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Interviews

Former EIC of XXL on Being the Reigning King of Hip-Hop on Social Media

Elliot-Lewis-Article3Elliott Wilson, the former editor-in-chief at XXL and Xxlmag.com, has worked in the field of hip-hop journalism for 20 years and has recently been promoting his brands on social media to great success.

Thanks to his site, Rap Radar, a live-interview show on Myspace (yeah, that Myspace), his hosting duties on “The Truth” (on Jay Z‘s Life+Time’s YouTube Channel) and a forthcoming print project on Kickstarter called HRDCVR, Wilson’s career is on fire. Here, he talks about using Twitter to promote his brand:

When an artist puts out an album… I’ll retweet their iTunes link and try to encourage people to buy music because I think it benefits the culture overall. But, in terms of me, I think I do a good job of showing who I am– the same way I did with the XXL editorials I used to do – and my real personality. I’m really competitive, I really want to win, I want to be an authority of our culture, and I want to prove that nobody has as much passion about it or drive as I do. So I share that but then I also welcome other voices and other points of view. I want hip-hop culture to be respected and acknowledged as the dominant force of pop culture, which I think it is.

For more from Wilson, including his tips for successful social media branding, read: Hey, How’d You Become Hip-Hop’s Social Media Authority, Elliott Wilson?

Demetria Lucas Explains How Her Blog, ‘A Belle in Brooklyn,’ Was Born

Demetria-Lucas-ArticleDemetria Lucas‘ road to reality TV stardom is an unusual one. She started as a writer and a journalist, working for the likes of Honeymag.com, Harlequin and BET Books, before her uber-successful blog, A Belle in Brooklyn, exploded onto the scene. Dubbed the “black Carrie Bradshaw” by the Washington Post, Lucas’ career took off.

She has since worked as the relationships editor and dating columnist at Essence, written two books and now stars on Bravo’s Blood Sweat and Heels. In the latest interview for Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do series, Lucas reveals how her writing career prepared her for the TV spotlight and how she came to start her blog:

Sex and the City was still on the air, and black women who watched it took issue like, ‘This is New York City. There are amazing people of all colors here, including fabulous black women with great careers. Why isn’t there one on the show?’ I was looking for a site, a book, something that filled that gap. I complained to one of my writer friends about it and he said, ‘Well, you’re a writer. Why don’t you write it?’ That’s how A Belle in Brooklyn was born. I started doing it on MySpace and it quickly became popular. Then I went to a networking event and pitched the idea of writing about dating and relationships as a single black woman in Brooklyn to the editor of Honeymag.com. She loved it. The first piece I did for her site got around 4,000 visitors and she called me like, ‘Oh my God. We’ve struck gold.’

For more from Lucas, including how she uses social media to interact with her fans, read: So What Do You Do, Demetria Lucas, Writer and Reality Show Star?

Transgender Advocate Janet Mock on What She Learned at People.com

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After writer and former People.com editor Janet Mock came out as transgender woman in a 2011 Marie Claire article, she made it her mission to raise awareness about the social injustices experienced by the trans community and to give young trans women an outlet via social media to share their personal stories.

Mock, whose memoir Redefining Realness was released this month, recently spoke to Mediabistro and discussed what she learned during her early days in digital media:

People.com was a stepchild of People magazine, which was the juggernaut. They were creating… the mold and creating what social media is and communicating [immediacy] to readers… And so that’s how my career was. It was sitting in a cubicle. I wasn’t a features editor. I didn’t write long-form pieces that I thought I would be writing. I was writing smaller blurbs, learning to sharpen language, and communicate what readers actually wanted and how to entice them to click on things without sensationalizing.

To hear more from Mock, including her take on the Piers Morgan controversy, read: So What Do You Do, Janet Mock, Writer,Transgender Advocate And Author?

Football Meets Fashion for This NFL Player

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Winning designer Kassie Haji and Brad Smith

Designer Kassie Haji and Brad Smith

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Brad Smith’s interests are not relegated solely to the football field. It turns out Smith is actually a burgeoning player in the world of fashion.

After completing a Fashion Week internship at Men’s Health, reporting to fashion director Brian Boye, Smith was inspired to help emerging designers. The result was his Design for Brad Smith competition, held in partnership with the magazine. The winner, Kassie Haji, was announced on Friday at Windsor Custom at The Ainsworth in New York.

“To be able to highlight people’s creativity and their artistry, especially in the realm of fashion and design, that’s something that appeals to me,” said Smith.

In our Media Beat interview, Smith tells us about being a fashion intern, describes Haji’s winning design and reveals his future fashion projects.

To watch more mediabistroTV videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter: @mediabistroTV.

Team USA’s Ashley Wagner on Her Journalism Hopes

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Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner is in Sochi, Russia, right now, prepping for the biggest competition of her life. Before she left, we got a chance to chat with her about her future aspirations — as a sports journalist.

Wagner says she’s most interested in delving into the “other side” of figure skating and telling the fascinating stories of her fellow athletes’ road to the top, whether it be in print, on the Web or during a TV interview. She’s dipping her toes in to journalism now as a blogger for SI.com. Here’s how she scored the gig:

 I used to [have a video] blog, and that was really fun for me. I would take the camera and show people around backstage, show what it was like, you know, walking back to the competitor’s lounge, or what it was like getting rehab done on an injury. So I tried to show the different aspects of skating, beyond those perfect couple of minutes that you see on the ice.

It just comes kind of naturally to me to take something and try and make it relatable and interesting to someone who doesn’t know everything about skating. So I think that [the editors] saw that and thought, ‘Hey, she’s not too shabby at this. Why doesn’t she try blogging for us?’ And it took off from there. For SI.com, I’m mostly just giving people a glimpse of what it’s like on this crazy journey to Sochi. I mean because there are so many different aspects of competing and preparing and designing even that go on in figure skating, I wanted to give people a little insight into that.

For more from Wagner, including how she handles nasty criticism on social media, read: Olympic Figure Skater Ashley Wagner On A Possible Future in Journalism.

Two Former TV Producers Talk About Creating a Multimedia Lifestyle Brand

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From left: Albert and Gerstein

Melissa Musen Gerstein and Denise Albert are former TV producers with hit shows under their belts (Gerstein’s resume includes a producer credit on Anderson Cooper 360; Albert’s at Good Morning America). When the two met up, they decided to form their own lifestyle company, The Moms, which started as a syndicated newspaper column. Their media empire now includes a show on Sirius XM Radio and New York Fashion Week shows that feature “real” moms on the catwalk.

As Mediabistro’s Profit From Your Passion series winds down, Gerstein and Albert tell us about their early career successes, why they chose to start their brand with a Carrie Bradshaw-esque column called Moms in the City and how they landed a television show.

Says Gerstein: We [were inspired by] Sex and the City. We also thought, ‘Wow, [our first] column was so successful, let’s launch Moms in the City in print,’ and so, basically, we would write a very bold, provocative column about parenting, and then we would interview a celebrity mom based on that topic, which obviously generated a lot of attention and traction. And then we started getting booked on local television shows to talk about our columns, and also topical news that affected parents, whether it was how to discuss the images coming out of Haiti with your kids [or] the homeless problem on the streets. And after our fourth appearance on WNBC, we got offered a TV show, actually a pilot, which then got picked up on a channel called NBC Nonstop, which ran in ten markets across the country.

To hear more from Gerstein and Albert, including their advice on creating your own multi-platform brand, read: Hey, How’d You Start Your Own Lifestyle Brand, Melissa Musen Gerstein and Denise Albert?

 

Bonnie Fuller Talks Digital Media, Celebrity Journalism and Her First Big Break

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bonnie-fuller_149Bonnie Fuller, the veteran editor who has reinvented many major women’s mags, from Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan to Glamour and Us Weekly, is the founding president and editor-in-chief of the entertainment-news site HollywoodLife.com.

In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do – our first interview in the “Digital Media” week of our Profit From Your Passion series – Fuller talks about transforming tabloids and handling the criticism about her career, and offers advice to aspiring celeb journos:

[You must] have digital skills because I think the world is only going to go more digital and more mobile. So if you want to have a long career in this business, you have to be prepared to have those skills. The second thing would be that every rule used in normal journalism should be applied to celebrity journalism. Just because you’re dealing with celebrities and news about celebrities doesn’t mean you don’t apply a high standard.

For more from Fuller, including how she successfully overhauled so many top mags, read: So What Do You Do, Bonnie Fuller, Editor-In-Chief of HollywoodLife.com? Also, below, watch a video of Fuller discussing how she got her first big break.

Sumner Redstone and His ‘Beautiful Women’

In Robert Evans‘ new book The Fat Lady Sang, there’s a lot of good stuff about the actor-producer-survivor’s lifelong friendship with mentor Sumner Redstone. Now, there’s also a fascinating THR interview.

SumnerRedstoneTHRCoverRather than the usual author of such THR features, Stephen Galloway, this one belongs to veteran reporter Kim Masters and associate TV editor Lindsay Flans. A lot of the answers are one-sentence, but that doesn’t detract from the pleasures of a transcript with one of Hollywood’s very small number of truly legendary figures.

The conversation was conducted mid-December at the mogul’s 15,300 square foot Beverly Park mansion. He was joined for the THR session by his longtime girlfriend Sydney Howland and friend Manuela Herzer:

You’ve got these beautiful women that you go out with.

Do you think they’re beautiful?

They’re both stunning.

You really think so?

And sweet, don’t you think?

Well, they’re sweet. I don’t know how beautiful they are.

Read more

Josh Ackerman Mulls Over Possible Reality TV Show Settings

We couldn’t resist. At the end of our Mediabistro “Hey, How’d You Do That?” conversation with Bodega Pictures co-founder Josh Ackerman, we wondered what the busy producer thought about the potential of a couple of reality TV show settings.

TischSchoolLogoAckerman, once a teenage co-star of Disney Channel’s The All New Mickey Mouse Club alongside Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and Christina Aguilera, currently has two shows on the air (Tru TV’s South Beach Tow, Food Network’s On the Rocks) and several other reality programs in active development. He agreed that the setting of a print media company trying to make the successful transition to digital was fertile. He was also intrigued by the idea of shooting a show at his NYU Alma Mater:

Could the Tisch School be a reality show?

Wow. I’m sure it’s evolved a lot since I was there, but yes. I think that the students are fascinating. I would have to go and see what’s going on there, and embed myself a little bit. You need comedy, conflict, characters. There are so many different things that the networks are now looking for, that you kind of go crazy trying to really think about whether you checked off everything. You just have really trust yourself and trust the story that you’re trying to convey.

Read more

Keija Minor, Editor-in-Chief of Brides, on Her Legacy

keija-minor2Keija Minor has gone through quite a few career reinventions in her life. She started out as a corporate lawyer, decided it wasn’t her passion, and then took a major pay cut to became an intern at a startup magazine, Travel Savvy. Boy, did it pay off. Minor went from intern to EIC in three years, then, after stints at Niche Media and Uptown magazine, on to Condé Nast, where she is currently editor-in-chief of Brides.

In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do?, Minor talks about taking a leap of faith in her career, her advice for freelancers pitching to Brides and her unique position at the top:

You are the first African American to hold a top title at a Condé Nast publication. Is that something you think about?
I think the industry has been changing generally just over the years, as all of corporate America has been changing, to some degree, to reflect more women and more diversity. I think with the title at Condé, you know, it’s fun to be the first. It’s exciting to be the first in any sort of category, and it’s an honor. But I don’t wake up every day thinking, ‘Okay, you’re the first black woman to hold this title.’ I think about, ‘What are you going to do to move the magazine forward?’ At the end of the day, yes, I will have been the first, but I also want to be the woman who knocks it out of the park as an editor.

To hear more from Minor, including what she thinks of Anna Wintour, read: So What Do You Do Keija Minor, Brides Editor-in-Chief?

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