“I’m meeting Gen-Z where they are at, which is social media,” says Amelie Zilber. Social media also happens to be where Zilber catapulted her impressive digital career, complete with the mantra “beauty and fashion with a socially conscious twist.” Expecting to major in Middle Eastern foreign policy, the college student initially started her social media as a platform for dishing out important news in an easy-to-digest format. “I would love to be doing what I do on a much larger scale and invigorating young people to get educated,” Zilber responds in respect of her future goals. Schön! connected with Zilber to discuss her various passions, her Don’t @ Me series and more.
Tell us about where you are from and where you consider home.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and it has always been home for me. I go to school in Washington, DC, but haven’t had the opportunity to live there yet given COVID. Even though Los Angeles is definitely home for me, Paris is too! Paris is where my dad is from, and my whole paternal side of my family lives there. Also — Paris is the most beautiful city in the world.
You are studying at Georgetown – what are you studying and how do you like it?
I have to say that I can’t really speak on how my experience has been there, given that I haven’t had the opportunity to live on campus. The classes I’ve taken have been so insightful, and have truly challenged me academically in the most beautiful way. I’m really excited to see where that journey takes me. I haven’t picked my major yet, but I’m planning on majoring in Middle Eastern foreign policy, and minoring in Arabic.
What are your goals for the next few years?
I would say prior to having the social media platform that I have today, my goals were very planned and scheduled. First, I saw myself graduating from Georgetown, entering the State Department, potentially getting a law degree and eventually working at a think tank to curate policy for the Middle East. As my life is continuously evolving and changing, so are my goals. At the current point of my life and in the next few years, I would love to be doing what I do on a much larger scale and invigorating young people to get educated and inspiring them to vote and become politically active. This can be through speaking engagements, a larger on-screen platform, audio or other different multifaceted ways of approaching people of my age group!
How did you get into digital creation, and did you always think you would be doing this?
I didn’t think I would always be doing this! So, I started off by having a platform called the ‘Two Minute Times’, where I wrote a weekly newsletter every Sunday summarising the news for young people. I started that when I was 12, and I did that for six and a half years. At the time, that was my social media. That was my output for talking about the news and engaging people and captivating them about world politics. So, when I joined social media, it was to push that message further. I started a social media account that was private just for fun, just for friends and family, and started posting on Tik Tok kind of just for fun in the same vein. When I saw that I was growing a bit of a platform, I recognised that I had to meet young people where they were at, and that wasn’t a newsletter — it was social media. I started breaking down the news of what was going on with the election, and also what was happening with COVID. Breaking down those topics in videos is where I saw my platform just absolutely explode. And that was when I realised the power of my voice through social media. So yeah, that’s my digital story.
“Beauty and fashion with a socially conscious twist” – what prompted you to start digitally creating and to describe it in this way?
It was really a way to combine everything that brings me joy. I love beauty, and I love fashion. And then politics is the other half of me! It’s innate to who I am — it speaks to my character, and what I love and what I’m passionate about. Actually, even when it comes to beauty and fashion, those can be political as well. A lot of beauty and fashion brands can make socially conscious choices — whether that be supporting LGBTQ+ groups or supporting women and the right to choose and equal pay and equal rights. I truly think that everything is completely intertwined. So, that’s kind of why I say it’s all with a socially conscious twist, because there is no beauty and fashion without a socially conscious twist for me.
You partnered with Jouer Cosmetics to create a multi-use blush and balm. What was that experience like and how did it come about?
Yeah, that was amazing. The blush product that I created with Jouer Cosmetics was entirely playing upon the message that I continuously share on my story: to stand up, be vocal and be loud about what you believe in. The colours and the shades were ‘be loud’ and ‘be strong’. It is a cheek and highlighter duo. Creating this was an incredible process for me. It’s still available to anyone who wants to shop, and it is actually the most beautiful product. It is the epitome of beauty with a socially conscious twist.
Let’s talk DON’T @ ME. How did this come about, and why did you call it that?
Yeah, so the name derives from the phrase saying, ‘don’t at me’. It’s like when you make a point, and you say, ‘don’t come at me’. My attribute is my opinion, and I’m going to stand loud and proud with it. In terms of timing it is because we, as a collective, on social media are seeing the rise of awareness, whether it’s political issues or international issues. I’m meeting Gen-Z where they are at, which is social media. I’m using the opportunity to gather a group of diverse voices to speak all of our truths and to encourage other Gen-Zers to pay attention and to get educated and get involved. It all fell right into place.
I know that the target audience is Gen-Zers, but do you think that there’s been any particular episodes that come to mind that you think are actually impactful all around?
For sure. I’m going to be honest and say that I think this show can be applied to all ages. Honestly, I had someone tell me yesterday that they were 27 years old, and all of their roommates sit and watch my videos. This show should apply to everyone and anyone who is willing to listen and who is ready to get involved. It breaks down serious topics in a really intimate and concise way. It is a great avenue for people to start paying attention to the news and getting in tune with the real conversations that are happening around us, or what’s going on in those conversations. I would say there are certain episodes — there’s a consent and empowerment episode coming up, and that definitely applies to all ages. There’s a combating inequality episode — that also applies to all ages. So, really this show applies to anyone and everyone who is willing to listen, and to put their mind to good use.
How do you select the topics and guests?
When the producers were like, ‘What do you want to talk about?’ — on the same call, within five minutes, I’d given them a list of 15 topics that absolutely needed to be talked about. For me, choosing what needs to be talked about is not a difficult process. I am personally very in tune with what’s going on in the world, and as a young person, I have peers around me at the exact same age — and I know what they’re interested in. When we were laying out the episodes, I told my co-hosts that if they wanted to bring anyone on, to let us know. There are definitely people who speak to all of these different issues, and so we select guests based on recommendations and also by who wants to speak about the issues.
If you had to title this chapter/episode in your life, what would you call it and why?
Oh, that’s a great question. I think right off the bat, my mind is leaning towards ‘just the beginning’. I think this is just the beginning of an incredible career that is dedicated to making an impact. So, I would title it ‘just the beginning’.
What are you working on next?
I can’t disclose too much information… [but] Don’t @ Me is available every Thursday — it’s a 10 minute episode every week where we are having real conversations about real issues and in a way that isn’t shoving it down your throat or forcing you to believe one thing or another. It’s an open dialogue with lots of different perspectives, and it’s a great learning tool!
A new episode of Don’t @ Me can be found every Thursday on Amelie’s Instagram.