An Interview With LGBTQ+ and Mental Health Advocate: Owin Pierson
Firstly, can you introduce yourself?
Hey! My name is Owin Pierson, I’m 28 years old and originally from Northern Virginia but moved out four years ago to Los Angeles, where I currently reside. I got my BA in Psychology at George Mason University. I’m a proud gay Asian American, who is half-Japanese, half-Caucasian. Heritage is really important to me as well as being an advocate for the LGBTQ+ and Mental Health communities. I currently work full-time now as a Content Creator/Influencer.
What does a typical day in your week look like?
Well, because of quarantine, a typical week for me has drastically changed in many ways but also so many things that others have struggled with working from home, I’ve been fortunate enough to already have a handle on. Being in this industry, you typically have a lot of free time but it is engrossed in editing photos, engaging with your amazing audience(on every social media platform you use), meetings, scouting out new locations, planning new photoshoot ideas, organizing looks, and just keeping consistent on posts/stories. So all that has been the same, but instead of looks outside or anywhere really, they’ve been in my backyard or somewhere very isolated in nature. Usually before I would work at a cafe or with some friends answering emails and reaching out to brands in the morning. I like to get some sort of fitness/workout in during the day, and meal prep easy lunches and snacks so I don’t skip meals when I’m driving around. What I love about Los Angeles too is that there’s always something to do and somewhere to go. Events usually happen towards the evening and it's a great time to catch up with other Influencer friends, support brands that I connect to and continue working. But I definitely am an introvert at heart, and enjoy spending time at home with my friends and also just have my quiet time to read, write and catch up on my favorite shows.
As a mental health advocate, how does social media help you spread awareness and help people know more about it?
Mental Health is so important. I can’t emphasize this enough. As someone who has worked with middle and high school youth for 7+ years, an ABA therapist for kids with Autism, and has struggled personally with mental health, it's something I’ll always advocate for. Social media has definitely highlighted the good, the bad, and the ugly of mental health though. The good being that we’re not alone in our struggles anymore, it’s so much easier to seek help and see that others are also going through similar problems or questions. It’s also been so humbling and inspiring to work with organizations that saved my life when I was younger such as The It Gets Better Project, The Trevor Project, the Human Rights Campaign and a few more that really are important for so many youth to see and feel represented in many stream media/social media. Unfortunately there's also negative stigma around mental health and not seeking help or the access content on social media can have negative altercations to youth that don’t really know where to start. Also, with so many influencers now, society on social media tends to put those that have a “perfect life” on social media on a huge pedestal so it’s very easy to make them your idol and see them doing no wrong or canceling them if they make one mistake. We definitely need more empathy on social media so I think it's just important to put a little bit out there everyday.
We also see that you don’t only work in front of the camera but you are also a photographer yourself. Who would you like to shoot with someday?
Yes, I love photography! It was how I started in this industry! I’d love to shoot with national geographic one day, maybe a campaign on how to help endangered species, specifically elephants. I’d also love to shoot with more sustainable brands that are really making a difference.
Do you perceive yourself as an influencer or as a photographer?
Haha. I get this question so much and I know a lot of my other influencer friends do as well. I perceive myself as a creative, who does content creation. That definitely entails both influencer and photographer, but it also means I work in marketing, ads, social media management, business & finance management and sometimes I have to do PR and work out contracts and deliverables for brand deals on my own if there’s no direct agency or manager on the campaign. So, there’s definitely a lot of labels that I could be, but overall I feel in this age of social media, there’s so much creative freedom in entrepreneurship and freelancing that I never want to box myself into one category.
On the flip side of your work being your hobbies, do you ever find it difficult to distinguish your leisure time and work time?
Sometimes, the lines really do get blurred and I’ve in the past really struggled with realizing I still need a private life outside of social media. It’s easy to get lost in the fray of events, travels, and exciting opportunities but at the end of the day, we all need to reboot and be able to love ourselves so I definitely give myself time to completely log off everyday.
What is one piece of advice you’d give people who want to reach the influencer/photographer lifestyle?
Just start! Don’t be afraid of what others may think or that you don’t have the best equipment or “nicest” things. You already have something so unique that no one else has, and that’s you. As cheesy as that may be, authenticity will always really be your most valuable tool.