As a first grader, Rebecca Caine ’10 began to scribble in a journal. One turned into stacks of diaries that led to her realization that she had been a journalist for the majority of her life. Unknowingly, she said, “I had been recording history and telling stories.”
Before her epiphany moment, though, Caine pursued a career as an actress, getting her Bachelor’s degree in Theater Performance. Only a week after graduation she moved to Atlanta and landed roles in a play, a short film, and as an extra in a commercial. Casting between jobs was slow and Caine said, “I was impatient to do what I loved.” 11-months later she found herself back in Auburn and working at a boutique store.
Caine started the renegade fashion blog, “Clash and Burn,” where she wrote about thrifting and how to do consignment. While conducting interviews and exploring her own creative direction, she realized that her passion wasn’t in acting, but in storytelling.
She decided to go back to school for a degree in journalism and joined The Plainsman as an intrigue writer. Between 2013-2014, Caine was voted best reporter by her peers and won the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for General Column Writing. Jumping into a new profession isn’t always successful, but for Caine, it was a calling – and one she thrived in. Life was seemingly perfect, and she was soon introduced to her future husband Tim, a master’s student at the time, by her brother Luke.
In 2015, though, she was diagnosed with an eating disorder. “I was so ill that I had to pull out of school and move to Birmingham for treatment. It was heartbreaking because I had to stop my momentum.”
“I was on an Auburn eating disorder treatment team and I had a lot of support through that. I wouldn’t have considered treatment if I hadn’t been surrounded by the support that I got. I was seeing a nutritionist, a therapist, and an eating disorder support group made up of my peers and I got really involved with Aubie EDA, which is an eating disorder awareness group.”
At A Center for Eating Disorders, where she received treatment, Caine was taught how to read and write as a form of therapy. Writing, which started from a young age, grew into passion, and then a lifeline. The last column she wrote for The Plainsman was about “leaving and speaking your truth,” she said.
After successfully completing treatment, Caine was hired by Weld, a small weekly newspaper. There she covered community news and events, which helped her get plugged in the city. She also began contributing to I Am the F-Bomb, an online publication. Next she worked as a Project Editor for Oxmoor House, a publishing company for Southern Living and Cooking Light books, along with different special edition magazines for People, Real Simple, Sunset, and Coastal Living. There Caine set the schedule for a book or magazine and exercised strong communication skills in coordinating with writers, editors, designers, proof readers, and marketing. After her contract ended, Caine decided to try her pen in a new sector of journalism – as a freelance writer.
“A lot of things I do right now draws back to wanting to spread awareness about eating disorders, and mental health in general. A lot of it comes through in my personal writing and in columns I’ve published.” She was featured in the “Beautiful Bodies of Birmingham” series, where she titled her story, “How I Decided to Become Fearless.” She wrote, “I haven’t just learned how to eat foods I once thought were scary, I have learned to embrace the emotions I had buried for so long.”
“I’m in a freelance, adrift stage in my life,” Caine said. “I always thought that writing from home would be romantic, and to a certain extent that’s true, but if you don’t stay on top of your schedule, time passes. The secret is to have firm, personal deadlines in order to juggle multiple projects at once.”
While taking on stories for news outlets, she is also developing her strengths in multi-media journalism. Caine is personally directing and filming a documentary, writing a shorty story about her grandmothers, and working on creative non-fiction and fiction pieces.
“My dream is to work at NPR – I love their journalistic integrity objectivity, and that they do their best to cover the news accurately.” Caine is also interested in writing for The New Yorker or the Oxford American.
“I’ve come really far from when I was a theater major and 19. I’m proud of where I am. My path is always a little unconventional, but luckily I have great support and someone who is willing to follow me.”