MN Bosses: “Media” Category, Dodai Stewart, Director Of Culture Coverage, Fusion

October 8, 2014  |  


“… First, I am excited to announce that Dodai Stewart is joining Fusion as Director of Culture Coverage.”

That’s the first line of an October 3rd email from Fusion editor-in-chief Jane Spencer that went to staff and, ultimately, up on Fusion’s Tumblr.

Fusion is geared towards a younger, millennials market. Stewart, who was once executive editor of a teen magazine J-14 and calls herself a “pop culture junkie,” is well suited to her new role.

But at this point, Stewart might be best known as deputy editor of the women’s site Jezebel, a site she joined in the July 2007. (It was only after we launched MN Bosses month that the new position was announced, hence the title on her image above.) If you’re like us, every morning, you’re clicking over to Jezebel to see what their take is on the day’s news. Never bashful, frequently comical, the site says what a lot of women are feeling but might not say.

For years, Stewart has been one of those much-needed strong female voices in media. Moreover, she’s been an advocate for diversity in fashion, diversity of thought and diversity in beauty. She checks the tabloids for their body shaming ways. And then gives us pictures of pretty dresses (and calls out the ugly ones).

Many were looking forward to Stewart’s promotion to editor-in-chief of the site earlier this year and when it didn’t happen, there was a collective sigh of disappointment.

With her new title, she’ll have a staff of culture reporters and the support of a company that has added a ton of new names to its masthead. Fusion has a mission to “tackle the issues that matter most to young, diverse audiences.” Stewart has had a year of great work and great transition and we look forward to seeing what our MN Boss in Media has in store.

MadameNoire: Describe your job.
Dodai Stewart: Deputy editor, Responsibilities include writing, editing, assigning, brainstorming, and helping other writers take a seed of a story and grow it into a blossoming post.

MN: What do you enjoy most about your job?
DS: The freedom we have to say what’s really on our minds.

MN: What has contributed most to your professional success?
DS: I think that’s for someone else to say. But I believe in perseverance, diplomacy and hard work. Really hard. Busting your ass.

MN: How has your industry changed since you started your career? How do you keep up with those shifts?
DS: When I started my career as a writer, my current job did not exist and blogging for a living wasn’t even a possibility. After working in magazines for years, I was excited to make the leap to online. Now, there are so many sites for women that didn’t exist when Jezebel started. It’s important to stay informed, embrace change, be energetic and keep moving forward.

MN: When did you know this is what you wanted to do?
DS: I’ve wanted to write ever since I was a child, and my first self-published stories were picture books. I’ve always been interested in storytelling through words and pictures. Some of my favorite posts deal with reacting to, deconstructing or critquing visual content, whether it be magazine pages, photos or videos. Writing for an online outlet is the perfect fit.

MN: What’s your best advice for anyone wanting to make a career for themselves in your industry?
DS: Be proactive. Reach out to the people you admire and the outlets you’re interested in. Persevere, do your best at all times, self-promote without being a jerk.

MN: What makes you a boss?
DS: Grace under pressure.

MN: Can a woman have it all? How do you define that?
DS: The concept of “having it all” is a set-up for feeling that something is missing. Pay close attention: The rich and powerful get sick and have relationship drama just like the rest of us. If you have your health, a cheering section, a roof over your head and enough to eat, you’re doing better than a lot of people. I believe in dreaming big dreams, but I also believe in appreciating what you have. “All” is a highly subjective, constantly moving line, and chasing it will only make you tired. Can a woman have A LOT? Yes!

MN: Your favorite quote?
DS: “We must believe in ourselves or no one else will believe in us…we must feel a personal responsibility to ease the path for those who come after us. The world cannot afford the loss of the talents of half its people if we are to solve the many problems that beset us.”- Rosalyn S. Yalow, Nobel Medical Physicist

I also like “Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.”

My favorite motto is the one from the lotto: You’ve got to be in it to win it.

MN: Pantsuit or skirt/dress?
DS: Love love love dresses. One and done. Who has time for anything else?

MN: Heels or flats?
DS: First one, then the other. Switch off.

MN: What’s always in your purse?
DS: Can’t leave home without M.I.L.K — money, ID, lipstick and keys. Oh, and sunglasses. Everything else is negotiable.

MN: Who’s the one person – dead or alive – that you would like to meet and why?
DS: I desperately wish I could time travel-teleport myself and stroll the streets of Paris, go dancing and drink champagne with Joséphine Baker and her cheetah.

If you want to be a Boss, you have to think like one. Check out more of our first annual section of MN Bosses here.

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