Last May, I came into the Nerdist offices for the first time. Though I had been a freelance writer for them for a few months, it was mostly through email. (It’s very different to “work somewhere” when you’re churning out stories in your favorite skeleton PJs on your couch.) I came into the office to help out with editing during a particularly busy time for the site (Godzilla week, anyone?) and the thing that struck me was the sense that I had found my people. That week, after several months of freelancing, job hunting, and a bit of an existential crisis, I found myself telling anyone who would listen that what I loved most about the office was that, no matter what I did or said in a given day, it would not be the weirdest thing that happened. Everyone had their quirks, their obsessive interests, their own sense of humor and silliness. When they brought me on as the new Managing Editor, I fell head over heels for this awesome collection of nerds, and now, almost a year to the day later, I’m stepping in as the new Nerdist Editor-in-Chief. There are almost no words.
… Ok, so there ARE words. I’m a fairly verbose lady, at least on the page. When I heard that these ch-ch-changes were happening, I spoke to Brian Walton, the incumbent Editor-in-Chief (who’s not going anywhere, more on that later) and Chris Hardwick, the OG Nerdist himself, about how to go about sharing this news with you guys. You see, I’ve been here for nearly a year, but because I’m not on a show, usually editing in the office, and a little bit shy, you might not know who I am. And as usual, they both gave me sound advice – just introduce yourself!
So, hello. I’m Rachel Heine. My bio says I’m a “pop culture junkie, snack lover, and nap aficionado.” All of those things are true. I’m also a bit of a goofball, and, unfortunately, extremely clumsy. I blame the height. As Managing Editor, I also ran the TV, Food, and Book sections for Nerdist. I’ve got a Literature/Creative Writing degree from the UCSB College of Creative Studies, have been writing/editing about movies, TV, food, and books (sense a trend here?) for the past 5 years. Favorite pop culture-y things range from provocative/sad dramas (Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, Paul Thomas Anderson), sci-fi/fantasy (BSG, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, anything by Ray Bradbury), horror (The Thing, Alien, The Omen, Hellraiser), British/oddball humor (Eddie Izzard, Clue, Monty Python), and of course, the classics (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc.).
The former goth/punk/emo kid in me also loves Disney, old Tim Burton flicks, and dressing up in spooky attire. (Don’t even get me started on Halloween.) I have an Admiral Ackbar collection that includes watercolor paintings, action figures, vinylmations, pins, plush toys, magnets, and a sushi set. My childhood heroes were Wednesday Addams, Lydia Deetz, and Matilda (both from the Roald Dahl book/film and The Professional.) My favorite food is ……… everything. I’m terrified of giant squid and spiders and stuff, which means Science Editor Kyle Hill has a whale of a time sending me scary gifs. I watch more TV than I know what to do with, and I’m not afraid to watch the hell out of a “bad” show.
That sort of speaks to what I love about Nerdist, and about adding sections like Food or Music to our site. Because being a nerd, to me, means being extremely passionate about something — anything — despite what everyone else thinks. It’s about fostering a community of like-minded (but not identical) folks who were maybe outcasts, or weirdos, or read every comic book in the DC/Marvel universe, or played video games alone in their room, or even tried to get their friends to play library with them and their beloved collection of books. (Just saying.) You can have different interests, different levels of fandom, different viewpoints on characters and properties, but the thing that unites us and makes us Nerdist is that we love this stuff. We want to learn more about the things we love and discover new pop culture gems, and that only happens if we maintain the positivity and openness that Chris Hardwick, Brian Walton, Dan Casey, Jessica Chobot, and all the other Nerdist folks created.
Now, for the nitty gritty. Brian Walton is moving up to a very important role as Vice President of Editorial Operations, where he will oversee all the Legendary Digital Network sites — Nerdist, Geek & Sundry, and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party. He’ll still be helping out on the Nerdist end, and you can be damn sure you’ll see him throwing dance parties and MCing like a champ at all our events. He has been instrumental in getting Nerdist to where it is today, and I certainly would not be here without him. (Thank you, Brian, for everything. You are, as they say, the best.)
Since I’ve been here for the past year, I feel like I’ve grown alongside our AMAZING, hard-working, brilliant, wonderful editorial team of Dan Casey, Malik Forte, Matthew Grosinger, Kyle Hill, and all of our talented freelance writers, and we are determined to keep creating and sharing content that you are interested in. It’s sort of mind-blowing to see what a many-headed beast Nerdist truly has become, and I’m so thrilled to be taking the torch and carrying it onwards and upwards into the future. As we keep adding more people and videos and verticals and events and things, I want you to know that the spirit and camaraderie of Nerdist isn’t going anywhere. It’s just getting bigger and better! Extra special thanks to Chris Hardwick, Adam Rymer, Seth Laderman, and Brian Walton for this amazing opportunity!
I’d love to get to know all of YOU better, so if you’re at all interested in cat gifs and soliloquies about pizza, you can follow me on all these social media sites:
Instagram: _rachelheine (damn you, other Rachel!)
Please introduce yourselves, let me know what you’d like to see on Nerdist, and tell me what YOUR nerdy dreams are. Because honestly, and I mean this from the bottom of my sappy little heart — this is a dream come true for me. And I’ll do my best to make you all proud.