Rewriting The Black Narrative In Media: An Interview With Nykia Spradley
The BYP network is excited to announce our upcoming Our Creative Future Summit June 25. During our virtual event, we are shedding light on the impact and influence of Black movers and shakers in the world of media. Black innovators are redesigning the narrative of creativity from film to architecture while shifting the sphere of influence toward Black curation.
While we celebrate our upcoming event, BYP has rounded up some of the leading voices in the media to discuss their professional experiences and inspirational passions. We sat down with women’s magazine Allure commerce Editor Nykia Spradley to discuss her journey in the beauty-writing world.
Spradley brings together an expertise in writing with a bachelor’s in journalism from Hofstra University and a master’s from Columbia University. Her experience in the media industry spans more than 17 years, with bylines that have graced pages, in Essence, Marie Claire, Popsugar, Coveteur and Cosmopolitan, to name a few. She is a powerhouse, commanding a seat at the table while championing new generations of aspiring Black journalists to do the same.
Her diverse collection of work embodies masterful storytelling from natural hair how-tos to addressing Black Lives Matter issues. Her ability to capture readers' attention with engaging headlines and exciting content is a testament to her commitment to her craft and talent.
"I've always loved words and writing. English was always my favorite subject in school, and since I was a kid, I've loved chasing the news, following what's happening in the world, and piecing it all together in written form. When I was in college, I had the most amazing journalism professor who had us go some really old school digging to find out stories, and I was hooked. Writing well is such an art and a constant challenge of being an editor that I love."
For more than a decade, the self-proclaimed "lover of long-wear lipstick" has navigated all facets of the industry, expanding her depth of knowledge to allow career flexibility. Her varied skills have assisted in her upward mobility in the marketplace, from freelancing writing to photo and video shoot production and execution.
"I've been in the media business for quite some time — too much to recap here, but long story short, I've always wanted to work in magazines specifically. I've worked my way up the now proverbial masthead at a few different magazines and then decided to take somewhat of a break and freelance. That time was by no means a breakthrough. I felt like I worked harder those three years than I made my entire career, but on my own terms, and there was such freedom in that. I wrote for Allure as a freelancer and then was asked if I wanted to join their commerce team full-time. It's a totally different side of the business than what I'm used to, but the roots of it are very much the true journalism I've come to know and love, so it's really the best of both a new and old world for me."
Storytelling remains the cornerstone of representation. However, statistics indicate that journalism still lacks racial diversity. Although the media industry has made exceptional strides in addressing its lack of racial inclusion, reports suggest that Black voices are still underrepresented. According to Zippa.com, Black journalists accounted for 7.5% of the U.S. U.K. reports indicated similar statistics, with White journalists leading at 97 percent.
The Brooklyn, New York City-native, asserts Black storytelling is essential in capturing authentic and honest perspectives.
"Plain and simple, because no one can and should be telling our stories other than us. We're such an important thread that holds so many elements of life together, and most of what we know comes from the media. If someone else is left to share our news, history, interests, it would either be told wrong or void of a lot of truth and relevant information. So, we are absolutely needed in media spaces, big and small, to paint our own pictures and more importantly be represented accurately."
If the media shapes the lens for which society views the world, then Black storytellers must be part of the process. Threaded within every Black story lies a rich legacy of culture and history that left in the hands of other cultures cannot fully articulate the fullness of the Black experience.
Black storytelling continues to create widespread success and influence across many industries, but Black creatives still struggle to receive the adequate accolades and financial gain they deserve. Our Future Creative Summit is changing that dynamic by ensuring cultural identity remains intact for our benefit. By joining our community, you are becoming part of the change you want to see.