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Elle‘s Joe Zee Reveals Exactly What a Magazine Creative Director Does


As creative director for Elle, Joe Zee describes his as an “interesting, sort of nebulous title.”

“I work with all the visuals from cover to cover, so when you read the magazine, whether it’s the model, the celebrity, the styling, the fashion, the photography, all those things come into my play,” Zee explained in our Media Beat interview. “It’s really sort of helping to define a visual signature for the magazine.”

And @mrjoezee gets pummeled with questions daily from women trying to mimic the seemingly effortless style of their favorite celebs. The number one question he gets? No, not that white pants after Labor Day thing — seriously, are we still discussing that?

“I think the biggest question I get all the time is people want my job. How do I do what you do?” said Zee. “I love my job, and it definitely is glamorous after all these years. But there was a lot of years of no glamour to get to that point.”

Part 1: Elle’s Joe Zee Puts It All on the Line for Sundance Channel
Part 3: How Elle’s Joe Zee Broke Into Fashion (and How You Can Too)

LeVar Burton on Finding Career Success: ‘You’ve gotta make it happen’

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Want to achieve longevity in your career? Look no further than LeVar Burton. The actor has starred in three iconic TV shows (Roots, Star Trek The Next Generation and Reading Rainbow, in case you’re wondering), directed films, written books, and he recently dove head-first into Silicon Valley by releasing the Reading Rainbow app.

So, how has he managed to re-invent his career so many times? By being a “self-starter,” he says.

“I found early on in my acting career that I didn’t do well just sitting around and waiting around for the phone to ring, for somebody to give me a job,” Burton explained in our Media Beat interview. “I’ve always been out there more pro-active than anybody else on my own behalf, because I just know that you’ve gotta make it happen. Nobody’s gonna make it happen for you.”

Part 1: LeVar Burton on Bringing the ‘Reading Rainbow’ App to Silicon Valley
Part 2: LeVar Burton on the Future of Reading Rainbow & Printed Books

Mikki Taylor Reveals Why She Left Essence

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Mikki Taylor spent over 30 years at Essence, first in the mag’s fashion and sewing department in the early 80s and most recently as its cover and style director. You’d think leaving such a prestigious job for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship would come with some trepidation, but Taylor says stepping down to an editor-at-large position just felt right.

“I think for about 60 seconds I had the fear that ‘what if Mikki Taylor doesn’t make it with Mikki Taylor Enterprises?’” the style and beauty expert explained in our Media Beat interview. “Well, what if this doesn’t work? Then, I’ll do something else, because I’m always going to find myself in the place of empowering women. And I know too much to stop now.”

Watch the full video for more of Taylor’s tips on climbing a magazine masthead.

Part 1: Mikki Taylor on Her 30 Years at Essence
Part 2: Essence‘s Mikki Taylor Takes on Casual Fridays

Essence‘s Mikki Taylor Takes on Casual Fridays

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In her new book Commander in ChicEssence editor-at-large Mikki Taylor doles out fashion and beauty tips for the everyday woman based on examples from Michelle Obama.

“I love her clear cut assurance, the way she owns her style from within,” she explained in our Media Beat interview.

And one thing FLOTUS has done, according to Taylor, is inject a much needed sophistication into America’s dress code. Casual Fridays? No, thank you, she says.

“I think that we’re a little too relaxed. I think a relaxed nation creates other kinds of flexibilities that shouldn’t exist. Let’s treat each other with the respect and the honor that we are due, and so the subliminal things play into that. If we’re coming to work in sneakers, if we’re coming to work in ripped jeans and plaid shirts, who are we representing?”

Part 1:Mikki Taylor on Her 30 Years at Essence
Part 3: Mikki Taylor Reveals Why She Left Essence

Mikki Taylor on Her 30 Years at Essence

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When Mikki Taylor first started working for Essence in the early 80s, there weren’t nearly as many images of black women in the media as there are today. In our Media Beat interview, the fashion and beauty maven credited longtime EIC Susan Taylor for instilling staffers with the mag’s mission early on.

“I just remember her saying to me, ‘We come to this magazine to contribute,’ and it was something that she instilled in me that day that I walk with to this day,” Taylor recalled. “In fact, when I got the job, I was ready to go on a mission. It became more than a job from the moment I walked in the doors and began serving black women.”

Watch the full video to find out which Essence covers Taylor found most difficult to direct and what she has to say to the magazine’s critics.

Part 2: Essence‘s Mikki Taylor Takes on Casual Fridays
Part 3: Mikki Taylor Reveals Why She Left Essence

Stacy London: ‘Getting fired sucks. There’s nothing good about it.’

It might look like Stacy London‘s life is nothing but peaches and sunshine, but the stylist and co-host of TLC’s What Not to Wear has had her share of failures.

“I was actually fired when I was the senior fashion editor when I was at Mademoiselle,” she explained in our Media Beat interview. “In retrospect, I can say it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. At the time, I was furious. I thought that I had done a really great job, a really strong job while I was there. And one of the things that was really hard was that I sort of had to reconfigure how to identify myself. I’d associated myself really with my name on that masthead for so long that it took a second for me to figure out what’s next. It actually took about a year.”

The most important thing she learned? That a forced “vacation” can ultimately lead to a personal (and career) breakthrough.

You can also view this video on YouTube.

Part 1: Stacy London: ‘It’s not just about the clothes. It’s about the psychology behind them’
Part 2: What Not to Wear’s Stacy London Takes Your Fashion Questions

Want a Job at Essence? Be Curious.

What’s the most important thing Essence editor-in-chief Constance C.R. White looks for in job candidates? An open mind.

“One of the things that will make you successful at Essence is to have a vast curiosity and openness, number one,” she said in the final installment of our Media Beat interview. “Number two, you have to have a love and a passion for Black women and their lives and an understanding of that, an understanding and appreciation for Black women’s struggles and issues and challenges, as well as an appreciation for Black women’s triumphs and successes.”

She also gave some advice for those who are struggling to find well-paying work in hard times: “Stick with building your skills, and experiences, and your network of contacts, and eventually the money will come.”

Part 1: Essence EIC: We Are ‘Absolutely’ Looking for New Writers

Part 2: Constance White: ‘Essence has always had a diverse staff’

This video can also be viewed on YouTube.

Cheezburger Network CEO Ben Huh’s Career Advice for Entrepreneurs

When Cheezburger Network founder and CEO Ben Huh was starting his career, he had one rule: Only take a job if you can work directly with the CEO. In doing so, he says, “I probably learned 10 percent of the things that they’d try tell me, but that 10 percent was a hell of a lot better than 10 percent I could have learned elsewhere.” In part three of our Media Beat interview, he explains, “When I joined companies, I didn’t care where I got in; I only cared about where I got out.”

Huh says, “The best advice I can give [entrepreneurs] is to start,” adding, “What’s really important.. is the first-time entrepreneur puts that risk fear aside.” He admits “it’s that first step that’s probably the hardest to take,” but as Huh has proven, it can really pay off.

He also talks about taking inspiration from others to create an original product, why you should never get too comfortable at a job, and the qualities he seeks in new hires.

Part 1: Ben Huh on Growing the Cheezburger Network: ‘We’re Looking for that Nugget of Passion’(WebNewser)

Part 2: Ben Huh: ‘Users Have Far More Control Over the Business than What We Were Used To’ (WebNewser)

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