Yesterday if you follow Viola Davis on Instagram, you saw Sophia Delrosario and the @zeneration teams’ work. It was a post about the hate crime that took place in Georgia and the #StopAsianHate movement. @Zenerations started as an account for Sophia and her friends to use as a creative outlet in the beginning of the pandemic. But, as the Black Lives Matter movement became heavily relevant on Instagram through infographic, Sophia and the @zeneration teams adapted to create political articles in the form of Instagram posts.
The styles of @Zenerations is what caught my eye on Instagram. From the beginning, the aesthetic of @zeneration has been different shades of blue, the art style that has become popular of outlines of people and things without faces, and clear and to the point text. It is more than just an Instagram account though, @Zenerations is on its way of becoming something bigger with zoom events, discord chats, and a Women of Color Conference.
The founder and director is Sophia Delrosario now 17 years old from New Jersey. I interviewed Sophia because of a school project where I was researching the new phenomenon of powerpoint activism or infographics. She was 16 at the time, and we talk for about an hour about the impressive work she is doing, how she runs the media company, and what activism means today. This interview took place on November 16, 2020.
Why did you start @zenerations?
2020 has been like a super chaotic year and in the beginning of it, like in March and April, I had realized that there was like a huge question mark over my future. As like a creative because I felt like, you know, where are we going? Like, there was like no hope left. I had no outlet to put my creativity. In the era of social distancing, I also felt like there was this disconnect between teenagers. And so I was like, hey, like, I love Instagram. I really loved the community that Instagram could give. So I was like, hey, let’s just create something like, let’s just go do it. My creative partner, Lily, who has been there with me from the very beginning, was like, hey, just do it. And I was like, OK. I had no, like, prior knowledge of marketing outreach, like a little bit social media management, but not to like a larger scale. So, I was super kind of scared because of what people would think about me, like, is she being too much of a try hard? I didn’t tell anyone for a week. My heart was racing, like writing up all these articles for the launch, like creating an archive just to have some content when it launched. When it did I actually received a lot of support, and now I get to work with other people in Gen Z, especially from other countries which I never dreamed of.
You have a whole team of people behind you, can you explain who they are?
So I am the founder and director. And then I have my associate director, which is Lily, who I mentioned before. We lead this board of directors who are incredible. They direct writing and editing, outreach, marketing, things like that. Then we have like a task team below that and they kind of just carry out last minute posts. Right now we’re kind of in the middle of developing a post about things like Harry Styles. We have meetings every week and it’s really just like a huge FaceTime call. It’s just like catching up on our week and then kind of planning posts for the week. But then after like we just go into rants about school or whatever. So it’s really a great experience.
It’s like really, really great to see how many people actually have passion for activism. The youth actually has a lot of power. People think we are a bunch of brain dead people on Tik Tok, but we actually can make change. I think seeing the people that I’ve worked with is a representation of that.
Talk me through the process of putting up a post on @zenerations.
So it’s very lengthy, because we care a lot about appearance. We do it because it’s fun for us. It’s part of our brand. We like making things look pretty. So the first thing that happens is like every week an article is written and then graphic designers have a due date for that article to create content. Then, our head graphic designer looks over it and makes the edits to the design, as well as our editor looks through the article as well. What happens first is we draft it on the website. We make sure that we give credit to the author, like we put their bio. It is important because they’re super talented and need much recognition . After that we publish the finished article and then someone from a social media team posts it. Finally, we promote the article on stories using nice backgrounds with the swipe uplink.
Since you started the account as a creative project, when did politics come in?
I always have been interested in politics. I especially liked when I started joining the debate club, like during the 2016 election, like I really immersed myself in the world of politics. I started learning more about things like theory and kind of all that stuff. Then, when super important issues started coming up, especially during the rise of Black Lives Matter in June, that was really when we kind of catapulted into political activism and having our writers put together more articles based on activism and politics.
What is your personal definition of activism?
So activism has really taken on a new definition this year, especially. You can go search up the definition of activism, it’s like taking action. But there also is like a lot of talk about activism being performative, whether or not you’re doing enough.Sometimes I think the biggest thing behind activism, the two biggest things at least, are passion and actually taking direct action. Anyone is subject to performative activism, especially if you’re starting out in the beginning, you might not know what to do. But, I think it’s definitely a learning process being of an activist. Infographics are really just a jumping off point, like a stepping off point to really reading and getting in the work
Sophia Delrosario and the @zeneration team are doing great work that I know is only going to keep getting better. I study digital media and journalism to meet people like Sophia, who use their media literacy to make a real political difference in the world. Even after that one conversation with her, I know Sophia is someone to watch because she is going to make a BIG and important impact in the world.
Check Sophia Delrosario and the @zeneration team out on Instagram