The TV industry has beckoned talented young people for decades, but now many are choosing social media as a quick path to professional success. Who better to compare these two varied mediums than a successful TV anchor and social media personality? Ritwika Gupta hosts TV shows, is a digital content creator on corporate styling, dance and travel, among other lifestyle topics, and also writes a style blog called Spotlight. She spoke exclusively to The Sunday Guardian on the subject of TV vs. Social Media, and offered advice to newcomers. Excerpts:
Q. Please share your professional journey so far. What made you choose this line?
I was always interested in the performing arts, being barely 18 when I first won the title of runner-up at a pageant in Singapore, where I have grown up. This kick-started my career as a model. Hence, after completing my business degree, I moved to Mumbai, and dabbled in theatre alongside performing in several ads. Over the years, I have acted in popular shows on MTV, Channel V and NDTV Imagine. From luxury to business, travel to entertainment, I present on varied topics for TV today while also creating content on social media.
Q. For how long have you worked in the TV industry and when did you cross over to social media?
I have been on TV for almost 7 years. All this while, I have been active on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, but I started taking these platforms seriously only in 2017.
Q. Why did you choose to build a significant social media presence, despite having a successful career in the TV industry?
In the beginning, I used social media as a platform to promote my TV work, portfolio and showreels. Whenever I would appear in an ad or a TV episode, I would post a snippet. Living in Mumbai alone, I also began blogging to document my day-to-day activities and thoughts. People started enjoying my posts and I used social media as a means to promote these posts and create my identity. Initially, I believe my following on social media grew because of my TV appearances and my blog, but soon I began experimenting and creating content specifically for my social media accounts. It started with dance and travel videos and slowly transitioned to beauty and fashion posts.
Q. Do you believe that social media is the only way forward for younger generations? Will TV lose its relevance?
In India, there is a surfeit of family dramas on TV, which attract only a certain kind of audience. Naturally, younger people prefer social media or YouTube and OTTs over that. However, if the content improves, TV has the power to capture the interest of young people. People forget that successful shows like Game of Thrones, Westworld, Chernobyl, Big Little Lies were actually TV shows. At the end of the day, success depends entirely on the content.
Q. What would you advise young people as first choice of career – TV or social media?
I believe TV is a great learning platform. Whether you want to be an actor, anchor or director, it is solid training ground. It will teach you discipline, teamwork and the traditional way of creating content. Once you have enough experience on TV, it is much easier to experiment on social media. Having said that, if it seems difficult to get a break on TV, I would advise youngsters to create posts for socials and be consistent. If your content is good, you will get noticed on social media.
Q. What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your TV career?
The TV industry is difficult to handle – with long and strenuous hours. Even if you are unwell, the show must go on because an episode is lined up for that day or week. The initial years in television were especially tough as I often had to work past midnight. Over the years, I became headstrong and prioritized my health and personal life. I am glad now that I am able to work reasonable hours and still have time to pursue other interests.
Q. What is the biggest challenge of social media and how do you overcome it?
While you get a lot of love from people, you also get a lot of hurtful comments. The easy access allows people to say anything and get away with it. This can take a toll on your mental health. I used to get very affected initially but after a point, I realized most of them are just attention-seekers. The truth is, you cannot make everyone happy. You just have to continue doing what you like doing and ignore the trolls.
Q. What have been your biggest rewards so far? Please share a few memories.
In the span of 1.5 years, I hosted 5 TV shows across 3 countries. I consider this a huge achievement for someone not originally from India. Further, my lockdown short film “The Intruder”, which I acted in and directed, recently won the best film at several festivals this year including Tagore International Film Festival, L’Age d’Or International Arthouse Film Festival, Golden Sparrow International Film Festival and Port Blair International Film Festival. It has also been selected as an official entry for this year’s Mumbai International Film Awards.
Q. Is it difficult to have your private life on public display? How do you maintain an equilibrium?
I grew up with social media so I am comfortable sharing my personal life. There is, however, a line which I will never cross and I am very particular about that. I am careful about not sharing confidential or private details.
Q. What is your mantra for success?
Being passionate about what I do. I love my job and that is what keeps me going, motivates me to do better and achieve greater heights. I believe you need to be passionate about your work to be happy and successful.
The interviewer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.