Meet the Girl Behind All Your Favorite Band Videos
From Chance the Rapper to Britney Spears to Frank Sinatra (and millions of artists in between), Genius is the biggest collection of song lyrics—and music knowledge—in the world. And thanks to Regina Dellea, it’s also home to hundreds of videos, where stars break down the story behind their words. Sound like the coolest job ever? Yup. Read how the 27-year-old went from shy teen to Genius’s head of video, and the advice she’s picked up along the way.
What were you like as a teen?
I was a relatively quiet teen. It wasn’t until I moved to New York at 23 that I started to shed some of that shyness and branch out a bit more—probably because if I hadn’t, I would never have done anything but work and sleep. Moving to the city and leaving my friends and family forced me to build new friendships and discover new interests. It turned out to be much more fun that way.
As an adult, what do you wish you could tell your teenage self now?
Ask more questions! I think when I was younger I accepted a lot of things as the status quo or out of my control because I felt like these rules must have been established by people who were smarter than me. New information is available every day and just because something was once true doesn’t mean it is anymore—if something seems wrong, question it. If you turn out to be wrong, it’s OK because you’ll understand something much better if you understand why it is the way it is. At Genius, we actually have a phrase that speaks to this: “Be skeptical of experts.”
How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally?
In high school, I participated in a vocational program where you could take classes for stuff like nursing, software engineering, woodshop, and TV production. To my dad’s dismay, I decided to do TV production instead of engineering and I immediately fell in love with it. I started skipping classes to spend time in the TV room learning Final Cut Pro, and halfway through the first semester of classes I knew that was what I wanted to study in college.
In video, I had a lot of different roles because I spent a long time unsure of exactly what department I wanted to be in. In my senior year of college, I did a full-time internship at SB Nation, Vox Media's sports news site. That’s where I got a real crash course in digital video. I eventually left Vox for Mic, a news site geared towards millennials. My proudest moment at Mic was definitely producing our interview with President Obama.
I left Mic for Genius, where I am now the Head of Video. It was such an exciting opportunity to come to Genius and build a video operation from the ground up. I felt that between Vox and Mic I had so much relevant experience to bring to the table, which gave me the confidence to take on such a big responsibility. But I also realized quickly that I still had a lot to learn. All my previous experience was in news, and Genius is focused on music knowledge. Luckily, there’s an amazing team here at Genius who helped me understand the audience better and teaches me new things about music every day.
What's one thing you wish had known then that you know now about having a career?
I’m a worrier by nature, and when I first started out I was worried about absolutely everything, all of the time. I think I missed a lot of the fun stuff and didn’t appreciate a lot of the lessons because I was so distracted by things that ultimately didn’t really matter, like whether every single person in the office liked me. I wish I had prioritized things differently. If I had, I would’ve spent less time spinning my wheels about things I ultimately couldn’t change and instead channeled that energy towards something more meaningful, like the important relationships in my life, professional and otherwise.
What work advice do you have for teens or for young people just starting out?
You should always feel challenged. When you start to feel bored, learn something. Even if you’re doing your job exactly the way you need to in order to get recognition or get things done, find a new way to do it. You should never stop learning. That probably sounds awful considering you’re about to finish school and you think you’re finally done learning, but I promise you, staying stagnant is a truly awful feeling.
Any last words of wisdom?!
Sometimes it seems there’s a stigma around caring too much, or trying too hard in school, at work, or just in general, and I think that’s crazy. I know it’s cool to sit back and just be brilliant and talented and have the world at your fingertips, but the world doesn’t work that way for most of us. We have to try. But when it pays off, it’s worth it. Then you get to feel like you’ve earned it. It’s so much better that way.