Mandy Velez, Co Founder + Editorial Director of Revelist
Mandy Velez, former intern at Ladies Home Journal Magazine, freelance digital editor for Latina and associate editor of The Huffington Post , is now up to something MUCH COOLER. Velez began working at Ashton Kutcher's startup media company A Plus, and then went on to be the co-founder of Revelist. With hard work under the official title of editorial director, Revelist launched in February and has been taking the digital world by storm. Velez’s name has not only been on the tongues of many for her beautiful writing but she has gotten a lot of press over her controversial feminist voice and touchy topics.
“When she's not in the newsroom or fighting social injustice, you can find her with her pet bunnies, deciding between the Crema or Valencia Insta filter.” Emily had the pleasure of reuniting with her former classmate for a Spotlight to remember.
Mandy, we start each Spotlight with the same question. What did you want to be when you grew up?
“When I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher and that’s because my mom was a teacher. She later became a counselor, but everyone wants to be what their mom is. I also liked school so it made sense because I didn’t know there was anything else beside that. You don't really go into career day in third grade and see a journalist.”
So what in your life from then to now has influenced your journey?
“I have always heard growing up that you should do what you are passionate about. My starting point was finding what I was good at, which was writing. I took a journalism class in high school and applied to colleges with that intended major. I decided I really liked telling stories. “
Can you touch on your feminist themed site, Revelist ?
“I know a lot about being a hardcore feminist. When we first were deciding what the site should be, I wanted it to be something that I would read. I wanted to fill a gap that I thought I didn't get in other women driven digital spaces out there. We have three verticals : entertainment, lifestyle, and news/ identity. You can still be feminist talking about Rihanna and Chris Brown or about lifestyle and feminist tattoos. BUT, I felt like it was my responsibility to bring a stronger voice as far as news goes. “
And obviously you are doing a great job at it. One of your articles got reposted by Huff Post and other well know publications. What was that story about?
“So UCB had just banned a guy from their comedy club and no one really knew about it except the people in the comedy sphere. I had gotten a tip from a co-worker who knows a lot of comedians. Apparently it was because of rape and they were keeping it hush hush and no one else was talking about it. As a journalist, I said “fuck it, I’m going to do it anyway.” I was able to track down a victim who told her story about how he allegedly sexually assaulted her. I tracked down screen shots of him going on a rant about how it wasn’t true. I put it all together and pushed it out. The next thing I knew, everyone was reporting on it. The New York Daily News, New York Magazine. It was so nice to see Revelist linked back because when you are a new publication, as I am sure you guys know, being taken seriously is such an amazing feeling. It sucks that it had to be about sexual assault but the fact that we brought attention to it as a small publication is a huge deal.”
And from these types of pieces you publish comes haters, ESPECIALLY on social media. What is the worst you have heard and how do you deal with that?
“I try to keep my personal and professional accounts separate, but sometimes the lines can get pretty blurred. I think I have this persona on social media that I don't give a fuck. Clap at me and I will come back at you. But no matter how tough you may appear, it still hurts when a guy says “you deserved to be raped” and that is the worst thing that someone has said to me. It’s rough, but at the end of the day you just realize that you are doing something right, and you are disrupting their cognitive dissonance that they have and you’re creating rather cognitive dissonance and changing the way they thought the world should be. Even if they are mad about it, at least they are reading what I am saying and taking it in. I try to level with them and talk to them as a human."
On top of educating internet trolls, what is next for Mandy Velez?
I want to continue to ride with Revelist for a while. It is my baby and I want to see it grow into a well respected stand-alone website. Also, I want to do a project where I talk to high school girls about going into journalism, particularly from low income families. People go into their classrooms and only encourage them to be doctors and lawyers. That is one reason there are not a lot of minorities in journalism because no one really talks about it to them.
Interviewed by Chary and Emily. Translated by Emily