And she won an award. BRAVO!!!
Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex has won the PPA (Professional Publishers Association) award for Diversity Initiative of the Year for her British Vogue guest edit. Edward Enninful, the Editor of British Vogue, who worked with her on it, won Consumer Editor of the Year.
BRAVO and Congratulations to the incomparable Meghan, Duchess of Sussex for her brilliant editing and Edward Enninful for this amazing achievement. This was absolutely well deserved, because the concept was brilliant and the delivery flawless. DIVERSITY it was.
Winning a major award for a magazine is not something that comes about everyday nor is it something that comes by easily. It is a validation by your peers or industry of your months long planning, high marks for your thought process, a confirmation that you kept the right ideas and ideologies. It validates the time spent on those lengthy discussions, selection of contents, styles, graphics and photos. Lets not forget about the networking; calling on friends and sometimes foes, asking for favors and the selling your concept to those whom you would like to get involved with the project.
I’m honored to have this very special issue recognized. “Creating Forces for Change with Edward was an opportunity to have the September Issue of Vogue reflect the world as we see it—beautiful and strong in its diversity.
Huge congratulations to Edward who helped bring this to light, and for his additional honor of being awarded ‘best editor’ by PPA. Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex
All of these done against the backdrop of coming from one of the most well known families in the world and, the pressure I imagine must have been overwhelming. But once again, Meghan came through with grace and aplomb.
Meghan, always a strong advocate for women, personally called some of the people that went in on the project like Salma Hayek. Some were known to us and others we got a fresh introduction to, but each had made an impact in their world. She choose themes and concepts that work beautifully to advance women’s voices, self esteem, confidence and mental health. These are not passing or fleeting concepts. They are ways of life that are relevant today, were relevant in the past and will be relevant in the future. She chose leaders, people that have survived dreadful experiences and others that have overcome incredible odds to be where they are. All of them inspiring and urging us to fly, however high we want to go, and beat down any obstacles in our way. It is a serious, strong subject but one that shows who Meghan is as a person, and how we should be UNAPOLOGETICALLY who we are.
As though that was not enough, she was doing this as a newlywed, in a new country, a different working environment with differing customs, and to top it all, with a baby on board or a newborn in hand! Talk about stepping into the unknown and flying by the seat of your pants. Mothers all over the world have been known to handle overwhelming stress, but the stress here with the eyes of the world looking on, would have been quite intense.
Having said that, one thing she is known for is her hard work and professionalism. While this same professionalism and hard work has been portrayed by the British media as something out of the norm, that some in the royal establishment did not appreciate, it came in handy for this job and was whole-heartedly embraced by a corporation that has subsidiaries worldwide. It is also a standard way of working that Americans know, recognize and admire. Let me add that, in the real world, this attitude towards work is closer to the norm than the exception. Then there is this reality of minority or marginalized individuals in many arenas, having to work twice as hard to get have the recognition of their peers. In this case for Meghan, the result is a glorious recognition, and it’s nice to see excellent work being duly acknowledged.
The magazine became the fastest selling issue in the 104 year history of British Vogue, the biggest selling issue in the last decade, and now a Diversity Initiative award…
The validation in that result cannot be minimized or overlooked. The people declared that the Meghan Effect is a REAL THING. As if that was not enough, now this equally brilliant award recognizing her for the diversity concept she helped produce. I would be surprised, if while Meghan worked away, the thought of awards crossed her mind. Doubtful, but it must have been a great up lifter for her. Added validation for her conviction in taking the September edition the “Forces for Change route”. A resounding Well Done.
To re-acquaint ourselves, here are some of the motivating individuals she had on there to inspire us all, the Forces for Change:
Adut Akech: Born in South Sudan, but raised in Kenya. At age 7 Adut left for Australia as a refugee and became an internationally renowned model. She has since gone on to win several awards. Rising from the ashes of refugee camps to become one of the most decorated models of our time…She is an inspiration and reminder to us to not let the darkness of our childhood hinder our future.
Adwoa Aboah: Inspires us as a model, activist and founder of “Girls Talk”. She uses her voice to empower and uplift women, talking about various subjects such as, violence against women, mental health, sex education, health, etc. Without the industry or societally recognized stature of a model, aka being on the shorter side, she’s encouraging us, among other things to not let perceived limitations hinder us from achieving our goals in life.
Laverne Cox: Is one of our favorite transgender women from the popular TV show “Orange is the New Black”. Laverne has gone on to use her voice to stand in the gap, educating the CIS world about trans life and speaking up for Transgendered and Black Trans women via her platform. With transgendered people still lack strong, positive, clear representation in the media, Laverne helps by cutting through the fog and misinformation to usher in a more understanding and hopefully accepting world of our transgendered family members. She recently debuted a show on Netflix called “Disclosure”.
Greta Thunberg: Our teenage environmental activist and crusader. At only 17, she has spent her young life reminding us that our earth’s resources need to be managed better, so future generations have something to live on. As young as she is, has done more for the earth, than most will, but encourages us to do our part no matter how small. All while being completely unfazed by BIG bullies.
Yara Shahidi: Is an Iranian-American actress who advocates for positive mental awareness from the inside out. A positive, strong message for the Generation Xers.
Sinéad Burke: Is a diversity and inclusivity campaigner and is the first little person to be on the cover of any Vogue magazine anywhere. She voices the need for inclusivity in fashion for little people. A powerful voice for accessibility and choice. Interestingly, she said that, one of her dreams was to be on the cover of Vogue. Meghan helped her achieve that goal.
Jane Fonda: Has been a great climate change campaigner since the 1970’s. She has also been arrested a few times and spent time in jail for the cause. At 82, she is still proudly standing with those who take the fight on. Age has certainly not stopped her, and should not hinder us.
Jameela Jamil: Stands against the unrealistic weight and size expectations women are fed daily. Encouraging us all to be comfortable in the skin we are in and want to be in. Imagine the mental health shackles that can be lost when we all fully love the bodies we inhabit. This message will never get old.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A Nigerian writer and activist, stands proudly for feminism in whatever forms and shape that takes for you as a woman. She has spoken about it extensively. You will find her TED talks inspirational and educational. She shows us that African women have always been on the forefront of feminism, though they might not have labeled it as such.
Salma Hayek: Is an actress who is passionate about causes that affect children and women, including violence against women and discrimination. She dedicates her time to raising awareness of these issues.
Christy Turlington Burns, whose platform includes planned parenthood hopes that people will join her “to make pregnancy & childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere”. Absolutely.
Ramla Ali: Is a Somali Boxer and model, who also advocates body positivity and is anti-racism advocate. Among other things, she is an ambassador for UNICEF.
Gemma Chan: Is an actress(Crazy Rich Asians), who is advocating for change that sees more women and minorities in positions of authority in the film industry. “When you think about who actually has the power to get a project green-lit, it’s just a handful of people in Hollywood, and even fewer of these are women, or people of colour or other minorities. Until we address those systemic imbalances all the way up the chain, we’ve still got a lot of work to do”. Amen!
Jacinda Ardern: New Zealand’s prime minister, whose amazing leadership showed the rest of the world, one perfect way of handling the Coronavirus situation most recently. We stan a Lady who shows the world how it is done.
Then, last but certainly not least,
Francesca Hayward: A principal dancer with the royal ballet, London. She advocates for various women and children issues, including equality and vaccines.
Beyond the cover of the magazine were interviews with Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States and an interview of Dr. Jane Goodall By Harry, The Duke of Sussex, and rich backstories of various designers. Also, we were introduced to an impressive and inspiring ensemble of women; Legacy Makers, Engineers, Poets, Paralympic Athletes, Creators, Restauranteurs, as well social change agents like the women behind the Luminary Bakery and the food sharing App, Olio.
I cannot finish without mentioning THE MIRROR. A mirror for you and I, an opportunity for us to inject and see ourselves standing with these women, not apart from them, not far away from them and not intimidated by them. But standing side by side with them using our voices for what causes are important to us. It was a powerful, bold, empowering message for us all and for the men who stand with us. It invited us into our own force for good.
Meghan was criticized (one of the criticism among others) at the time the magazine came out as not having enough Caucasian women on the cover, which was not only surprising but telling, given now what we have seen in the media since then. But at the time, it was a preposterous comment, especially given the ‘diverse’ nature of the UK, or so we thought. We have since seen how deceitful that was. A diverse country does not necessarily translate into a tolerant country. What we have seen is that a diverse country could allow diversity so long as everyone ‘knows their place’ and stays there. It seems, so long as those unwritten rules are observed, then things remain fine, in a “saving face” sort of way, smiling tolerantly and pretending that everything is ok. The status quo being maintained under a guile of civility, patented smiles and upturned looks.
Meghan was raised to believe in a diverse, inclusive, modern, forward thinking world. A world where ALL humans are indeed equal or aspire to be. And people, do not need to apologize for their brilliance or minimize themselves to fit into approved quarters. In her world, there isn’t a quota allotted to “certain” people to maintain façade. All are accepted on their merits and with that mindset, she brought something beautiful to British Vogue.
Meghan made the magazine look like the world we live in, which is, filled with people of different hues, features, colors, hair, sizes, height, etc. and should be multi-inclusive. And that is what makes the world a profoundly, beautiful and enriching place. It makes sense that she would think that way. It is quite unfortunate for the UK, that the outsized and irrational objection/ reaction to the issue the bi-racial Duchess guest edited only seemed to entrench the racial biases that they are today trying, unsuccessfully I might add, to convince the world does not exist in the UK.
Diversity isn’t just black and white; It’s in age, ability/disability, gender, geography, enterprise, background and life experience. Therein lies the richness of the fabric. From cover to cover, September Vogue 2019 embodies this. Here is to hoping that chief bias police Camilla Tominey, properly educates herself, so that she can catch up with the times and improve her journalistic appraisal of nuanced subjects because, her readers deserve more respect than her customary knee-jerk packaged propaganda pieces. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Obviously, the success of the issue speaks for itself.
Kudos to Meghan and the team.
- for the brilliant idea,
- for the diversity included
- for the ladies featured, and
- for making us see ourselves with them.
And Congratulations to you Meghan, and Edward Enninful for a well deserved honor.