For award-winning journalist and Beauty Editor Julee Wilson, coming to Nigeria as a guest at the GTCO Fashion Weekend was a dream come true. Speaking during the Masterclass titled, ‘Black is (Beyond) Beautiful’ which where Ipledge2nigeria.net webteam covered, Julee shared her experience as a journalist on how she has used her platform to champion diversity in the beauty industry through unapologetic storytelling and fierce authenticity.
In the course of her career, she has held various positions including Global Beauty Director at ESSENCE, and Executive Director of BeautyUnited.
Over the years Julee Wilson has continued to write stories about how dope black people are, especially black women. Julee has taken it upon herself to ensure that the stories about black people are told and make it easy for others to digest African stories.
According to her, “When Cosmo called me in for a job interview; I told them that I celebrate blackness and how beyond beautiful we are every day. What I do is tell black stories, if you want, that level of storytelling, if you want me to bring the black raw magic to Cosmo then let’s go. So they have allowed me to be me, fully me, telling black stories in a very white space. And I do that unapologetically with my full chest and in a way that makes my people and my community proud.”
Talking about what it was like to work in the fashion and beauty industry, Julee said: “It is rewarding to know that I do have a seat at the table and I can do that. However, the bar is set so high for me, to do the kind of job that I do. I have to be able to write about a blonde hair blue eye beauty, I have to present that in my interview, I have to be able to write those stories but my white counterparts are not held to that standard. It is not just about products, or makeup or artists that I write about. I also talk about politics, and how beauty affects our lives in general because the way people look can be quite political. Fashion has a strong representation of personality. I talk about how to represent blacks in national publications. How important is it to talk about people who look like us in a space where people don’t look like us.”
On some of the high moments of her career, Julie said” I work with superstars, like Beyonce, I get to work and interact with amazing people I look up to. The fun part is not just working with these people, but doing a lot of fun things and activities with them while interviewing them. It helps to break barriers. It is so cool that as a storyteller I get to do a lot of cool stuff with them.”
When people see Julee Wilson and the height she has attained in her journalism career, they won’t know she has had her fair share of rejection. According to Julee, people respect me and value me and the work I do but they don’t see that it takes a lot of work, writing the stories, the pressure, the anxiety. Sitting with the whole interview and thinking about the best way to put the words together, they don’t see the work that goes into that.”
“Before I got the job at Essence, they rejected me thrice. And I cried and I was devastated. I was like why? Am I not good enough? But I know I am good so I had to let it go. Sometimes you need to let people see your magic when they need to see your magic.
When the time was right they called me to work with them. There was a time I felt like leaving journalism because I didn’t think I was going to make it. Because I felt, If I am not getting the jobs, how am I going to become somebody in this industry?
For young journalists, I will say stay on course, do the work, tell the story and the things that are meant for you will be yours.”
Speaking on creating work balance as a journalist Julee Wilson said: “Having the dopest husband is key. He listens to my dreams, he says I know this is your purpose and your dream to go out and talk about being black in white spaces and inspire others to do the same. For me, that is a lot, especially with all the kids’ activities and practice. My husband doesn’t make me feel bad for chasing my dream.
“Also, I can’t do this without my village. My village includes my friends, friends in the industry, my family, and my cousin. These are people who love you and believe in you as much as you love them. Beyond the highs in the job, there are a lot of times you go home crying. Like I don’t know if I can do this, I don’t know if this opportunity is going to happen and these are the people that I lean on. My village is the people that help me get through the pressure, anxiety, whatever it is that I am going through.”