Posted 26 April 2023
Interview by Creative Lives in Progress
Mention Zac Haniff

PinkNews format producer Zac Haniff on interviewing RuPaul’s Drag Race icons and launching Charlotte Tilbury’s TikTok

Who knew a part-time job as a make-up artist with Charlotte Tilbury could lead to shooting the icon’s first-ever TikTok? Zac Haniff found himself doing just that – all while he was wrapping up his degree in film and TV. This experience – alongside an extensive knowledge of internet and pop culture – led him to his current role at LGBTQ+ media brand PinkNews, where he wowed interviewers by proactively creating a TikTok video for them to demonstrate an idea he had. At PinkNews, Zac produces and presents for their Snapchat channel and celebrity game show, Rumor Has It where he’s interviewed the likes of Rebecca Black and Bob The Drag Queen. Here, Zac tells us how being “chronically online” has massively informed his practice – plus why you should get creative experience as soon as you’re able to.

Zac Haniff

Zac Haniff

Job Title

Format Producer, PinkNews



Previous Employment

Social Media Assistant, Charlotte Tilbury Beauty (2017–2020)

Place of Study

BA Film and Television, University of the Arts London (2017–2020)

Social Media



What I do

How would you describe your job at PinkNews?
At PinkNews, I’m a producer and presenter for the company’s leading Snapchat channel. I create fast-paced, high-energy, engaging celebrity news-based content for our over three million subscribers, keeping our Gen Z audience constantly up-to-date with the hottest celebrity tea.

After being with the company for nearly three years, I worked my way up from production assistant to senior level, now hosting regular training sessions for our junior team members, onboarding new starters and ensuring that the production value of our videos is met to the highest professional and editorial standards. I’m also the leading producer of our celebrity game show, Rumor Has It, where I’ve interviewed mega-stars like Bob The Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Rebecca Black.

When I first joined, we were a small team of seven. And now? Almost 30. I can say with ease that it’s one of the best teams I’ve ever worked with.

“I’m a producer and presenter for PinkNews’ leading Snapchat channel, creating engaging celebrity news-based content for over three million subscribers.”

Zac’s BeReal post featuring his filming set-up

What are the main inspirations behind your work?
I’ve basically been chronically online since the Tumblr and Kik days (IYKYK) and that passion never seemed to leave me. With that, my inspirations are everywhere. In film, music, television, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok. Sometimes even conversations with my friends about what’s currently happening in the world will inspire me.

Zac Haniff format producer creativelivesinprogress Zacs team at Pink News

The PinkNews production team, from left: Ross McNeilage, Dav Rich, Nic Keaney, Oliver Warley and Zac Haniff

Zac Haniff format producer creativelivesinprogress Pink News whole team

The whole PinkNews team

What recent project or piece of work are you most proud of?
There are a few! First, my latest episode of Rumor Has It with Rebecca Black (below). It’s a celebrity-based game show where we gather the wildest rumours about a celebrity from across the globe and ask them to debunk them right in front of us. In this episode, Rebecca revisits the absurdity of [2011 single] Friday, talks dating Pete Davidson and debunks the wildest Angelia Jolie rumour. It was a lot of fun, but more importantly, amazing being able to watch Rebecca reclaim her image as pop music’s shining new star.

Second, my recent Snapchat episode on Billie Eilish (below). The episode details her experience facing misogyny and verbal abuse from fans after posting a few harmless selfies to Instagram. It felt good to not only educate our audience on a niche story that other publishers weren’t platforming, but also to shed light on the brutal reality of being a female artist in the 21st century era of technology and social media. The episode was a success, with drop-off rates of as low as 1.1% per Snap.

And lastly, this is going to sound pretentious, but I love video essays... I seriously think I watch about three a day. I love watching someone dive into a niche topic, explore unique ideas and give their own opinion. With that, I sometimes take time out of my usual 9-to-5 to write, film and produce video essays of my own. I created one about the upcoming Barbie movie (below) and one about the success of Netflix’s Wednesday too.

What kind of skills are needed to do your role?
An eye for creativity is a must. It’s craftsmanship that is sometimes hard to develop, but once you get there, your job feels exactly like the hobbies you enjoyed growing up – and there’s always time to grow. Hey, I’ve been in the game for over a decade and I still look at episodes I created three months ago and think, “why didn’t I do it like this instead of that?” But this is where being a self-critical perfectionist comes in handy.

I’d also say having good storytelling skills [is important] too. You’re not just editing quick-fire TikToks; these are extensive videos, sometimes with in-depth topics that require a lot of research. Knowing exactly how to sell a story to millions of viewers – so that it is informative and entertaining at the same time – is a real skill that takes plenty of practice. But once you get there, you got it.

“Knowing how to sell a story to millions of consumers, so that it is informative and entertaining at the same time, is a real skill that takes plenty of practice.”

Adobe Premiere Pro timeline view of Zac’s PinkNews Snapchat video on Netflix’s Wednesday

How I got here

How did you land the job at PinkNews?
Before PinkNews, I was a third-year uni student. And not just any student, but a Covid 2020 student too (yeah, that was intense.) I felt like Rapunzel in that scene in Tangled where she finally escapes the castle but can’t decide whether she’s living or dying... you know the one?

It was a very difficult couple of months, but luckily I had a lot of experience working on the social media team at Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, which gave me an advantage over other graduates. I’d created Instagram stories, product swatches and stills, worked at London Fashion Week, global advocacy VIP product launch parties and even launched their TikTok channel, filming with Charlotte herself. Oh, and I think my CV was pretty. Lol!

Zac Haniff format producer creativelivesinprogress WIN THE ENTIRE COLLECTION

Product stills and swatches created by Zac for Charlotte Tilbury

Zac Haniff format producer creativelivesinprogress Copper Charge Eyeshadow Palette

Zac Haniff format producer creativelivesinprogress Bridal Lipstick Swatches

In my interview [at PinkNews], I had to pitch three video ideas to the executive producers, with stories that were relevant to the current social and political climate. Not only did I pitch three ideas, I actually created the third idea: a TikTok ‘natural summer complexion’ makeup tutorial for any and all genders. I left it until the end of the interview to reveal that I’d gone the extra step. The interviewers were blown away, and I think that’s what secured it for me. You always gotta think one step ahead of other candidates and do the unexpected.

“Not only did I pitch three ideas in my job interview, I actually created the third idea. You gotta think one step ahead of other candidates and do the unexpected.”

Zendaya Being A Trans Ally, Snapchat video produced and edited by Zac

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
Remember I talked about my obsession with video essays? I always find myself gravitating towards YouTube channels like Vox, Looper and my personal favourite, Insider. You’re bound to find inspiration from any video on any of these channels, like this one by Insider which explores Pixar’s ‘secret formula for making perfect films’.

Impact’s Instagram page is another great source for inspiration. In a post-pandemic world, where there is a lot of financial uncertainty, and the political climate is scarier than ever, I find having your information laid out for you in simple ways to be more effective, entertaining and inspiring.

RuPaul’s Drag Race. (The heck, why not?) It’s one of the best shows on the planet. And having a weekly Super Bowl that brings all corners of the queer community together for most months of the year is incredible. Not just that, but DragCon UK, Klub Kids’ Drag Fest and even the local queer bars. Inspiration comes from all corners of life – even socialising.

“I always find myself gearing towards YouTube channels like Vox, Looper and my personal favourite, Insider.”

What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
I’d say my biggest challenge has been maintaining stamina. Sometimes I feel like I’m always running, but at the same time that’s the pace I want to be going. Although it uses a lot of energy, I just need to make sure I’m taking enough breaks along the way.

What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative?
If you can’t support yourself, then how you gonna support somebody else?! Sometimes it’s disheartening, especially starting out in such an intimidating industry in a large city, but once you find your niche and hone in on your strengths, everything eventually falls into place.

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
Never settle for less than best because that’s boring.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
My advice for others wanting to do the same would be to get experience. It doesn’t matter where it is, what it is, if it’s not where you want to be right now, go out and get it.

I worked as a career accelerator professional mentor for LGBTQ+ youth late last year, and my one piece of advice was to get experience early. If I hadn’t worked as a part-time make-up artist for Charlotte Tilbury for three years during my studies, I would have never landed my role on their social media team. And if I hadn’t ever done that, then I wouldn’t be with PinkNews, and I wouldn’t be here typing this right now.

Interview by Creative Lives in Progress
Mention Zac Haniff