Meet Hannah Williams: Creative Director & Executive Producer at BuzzFeed
“It's so important to go above and beyond to create opportunities for yourself, say "yes" to everything, observe and learn from everyone around you, and work HARD.”
What do you do and what led you to this career?
I'm a Branded Creative Director for BuzzFeed's food brand, Tasty. I also co-executive produce and star in BuzzFeed's parenting show called Mom in Progress, and I'm part of BuzzFeed's influencer talent program. I had an interesting start to my career, to say the least, and it's been a pretty long journey!
I ventured into adulthood as a pregnant, single 21 year old. It was isolating and scary, with people constantly telling me that I was ruining my life and ruining any chance of a bright future or career. During this time, I discovered the world of mom blogs, and started my own as a diary of sorts, to try to connect with other moms in similar situations. To my surprise, my blog really took off and gained quite a following, to the point that after my oldest son was born, a large magazine publication noticed me. They brought me on to create recipes and digital content for their cooking magazine. While the job was incredible, I was working remotely in Los Angeles while the headquarters was in Wisconsin, and I was lonely. At this point, I'd gotten married and had my youngest son, and worked from home with both of my kids. I wanted more structure, and I wanted to work out of an office. While searching for a more local job, I stumbled upon an open position at BuzzFeed for a "Food Producer." I'd always loved BuzzFeed, and viewed it as a dream company and dream career path. I applied on a whim, NEVER expecting them to get back to me. One phone interview, an in-person interview, and a homework assignment later, BuzzFeed gave me a 2 month trial opportunity to prove myself for a full-time position. One month into that trial, they offered me a producer position to build a page that we'd develop into the massive food brand that Tasty is today. Almost 4 years later, I manage a creative team that executes all of the sponsored content and brand partnerships on Tasty. It's been a trip--from directing Victoria's Secret models to traveling to Mexico City to open a film studio, I am eternally grateful for these opportunities, and I've jumped at every single one of them. BuzzFeed is such an incredibly flexible and creative environment, so they let me dabble in creating parenting content throughout my time at the company. It's all turned into a very successful show called Mom in Progress, starring me and my family vlogging about parenting trends, personal experiences, and offering a real-life deep dive into motherhood. Due to the success of the show, BuzzFeed added me to their roster of influencers, and brands can add me as talent to the content they purchase from BuzzFeed.
What are the names and ages of your children?
Jackson is seven; and Wyatt is four.
What has been your biggest career achievement thus far?
When Tasty hit 96 million likes on Facebook! And starring in a Google campaign.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a mother?
The thing that makes my heart burst is when I see my kids treating others with empathy and kindness. It makes me feel like I'm doing something right!
And what is the most challenging?
I still struggle with balancing work life and home life. There's a famous phrase, "We expect women to work like they're not a mother, and raise kids like they're not working." I feel this so hard! I've noticed that the balance ebbs and flows--sometimes I have to prioritize work, and my husband takes on most of the kid stuff. Then the pendulum swings and work gets light and I get to be hands-on mom. I'm still learning, and still trying to figure out what works best for us.
What is your best advice for someone new to your industry?
Work your ass off, and fake it until you make it! It's so important to go above and beyond to create opportunities for yourself, say "yes" to everything, observe and learn from everyone around you, and work HARD.
What is your best advice for a new mother?
Don't hold yourself to anyone else's standards. You, and only you know your child best. Go with your gut and don't put any weight into what anyone else thinks.
What's next for you? Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
We're currently shooting season 3 of my show, and I've been added as talent to some really incredible brand partnerships currently in pre-pro!
Follow Hannah at @hannahlilywilliams