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BuzzFeed Representatives Discuss What’s Worth It

ASUCI’s Office of Academic Affairs Speakers Commission hosted their first annual ZotTalks event last Thursday, Feb. 22.

Andrew Ilnyckyj, Stephen Lim and Adam Bianchi of BuzzFeed’s “Worth It” visited UC Irvine to talk about their BuzzFeed careers and what it has been like working together over the past few years.

In “Worth It,” the trio travels around the world tasting cheap and expensive versions of various foods to determine which has the best taste for the best price. The series has racked up millions of views since its inception in 2016.

At the start of the event, audience members were able to get an advanced viewing of a yet-to-be-released “Worth It” episode. The room was packed with around 700 students who screamed and cheered when Ilnyckyj, Lim and Bianchi took the stage.

The three first discussed how they wound up at BuzzFeed. Ilnyckyj and Bianchi both studied film in college and got hired when the company’s video platform was still developing. They gained experience shooting videos for other BuzzFeed channels like Violet and Tasty before collaborating with Lim on “Worth It.”

Lim took a different path. After studying chemical engineering in college, Lim got a job with Tide. He eventually realized that the soap industry was not his future, moved to Columbus, Ohio and started making videos. A lack of Asian American representation in media inspired him to add his voice into the mix. His videos slowly gained popularity until BuzzFeed contacted him with a job offer.

Ilnyckyj, Lim and Bianchi revealed some unexpected difficulties they face in filming. Weather can often be a challenging factor. Their ramen episode took them to Japan where the heat and humidity made carrying equipment more laborious. Ilnyckyj also mentioned that travel can be “a double-edged sword.” They get to visit different countries but, because of filming, do not often have the time see the sights.

The three also took time to dole out advice to students, urging them not to give up on their passions.

“Try everything and don’t be afraid to fail,” said Lim.

Ilnyckyj likened passion to having a “crush on a subject” and told students to always follow that feeling.

“Don’t be so set on doing one narrow line of work,” said Bianchi.

In true UCI fashion, event organizers had the speakers participate in a boba taste test. They tasted $2 milk tea boba from Lollicup, $5 milk tea boba from 7 Leaves and $23 special order matcha milk tea from Milkbox. A couple of students were invited to participate as well. All three unanimously announced the $5 7 Leaves as the most “worth it.”

ASUCI also held a meet-and-greet after the event where select students were able to snap pictures with the speakers. The new season of “Worth It” begins March 18, and the Speakers Commission plans to continue ZotTalks and bring more speakers to campus next year.