By Bailey Cummings
Published October 1, 2019
“I write about fat rights,” Gianluca Russo says with a laugh.
At age 19, Russo was published in Teen Vogue. Now, at age 21, his words can be found in magazine titans such as GQ, Glamour, InStyle, NYLON, and more.
Russo, a UAlbany journalism program alum, spoke at The College of Saint Rose last Thursday, September 26. The lecture, which took place in a communications class taught by professor Mark Congdon Jr.’s, focused on Russo’s experience in the media world and making connections.
“I put up a poll [on Twitter],” Russo says as he walks to his car after the lecture. “It said, ‘Speaking to two journalisms classes today. Should I go on a rant about fat rights?’”
He lets out a chuckle.
While Russo may be writing in the big leagues now, he wasn’t always on the journalism track.
“After I graduated from high school, I went to Schenectady County Community College where I studied law for two years,” says Russo. ‘I could tell after the first month that it was not going to be a viable career for me.”
In need of a creative outlet, Russo turned to writing.
“I started a blog that was focused on theater and Broadway. After a few months of doing that,” he says, “I knew that I wanted to expand and write about more and that kind of spiraled into the career I have now.”
Russo traces his magazine writing roots back to a class he took while attending UAlbany.
“At UAlbany, I took a magazine writing class with Professor Steve Barnes, who works at the Times Union,” Russo says. “He always treated me like a professional, not like a student.”
Barnes’ teaching style and course content helped Russo get to where he is now.
“With his help, I was able to get an internship at the Times Union, freelance for more publications, get more publicity and traction,” he says. “He really showed me the possibilities of what I could do with my writing and through the work that I was creating.”
While Russo may have started his career off with the Teen Vogue piece, Excelsior Scholarship: What You Should Know, he mostly covers fashion and body culture.
“My work right now primarily focuses on plus-size fashion and representation,” Russo says.
“I think now more than ever in our society and in the current state of media, we have a responsibility to uplift marginalized and diverse voices,” he continues. “So I realize that I hold a lot of privilege within this community as a white man coming from a middle class family.”
According to Russo, 67% of American women are plus-size and the extended sizes market is estimated to be worth $21 billion.
“Now more than ever, we need to start to cover plus-size fashion in a really deep and extensive way in order to show that the future of fashion is truly inclusive,” he says.
Russo’s advice for young, aspiring journalists: find your niche and blaze a trail, just like he has.
“I advise that every young journalist or writer take the time to find out how exactly they want to use their platform and their voice,” he says. “Finding out the ‘why’ of your life will lead you to a successful future, however you choose to define success.”
Check out his website: