As an influencer, when you fail you fail publicly

One of the sassiest content creators on the internet, Kusha Kapila, talks about the struggles of staying relevant in a world of changing algorithms
Influencer Kusha Kapila
Influencer Kusha Kapila
Updated on Jan 23, 2022 09:12 AM IST
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ByShruti Shende

The internet sensation, Kusha Kapila, talks about finding her funny bone, challenges along the way, and the road ahead. Read on.

1.Tell us about your childhood a little.

I had a pretty standard childhood. I lived in a joint family in Pitampura, Delhi. I knew from a very early age what it’s like to live with a lot of people because we had around 15 people in the house. I remember my childhood being extremely strict and discipline was one of the most important things growing up. My mom was a tough taskmaster; she really put me to task when it came to academics. I think a lot of things that she couldn’t do or didn’t have the opportunity for, she wanted her daughters to do. She was quite adamant that her daughters don’t face the same predicament in life.

2.What kind of a student were you in school?

I was a good student in school for sure because my mother was an influencing force in my life. She made sure that I was a good girl, oiled my hair, went to school, did homework on time, and got straight As. A lot of my personality till the age of 13 was what my mom fashioned it to be. After that I started to have my own individuality, which is the reason when I finished my school, I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I had to really find myself. I did a lot of random things; I did English Honours then I cleared my entrance exam for fashion design in National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) because my best friend was doing fashion. I don’t think I had an opinion of mine.

3.What did you want to become as a kid?

As a kid, I wanted to become what my parents wanted me to become like every other Indian child (laughs). My mom is an extremely religious person and she had this template of prayer for me that she would give me and tell me to say to god, like a set of instructions, and one of them was obviously about academics (laughs). She wanted me to be a doctor, until I realized that I’m not good in science so I opted for journalism instead.

4.Were you always funny as a person?

I don’t know if I was funny, but I was always a performer. I was part of the dramatics club in school and when I went to college, I barely attended classes in my first year. I had 58% attendance which was the bare minimum required. I was also part of the college theatre group and we did street plays. I would also imitate people really well.

5.What do you think was the turning point of your career?

I think there were multiple turning points. First of all, getting my first job was a turning point because I honestly thought I won’t be able to land a job after I finished my bachelors. I was extremely clueless, so I feel like landing every opportunity in my life has been a career change for me. I keep saying that I’m immensely grateful for how it turned out but even if it wouldn’t have happened, there were interesting career changes for me. However, the most remarkable was getting a job at one of the most prominent online publications of India and venturing into video creation, which apparently was my calling all this while. Nothing comes to me as easy as this does.

6.When did you realize that you’ve become influential?

I think one truly realizes that they’ve become influential when they start getting trolled. I think that’s the point you realize that what you say have consequences. If you’re doing something that’s stupid, immature or irresponsible, you’re going to get called out for it. What you do reflect on you and it may also set a bad example. That’s the point when I realized that what I say actually matters so I have to know and do better.

7.Did you ever get to hear that you’re a woman and funny, that’s rare?

I think when I was 18, I was constantly trying to crack jokes with a friend of mine, and this guy turned to me and said, “Why are you trying to be funny? You’re not funny.” And, I thought, oh okay, maybe I’m not. You internalize these things. Obviously on the internet women get told that they’re not funny but the adoration and the love for me has come from all quarters. I have all kinds of people watching my content. The trolls are always going to be there so it doesn’t matter. I don’t think my peers have ever made me feel like that (thinks for a bit), even if I have been, I don’t think I’ve the guts to tell you about that story because it’ll require details (laughs).

8.What were and still are some of the challenges that you’ve faced or are still facing, if any?

Challenges would obviously be to constantly catch up with algorithms. That’s the nature of the digital space but I also feel like that’s the challenge that you should be willing to take on considering you’ve decided to work here. I’m always chasing what’s the new next thing. It does take a toll on your mental health considering you’re always out there, putting your life out there, and when you fail you fail publicly.

9.With amazing content creators debuting every day, do you feel the pressure to remain relevant?

I feel like relevance has almost become like a toxic term for content creators (laughs) because it’s almost used to attack them. My point is, it’s always going to be there in any job; you’re going to be facing issues where you would constantly have to work hard. As for the need to constantly reinvent yourself, you have to. It’s digital space and it’s always going to be changing. It’s just how it is.

10.You’re also doing reality shows and are taking up acting gigs, do you see yourself doing only movies in the future?

Honestly, I wanted to challenge myself with offline gigs and see if I really had it in me to be able to do it. I’ve taken up hosting gigs, reality shows, and I regularly auditioned. I see myself venturing into different things in future, because whatever social capital I’ve created, I want to be able to use it to do different things. That’s the natural graph for me. But Instagram will always remain a platform where I will continue to create. I might focus on YouTube more in the future, you never know. It’s also dependent on how creatively stimulated I am in that phase of life.

11.You’re an influential person, do you feel responsible?

Of course, anything I do or say has consequences. You can’t just have this large following and do things that are problematic; where you do a bad job of representation or you punch down or you hurt sentiments of people or of marginalized communities. I talk about the social issues that I have the capacity to talk about, but there’s nothing wrong in knowing that your opinion is wrong and you need to course correct.

12.What are your views on the current social media influencer space in India?

It’s growing, a lot of people are social media influencers now, and I feel like age is no bar which is fantastic, right? Anybody who feels like they’ve reached a point where they really want to create content and find themselves, they can do it. There are enough templates and success stories for people to do it. A lot of people might also say that it has become crowded but I feel like people who’re doing well will emerge, and it will always remain a space where anyone and everyone can come and do what they have to do.

13.Do you think there is an added pressure to look good in spite of being talented, especially as a woman?

There is an added pressure to look good in the sense that if you’re not conventionally good looking or if you’re somebody who has features that people might have a critical opinion on, then definitely there will be comments. I get comments on my body, my eyebrows, my face all the time, and I’m not somebody who is in this business to look good, I’m in this space to perform. There is an added pressure for sure, there is also an added pressure when you’re auditioning. I have been relegated the part of an ‘’aunty’’ or the ‘’fat best friend’’. I’ve been asked to audition for a 40-year-old woman and I’m 31. So, it has got to do with the fact that I’m not “sample size”. Although, to some extent, I’ve taken that added pressure on me. I could be a rule breaker but I don’t think I’ve reached that level of being bold yet.

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Friday, May 20, 2022