Buzzed at BuzzFeed: Alumnus’ weekly video series takes Internet by storm


Source: Taylor Miller for BuzzFeed

Matt Bellassai (Medill ‘12) is a senior editor at BuzzFeed whose popular web series “Whine About It” has catapulted him to Internet stardom.

Hayley Glatter, Managing Editor


A large glass of wine can be used to de-stress after a long day of work or —  if you’re BuzzFeed senior editor Matt Bellassai — during a long day of work.

With more than 95 million Facebook views and a People’s Choice Award nomination under his belt, Bellassai (Medill ’12) is a bonafide online sensation whose weekly video series, “Whine About It,” has skyrocketed in popularity since its debut in May.

“I never would have thought we would have the amount of views we have every week or that people would be so rabid about expecting a new video,” Bellassai said. “That’s kind of insane.”

In each installment of the weekly series, which appropriately debuts every Wine Wednesday, Bellassai consumes alcohol at his desk in the BuzzFeed office and proceeds to explain why everything from people on Instagram to college students is generally terrible.

Bellassai said the videos are filmed around 1 p.m. on Mondays, leaving him less than sober for the rest of the day.

“When we first started, we tried filming around 6 p.m. so I could drink real wine and just go home, but I was a bit of a diva and I didn’t like the lighting on my face at the end of the day,” Bellassai said. “So we ended up filming it in the middle of the day. I still drink real wine and have to kind of spend the rest of the day a little bit drunk.”

But years before Bellassai would “get drunk at (his) desk and complain about stuff,” he was involved in Northwestern’s Associated Student Government.

“I was involved in ASG because I really loved being at Northwestern and I wanted everybody else to be as excited as I was to be there and have my glossy sunglasses on,” Bellassai said. “(I) saw everything as bright and sunny and wanted everybody else to see it the same way.”

Bellassai’s involvement in ASG hit its crescendo during the spring of 2011, when he campaigned for ASG president.

Former ASG President and former Daily staffer Ani Ajith considers Bellassai a mentor and said working as the platform director on his presidential campaign was an inspirational experience.

“(Bellassai) makes sure whatever he spends time on he’s passionate about,” Ajith said. “It was very clear that he not only had an innate grasp of the issues and the complexities… but also cared deeply about the student experience and what it meant to be at Northwestern.”

Bellassai lost the election, an experience he sarcastically described as “so much fun.” However, as a result of the loss, Bellassai was able to refocus his energy on what would ultimately become his career: the Internet.

“My senior year was the year that, after I lost, I kind of just fooled around on the Internet, and that was kind of my origin,” Bellassai said. “It worked out in the end.”

If Facebook likes and Twitter followers are any indication, it certainly has.

Bellassai first interviewed with BuzzFeed when what is now one of the most popular sites online had about a tenth of the employees it does today, Bellassai said.

“I was around employee 120 or something like that, and now there’s 1,200, 1,300 employees,” Bellassai said. “The exciting thing for someone like me who’s been around for a few years is that my job has changed so dramatically.”

Bellassai started at BuzzFeed as a writer and said over the course of his three years with the publication his voice has stood out to readers online and he was encouraged to start a Facebook fan page to further engage people.

Michele Weldon, a Medill professor emerita in service, taught Bellassai in multiple courses at NU and said his writing prowess was evident early.

“From the start, Matt was incredibly talented and had a really distinctive, writerly voice,” Weldon said. “It’s no surprise that he’s doing so well.”   

Bellassai expects his Facebook page will hit more than 1.5 million likes by the end of the year, a total that would have seemed incredibly out of reach just a few months ago.

Ajith said watching his mentor’s meteoric rise has been incredible.

“It’s crazy that Matt’s a celebrity and a social media star to millions of people worldwide, and a lot of us had the opportunity and blessing to go to school with him before he was cool,” Ajith said. “We were the ‘Matt hipsters,’ if you will.”

The “hipsters” now certainly have plenty of company in Bellassai’s fan club, which includes around 170,000 Twitter followers and more than 1.1 million Facebook users.

Since the first season finale of “Whine About It” debuted Oct. 7, these fans have been waiting for the next installment, which Bellassai said will have the same essence, but will play around with more props, costumes and special guest stars.

And as for the Facebook commenters who have called on Bellassai to be NU’s 2016 commencement speaker? Well, he’s certainly ready to play the waiting game with President Morton Schapiro.

“I don’t have any strategy planned out,” Bellassai said with a chuckle. “I’m just going to wait until he comes around.”

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