Joel David Ahumada is Class of 2013 and currently works at Condé Nast Entertainment!
During their time at Emerson College, they majored in Broadcast Journalism and were a part of many student organizations, including EmChannel, Urban Dance Theatre, and Emerson Dance Company.
After graduating from Emerson College, their first job was a Social Media Producer for the show, Live with Kelly and Michael in New York City.
When they were not working for Live with Kelly and Michael, they also participated in digital storytelling on topics and places, they want to explore such as:
- Using Grindr in India to interview people after Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was taken down.
- Conquered their Food Anxieties in Ethiopia.
- Celebrating Queerness year-round in NYC.
The following is a transcript of the video.
Hey. I’m Joel Ahumada. I am class of 2013 broadcast journalism at Emerson College, and currently a producer at Condé Nast Entertainment working on making YouTube videos for Architectural Digest, Vogue, Self Magazine, and Condé Nast Traveler. So I’m here to answer a few questions and let’s see how this goes.
What drew you to Emerson College?
I think what drew me to Emerson College, [was that] I was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey,
kind of like one of these, inner-city schools. I did feel like while we had a lot of, you know, extracurriculars and I was involved in a lot of them, I didn’t have like solid camera experience or solid like reporting experience, journalism. So when I visited Emerson College with my mom and dad, I think we were all blown away by just like the amount of equipment and the amount of the alumni and everything that went into being–all that access to things that I had never had before, I think, kind of won us over in this kind of like really insane daze. It became all of our first choices right then and there. So I just saw, like, all the opportunities, I saw the studios, I saw the equipment, I saw the people who had gone there, I saw the connections, and it just felt like the right choice for me as someone who felt like they didn’t have access to any of that before. So that was, I think, what drew me the most.
What is it like working for a company verse working for yourself in the journalism and media fields?
That is a very complicated question and definitely, the biggest difference between working for yourself and working for a company in media is probably like pay. Oftentimes when you work for yourself, you’re doing things for free or very little pay until you build some sort of credibility. And then also too just the choice of the things that you get to work on. So obviously working for yourself, you are the boss. You get to pick the stories that you want to tell and you get to interview the people that you want to interview. Whereas working for a company, you’re really kind of somewhat restricted by what that company wants. So I would say that if you are working for a company and you do have stories that you want to tell and you’re trying to get them through and it’s not working, then that’s fine. But make sure that you have some sort of outlet for you to be able to give your own stories life or whatever that is because you also want to build that voice for yourself. You don’t want to have that taken away because you are stuck, you know, pitching your stories to someone who may not understand what your stories bring to the table or the audience that your story has. So give yourself that outlet, and keep doing them. Don’t squirrel them away until another time, like give them life. You’ll get more ideas and you’ll give yourself more opportunities to tell those stories the way that you want them to be told.
As a voice for underrepresented communities, what do you want people to take out of your digital media storytelling?
I think what I want people to take out of my stories is that it’s worth following people’s logic or feelings or reasonings kind of deeper than maybe we even want to a little bit? Just to see what’s going on there. Because oftentimes just understanding where people coming from, it could be the most opposite belief of yours or the most opposite opinion. And just trying to understand for a second, it doesn’t justify it, it doesn’t say that you are malleable or that you are easily changed. It’s just like oftentimes just understanding where a person is coming from or what they’re feeling is like that first step to like kind of getting closer and closer and closer to not like this utopia or not like full, you know, even cohabitation, but just like empathy or genuine empathy and real care for what people feel and that their actions are all coming from emotions and their actions are all based on personal experiences and just, you know, like coming behind and pulling back the curtain on some of that stuff is really helpful. So hopefully my stuff gives people like that opportunity to just kind of like dove in a little bit.
What is a story you want to tell, but you haven’t yet?
Well, this was a tough question because I don’t necessarily want to share the story that I haven’t been able to tell because I still want to tell it. But what I will say is kind of like before: just give yourself that creative outlet to tell those stories if you’re not finding that a story that you want to tell is working or it’s not being, you know, the pitch is like isn’t getting the feedback that you want… Think about what it is about that story that makes you want to tell it and then just keep it in mind, write it down, put it somewhere because another manifestation of that story might come along and might look different, but it’ll be the same kind of part. So you’ll still get that opportunity to tell that story. And oftentimes stories develop over long periods of time. So just make sure that you’re monitoring that story. What I like to do is set up a Google alert. If you go to Google Alerts and then you type in whatever your story is about, the main person or the main whatever, and Google alerts will send you email alerts on a daily or weekly basis about anything that happens pertaining to that subject. So that’s a good way to keep track of the stories that you haven’t been able to tell yet. But you still want to.
What advice will you give your younger self, personal & professionally?
This is funny because I kind of like realized something the other day where I think just because I have this idea of what I want and because maybe the work that I’m doing or the efforts that I’m putting in or where I am are not exactly there yet, I discredit how far what I’m doing in that moment or what I’ve done in the past, like I forget to, like, look at the value of that stuff. I recently rewatched a few of my things that I did by myself, and I was like, “Oh, wait, this is good.” And I just–and this is what other people were telling me, but because it wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be fully and I’m not fully there yet, I think I was just forgetting all this amazing work that I’ve put in. So I would just say to my younger self, take a moment to step back and realize that you are incredibly talented and you’re putting in a great amount of effort. And that is admirable. You’re on the right track, even if it hasn’t happened yet, and just be patient and make good decisions. And eat your vegetables.