lot. You are constantly on your phones and your devices and we now are in, about to be, 2022. Make sure you go exercise, go for a walk.
[00:34:04] Andy Lalwani: I feel like we’re always on our devices. And if people forget about one thing, it’s like, we’re always on something, but we’d literally talked to nobody. I have my boyfriend in my apartment right now, but like, have I seen anybody else today? No. Did I feel like I talked to 50 people? Absolutely. Go outside. Go do something.
[00:34:20] Brianna Williams: And on that note, thank you guys so much for being a part of the podcast, for being a part of this episode. I really appreciated talking to you today.
[00:34:30] Andy Lalwani: Of course. Thank you for having us.
[00:34:31] Paige Kaiser: Yeah.
[00:34:33] Brianna Williams: “Media in the Mix” is a production from the School of Communication at American University. Our podcast is available for listening on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Anchor, and wherever else you can stream podcasts. And be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to see how our community is changing media, one step at a time. Catch you on the next one.