Breaking into the media industry can be a difficult and daunting task for anyone who is passionate about creating content, storytelling, or even becoming the next Tyler Perry. It’s all about who you know, what you know and how you plan on getting your foot in the door.
Maricielo Solis, the founder and CEO of BLENDtw reflects on her journey as a successful Peruvian-American entrepreneur. BLENDtw is an online media company that prides itself on sharing stories about everyday Americans. Although news outlets have become biased, BLENDtw believes that producing positive news content and sharing diverse perspectives on things that affect everyday Americans will change how people view the media and how they receive their news.
Maricielo Solis gave tips and insight on how she got her break into the media industry and why she decided to become an entrepreneur for anyone who is passionate about getting into the field.
How did you get your start in the Media industry?
Well, I didn’t go to journalism school. My biggest advice to students is to make sure that your internships align with your interests and your passions and that’s what I did. I always knew that I wanted to work in the media industry since I was very young. My first internship was at Univision during my sophomore year in college. It gave me a really good overview of local journalism and working at a local news station, and it also made me realize that I loved media but also that local reporting and journalism wasn’t what I wanted to do.
I really started my career in media by writing in newspapers and contributing to magazines so that’s how I got into it.
I also got a fellowship and I was able to go to Bolivia as a reporter for a UK-based magazine. They were really focused on indigenous roots and it was founded by a Bolivian student back in the 1990s. It was great; I got to explore the country, I had never been to Bolivia before and I really developed a lot of interview skills, I published content about Chinese culture in La Paz and I learned so much about photography. It was such a great opportunity for me.
How did you start working at CNN?
I got really serious about journalism when I got into the Page Program by NBCUniversal. It’s a super prestigious program and it’s the pipeline program for getting to work with NBC or anywhere in the media industry. It was so unexpected. But through this opportunity, I found myself working in New York City at 30 Rockefeller Plaza after graduation, just rotating and working on the Today Show, Nightly News, SNL, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and more. For someone that young at the time to have that opportunity was amazing. I was there for 11 months, it was my boot camp. After that, CNN came knocking at my door and I got a job there. I worked on a morning television show called ‘New Day’, I was contributing to the newsroom and all of the shows at CNN so that’s how I was able to get into the industry.
When did you decide that you wanted to become an entrepreneur in the media industry?
If you would have told 18-year-old Maricielo, “You’re going to become an entrepreneur”. I would’ve been like “What? Me? No way!”. I want to say that I was kind of disappointed with corporate media. I realized that if I was ever going to be able to produce the content that I was passionate about, I really needed to go and do my own thing. It doesn’t matter how great corporate media is, at the end of the day it is corporate. What matters is how much things sell. I also realized that if you’re not an executive then you don’t have much say. If the executive producer doesn’t like a certain segment then they will take it out, no questions asked. In order for you to have control of the content, you have to be the executive.
I remember meeting Taraji P. Henson and she told me “Don’t look up to me, I’m just an actress. It took me 20 years to get this recognition that I have. If you really want to change Hollywood, the storytelling and to make sure there is diversity, become an executive producer of a production company. That’s how you’re going to make change,”. Don’t get me wrong, CNN was a great place to work in terms of benefits, the skills I learned and the environment, but I realized I’ve always had a big vision.
I have never let other people define me; my parents are immigrants who came from nothing. I came to the US when I was 12. So I have always been the “Peruvian girl in America”. But I made the decision to stop letting the world define me, I am proud of my roots and my hardworking parents. The one thing that I took away from my background is that there are no opportunities to dream big. So, I do not take any opportunity for granted. I am grateful for all of them.
Is being the CEO of BLENDtw your dream job?
For me, BLEND is the beginning of everything that I want to do. If you ask me where I see BLEND in ten years, I want it to be a production company. That’s a big dream that I have. It’s going to take years for that to develop and I’m working towards it. Whether it’s through BLEND or some branch of BLEND, I want to be able to do everything from creating content to producing documentaries to producing independent films. I’m just interested in storytelling on all formats. People used to tell me when I was younger in the industry that I need to pick my focus, “you need to either become a journalist or a film producer”. But now as I navigate this industry, I realize that I can do everything. Yes, I am an entrepreneur but at some point, I would love to be a motivational speaker, travel, but before that my ultimate goal is to direct a film. I want to produce, direct and do everything from documentaries, independent films, and short films. I love digital platforms, technology and everything that has to do with storytelling and empowering people through media. I was born to be a storyteller.
What advice do you have to students or anyone who want to be successful in the media industry or be successful entrepreneurs?
Students always ask me how do you get these opportunities and resources and I always say if you really want something you need to go for it. Success doesn’t come from talent, it’s discipline. You can be the most talented person in the world but if you don’t have the discipline you aren’t going anywhere.
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