Pavlina Osta Started Her Own Radio Show at Age 11--Now She's a Record-Breaking Storyteller

If you haven’t heard of Pavlina Osta, you will soon. The 17-year-old is making her way around the world, one interview at a time. 

Osta started conducting celebrity interviews at age 11, when she launched her own radio show, Pavlina’s Kidz Place. Earlier this year, she set a Guinness World Record for the most radio interviews in 24 hours (at least five questions an interview, no repeats). Of the more than 400 celebrities she’s interviewed over her career so far, subjects range from KISS to Icona Pop to Katie Couric. Given that MAKERS’ March theme is #HerStory, we thought Pavlina—a passionate, prolific storyteller—seemed like the ideal MAKER in the Making. We talked to her about her love of untold stories, and how she first met Gloria Steinem. 

When did you realize interviews were your favorite medium?

I started really young at the age of 11. And at the time, I spent lots of hours in the dance studio after school. There wasn't a particular moment that I liked interviewing better than everything else I did. In fact, I wasn't good at all in the beginning! But when I was interviewing people, I was getting so much information about them.  They were telling me things that I don't think they told most people. And since I was interviewing celebrities and famous people in their profession, I'd go to school the next day and read about them in my history book and think, "but why didn't they say this about them?" And then it hit me that I knew—and my radio audience knew—something about them that others didn't or would never know until I had brought it out. That was a paradigm shifting moment for me. 

Which women in media do you admire?

Gloria Steinem of course. Not only because of all the history making she's done over the years and continues to do but I got to see her backstage and that's when I was truly surprised.  

I expected a very strong, outspoken women. It was at Rollins College and I'm invited back into the green room. Her rep said she can't do the interview with me before her keynote speech but wanted to meet anyway. So I go back to the green room and they are discussing how to cancel the packed auditorium and how to sign all the books Gloria has at the venue. You see, Gloria is really ill with bad flu. She insists not to cancel and says she'll sign the books in the hospital if she has to. And then, there I am among all this quiet, organized planning. A 12-year-old kid that wants to talk with her. She is so polite. Talking quietly to me. We pose for a picture and then they give her some tea and put her in the wheelchair, take Gloria across the campus to the auditorium and she stands to give her speech. 

Fourteen months later, she's back in Florida to be a keynote speaker in Naples for the Planned Parenthood of Collier County. I ask the Naples venue if I can do an interview with Gloria. The venue said no, because Gloria's contract only said for one media interview and they had that scheduled already but if Gloria ok'd my interview then they'd allow me there. Gloria ok'd it. She arrived at the hotel in Naples straight from the airport. We did the interview in the lobby - filmed by the hotel manager. Afterwards, she asked what I wanted to do, where did I see myself. I told her and she said I was going in the right direction. 

I've had over 400 celebrity interviews since then - and Gloria Steinem has always stayed with me. That quiet strength. That curious mind. The following year, I received a Gracie Award for my interview with Gloria Steinem. 

Why do you think storytelling is important in the world?

Wow! How we've changed from sitting around a campfire in a desert thousands of years ago passing along storytelling and news to sending it all instantly to millions of people by pressing the send button! The world is so much smaller but still how we do it is not so much as still doing it. It's crucial for us to know what someone is doing.  A hero, a villain, a village, a moment in time lost or gained when we capture the story. The mediums are going to change through history but our need for the story will always there, hopefully to inspire and have us think. I like to think, as a young woman in media, of the amazing women in media that I've talked with like Gloria, Katie Couric, Soledad O'Brien, Gretchen Carlson, Erica Farber and others—they've impacted my life through their storytelling, and I'm the new generation impacting who knows how many?  

See more of Pavlina’s original interviews on her YouTube channel