Rani Shah is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Fuss Class News, the first South Asian-American satire publication in the world. Rani took the time to share with me her journey as a writer and why she founded Fuss Class News.
1. What is your profession?
During daylight hours, I am a Content and Social Media manager at Trello where I’m living out the (paid) dream of writing, editing, and creating media content in NYC. During night-owl hours and the weekends, I am the founder and editor-in-chief of Fuss Class News: a South Asian satire site where I can let loose and share my culture in the best way I can— by being a complete smart ass.
2. Why and how did you get into this profession?
Buckle up for this one: I got into this profession almost by accident. From a young age I always enjoyed writing, to the point where I considered pursuing journalism in college. But alas, culture dictated I do something “traditional” so your girl majored in and graduated with a chemical engineering degree. Never having an ounce of passion for it, however, I jumped at an opportunity after graduation to join a small (and by small I mean there were 3 people total) startup that organized hackathons for tech companies. After a year of scraping together cash and living with my parents, I landed a communications marketing job in Seattle with a food delivery startup. Still being unsure about what career path I wanted, I took the job because, well, it was a hell of a lot better than being a chemical engineer.
Learning everything I know about marketing on the job was both satisfying and terrifying, but those learn-on-the-go habits paid off in the long run. Especially once the startup began to falter and I got laid off, that work ethic never left. Being unemployed in a city far away from home forces you to make a choice: do I go back to my comfort zone or do I make sense of this somehow?
My attempt at making sense of the situation led to me offering writing and marketing services to up and coming startups. Freelancing was never an intention of mine but when you begin living on bagels in order to afford rent each month intention goes out the door. Not only that, but freelancing meant I had my own schedule. My own schedule to begin passion projects such as Fuss Class News. A few months into freelancing, I decided that moving to NYC was the best next step for me in order to even entertain my new goal: becoming a full time writer. About a year after losing my job, I moved to NYC and did the glamorous thing: stayed with friends until I landed a job. Accepting the first job I was offered, I continued freelancing and writing on the side— the best decision I ever made because those written pieces in my portfolio are what led to my current full-time writing job.
3. What did you hope to get out of this career as a professional and on a personal level?
Whether it was writing for Fuss Class News or doing content pieces for clients, I loved the aspect of strangers reading my thoughts and feeling understood. Knowing that there is someone else out there able to put into words the emotions you have felt is one of the coziest feelings, I was ecstatic to be able to provide that. On a professional level, I hoped my writing could entertain and help others come to terms with everyday scourges like dating or productivity. On a personal level, my dream for Fuss Class News is to give a voice to minorities and share our experiences through sharp humor rather than that of victim.
4. What is something unique you bring as a writer or professional in the industry?
A perspective on being the “other” and being able to shine light on the humor of it. Things like people mispronouncing South Asian names to making assumptions of “where you’re really from”, yes it’s frustrating but it’s also a point of comedy when we’re among our other South Asian friends. Channeling that energy is something I enjoy and want to excel at.
5. What do you wish you would have known about your profession before you started working in it?
How much of a difference it makes when you’re writing something you care about. It can make or break your piece. Oh and the anthem of every writer: your first draft will be trash so never be scared to start.
6. Do you feel you are compensated fairly for the work you do?
I am one of the lucky few that can say I do feel like I am compensated fairly for what I do. As far as Fuss Class News goes, however, we’re a small team that is aiming to monetize over the next year. So time will tell if our model will result in monetization or struggling artist mode.
7. What are some opportunities you have come across in your profession as a woman of color?
My perspective provides the greatest opportunity of them all. Being able to relay my emotions of how my culture treats women and how we as minorities view the majority is the best opportunity. Being able to turn the conversation around in terms of viewpoint is something larger satire sources, like The Onion, haven’t quite been able to tackle yet.
8. What advice would you give to women of color who want to follow your career path?
1. Be authentic, be you, be unapologetically yourself— and those who support you will come out of the woodwork.
2. Be open to feedback. Your first draft will always be bad. Learn fast and fix often, you’re more talented than your first draft may make you seem.
3. Follow up constantly. Didn’t hear back from someone? Don’t let that silence you. Follow up often and push for what you want harder than you may be comfortable with.
9. Anything else you would like to add.
Thank you Rani for sharing your wisdom and experience with us!
If you have questions or thoughts about this interview please feel free leave a comment below.
If you haven’t already, give yourself some joy today and go read Fuss Class News.
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Art by Loso F. Perez of Prime Vice Studios