STEM: Ana Kasparian, The Young Turks

This article is part of our Create & Cultivate 100 List created in collaboration with KEDS, you can view the full STEM List Here.

Giving fake news a middle finger. 

“I taught myself what I could just so I could stay,” says Ana Kasparian host and co-producer of The Young Turks, the largest online news network in the world. 

As a major political voice and specifically one trusted by young people, Ana knows that honesty is crucial during the current political climate. “You don’t see a lot of that in mainstream media,” she says, “and it gets me in trouble. But it also empowers women to share in an outspoken and aggressive way.”  

Aggressive is not a tone she shies away from. “I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with the paradigm shift. Women are more educated than men, they’re more ambitious, and there is a new type of competition for men for the types of jobs they’re used to getting. Hearing someone like me? I think it’s intimidating.” 

"Women are more educated than men and they’re more ambitious."

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What else would you expect from the little girl who would cuddle up with her mom on Friday night to watch Barbara Walters interview world leaders and public figures on ABC’s 20/20. After finishing her undergraduate degree in journalism, the go-getter immediately landed a job as an associate producer at CBS radio. However, after about six months into the job she knew it wasn’t for her. “The type of journalism produced in that newsroom,” says Ana, “didn’t make me feel like it was was making a difference or doing enough to inform listeners.” 

At the same time there was a temp position open at The Young Turks, which, was a “tiny little startup at the time.” From day one Ana says she knew it was where she needed to be. “It was unscripted, uncensored, and raw! The honesty that reverberated through the halls during every broadcast drew me in so intensely that I didn’t want to leave when my temp position was over.” She asked to stay. There wasn’t a position available that spoke to her skills, so she took a job in the marketing department and did everything she could to remain a part of the organization.  

Ten years later, as producer and co-host Ana is now an integral part of the show’s success. 

She thinks the mainstream media made a lot of mistakes the past election cycle. “They love the drama,” Ana shares. “The biggest mistake was not taking him [Trump] seriously from the beginning. He’s ignorant, not necessarily stupid. And he’s great at manipulation.” 

She also thinks Hillary’s calculated actions had little chance in the face of Trump’s “word vomit,” because of Hillary's next level misogyny conundrum. If she had behaved like Trump, it never would have worked.  But Ana recognizes the importance of her career, presidential win or not. "She has paved the way for women like me to be aggressive,” the host shares. Ana hopes that post-run she “comes out in a way she never has,” especially for the younger generations who are “drawn to authentic.” 

Despite experiencing violent threats, Ana won't be silenced. "I do what I think is right to get the message across to the viewers. We have to not be afraid. We have to fight back against that type [misogynist] rhetoric." 

“There are individuals who threaten my life on a daily basis. In fact, 2016 was the first year where I actually encountered a few in-person physical attacks. But I see these threats as an effort to silence me, and women have been silenced for so long. I'll be damned if I allow anyone to silence me and stop me from doing what I love to do.”

And she’s learned to love herself, even when the world is telling her she’s a “terrible person.” 

“My career has become a big part of my identity. It represents who I am and what my purpose is. Part of that purpose is remaining true to that voice, particularly in the face of a Trump presidency. “I’ll be just as opinionated and committed to getting accurate information out there. I see my privilege to look out for the disenfranchised and people who are going to suffer under his presidency. I think it’s important to spread a message about what it means to be an America. True patriotism is looking out for your neighbor.” 

"True patriotism is looking out for your neighbor.” 

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Her other goal is to get money out of politics. “With a vanishing middle class, you’re going to have hunger games. We’re attacking each other for stupid shit instead of attacking the system.”

Female empowerment means choosing your own destiny. It doesn't matter what you want to do, or how you want to do it. Being empowered allows you to make the right decisions for your life, regardless of what others expect of you."

Styling provided by Reservoir LA. Hair and makeup provided by Glamsquad. Photography courtesy of Light Lab and Woodnote Photography.