BuzzFeed, Pugs, and Video Production with Michelle Khare

With her optimistic outlook, bold personality, and extreme talent, Michelle Khare is a force to be reckoned with. It's safe to say she's conquering the world- her work with BuzzFeed in both video production and acting has garnered hundreds of millions of views and shows no sign of stopping. Editor-in-chief Olivia Ferrucci discussed everything from cycling to self-image with Michelle for the opening day of Lithium's silence issue!

Lithium: You work as a video producer at BuzzFeed. How has this opened doors for you, and what are your favorite videos to create?
Michelle: I have been very blessed to be able to work at BuzzFeed as my first job out of college. In the past year and a half, I have learned how to produce a video from start to finish -- pre-production, production, and post-production. It's been a bit like viral video grad school (or what I imagine grad school to be like since I never went, ha)! My favorite videos to make and act in have been larger-scale beauty and body image style videos. I love challenging existing stereotypes on beauty, self-image, and diversity. I also love making these points through scripted comedy.

Lithium: How did you get into filmmaking, and was it something you envisioned yourself doing when you were younger?
Michelle: I grew up constantly doing musical theater and acting summer programs. I was lucky to be a part of a children's theater that did race-blind casting, so I got to play many roles I otherwise would have never 'looked the part' for -- Lucy in Charlie Brown, Cosette in Les Miserables, etc. I frequently told myself that filmmaking could only be a passion, that the industry was too unpredictable, and I needed to do something 'normal and stable' -- like be a doctor or something with a fancy abbreviated suffix. I was scared to do something different, or to go into an industry that would tell me "you don't look the part." Fortunately, my passions didn't let me believe that, as much as my practical side tried to force me to!

Lithium: Who do you quote as your biggest inspirations in producing, acting, and writing?
Michelle: My inspirations absolutely are Shonda Rhimes, Mindy Kaling, and Lilly Singh. I admire their dedication to hustle, to DO rather than dream, and create a path for themselves when no other roads existed. 

Lithium: Do you prefer being in front of the camera or behind it?
Michelle: I love both producing and being in front of the camera. What's really great about internet video content is the ability to get to do both, and to write my own stories and create my own path. I'd love to one day produce and act in a longer-form television series. For now, I've really enjoyed venturing into producing on my own YouTube channel

Lithium: You’ve openly discussed your struggles with depression and anxiety on social media. Was it hard for you to talk about such serious topics due to the stigma that so often surrounds mental health? Did the outpour of kind comments make it easier in any way?
Michelle: There absolutely are stigmas against speaking openly about mental health, and there are stigmas against being vulnerable in front of an audience. I was nervous at first to share what I was going through because these topics are 'private' and can lead people to make wrongful assumptions. I shared one of my struggles online and I was surprised with how many people were supportive and loving at the response, when the internet frequently can be harsh and unrelenting. I've learned that being genuine, being honest, and being real is really what people need from one another.

Lithium: You’re basically the most badass woman ever- you’re a professional cyclist, incredible boxer, and rock Indian wedding looks like nobody’s business. Has putting yourself out there both in videos and fitness made you more confident?
Michelle: Well, this is such a kind thing to say, haha! I actually got into fitness during one of the most difficult times in my life. I had just moved to Los Angeles alone for an internship and had no friends, and was also dealing with a bunch of unexpected changes in my personal life. I decided to start going to bicycling exercise groups as a way to make friends and 'be productive'. What started as a hobby ended up becoming my passion and led me to racing professionally in just two years (I have friends now, too!). For the first time in my life, I challenged myself intensely and physically, and was pushed to the limit in many ways. Similar to learning how to endure pain in cycling, through acting in lots of videos, I have also developed a thicker skin for mean comments online. These experiences correlate to a lot to the work I do and the dreams I have now. I have been trained to not give up, to be okay with 'losing' in the eyes of others, to endure temporary pain for eventual gain.

Lithium: What’s your favorite video you’ve ever been a part of as of yet?
Michelle: My favorite video I've done has got to be my recent Women's Lingerie Through History. It was several weeks of planning and teamwork to make come to life, the biggest shoot I've ever produced, and the most challenging on-camera work I've done. It's scary to put yourself out there in that way in front of millions of people on the internet! What I loved most about this video was how body positive and supportive the entire team was. The reactions and acting are genuine because the experience was so positive.

Lithium: You definitely serve as an inspiration to millions of young girls. What would be your one message to them as a collective?
Michelle: Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

Lithium: Throughout all of your platforms, you come across as a very optimistic and bubbly individual. Does this translate to your real life?
Michelle: I absolutely live a life of optimism and energy, and my followers help encourage me to continue that. So yes, everything on my social channels is 100% me! And I do love pugs that much!

Keep up with Michelle!


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