“I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of months thinking about taking on this legacy brand.”
It’s been only two months since new Glamour hire Samantha Barry officially stepped into her role as Editor-in-Chief after Cindi Leive’s departure, and the “first digital-native editor” from CNN is already thinking about how she’ll make her mark on the 78-year-old media brand. “Legacy is such a lofty word,” said Barry on a panel about equity and self-expression in the digital age at SXSW 2018, hosted by Mercedes-Benz’s Me Convention on Sunday. “I’m new to this role, [going] from a newsroom to a publishing company, and I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of months thinking about taking on this legacy brand.”
Her career shift has been a transition, but the goals she has set for herself and Glamour are slowly but surely coming into fruition as she pushes her team to go after content that allows them to shine. “That is often the untold stories,” said Barry, citing a story with Open Style Lab, a unique nonprofit organization focused on “adaptive wear,” from the April 2018 issue as an example.
“Some [our best stories] are the voices of people that haven’t been really listened to in fashion before,” she continues. “When you look at Glamour either on the website or in print, does it seem like diversity and equity is not just something that you do in one issue? It’s just part of [our] DNA. It feels authentically part of what [we’re] doing. So that’s some of the things I’ve been grappling with recently.”
Barry went to on to note that she’s “super aware” that she’s an Irish woman running an American magazine brand, but she uses that as a way for her to realize where her gaps are. “I don’t necessarily think I’d be the best person to write about ‘Black Panther’ and what [it] means for the African-American community,” said Barry. “But I understand the gaps in my knowledge and going out and really seeking a diverse group of writers and video-makers to be a part of the Glamour family.”
Curiosity is also something that she wants to channel in her work, which is also a quality that she’s been encouraging among students as a lecturer at Yale. “You need to be curious, whether you like what a person is saying or not,” said Barry. “It’s not helpful to not listen to what other people are saying to understand where people are coming from.”
A true testament to that was Glamour’s coverage on one of the biggest gun shows in Las Vegas. “We sent a photographer and we asked the reporter, ‘I want you to go in not from a New York liberal standpoint at this gun show. I really want you to talk to women and I want to ask those women, one question: Why do you own a gun?'” said Barry. “I want to be able to tell their stories to try to understand why some women do want to own a gun. And [what] we heard was really interesting.”
Another thing that the Glamour staff might need to get used to is Barry crying at work. “Earlier in my career I would hide my crying and then I was like, ‘Fuck it.’ I cry, okay? And I’m a boss that cries. I’m going to cry sometimes and it’s going to be because I really care about what I’m doing.”
Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz paid for my travel and accommodations to attend and cover the event.