Taj Rani is a special kind of energy. The kind that makes you empowers your spirit by mere association. Within 10 minutes of conversation, you know she says exactly what she means and means what she says. As an Associate Editor at BET she’s found herself in a career that she’s a natural for. Her most notable work comes as a writer, producer, and on camera talent for The Warm Up where viewers get their dose of entertainment news.
A native of Nyak, NY (don’t worry, I’ve never heard of it either) , she currently resides in Mount Vernon. Her father always urged her to pursue traditional careers, but like most of us Taj could never ignore her itch to be creatively invested in her work. Luckily, she was still encouraged to be who she was. Her family always showed up in numbers for support at recitals, plays, and things of that nature. I’d like to think that support had a lot to do with her sureness in herself, which shines through in her personality today.
Eventually she would go on to graduate from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications in 2009. She crossed the stage right in the middle of our country’s unemployment crisis, working retail to make ends meet.
“I was working at Express for two years. I did freelance for little to no money. Eventually I left Express and was laid off from my other job”
Taj found her way into an opportunity at Music Choice as an Editorial Assistant. It was a key experience for someone looking to make a way in the media industry. She learned a great deal about editing, writing, and research. All of which play a huge role in her career. Never one to settle, Taj sought out opportunities elsewhere once she began to feel stifled. Her friend was working at BET in social media, and she suggested that Taj apply as an Interactive Producer for 106 & Park. It was a move that would change everything for her.
“I told them I could do interviews on camera so they let me. I also managed the digital strategy for Being Mary Jane, and developed The Buzz as well. Eventually I expanded it and changed the name to the Warm Up doing celebrity interviews and entertainment news. “
It seems like Taj was able to make moves pretty quickly and advance her career, but that’s not the case. In our Movers & Shakers Profile I spoke with Taj Rani about the long road to her current position, her views on creatives in the growing digital landscape, and what the future holds for her in the entertainment industry.
What was life like for you during the transition from college to BET?
“My dad wanted me to go to grad school, but I didn’t think it would get me where I wanted to be. My degree wasn’t actually in digital media per say. I did an internship at Vibe and my connections there got me into writing. You just have to grind, I don’t remember doubting myself. You go to church, and you surround yourself with good people. “
Since you work in digital, what do you think of creatives and the digital landscape right now?
The word creative is like the word Millennial. I never called myself a creative. People need to understand that just because you make content doesn’t make you creative. Journalists make content, but it doesn’t make them creative. I don’t like labels, and I make that known. Women in this industry tend to stay quiet because men feel threatened, but that doesn’t concern me. I’m Taj Rani, and this is what I do. I don’t prescribe to gender roles.
Is there anything in particular you want to get better at in your career?
For The Warm Up, it’s very easy for me to write scripts. I wake up, I pull the stories I want and literally write it on the commute to work. You’re writing for time and visual components you capture. As far as journalism, I’m getting used to it. With pop culture, you can use your own voice but sometimes it’s hard and other times it’s easy. I also try hard to monitor my accent as well.
Taj reminisced on a time where she almost blew off being in front of the camera at altogether. She encountered a professor who in short, told her she wasn’t pretty enough to be on camera. Shameful words that should never leave an educators mouth, but it’s something she’s proud to have overcome. His words made her break down in tears back then, and now she’s got the last laugh. Taj Rani is leading a successful career doing what she loves, and having fun at the same time. If you ask her, she can’t wait for the chance to show that old professor how much she’s accomplished.
It goes to show that all of us may encounter people who will try to kill our dreams before we even try. Whether on purpose or accidentally, it happens. People say or do things that can deter us from our calling. Taj is an example of what’s to come if you hold your head high and keep pushing. She sees a media empire in her future.
Not in any particular rush, Taj is pacing herself with a focus on killing the game in her current position. In all, she wants people to always say in regards to her work, “She did that dope shit”. Enough said. Check Taj Rani out on BET’s the Warm Up, and stay on the lookout for her next accomplishments. If history serves as any evidence, there’s no reason to doubt her potential.
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