For my second school newspaper column about ~Cool Teenz~ I got to chat with my friend Alyson Zetta Williams! She's incredible and does it all. I conducted her interview via google docs, so all of the answers are her actual words, and I thought she had a million little pieces of wisdom tucked in. Last column, when I interviewed Eliza Rubin, I published the finished article on here, but this time I'm switching it up a bit so you can hear directly from Alyson.
She's a high school senior in California, and she's worked her butt off to write for Rookie, Clover, and her own collective. I got to know Alyson last year when I wrote for Zine Club Mag, which you'll read more about, and she's seriously one of the Coolest Girls Ever. Read this and become her biggest fan!
What all are you involved in?
Oh dear . . . WELL, I guess I would be most known for Zine Club/ Zine Club Mag, although it’s now stowed away. Currently, Zetta Mag (a newsletter), ROOKIE, Obsessee, Clover, Adolescent Content, my own painting and writing, being a functional member of society, all that good stuff. I just became a certified yoga teacher, too, aaagh!
How did you get Zine Club started at your school?
There was just no inclusive way for students (me) to do their creative thang without having to submit to certain guidelines or aesthetics. Which is ridiculous. With the lovely platforms out now that are candid about creative success and showcase many different styles, I was on the verge of learning that I was okay in my path and don’t need mimicry to find my way to the clearing. I was passionate about it; that’s everything. Passion is magic, and it drove the whole dang Zine Club bus. I hustled, yo! Show people how great your idea is and show that your passion exists and it becomes a trend to have that same reaction.
Tell me a little bit about how Zine Club grew.
I don’t think anyone had known that a club/ platform like this could exist, so it kind of blew their minds, lol. For me, I was already immersed in the online community of places like ROOKIE where sharing art was already “a thing”. But these kids . . . no one was caring, or saying that it was important for these worlds they had inside of them to be known. A LOT of people were shocked at the acceptance of work and how many times I said “Yes!” and “Okay!” to their requests and submissions. If I had to say, I think it’s the uniquity of the platform/publication and the sheer inclusion that drew people to the idea.
What are you doing with Clover and Zetta mag right now?
Clover is so beautiful. It can be so saddening when you are 124% behind a pitch and it gets rejected; with Clover, they (Liza and Casey) are really willing to explore all avenues with the Ambassadors. It’s very real, is how I would describe it, and not afraid to acknowledge that it’s growing, learning.
Zetta Mag is what I’m living for right now. It’s my own art/beauty/fashion/music-focused newsletter where I’m doing whatever I want in the process of vomiting onto the world everything amazingly crazy-cool thing I love in the planet. It is set to launch at the end of the month, so look out! It will be sent every Saturday, for your weekend reading convenience. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but I have some ideas that I can’t wait to get out there.
How did you start writing for rookie?
Ah, Rookie. Well, I had been obsessed. You could say it was my first real obsession, which was relieving, because I was becoming quite concerned over my status as a late-bloomer when it came to those crazed things. Boy bands just didn’t do it for me. But Rookie . . . that changed me. I NEVER EVER thought I would write for them; I idolized it too much. But the thing I did right was I kept trying every so often, emailing the submissions email whenever I felt it was right. It was after Zine Club began and I was running a very informal, very quirky blog to keep web folks up to date on our doings. I linked it in my latest email to Rookie and, low and behold, that was the key for Amy Rose, who replied to my email with a “Welcome aboard!”. I couldn’t believe it. That whole situation is pure evidence that when you start following/accepting the path that is right for you, and doing what you want to, you will be rewarded for not fighting the freakin universe. It already has enough work to do, so go easy on it and do what your ~thang~ is.
What’s next for you? Possibilities for college, area of study, or even projects
Oh gee, yeah, college. Unpopular opinion (maybe): I LOVE being a student. It’s almost like being a baby. Everyone is there to teach you and it’s okay to make mistakes, but there is also pressure to, like, crawl, which I guess is a metaphor for writing essays, etc? I am full-on enchanted with learning about things that I know aren’t wasting my time. I haven’t met a better feeling than that utter inspiration and awe that kind of sweeps you up off the ground and makes you forget how to come back down. So yeah, college, lol. Ideally, New York (original, I know), because the amount of people and things is literally soothing to me. I love California, where I live now, but I think I need to go. For a bit.
What’s your favorite thing that you do?
PAINTTTT!!! It’s my secret love. I’m not known for it, which is ironic, because I seem to identify as an artist first and a writer second even though my entire media presence is based on my writing (still confused on how this happened, haha). Like, if I was a celebrity and had one of those secret boyfriends that you only see half their face in all instagram posts to keep their identity secret . . . that would be me and my painting. It’s so natural. I could never stop.
Movies, too. If I was immortal I would be on that director train so fast.
Lesser known, but I really enjoy modelling/acting for my friends in their amazing projects. When it happens, it’s so fun. You are becoming part of art in a whole new way that many people take for granted.
How has doing all of this impacted your high school experience?
What a great question, honestly. I think about this pretty much everyday. I’m SO GRATEFUL. If I didn’t live in a time where youth were somewhat more of a priority in terms of art/media and the internet wasn’t alive . . . I would not have had any of these ideas. It’s crazy just to think how easily I could have been a different person without this online telescope that allowed me to discover ANOTHER ME.
I really got schooled in life, too. I had gotten one B, the rest As, in all my life and up through freshman year. Sophomore year, when I started Zine Club, I got not one but TWO Cs!! It was tough to swallow but when I looked at the project I had started that had grown to include so many people who were growing through the platform in their own ways, the grief dissolved. I got the chance to look at my life from above and tell myself “Hey, what you are doing there, that is what’s important.” I still cared about my grades, but I saw so clearly for the first time how ridiculously ridiculous it is to identify as your grades. They are nothing. Sorry, Mom. I still do care, and I still try, but there’s no going back: I have my priorities; I know what I need to do.