Bilan Cali, of bilan.caliii, on Navigating Content Creation and Imposter Syndrome, and Studying Law as a Black Woman
Bilan Cali, of bilan.caliii, shares her experience as a black woman studying and entering the law field. Keep reading to learn about her journey creating content, navigating the law industry, and setting brand rates.
Who is Bilan Cali?
Bilan Cali is a second-year student of law with politics studying at a university in London. Her social media content didn’t start as study content, but she soon found the process of creating content about her university experiences enjoyable.
“I found that I faced so many different challenges, and it was a lot tougher than I thought, so it’s been nice to share my experience and know that I’m not alone and also be helpful [to] other people who have experienced those same difficulties.”
She shares that she has always enjoyed editing and creating content.
“I just found that this was one way I could combine my two passions: being a student and editing and creating videos. So, it started off as just a hobby. My friends would follow the account, and they would just see the videos I’d make and be like, it’s amazing.”
Her first viral TikTok was a humorous video that she did just for her friends, but she accidentally posted it publicly. This viral post led 10,000 people to follow her overnight.
Navigating the Law Industry as a Black Woman
Bilan shares that she entered university with many misconceptions about entering and qualifying to practice law.
“I was very shocked, and I was thinking, how did I not know this? I started thinking about my process and speaking with people who are more privileged than me and hearing their experiences. I saw a big gap in terms of resources, in terms of education, in terms of career support.”
She notes that she hadn’t realized how uneven the playing field was for people entering the law industry. For example, law internships are highly competitive.
@bilan.caliii Friendly reminder that hard work reaps great rewards #fyp #foryoupage #xyzbca #aesthetic #vlog #thatgirl #study #lawstudent #lawschool #studytok #law ♬ Sahara – Hensonn
“I’m black and a woman, and it was very difficult for me to come to terms with that because I… was very lucky to grow up in such a diverse area, and so I’d never really experienced any systemic racism on the scale that I did entering law.”
Bilan recommends finding organizations that help women or people of color enter specific industries, like legal banking and consulting.
When asked about her most viral content, Bilan shared that her two videos with the most views were both made spur of the moment. One video showcased her obsession with being successful.
@bilan.caliii Whoopsyyyy 👀 #fyp #foryoupage #xyzbca #aesthetic #study #vlog #lawschool #lawstudent #studytok ♬ Disconnected Immediately – Cam💕10th Ramuda Clone✨
“I just put clips of me working, working, working, like time lapses or me studying, and I think I like to call it ‘stupid’ because, to me, I know the context behind those videos.”
People often ask her on these video comment sections if she only studies, which makes her laugh because she cooks, plays video games, and does many other things outside of studying.
Recently, Bilan started sharing videos about using specific tools, like an iPad, during university, which are performing very well, prompting her to create mini-series around specific tools.
She notes, “That was really interesting to see how people perceive me as well, so that’s something I’ve realized as well is that I put out a lot of content [where] I rarely put my face out there, and it’s only recently that I’ve started just being a bit more transparent with my audience.”
She shares that she wants to continue putting her face out there and sharing her difficulties, especially as she enters her third year of university.
Navigating Content Creation
When asked about her secret to success, Bilan shares that being yourself is crucial.
“I would say just being myself. There’s no kind of creative process that happens behind the videos I make. A lot of the time, the videos that blew up are the videos I ended up editing in under 10 minutes, and I was like, let me just put this out there.”
She explains that being honest and unafraid to speak her mind, especially in the comment section, is a key part of being true to herself.
@bilan.caliii Here’s your reminder that TikTok will always be here but exams will go #fyp #foryoupage #xyzbca #aesthetic #vlog #thatgirl #study #lawstudent #lawschool #studytok #law #singingtexttospeech ♬ Love You So – The King Khan & BBQ Show
In addition, Bilan notes, “I think people can relate to me because they see someone who doesn’t live at uni. I don’t come from a privileged background. I don’t go to a top 10 uni, but I still wake up every day and try my best.”
Bilan shares that she has worked with a variety of brands, notably Oxford Scholastica and Quizlet. Spreading those resources and positivity to a broad audience has been a fantastic experience for her.
“TikTok is such a powerful tool, so even if 5,000 people watched that video, maybe 500 of them will see [it] and think that would be really useful to me and that in itself is amazing.”
The goals for the Oxford Scholastica collaboration were to get as many children as possible to sign up, with a particular emphasis on children from underrepresented backgrounds signing up to help them achieve their university goals.
“I feel really fulfilled when I get to work with companies like that, and I strictly work with brands who I believe in, and I believe in their message, and I believe that they can make a true difference to people.”
She focuses on transparency and creating helpful content around the brand’s product that shows why the app or product will benefit her followers too. For example, she may post an in-depth tutorial on using online flashcards to improve her studying, rather than just saying a product is good.
The Challenging Part About Being a Creator
Bilan shares that one of the most challenging parts about being a creator is knowing exactly how much to charge for brand work. She shares there is currently a lack of transparency and disparity in pay rates.
“I very much struggled in that aspect [setting rates], and I’ve also seen that compared to my white counterparts, especially black people and also black women especially, they get paid a lot less than their white counterparts might.”
She shares that negotiating with brands is also tricky, and imposter syndrome can play into this.
“It’s also important to keep in mind that with brands, it’s very difficult to negotiate with them as well because they [the brands] tend to hold all the power, and especially me coming from a non-privileged background, you don’t see a lot of money, so when you see the money they’re offering, you think it’s a lot, but really when you compare it to the wider frame of things, it’s pennies.”
Bilan notes that she has had to turn around many brands because of this and is working to stick to what she knows she is worth. She hopes that by turning brands down, they will think twice when approaching the next creator.
“That’s me setting my standard.”
“My message through this interview is that if anyone is feeling any type of imposter syndrome like they want to create that content, but they feel they’re not good enough – to do it because what you say has meaning and you have a voice… it’s about you feeling empowered enough to use it.”