Stacy-Ann Ellis is a triple threat we first met at a blogging brunch around this time last year! She writes, she's an artist, and she takes poppin' photographs. Read on for advice and life lessons from this "Jill of all trades", especially if you're trying to all around slay too.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: who are you and where are you headed?
I’m Stacy-Ann Ellis, a 26-year-old full time digital magazine editor and part-time creative living in NYC, meaning I paint and snap photos on the side. I’m honestly headed wherever the good Lord takes me, but the goal is to be somewhere under the umbrella of editorial/creative direction at a culture/arts/music publication somewhere down the line and an eventual author. I’m pretty open to which path I take there, though.
When did you first start writing/creating art/taking photographs? What drew you to these mediums?
I’ve always been on the creative side since I was really young. I was an avid reader, always with a book in my hand. When I wasn’t reading, I was writing. Pen to paper writing short stories, poems, and whole “books” (my parents still have all the papers I stapled together and made them read). My first career desire was to be an author before I formally discovered journalism in high school. As for the photography aspect of my life, it was unknowingly always around me because my dad is also a photographer. So it was just second nature to see good photography busting out the seams of our photo albums. I fell in line and really got camera fever towards the middle of high school. I also had a knack for doodling and drawing recreationally, but I never truly took that seriously until later in life, mostly during an art class in college. I noticed I was better than I thought I was and gave myself credit for.
Describe your career path. Has it been hard to be a Black female creative and find spaces that will let you express your gifts?
You know what, I’m happy I get to say no to this. I’m blessed to have always been surrounded by a very brown, very sturdy support system for most of my professional life. I went to one of the best historically black universities (Howard University), where I wrote for The Hilltop and served as an editor for the Bison Yearbook. My senior year, I got an internship at The Root DC at The Washington Post, where I wrote about things pertaining to the local black community. After that, I had simultaneous internships at VIBE Magazine and The Root in New York, where the faces that surrounded me were all of color. And I just never left VIBE, where I worked my way up over the course of three years to Assistant Editor. I’ve had the rare opportunity to hone in on my skills and grow as a writer while being unapologetically black while doing it. And as far as my personal creative endeavors are concerned, my friends, family and extended versions of both have supported me every step of the way. I’m nothing but grateful for being able to say all that. It’s so, so, so rare and I know it will change eventually, but right now I’m in a great creative space as a brown girl.
You describe yourself as emotional. How has this influenced your work?Do you see your emotions manifest in your art/words/photos? How, if/when necessary, have you learned to manage your emotions?
It’s the Pisces in me, I’m slightly sensitive and hyper aware of my emotions and the emotions of others. It also allows me to sit in my feelings and use them to create. I’ve listened to a song that instantly made me feel things, and I quickly whipped out a pen or a paintbrush to get whatever is on my heart out before I forget. That’s the cool thing. Those moments are creative triggers. You can sometimes tell when I connect with a moment in a photo. That’s how I govern the shots I take; I go for emotions and moments versus poses. As emotional as I am, I’m not necessarily public with it. I don’t lash out at people or anything like that. It’s more of a silent moodiness lol. I’m the internal sort, so I manage it best by writing something honest in a diary/blog post or painting to some music.
What advice would you give to young women of color who want to be a triple threat like you?
Don’t harp on your unsureness of being a Jill of all trades. People often recommend you pick one core thing and be excellent at it. Scoff at that reasoning and just work your hardest to be the best you can be at all the things you’re passionate about. It’s possible! I’m not 100% there yet, but I have faith and confidence in myself that I will be down the line. Something I started doing was dedicating a year to give special attention to one passion at a time. 2015 was my writer year. I put more into writing than I did photography and art so that I can get stronger at it. This year is dedicated to photography, and 2017 will be for art.
Who is the coolest person you’ve interviewed yet and what lesson did you leave that conversation with?
Hmm, there are so many cool people, but I think the interview that resonated the most with me was one I did with Sunny Anderson for last year’s VIBE League Women’s Empowerment package. She, like me, never believed in sticking to one lane when it came to her career. As long as it was something she loved, it was part of her career path. She started out in the military as an Air Force journalist, became a Hot 97 radio host, then a Food Network chef and co-host, and is a New York Times bestselling author. They seem so unrelated to each other in terms of a clear job ladder to climb, but it worked for her. You can do whatever your heart desires as long as it’s genuine, you work hard and the skill is there. That’s so inspiring to me. Life goals personified.
Just for Kicks:
- Kendrick or J. Cole? Ahhh, this is hard! They’re both excellent, but I’m going with J.Cole.
- Instagram or Twitter? Instagram, because I’m very much a visual person and between all the selfies, there’s tons of inspiration to be found on there.
- London or NYC? Dawg. Why make this so hard? But I’m going to say London because I can always come back to my NYC home. London seems ripe for the taking and exploring. I’ve always wanted to establish myself there.
Want more from Stacy-Ann Ellis? You can follow her on Twitter & Instagram @stassi_X, read her work on Vibe, or connect via her personal site www.stacyannellis.com.