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Finding Her Voice 

Alum and Teen Vogue Editor Got Start Writing for Feminist Blog

"Once you find your point of view, stick to it," advises Samhita Mukhopadhyay, '00, the executive editor of Teen Vogue. (Photo by Michael Paras)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 20, 2018) — At a time in history when women are taking charge and pushing forward, this year's Joan E. Schulz Biennial Lecture, hosted by the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, focused on the topic of feminism in the digital age. And who better to give the lecture than UAlbany alum Samhita Mukhopadhyay, ’00, the executive editor of Teen Vogue magazine.

Last week Mukhopadhyay made her first visit back to UAlbany in 18 years to present the talk “Feminism Goes Viral: A Women's Studies Alumna Addresses the Changing Media Landscape.” The hour-long lecture was a deep dive into her career, the impact UAlbany has had, how blogs helped launch feminism into the minds of many and how, going forward, young writers and women can influence change.

Filled with rage and being “extremely woke,” as she put it, Mukhopadhyay came to UAlbany in the late ’90s hoping to find a path where she could evoke change, particularly towards women of color and the queer community. And with the guidance of the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, she was able to do that, learning terms like intersectionality and heteronormativity along the way, which allowed her to express her thoughts in an intellectual matter.

After graduating in 2000, she was ready to take feminism to the mainstream. Alongside feminist writer/UAlbany alum Jessica Valenti, ’01, Mukhopadhyay was one of the first writers of Feministing.com, an online community of young feminist writers and thinkers focusing, when it launched in 2004.

“It was so important to my development and finding my voice and kind of finding what my calling was,” she told attendees of the lecture about her time working with the site. “Feminist blogs laid the work for online activism and exertion of feminism into the mainstream. We literally wrote ourselves into being, just as our feminist godmothers wanted us to.”

With much dedication and work, the blog became a top feminist site. Soon enough, her work on Feministing.com landed Mukhopadhyay a book deal, and eventually a career in media. After working her way to up to executive editor of Feministing, she went on to serve as senior editorial director of culture and identities at Mic.com, an online news site targeting millenials. Then, in February of this year, Anna Wintour herself brought Mukhopadhyay on to the team at Teen Vogue.

“Once you find what your point of view it, stick to it. Having a lot of followers isn’t as effective as having a point of view and having integrity and knowing what you want to share,” Mukhopadhyay said. “Are you going to be the person who writes the 18th take about Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ or are you going to say something different, something original that we kind of haven't seen before? And taking that risk... I do think that is really one way to cut through the noise and find your voice. Always be looking for new ideas and new inspirational: Things change, people change, ideas change.”

Mukhopadhyay left students with this piece of advice: “The hardest lesson for me to learn was that cultivating my voice was not an act of self-indulgence. It matters to own your voice and your creative spirit even if it feels weird or contrary to what’s popular right now. There will be a time when it all makes sense and comes together.”

 

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