It has been around three years since a user by the name of @ShumDarioNews was added to Twitter’s ever growing number of accounts. Since then, a lot has changed; the account has grown, both in size and variations, and not to mention how things have changed for the people running it. Countless of things have happened since the account saw the light of day – here’s a little look back on how all those things and changes came to be.
27,000 followers on Twitter, 11,000 on Instagram, interviews with the cast and crew of Shadowhunters, regular original content, giveaways, convention coverage – people know SDN for a bunch of things these days. But that wasn’t always the case. Back in mid 2016, it was actually quite the opposite – ShumDario News started as a fun project between three friends. Ever since, it has developed into something much bigger than any of them would have ever expected. Join us on a trip down memory lane as we belatedly – that’s what you get for creating an account on February 29th – celebrate SDN’s third birthday, taking you through the 3 years that turned SDN into the account it is today.
Starting from the very beginning
SDN started on a whim, if you will. And with three friends that had just started watching Shadowhunters, as SDN’s founder and main admin Davina recalls: “We were huge Glee fans back in the day and were curious about Harry being in the show. It was amazing to witness Harry finally getting the recognition he deserves and to see Matthew growing as an actor. I don’t know how to explain it, but we just knew we had to keep following their careers.”
So they did. But the decision to create an update account about both Matthew and Harry wasn’t always a given. In the beginning, there was a back-and-forth discussion of focusing solely on one or the other. Eventually, creating one for the both of them was the natural choice. All of the founding members were always very clear that they wanted the focus to be Matthew and Harry and not Magnus and Alec, though, since the aim was to update about their careers and not only Shadowhunters.
Back then, ShumDario News was just another update account. One of many, even though it was one of the few ones – if not the only one – that focused on both Matthew and Harry. But over time the follower base grew steadily, quite in contrast to the number of the people on the team. Up until the summer of 2017, ShumDario News consisted only of a quarter of the people it does today. It wasn’t until after The Hunters of Shadow convention in Paris in June 2017 that more people joined the account. As main admin Davina recalls it, being so few people was crazy: “I don’t know how we pulled it off back then.” Keeping up with everything Matthew and Harry did, as well as everything Magnus and Alec-related, resulted in a challenge in terms of time management. Everyone’s free time solely went toward the account, something Davina today looks back on as something that wasn’t healthy at all: “We made mistakes, we were stressed and it was just too much.”
That period of time resulted in a lot of learning experience, though. As Davina puts it, that hectic time has resulted in her learning how to manage a team better, as well as stress. It was also an eye-opener in terms of taking a step back when it becomes too much and taking care of her team. Both then and now, ShumDario News has always aimed to both update and deliver original content, which requires a lot of time and involvement. In the midst of that, it’s important be able to navigate it all.
Adding to the family
All the while, SDN’s follower count kept growing by the thousand and the team continued to struggle with keeping up. When the number of followers reached new records yet again after SDN covered the very first Shadowhunters convention in Paris in June 2017, the admins realized it was time to do something about the stress they were under and the struggle to manage everything if they wanted to keep the account going.
That realization resulted in a global call for new members and the reactions to that call exceeded even the team’s wildest expectations. The criteria were simple: potential team members needed to be able to contribute skills to the account, be fluent in English and have enough time on their hands. What no one was expecting was that this process would result in over one hundred applications from people wanting to join the team. Going through them all was a time-demanding task, and it took most of the summer to decide which ones would be the best fit for the team.
Eventually, about twelve people from literally all over the world joined the account – quite an exciting time for all of them, as some of our current admins remember. Their reasons for applying to the account were as numerous as the number of nationalities on the team. All of them were of course fans of Matthew and Harry, but beyond that, each of them had their own personal motivations. Such as graphic designer Isabela, who said she “saw it as an opportunity to contribute a bit more to the fandom that I was already part of and get to know other fans. Davina, our big boss, scheduled a Skype call with me so we could meet and she could explain what I would do as part of the team. Right after that call, I was in. It was very quick and easy.”
Or co-admin Chloé, who noted she “became an eager SDN follower while watching the show and then ended up becoming friends with one of the main admins.” She actually was offered her position on the team during a casual catching up over coffee, after said admin had realized how much of a fan of Matthew and Harry Chloé already was.
As for co-admin Sami, joining the team was about looking for a way to challenge herself. Having helped with coverage of some of the meet and greets during the conventions in 2017 and having been friends with Davina for a while, she had already seen a lot of what went on behind the scenes of SDN and was impressed by the team’s work. As she puts it herself: “To have been given the chance to become a part of this team, and the amount of trust Davina and Sophie had in me from the get-go, meant a lot to me and I was eager to prove myself worthy.”
Other people have joined and left the team since that summer, but at its core, the team has remained the same. While there are certainly times that are trying and periods when part or most of the team are running on little to no sleep, it has also allowed for the team to come together and bond as a family.
The first big test: NYCC 2017
With the team having expanded a bit and fresh pairs of eyes having been included to help cover everything, it was safe to say that the team had everything under control.
… in an ideal world. One of SDN’s biggest challenges to date arrived in the form of New York Comic Con 2017. Matthew Daddario along with Katherine McNamara, Isaiah Mustafa, and Alisha Wainwright were set to attend, and the fans were promised the first glimpse at the by then long-awaited third season of Shadowhunters. Given the size and importance of New York Comic Con for the entertainment industry, that meant a lot of media and social media content – which is the best, but at the same time the absolute worst thing that can happen to any update account. Especially if that update account consists of a team that was assembled just a little over two months prior.
As co-admin Sami puts it, the coverage will “forever remain iconic.” It ended up being the first major event covered without any of the two SDN main admins present – and the first event coverage at all for most of the team members present that weekend. To cover every photo, article, interview, and update, the team buckled in for what ended up being a 16 hours long Skype call. And the few and far between breaks when there was a quiet moment weren’t spent sleeping; instead, the team would cheer each other on, and up, to keep going.
New York Comic Con was definitely a jump into cold water for the majority of the team, but it also helped turning them into the well-oiled machine they are today when it comes to updating. Thanks to that weekend, it soon took the team members mere minutes to find and upload any updates to the account – a skill that has since come in handy more times than they can count.
THOS 2: Meeting face to face
After finishing off 2017 with a few giveaways and a fanmade advent calendar with adorable Malec-related drawings and little ficlets, the SDN team ventured into a new year. A year that, looking back now, turned out to be one of the most demanding, infuriating, but also successful years yet. With about 15,000 followers at the time, the account was doing well follower-wise, but would almost double those numbers until the end of the year. And while the increase in follower numbers made the team very proud, the highlight of their year was actually something else that happened about halfway through 2018.
For any Shadowhunters fan, summers have become synonymous with conventions. For the SDN team, they’ve also become synonymous with providing coverage of everything going on during those conventions, as a way to involve fans unable to attend. In June 2018, The Hunters of Shadow 2 convention was held in Paris. Besides being an opportunity for fans to meet the cast, it was also a special event in more aspects than one. With several of the team members being French, they’d already met before. But as the team grew over the course of 2017 and beginning of 2018, most of the members had never before met. Come June, this all changed.
While meeting Matthew and Harry (for some the first time, for others again) was definitely an experience, those two had to take somewhat of a back seat to the team finally meeting face to face, getting to hug each other after countless of nights spent working together and encouraging each other. As Isabela puts it: “Getting to see everyone, these people that I was talking to basically everyday and actually hang out with them was really amazing.”
After flying in from their various home countries, most of the team met in Paris on the Friday before the convention and spent basically the entire weekend together, the majority of them even camping out at the apartment of one of the main admins. Countless of hugs were exchanged that day, but since the team is nothing if not motivated, that first evening was also spent working. Fun fact: One of that evening’s results was the finalization of the idea for one of our most successful projects to date: the #SHTVFlockToUnlock photo series. Even funnier fact: That project, which the fandom so greatly appreciated, barely wouldn’t have happened at all if the team hadn’t managed to procure a polaroid camera from one of the admin’s friends that evening (so as you guys see, we’re not always as organized as we may seem).
The convention itself was a whirlwind of laughs, surreal moments, hectic to excited text messages, and the occasional nervous breakdown. The latter being due to the realization that a certain Harry Shum Jr, contrary to what the SDN team believed, was actually well aware of the account – and quite curious about how the team managed to pull it all off. Co-admin Sami remembers having just sat down to start with our interview questions, when Harry “started a little interview himself. He was genuinely interested in who we are and how we work, all the while Shelby was throwing in a question or two as well.”
The convention may have been the reason why everyone came to Paris, but as all of the members confirmed, the actual highlight of that weekend was finally meeting each other in person. With most of the team being scattered all over the world and the majority of the conversations occurring through computer or phone screens, being able to meet was an experience that everyone still treasures to this day, and one that will hopefully be repeated in the future.
Conversations in abundance
As any SDN member will tell you, one of the main aspects of keeping ShumDario News running as smoothly as it does is all the conversations between the members. Besides the main group chat, there is one for most of the various sub groups, for example the ones in charge of updating the Twitter account. While it all sounds serious, anyone knows that professionalism goes hand in hand with a hearty dose of laughter, something that the SDN conversations have a gold mine of. Regardless of the time or the topic, there is a place for everyone within the family, a safe haven to turn to when necessary.
Graphic Designer Isabela recalls first being added to the conversations as intimidating but at the same time feeling really welcomed by everyone. Co-admin Sami remembers her first experience with the conversations as the following: “My first ever sentence I wrote on the main convo was as shameless and funny as I am in my everyday life, to be honest. Sometimes I fear I come on too strong but the team welcomed me with open arms and we got to know each other quickly. I love the safe haven we’ve created for ourselves, where no one has to fear judgement or indifference.”
Writers Rachel and Mette both recall how being added to the team correlated with difficult times in their lives. While both of them were initially worried about finding their place within the conversations, they were soon reassured by the others and embraced with open arms. Rachel explains that by joining the team, she found a place where she’s constantly encouraged, which helps her strive to be better in her line of work. As for Mette, the team conversations have become a place where she’s unapologetically herself, knowing the rest of the members wouldn’t want to have it any other way.
Chloé echoes the same sentiments, explaining how the other members are like family. In fact, every morning feels like a gathering of sorts: “The first thing I do every morning after waking up is checking our main convo and it feels like having breakfast with some of my favorite people even though we are miles apart.”
Délia also highlights an important aspect of the conversations, namely the support everyone gives each other. Explaining her initial worry about making mistakes when updating, she says: “It took me a while to make my first update and to learn all these cool things everyone else knew, I felt really stupid for some time. I actually have a screenshot of the first time I made an update because the two people who were awake at the time were so sweet about it and it always feels good to do things correctly, so it’s a little momento I like to keep.” The support and encouragement of the others is something Délia has only noticed more over time, something that highlights how “comfortable and loving” everyone is.
Noting how nothing has really changed in terms of the significance of the group conversations, Isabela says: “They make sure we feel included and comfortable to be part of this crazy family.”
As mentioned before, the conversations involve a healthy mix of professionalism and playful banter. Highlighting this, Rachel says: “They know the right division between being friendly and having a joke around and knowing they’re also running an account. How seriously they take it shows in how successful they’ve been.” Mette notes this as well, saying: “I love that we are able to joke around, support each other and be hard at work all in one. I still don’t have an ounce of regret about joining this team,” concluding with the feeling of home she’s found in the team.
In the development of the account, Chloe highlights how the team has only grown closer and closer. “The atmosphere in the account is as stimulating, enriching and inspiring as ever. I feel even more lucky everyday to part of it,” she says. Noting the constant comfort in the team, Sami says: “Sometimes things shift and change and as we grow and evolve, the one thing that remains untouched is the connection we share.”
For people outside of the team, “family” may seem a strange term for a bunch of people from all over the world who have met each other in person one time (or less). But at the end of the day, that’s really what it is. Running an update account requires talking to each other a lot and spending countless of nights keeping each other from falling asleep while covering events – sometime along the way, the team members became really close friends, a friendship that soon evolved into a family that always have each other’s backs.
Time zones: the ever-present enemy
While being scattered over four continents, ten countries and too many time zones to count may enable the team to cover any event that may occur at any given time of the day, it is also one of the most tedious challenges they face every day, as Isabela admits: “Sometimes, something crazy happens and part of the team is sleeping, so the other part has to cover on their own, which ends up working well, because everyone in this team is badass, but we work a lot better together and it’s a lot easier when all of us can help.”
Délia agrees that time management is one of SDN’s biggest challenges – a fact that every update account out there will gladly confirm. She particularly points out the challenge of knowing when to step back and deal with the real world: “My transition from high school to college was rocky, and it’s been difficult to balance updating and keeping up with my work, and sometimes it feels like I have to compensate if I’m gone for a little while, but that’s just me overthinking.”
It’s especially the times when real life gets in the way that balancing SDN and everyday life gets difficult. Especially for the main admins, as Davina notes: “Time management is certainly one of the hardest things about running an update account. Especially with everyone working and/or studying.”
Isabela agrees that balancing both SDN and real life at the same time is quite the challenge: “I think my most difficult/challenging moments were not exactly related to the account it self, but to personal issues happening in my life at the time. We take this account very seriously and work really hard on it, but sometimes our personal lives can get in the way.”
In order to prevent SDN and real life clashing all too much, the team established a work/university/personal life comes first policy early on, which has proven helpful for all of the team members at some point.
The future ahead
No matter which date we count the birthday of ShumDario News as – honestly, we should have really thought it through before finalizing things on a day like February 29th – it is safe to say that these past three years have been a roller coaster. From its original 3 members to the 15 it has today, spread out over ten different nationalities, the team has grown more than five times its original times. With it, so has the love, companionship, and sense of family within the team. The past three years has been filled with achievements and challenges, and interlaced with that is infinite laughter, a few tears here and there, and the occasional cry for caffeine after yet another all-nighter working on the account.
No one on the team could have ever expected the account to be as successful as it is today, or have achieved as much as it has, such as being fortunate enough to interview both Matthew and Harry. Davina recalls the excitement everyone experienced when the account reached 5.000 followers, and how surreal it feels to think that it today has 27.000. She says: “SDN has grown so much, it wasn’t always great […] but I couldn’t be more proud of the team and the account today.”
One of the best things about running an update account is the support of the community, as well as the support from Matthew and Harry. With neither of their careers having an end in sight and both of them continuously evolving, striving to be better, and working on new projects, ShumDario News is looking forward to hopefully many exciting years ahead. While the future of Shadowhunters is somewhat unclear – here’s hoping a network is wise and picks the show up – one thing is for certain: ShumDario News isn’t going anywhere. As Chloe notes, the account may have had its start thanks to Shadowhunters, but both Matthew’s and Harry’s careers will continue far beyond the show, and as will the account and the team’s support of them. Sami says: “So as long as they allow us to join them on their many journeys ahead, we will be there to provide their fans with content, and updates.”
Swedish-Austrian writing duo that the rest of the SDN team probably still regrets creating (we may or may not have a problem with keeping our articles short). When we’re not busy with late-night writing sessions or struggling to find the perfect headline, we like to work on our escape plan because there is no way the team will let us live after writing another 10+ pages piece. However, if you‘re reading this, it means they let us get away with another monster, so yay us.