Amy DuBois Barnett Brings Sexy Back to Ebony

February 25, 2011

By Katrice

Amy DuBois Barnett has arrived. If you ever have the opportunity to meet the editor-in-chief of Ebony Magazine in person, you'll understand what that means. She changes the mood in the room. Barnett is effervescent and comfortable, and amazingly accessible. Look for that signature in her crafting of a newer more modern Ebony

Joining the standard-bearing institution last June, Barnett was a prime candidate to fortify what has already been established: excellence, longevity, history, integrity and style. The challenge -- to get that message out to a new generation of readers. Given her track record -- making Teen People the leading magazine in it's category, doubling Honey mag's circulation in just three years, and multiple on-air stints as the go-to expert on pop culture, style and social issues -- count it done. 

I was able to steal a few moments with her during the opening reception of "For the Love of Color" last night to see what's happening behind the scenes at Ebony.

MVL: What can we look forward to with Ebony as you prepare to mark your one-year anniversary as editor-in-chief?
ADB: Ebony is going through an evolution right now, and I think that everyone can look forward to a new vibrancy, a new purpose, a new voice, a new aesthetic. Really the entire brand is transforming to be more resonant for the new generation of Ebony readers. So, I'm very excited about the full-scale changes I've been able to bring to this amazing 65-year iconic brand.

MVL: How did the "For the Love of Color" tribute exhibit to Mrs. Johnson come about?
ADB: Well, Macy's has been a partner for the past 30 years. And for Black History Month, Macy's actually came up with the idea of creating window displays in tribute to Eunice Johnson's life. And we just thought the timing was so great, especially given all of the changes that are happening at Ebony and at Fashion Fair, as well. So, the fact that Macy's brought this idea to us and the fact that we have all these transformations happening at Johnson Publishing Company, it just seemed meant to be. Macy's has been an amazing partner and we've been very fortunate to work with them to create this 10-city extravaganza.

MVL: Your background in corporate finance, as a buyer, and culture and style writer make you a perfect leader to broaden Ebony's reach. How did you feel when the offer came for you to join such an iconic brand? What did you think?
ADB: Running Ebony is my dream job. It's extremely rare in your professional life that you have the opportunity to touch a brand this iconic. I mean, the level of brand equity, and goodwill and resonance and spirit that Ebony has for our community is unparalleled. It doesn't exist with any other brand. So, the fact that I was offered this chance to helm the brand as it went through this wholesale transformation was an an extreme honor. I couldn't be more excited to be editing Ebony right now. 

MVL: What is your benchmark for Ebony? With Teen People you said you wanted teens to feel as though the magazine was by them (i.e. relatable). What is that thing for you with Ebony
ADB: I want readers to know that Ebony has their back and that Ebony will give them the tools to move forward. I want to be able to take what the brand has meant to the community over the years and three-dimensionalize it so that we become an advocate for our readers. But, I also want to make sure that we reflect their aesthetic. In fact, when you see the re-design coming in the April issue, you'll see that I've introduced a whole new section called Elevate, which is all about wellness and spirituality, and setting goals and executing them. I think that is extremely important for our community and I believe it will be a wonderful new pillar of the Ebony brand. 

MVL: Why should we be reading Ebony?
ADB: It's so much. Ebony is Black America in a way that no other magazine can be. We talk to women, we talk to men, we talk about entertainment, we talk about politics, we talk about issues that are of concern for you ... We elevate you in every single way, from your body to your mind to your water-cooler conversation. We entertain too. Under my leadership, the magazine is funny and it's cool. When you pick up an Ebony, you're reading about everything that you care about right now, and you feel like you're in the know. And you feel like the magazine is helping you live you life better. It's just mad cool. We're bringing sexy back to Ebony.

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  1. Wow it's so great that you got a chance to meet her. I feel like I should get an issue of Ebony to see the changes, I stopped reading it a long time ago because it was well...boring.

  2. Me too. But, I really like what Harriette Cole did while she was at the helm for a bit. I'm very interested in what Amy will do.

  3. I picked up my Granny's Ebony just last week for February & March and was intrigued at the changes. You can tell there was someone else steering the wheel and it peaked my interest to look forward to the next issue. The layout was appealing, the content was extensive and the photography was diverse. I truly enjoyed the issues to where I am debating about becoming a subscriber.
    Thanks for sharing this interview!

    S Nicole

  4. This is an amazing interview. Amy is certainly a shining example of a black professional woman in the publishing industry.

  5. Thank you Fajr! I wanted to ask so many more questions.


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