How Marissa Ross Went From Mindy Kaling's Assistant to Bon Appétit Editor
We first stumbled across Marissa Ross on YouTube, where the L.A. resident had posted a series of videos in which she reviewed wine—literally while she was drinking it. The concept was irreverent and casual, the exact opposite of the drink's stuffy reputation. But as cool as Marissa seemed on the internet, this comedy writer is even cooler offline. And now more people are noticing it, too. She eventually left her job as Mindy Kaling’s assistant (nbd) to pursue comedy, wine, and the collision of the two, full-time. These days you can find her writing in Bon Appétit, on her blog Wine-All the Time, or in her new book, UnWined. (Noticing a theme here?) But no matter what topic you’re writing about—even something as fancy as wine—Marissa proves you can do it with a serious dose of humor.
What were you like as a teen?
I was super emo, very dramatic and sarcastic. I was very involved in theater and wanted to be an actress and writer. When I wasn't performing, I was usually going to concerts my parents would embarrassingly drop me off and pick me up from, and writing everything down on Livejournal. I spent a lot of time on the internet. Some things never change!
As an adult, what do you wish you could tell your teenage self now?
Nothing. That sounds arrogant, but I wouldn't want to influence my decisions. I made a lot of bad ones, don't get me wrong, but they make me who I am today. Also, I never listened to anyone anyway—so it would be frustrating and fruitless I'm sure!
How exactly did you get to where you are now, professionally?
Honestly, most days I don't know. I just genuinely always did what I wanted to do, believed in myself, and did not care what other people thought. I dropped out of college and moved to Los Angeles to pursue comedy. I started drinking wine because I was too poor for anything else, and ended up really loving it and being interested in it. As a writer, it was a natural progression to start a blog about my wine drinking since I enjoyed it so much, but I didn't expect it to go anywhere. No one read it—it wasn't like one of those super successful fashion blogs or anything. It was just this fun thing I did for myself. I was still trying to sell pilots and get hired in television writing when I was profiled by Grub Street for my wine writing last February. Since then it's been a whirlwind—I sold a book and now I'm the wine editor at Bon Appétit. I never could have predicted or planned it, and I couldn't be happier.
What's one thing you wish had known then that you know now about having a career?
The work doesn't stop. You don't reach a point and then are good; you have to keep working. Because with each new opportunity and next level, you have to be that much better. Suddenly there's skills you never knew you needed until you're thrown into it and you're like, "Holy shit, I need to be awesome at this now, too!" You just have to work your ass off. Always work your ass off.
What work advice do you have for teens or for young people just starting out?
Do what you love. Do it incessantly; do it with gratitude and without expectation; do it with integrity, and do it knowing damn well that if you keep doing it, you'll get to where you're going.
Yo, Marissa's over 21. Make sure you're not drinking wine unless you're of age, because that's illegal (obviously). But you don't need us to tell you that. xoxo