OSWEGO — Like many college students, SUNY Oswego online broadcasting major Joely Rice works hard to stay up to date while juggling other responsibilities.
For her, this includes running a daily advice show to a wide audience on the TikTok app and traveling the world to hold photo shoots empowering young girls.
Known to nearly 300,000 TikTok fans, more than 23,000 Instagram followers and sizable Snapchat and YouTube audiences as Joely Live (@joelylive), Rice also is represented by top modeling agency IMG Models — all while maintaining a 4.0 at Oswego.
TikTok — an app that allows users to make and share videos and have real-time conversations — “changed my life and is my absolute favorite thing that is going on with me right now,” Rice said. “Daily I host a live show just giving advice and talking to people from all over the world.”
Most of her audience, between the ages of 8 and 17, comes from across North America, Europe, South America and Asia (where the app started).
While building an audience and offering advice proved rewarding, she took things a step further by pitching a weekly #PhotoshootWithJoelyLive show to the app.
“This is where I do popup photo shoots with fans who write to me. These live streams average 120,000 viewers in a 45-minute live stream,” Rice said. “The show grew to a full photo shoot experience to empower girls and give them the confidence to feel like they can do whatever they aspire to be and do! They are changing my life as much as they say I am changing theirs. I try to answer all the DMs (direct messages) coming in from my show – especially when moms write in and ask me to reach out to their daughters.”
Her dreams coalesced from conversations a young Rice had with her own mother.
“Growing up I would talk to my mom at night, and I remember just telling her that I want to be inspiring to girls and boys from around the world. So many nights I would dream about what I could do to make this happen,” Rice said.
“Hearing girls and boys tell me that they are inspired by me is a feeling that you could never put into words,” Rice said. “I have mothers writing to me thanking me for encouraging their daughter or son and making them so happy. That really does it for me because just like they are telling their parents they want to meet me and be like me, I told my mom, and still do, all these things I wanted to happen are happening now.”
She credits one of the college’s most famous alumni with her choosing SUNY Oswego.
Rice met NBC “Today” show co-host Al Roker in an airport while she was flying to Mexico, months away from earning her associate’s degree from Tompkins Cortland Community College.
“He was so nice, humble, and I remembered that Roker went to Oswego, which inspired me then to follow in his footsteps,” Rice said.
Given her schedule, the online bachelor’s in broadcasting was a perfect match.
“I can say that you have to work very hard, manage your time, and sometimes it can be even more difficult because you are not hearing a lecture in person – I read everything,” Rice said. “Although, online has made it so I have needed to learn how to network with people, which has really helped me.”
Growing up in Upstate New York means earning a degree at Oswego represents “a great honor to me, especially if I made it big one day I could say I got my degree near my roots at home,” Rice explained. “This broadcasting degree is what I needed to be able to interview people from all over the country for a major network one day.”
Her choice of school and major underscored that she is on the right path.
“My classes have challenged me and made me realize that broadcast and communications is what I am meant to be doing,” she said. Her favorite course was public speaking, which involved filming herself and submitting the results. “Filming myself made me realize I was saying ‘um’ way too much, and studying other great interviewers opened up ideas for me to find my style,” Rice said. “But with hosting, I discovered I want to be a part of these people’s successes and help them share it with the world. Discovering this, though, was not easy. It took a lot.”
Rice said she does most of her schoolwork in the morning to leave her afternoon open for her ongoing shows. Her keys of having a routine, communicating regularly and knowing time management are habits she thinks would help any online learners.
“Time management is everything! With online, without having required class times, it can really make you feel like, ‘Oh, I can do it tomorrow!’ But getting ahead is the best way to do it,” Rice said, “Often times, I found that my professors gave content for a few weeks out so I always took a couple days and crammed to make sure I understood the material. For me, and probably a lot of people, you are going online because you do not have time to attend classes on a campus, so it is important to use all your time wisely and email your professors a lot and you can do better with their input!”
She also gave credit to her academic adviser, Ben Parker of the Division of Extended Learning, who “has taken on a ton of emails from me checking every course and making sure I fit the credits to graduate early in May 2019, which has also made me appreciate Oswego so much more.”
Rice became a model at age 5, almost unintentionally. Her 9-year-old sister wanted to be a model, and “my mom decided if we were going to take four-hour car rides from Upstate New York to New York City that we might as well both get into it,” Rice recalled.
This set the tone for her ambitions.
“As a kid, I always wanted be involved in as much as I could and meet new people, and as I got older I just wanted to do it more and more and kept setting higher goals,” Rice said. “Working became my lifestyle. Instead of wanting to go to field days at school, I wanted to be shooting for Vogue. I was always thinking about what I could be doing!”
Vogue is among the places for which she has modeled, as well as the likes of Target, Children’s Place, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, among many others.
When she was 10, she applied for and won a Sports Illustrated Kids Reporter contest to work for the publishing giant for a year.
“To me, it sounded like a dream,” Rice remembered.
She got to meet and interview retired New York Giants lineman and Super Bowl champion Rich Seubert, and their families still spend some time in the summers together.
Rice also fondly recalled interviewing Robin Meade, anchor for CNN’s Headline News Network, in Atlanta.
“I interviewed her right at her news desk where she still sits daily,” Rice said. “I will never forget that sitting side by side with Robin and talking with a CNN microphone.”
With all those accomplishments plus the worldwide following she continues to inspire, Rice remains ambitious about the future, including a plan to start her own business, for which she just wrapped up a six-week boot camp in New York City.
“If I could predict my future, there is nothing I would want more than owning my own business where I travel the world and continue doing popup photo shoots and inspiring people from around the world to make them feel like they can do anything they set their hearts to,” Rice said. “Oh, and have my own talk show. That is my ultimate dream!”