Leyla Winston: Daniel Dana–tell us about yourself.

Daniel Dana:I am a content creator and journalism student based in Los Angeles. I was born in Geneva, Switzerland and grew up in Miami most of my life. Before studying journalism, I was studying hotel management back home in Switzerland but I realized it wasn’t for me and decided to follow my dreams of becoming a TV host. I’m currently studying at the USC while doing many personal projects on the side!

One of my passions is just creating comedy and lifestyle videos for fun. I started posting on TikTok and grew to a following of over 70,000 followers and over 7 million likes across my content. I remember my first post was asking a group of tourists where the Eiffel Tower was and that instantly went viral. Now my videos include pranks, day in my life vlogs and other lifestyle videos.

This spring, I decided to launch my very own podcast, Gen Me. It’s a podcast for Gen Z, by Gen Z. I found that a lot of people are so interested in TikTok and influencer culture, especially what goes on behind the scenes, so I wanted to peel back that curtain and make the entertainment industry more accessible to the masses.

Along with an emphasis on Gen Z, my podcast focuses a lot on the LGTBQ+ community. I’ve had guests that are pansexual, gay and transgender. Being part of the community myself, I wanted to find a way to give back and spread awareness about different issues and aspects of the community that people are unaware of.

LW: You seem like quite the creative—how did you know podcasting was the project you wanted to dedicate yourself to?

DD: Like I mentioned, around two years ago I started to post TikTok’s for fun and out of boredom and immediately some of my prank videos went viral. Even before TikTok, I would always post funny videos on Instagram. Whether it be pranking my grandma or random people, I always liked to share my life in a comedic way. The emergence of TikTok facilitated a way for me to do that on a wider scale and reach more people.

Flash forward two years and after some time on TikTok, I realized I wanted to legitimize my career and brand myself. Having somewhat of a following on TikTok is really impressive, but I wanted to extend myself outside of the app - what if one day it were to be deleted what would my legacy/mark be?

I was always fascinated by influencer and social media culture and the rise of TikTok stars. Also, as a member of the LGTBQ+ community, I wanted to find a way to give back and spread awareness. I realized that my podcast was the next step outside of TikTok and Gen Me was created.

LW: Have you found a way to integrate podcasting into your studies at USC, or do you keep these two areas completely separate?

DD:I’m a journalism major at USC so podcasting really goes hand in hand with my curriculum. Like a typical journalist, I create questions, research my guest, source materials and much more. Hosting is also not the easiest so I’ve learned important interpersonal skills at USC that I’ve used in my podcast. Also - a lot of the journalism that I do at USC revolves around the entertainment industry so that also really aids me in my podcast since most of my guests are in the industry.

LW: What are your goals with Gen Me?

DD:This is actually gonna sound so corny and maybe people will roll their eyes reading this but my main goal is for people to learn something new and laugh.

Like I said before, I started this podcast to peel back the curtain behind TikTok and influencer culture so I want people to walk away with a deeper understanding of the industry.

Most importantly though, especially with my transgender episode, I hope people gained more empathy and knowledge about the LGBTQ+ community so they can be better informed. I believe that a proper education and exposure to different settings, perspectives and ideologies can allow people to attain skills and empathy to combat ignorance. More often than not, people that commit hate crimes or spread hateful messages are simply not educated on the topic and believe false narratives.

Just by openly talking about issues and topics surrounding the community increases our representation and can inspire many. A lack of representation in the media means that many do not feel seen. As a result, there is a continuation of social inequality as the erasure of identity creates a lack of inspiration and motivation.

LW: Could you speak to a favorite episode you've recorded?

DD:My favorite episode is “Life as a Transgender College Student.” Val, the person I interviewed, is so open and the interview felt more like a conversation between friends. We dissected every single aspect about being trans, even the “naughty” questions people are afraid to ask, and had so much fun in the process!

What I hoped to come out of this podcast episode is a way to legitmaize the transgender community and offer someone a safe space to talk about their journey.

LW: What are your favorite podcasts to listen to?

DD:Plot Twist - I do not listen to podcasts. I know - how do I have my own podcast yet have never listened to any? I have a short attention span and for the life of me can not sit through anything longer than fifteen minutes. I more so enjoy speaking than listening.

You can find my podcast (Gen Me) on Apple Music and Spotify!
I’m also on Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok as genmepodcast.
My personal TikTok is @daniel.dana and my instagram is @danadaniel33.