The vivacious and droll Kayli Stollak, a twenty-five year-old New York University (NYU) graduate, film and television production major, and humanitarian reached celebrity status earlier this year when her blog ‘Granny is my Wingman’ caught the attention of thousands, including television producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The blog details Kayli’s slightly scandalous and always witty adventures in online dating—with Granny. I got an exclusive interview with Kayli in which we discussed her career, her college life, and the trials and tribulations of her online dating endeavors.
After a break-up with her boyfriend of four years, Kayli hesitantly turns to “the world wide web of dating,” and drags her “s— talking, adventure seeking, gossipy yenta,” along for the ride. Both hilarious and relatable, it’s no surprise these ladies’ exploits resonate with readers and has received offers to be made into a television show and a book.
Earlier this week, we caught up with Kayli and found that she is equally awesome and relatable in real life. Besides the blog, she also founded R.E.A.D., an organization which provides impoverished sub-Saharan communities with textbooks, school supplies, and scholarships. Keep reading to find out what Kayli has to say about life after college, starting an aid organization, and her road to success.
What was your major at New York University? Did it change at all throughout your college career?
I majored in Film and Television Production at Tisch. My major didn’t change but my concentration was all over the place. First I thought I was going to be a cinematographer, then an editor, a producer, and at the very end a writer.
What curricular activities/organizations were you involved in as a college student?
[Going out] and dancing. Kidding… sort of. NYU doesn’t provide the typical college experience because rather living in a campus you’re living in a city. Outside of school I always had internships and jobs but I was never oober-involved with NYU life besides in my classes and film shoots.
According to your interview in Teen Vogue, you decided “on a whim” to volunteer at an orphanage in Nairobi, which eventually led you to found READ. Was founding an aid organization something you’ve always wanted to do?
As odd as it sounds given my track record, no. I’ve always been super interested in the people I meet and when I ended up volunteering at the home in Nairobi and getting to know the kids who live there, they changed something in me. After they educated me on their situation and what they needed to break the cycle of poverty, I was sold. Volunteering in a foreign country can be an eye-opening experience but when you leave you must decide if you’re going to bury away what you learned or do something to make a change. When I came back to the states I knew I needed to take the steps to form R.E.A.D.
How did you spend your first summer after college?
On a motorcycle with my ex-boyfriend driving through England, France, Spain, and Portugal… And less exciting: working in a production company that I had been interning at through college as well as cocktailing in a nightclub.
After graduation, you worked a part-time job (or maybe more than one). What advice would you give to college graduates who are still searching for a permanent position in their field?
I worked a lot of jobs, but my main source of income came from cocktailing. My advice, do not give up and do not become comfortable in any professional situation unless it is exactly what you want for yourself or more then you ever hoped for. It’s easy to get stuck in a position because the money is good or it feels convenient – DON’T! Intern if you have to, get creative, but don’t lose sight of what you want to become.
When your blog initially took off and you began writing the pilot, were you working on other projects that had to be put on the back-burner? If so, did you feel that you were taking a risk in doing this?
I was actually in a professional limbo of sorts. I was working on writing some other things but all of my income was coming from cocktailing so when I started the blog it was a gamble, probably more for my ego then my career. I was beyond lucky that it took off the way that it did but if it hadn’t I would have tried starting something else until I found something that worked.
What is your favorite accomplishment to date? Does this set the bar for your future accomplishments?
Although I’m crazy pumped about my upcoming book and the TV show in development (I do high kicks and fist pumps every morning from excitement), I have to say the charity brings me the most pride. R.E.A.D. has eight kids in university and three schools we supply books for. Although my personal professional accomplishments are incredible, watching these kids who have more ambition then anyone I’ve ever met have the chance to make something of themselves is really inspiring.
To hear more of Kayli’s awesome story, check out her blog at grannyismywingman.com. What do you think? Post a comment below!
Written by Guest Blogger, Alycia Terry