Ana Kasparian is the co-host and producer for The Young Turks, an online news show. She is also a speaker, writer, professor and discusses American politics.
On her career path
I remember being in elementary school when my mom first started telling me to get serious about what I want to do with my life. It sounds crazy for a parent to pressure their child that early on, but it was my parents' immigrant mentality that really pushed me to build a successful life for myself. Both my parents emigrated to the U.S. from Armenia, and they did so to build a better life for their kids. I wasn't going to let them down. By the time I hit middle school, I had already been thinking about where I saw myself career-wise, and realized that the one thing I enjoyed most about Friday nights was watching Barbara Walters on ABC's 20/20. It was fascinating to me that she got paid to speak to such interesting people. I remember that after I watched her interview with one of Saddam Hussein's former wives, I was set on pursuing a career in journalism. From that moment forward, journalism was the primary career path I focused on.
On her claim to fame
Most people know me through the work I've done with The Young Turks (TYT), which is the largest daily online news show. I've been a host and producer for the network for nearly 11 years, and I'm probably one of the more aggressive female voices in political news. I began working at TYT when it was a tiny startup that no one had heard of, and actually left my promising job at a local CBS affiliate to work there. I helped to build the company into the massive online empire that it is today, and I feel extremely proud of how far we've come.
What I think I've contributed is a strong female political voice, which surprisingly has encouraged other women to fearlessly speak their minds. When I began my work at TYT, we had the smallest female audience imaginable, and it was hard to convince women that their political thoughts and opinions matter. Now I see our female audience growing, and I also get countless messages from girls who want to pursue a career in politics because of my role on the show. For me, that's been my proudest achievement. I didn't get involved in this work to be a role model or to inspire anyone. I did it because I love it! But knowing that I somehow inspired people to think critically and speak their minds ended up being the best part of my job.
On her 9 to 5 style
On a perfect day when I have the time and energy to look the way I want look, I put on a midi form-fitting power dress with stiletto pumps. I actually feel comfortable in heels and a dress. Femininity makes me feel powerful and strong. But that's not the only way I like to dress.
Sometimes I'll keep it casual with skinny jeans and a fitted blouse. I've lost some weight from stress over the last five years, so I can't stand wearing baggy or loose-fitting clothing. It makes me feel like a prepubescent boy.
My signature look is my power bun, as I like to call it. I love wearing my hair in a sleek bun because it makes me feel ready for business. Who wants trendy loose waves all over their face when they're trying to kick ass in a political discussion?
I have this black blazer with lace trim from a French brand called "The Knooples" that I like to bust out when I really want to make a professional statement. It's classic, professional, but most importantly it's feminine. I love that it couples the power of a blazer with the softness of lace. It might sound cheesy, but that one article of clothing really defines my personality. I can been sweet, but also strong when necessary.
On her fashion guidelines
Although I love form-fitting and tailored clothing, I never show too much skin in a professional setting. Don't get me wrong, I don't judge women who do. But I'm not interested in male colleagues or viewers seeing my cleavage. I want to send a message of professionalism in every way I can, and I know from experience that showing off too much skin can work against you. I've also learned that learning about and accepting your body usually leads to better fashion choices. I know what makes me look good, and I stick to that.
On power suits
I absolutely love a woman in a suit! But it's so incredibly hard to find a brand that gets it. Most women's suits need a trip to a tailor because they rarely fit. I want a blazer that hugs my waist, and the same idea goes for my slacks.
On the women that inspire her
There have been so many women in my personal life who gave me the tools necessary to succeed. I find that in my moments of desperation when I want to give up, they still manage to give me the confidence and support I need to push forward.
One of those women is my mom, who has demonstrated such incredible strength throughout her life. She's a fighter, and I'm lucky to share that characteristic with her. Another woman I look up to is my former journalism professor, Linda Bowen. She's now the chair of the journalism school I went to, and she invited me to teach classes there. What I love about her is that she had high expectations and standards for her students. Before I took her class, I remember reading reviews about her online. A lot of students complained that it was impossible to get an A in her class. I saw that as I challenge, and purposely took her class because I wanted to prove that I could rise to the occasion and impress her with my work. She not only gave me an A, but she taught me to have high standards for myself.
On bad career advice
When I was in journalism school, I was told that I'd have to move to a small town, work at a local TV station, and work my way up to a big media market like Los Angeles or New York. I was also told that online news was a joke and that I should never share my perspective or opinion until I "pay my dues." Safe to say that the advice was beyond faulty, because I didn't listen to any of it, and I have a successful career to show for my defiance. Regardless of what someone wants to pursue for their career, it's important to keep in mind that nothing revolutionary ever happened by following the rules. Conventional wisdom has its place, but people need to be open to achieving their goals through unexplored paths. Take calculated risks, and be adventurous.
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