…I think my brand is a movement. Inspiring people to be confident and love themselves unconditionally is something that will make the world a more positive and uplifting place.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Serena Kerrigan. Born and raised in New York City, Serena is a Latinx video producer and digital creative. After graduating from Duke University, Serena was hired as a content producer at Refinery29, overseeing video content across all digital platforms. She also became one of the faces of Refinery29 as on-air talent, in which she conducted celebrity interviews and starred in several series, both in the studio and on the red carpet.
In March 2020, at the start of quarantine, influencer and content creator Serena Kerrigan created a brand new Instagram Live show. What started as a way for a single 26-year-old NYC native to connect and entertain her followers who were also isolated at home, immediately became The Today Show “Quarantine’s new must-watch” show.
Season 2 premiers September 9th @ 8:30 ET / 5:30 PT
Thank you so much for doing this with us Serena! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born and raised in New York City, and my life was pretty much parallel to Serena Van Der Woodsen in Gossip Girl. Ha. Kidding. (But my mom’s name is Lily like Serena’s mom in the show!)
My mom is from Buenos Aires, and my entire family still lives there, so I am proudly Latinx and speak Spanish fluently. I went to Duke University and had the fucking time of my life (ugh I miss college). After graduation, I moved back to New York City and started my job at Refinery29, where I worked as a video producer for almost four years. I left in 2020 to build my brand full time and never looked back.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
A boy broke my heart when I was a freshman in high school and made a short film about it. I won the best film at our high school’s festival, and that’s when I thought, “oh my god, this is the power of storytelling.
Being able to take your broken heart and literally turn it into art was a very pivotal moment in my life because that’s when I realized how much production. My mom is a reality TV executive, and my father is a filmmaker, so the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
See below :)
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was an intern at Refinery29, I was on the Facebook Live team. One day, Tia Mowry came in to do a cooking segment. I was tasked with ordering and assembling a blender (which if you know me, I’m pretty reckless with appliances and anything kitchen related.) Next thing I know, Tia presses a button to blend a smoothie and BOOM! Clumps of fruit spray everywhere. This disaster was my fault, but Tia was so lovely and handled it like a champ. However, my boss and I agreed I would step away from food content indefinitely.
I learned mistakes happen and as long as you accept responsibility and handle it with grace, you can come back from anything (even spraying fruit all over your celebrity guest!)
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My dad. When I was six years old, I vividly remember telling my dad, “I want to be famous,” to which he replied, “that’s not a profession.” Shortly after, I decided I wanted to be an actress. He enrolled me in classes under the condition that I would only be able to audition for roles after taking three years of schooling. From a very young age, he taught me the importance of work ethic and honing your craft. He also protected me from the volatility and uncertainty of pursuing an acting career. He encouraged me to write and produce my content to create my opportunities for myself.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
It’s essential to define what your brand is. It took me years to figure out how to turn a persona I created in college into a message that could help others. I realized that my confidence journey, as someone who went from being insecure and self-conscious to unapologetically in love with herself, could be my niche. It’s important to be raw, authentic, and an expert, especially in your field that is over saturated and over-edited. Social media is all about access, and the most successful influencers are the ones who dare to show it all. This was difficult for me at first, because being vulnerable is scary. However, the more I did it, the more receptive my audience was. My confidence went from aspirational to attainable. I also am a big believer in the power of community. It’s a huge priority to answer my DMs, host monthly Zoom cocktail parties, and make sure my audience feels like an integral part of my life.
If fear of failure stops you from achieving your dreams, what is the fucking point of living? I don’t believe in “failure.” I believe that failures are lessons, and rejections are redirections. Things don’t work out because they aren’t supposed to, but they push you in a different direction that is meant for you.
What drives you to get up everyday and work on your IG TV Show? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
I’m so motivated because I do what I love. Work doesn’t feel like work when you’re passionate about what you’re doing. My parents encouraged me, above all else, to pursue a profession that I genuinely enjoy. We spend most of our lives working, and time is the most valuable thing we can never get back. I’m in charge of my success, so I have to put in the work. While I am aware of my immense privilege, I believe that anyone can make their dreams come true. However, it requires a tremendous amount of diligence, patience, and perseverance. How badly do you want it? I want it so fucking bad; I will stop at nothing until I find success.
I am fortunate to have had parents in the industry guide me as I embarked on my career. I know not everyone has that same opportunity. We need to see more BIPOC in executive positions across the media industry as we advance. We have to start by diversifying our leadership to see real change.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
Let’s Fucking Date! If you haven’t watched my IG Live dating show, I suggest you do it immediately. Season 2 is going to be so epic. This season intends to prove that you can have a full-blown reality show on IG Live and that the platform fosters more engagement and authenticity than a traditional reality TV show on cable. Because it’s live, it doesn’t feel overproduced or staged, and the viewers can be more interactive by commenting in real-time.
We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
Bottom line, you can’t be what you can’t see. We are all born with confidence, but as we grow up, we become infected by the idealized version of what beauty should look like. How are we meant to love ourselves if we only see one type of person cast in every movie or show? Our world is hugely diverse, and the content we consume should reflect that.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- You will make so many mistakes, but instead of seeing them as mistakes, see them as learning lessons.
- When you miss out on opportunities, trust that they aren’t meant for you.
- Above all, listen to your gut and trust yourself.
- Your co-workers are not your friends. Be professional and keep your cool.
- Reputation is everything, and the industry is a lot smaller than you think. Do not burn bridges.
Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.
I’ve also been going to therapy consistently since I was seven years old. I’m a massive advocate of prioritizing mental health and believe everyone should try therapy at least once. You start to realize that the way you perceive and relate to the world is a direct reaction to your parents and upbringing. Making those connections are so powerful and pivotal to improve ourselves, our relationships with others, and have a happier life. I have also been masturbating since I was a little girl and had no shame about it whatsoever. I think being able to control your body and provide yourself pleasure, without anyone else present, is pretty fucking powerful. Orgasms are euphoric and relaxing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
If it’s not a fuck yes, it’s a no. And if it’s a no, then move on because you do not want what doesn’t want you. Whether it’s a job, opportunity, or a relationship, this has been the most helpful lesson to abide by because it puts a positive spin on rejection. It’s essential to let go of people or opportunities that aren’t giving you a fuck yes. Trust the timing of your life and that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I think my brand is a movement. Inspiring people to be confident and love themselves unconditionally is something that will make the world a more positive and uplifting place.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Chrissy Teigen. I tried making her banana bread, and it was an epic fail… or was it?
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
My Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, and Facebook are all @serenakerrigan
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!