By Jenna Marina Lee
Kristin Harris ’11 was sitting in her New York office at BuzzFeed when the phone rang. “I don’t know where Bill Murray is right now, but I think he’s on the way to your office,” said a publicist.
For weeks, Harris — BuzzFeed’s celebrity editor and head of talent relations — had been trying to meet with Murray to discuss his new movie, Rock the Kasbah. Frantically, she huddled her team together to brainstorm ideas, and sure enough, 25 minutes later Bill Murray walked alone into the office, ready for whatever Harris’ team threw at him.
“In typical Bill Murray fashion, he was joking about our work environment — how it’s crazy and young and what you’d imagine BuzzFeed would be like. And he asked, ‘Do you guys seriously get paid to do this?’ ” Harris says, “I ask myself that question most days.”
On any given day, you can find Harris, a Lake Mary, Florida, native, interviewing A-listers like Ryan Gosling, Blake Lively, Kate Winslet and Nicole Kidman.
When she was 10 years old, she pictured her career as it is today, and though it’s taken a lot of hustle, persistence and hard work, the advertising and public relations alumna has made it her reality.
“In this world, your imagination is your opportunity,” Harris says. “Whatever you dream up, you can make happen.”
“In this world, your imagination is your opportunity.”
Favorite interview moment?
I had the opportunity to host Ed Sheeran’s Divide album launch. I’m a massive Ed Sheeran fan — if I could ever create a dream work scenario, this was quite literally it. I honestly couldn’t believe it was happening and had rarely been more nervous in my entire life. It was such a fun interview, the fans were incredible, and I got to stand a few feet away as he performed “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill” acoustically on his guitar. It was one of those moments that I look back on and still can’t wrap my head around.
I flew to Hawaii to interview Zac Efron and the cast on the film set of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. The whole trip lasted about 72 hours. I went paddleboarding during the day, visited the set at night, interviewed the cast at 2 a.m., went to bed at 5 a.m., woke up and got on a flight back to New York. Those kinds of experiences make this job unreal.
Best way to catch readers’ attention online?
For the pop culture team, we really write for the fans and as fans. I look and see the Taylor Swift album is coming out. Everyone is going to cover it from a news aspect, but I’m a fan, so what would I want to read about the album? That’s my goal every time I write something: I want the audience to look at this and think they wrote it or that I said what they’re thinking. That’s really when you’re connecting with someone.
Favorite pizza place in New York City?
How did UCF help shape you?
I was really shy growing up. It was really through my experience at UCF — the friendships I made, the professors I met and the opportunities I had — that I grew into the kind of person who could go after her dreams and make them happen.
Craziest red carpet experience?
The craziest part is how unglamorous [red carpets] are in real life. Usually they are pretty straightforward — it goes by in about two hours, and you’re waiting for an interview to happen. One time, we were partnering with Blake Lively’s film The Shallows, and she was going to take over our social media. I was following her around and was standing to the left of the paparazzi. I was being screamed at and almost trampled by the photographers who were trying to get their shot while I was trying to do my job. It was one of those crazy moments where you think, “What is my life? And what is happening?”