Out of the blue in March 2018, Malick Mercier ’21 heard from a producer at Instagram. She got right to the point, he recalls: “How would you like to be the host for our March for Our Lives coverage?”
Just a few days later, Mercier [@classymalick on Instagram] was in Washington, D.C. He shared his experiences at the demonstration against gun violence with Instagram’s followers—which at the time numbered more than 230 million.
“I was lifted high into the sky via a scissor lift above the crowd that I now know was hundreds of thousands of people,” Mercier said in interviews with the college right after the march. “I was truly moved at that sight—all those people coming out to fight for something they believed in, and it was organized by students! I could feel the energy, which strengthened me and my work.”
That led to a wave of other opportunities. Media company Mic asked Mercier to host its Instagram coverage of the first stop on the March for Our Lives Road to Change tour. Teen Vogue and shoe brand TOMS cast him in a video urging young adults to vote—and then came JetBlue, Converse, CNN, DoSomething.org, and more.
The Instagram pitch may have come as a surprise, but Mercier has been building a professional portfolio and reel since high school, when the self-professed aviation geek began freelancing for aviation news site AirlineGeeks.com and interning with the public access Manhattan Neighborhood Network.
Ithaca College, he said, offered the chance to build on those skills from day one—and a full-ride scholarship through the Park Scholar Program. “Just seeing that other schools wouldn’t let you get hands-on experience, especially your first year, was just really annoying,” he said. “I think a lot of us are already figuring out ways to tell stories, whether it be on social media or on other platforms, in high school.”
Mercier scaled back his projects temporarily while on leave from the college to recover from a car accident. But he sees that break as a way to find his focus and hone in on his goals amid the opportunities coming his way.
“I’ve been approached by all these different brands and news organizations,” he said. “I’m figuring out who do I actually feel I’m more like? Realizing where your values are and what you align more with is a cool thing that I’ve been able to do,” said Mercier.