Lia Hatzakis is a Digital Content Creator and one half of the successful online duo, Joel and Lia. She talks about why she used the internet to share her passion and tells us her feelings about women in the workplace and what we can do better.
As an actor, I left drama school hoping that the phone would ring or I’d be discovered by an amazing director. That became really boring as it didn’t happen and every week I was writing to casting directors, agents, anyone in the industry who might want to hire me, to no avail. Essentially it became clear that to break into TV, film and theatre roles, I’d have a lot of gatekeepers to get past and the setbacks were hard to deal with at only 20 years old. I felt I took those knockbacks personally and started to believe I wasn’t getting jobs because I was too fat for a role, too thin for a role, too olive skinned, too short, too young, too old. There’s always something stopping you and when you are auditioning for someone else’s project they often know exactly what they want a character to look like.
I didn’t want to face another gatekeeper or get another disappointing email from an agent. There were so many hoops to jump through, so many people to have to speak to just to get an audition, I just thought there must be another way. I knew that I had a talent for making people smile, making people happy, and I just wanted to do that. In the end, I decided to start a Youtube channel with my best friend Joel. It was our side hustle for 5 years, doing it just for fun. Eventually, I decided to make my side hustle my main hustle. I took a risk and put myself out there full time and quit all of my other odd jobs that I was doing for money. I’m a big believer in throwing myself in the deep end and then learning how to swim.
Obviously, if you put yourself online, you will get haters and trolls. But the positive comments I receive on a daily basis outweigh all of the negative. Some of the messages are just incredible. I’ve been contacted by people who are struggling to get out of bed every day due to depression or physical illness and they say that watching Joel & Lia videos is the only thing that makes them laugh that day. It’s humbling to know that us creating content we love can have that kind of effect on someone.
We’re in complete control, we’ve got creative freedom and we are now our own bosses to do what we want. It’s totally liberating and I know I’m really fortunate to be in this position after many years of hustling to get here. Females are still underrepresented in this industry and I don’t know why. We’ve got great ideas I just wonder if its because we don’t back ourselves enough. There is no glass ceiling, particularly online, if a woman wants to be a digital influencer or business owner there is absolutely nothing stopping her. I think perhaps the fear of being judged, or rejected is what overtakes our confidence to take a leap.
The world is a richer place when diversity is embraced, richer from an experience, emotional, educational and monetary perspective. There are things we need to do, we need to put ourselves outside of our comfort zone, like I say, back ourselves. But we need businesses, and male advocates to help. They tend to be the decision makers so they have to educate themselves and others, they have got a massive part to play. We can’t do this alone whilst we still have things like a tampon tax and legislation which dictates what we can and can’t do with our own bodies we have to be visible and we have to stand together for what is right.