Arts & Culture

Journalist Teryn Payne speaks to challenges Black women face in the industry

By Grace Asiegbu
Medill Reports

Teryn Payne, director of strategic communications and logistics for Chance the Rapper and former deputy editor and project manager of the Chicagoist, walked into Dollop Coffee Company in relaxed, casual joggers and a sweatshirt under her black puffer coat. Payne, 25, sits somewhere between communications newbie and magazine veteran. While the Chicagoist website says it “will be launching later” and tells readers to enjoy the archives, she confirmed there is no set date yet. She discussed how to look for jobs and follow your dreams.

How did you get to where you’re at right now?

My first job was at Ebony. It’s crazy the way I got it. Kathy Chaney [now at the Sun-Times], was the NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists) president at the time, and she worked at Ebony. When I was on my job search, she had just gotten hired as a managing editor. I knew her a little bit because she visited my undergraduate NABJ chapter. I wanted to move to New York, and they had an office in New York. She put me in contact with the digital managing editor in New York. I had informational interviews. An informational interview is when you email an editor or hiring manager or HR person, and you tell them like, “Hey, I’m interested in applying. Can we just talk?” So, in that case, a job may not necessarily be open, but you can still establish that relationship with that person. In the magazine world, the turnover is so high. Somebody can say there’s nothing open this week and next week, the position will be open. The managing editor in the New York office wanted me to meet his boss, the editor-in-chief at the Chicago office. Of course, I took it seriously and met with her. I was so nervous because … she’s the editor-in-chief! She turned out to be one of the nicest — she’s like my mentor to this day. We just gelled in that moment.

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The man in the skyscraper church

By Alyk Russell Kenlan
Medill Reports

“An unexpected raise! #blessed,” the Rev. Dr. Myron McCoy, 64, told his congregation during a recent service. “You don’t want one?” he teased.  From the tallest church in the world, he delivers messages of inclusivity and diversity every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

The pastor’s journey to the 23-story Chicago Temple started almost two centuries ago, when his ancestors founded a Methodist church in Maryland. He grew up in New Jersey and spent many of his boyhood summers around that church. “One part of my family, even in the 1800s, was free,” McCoy said. Influenced by his ancestral legacy, McCoy has wanted to be a preacher as long as he can remember.

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In DC, Memorial Day represents a return to normalcy

By Yousef Nasser
Medill Reports

Americans have been living in quarantine for more than two months due to COVID-19. In Washington D.C., Memorial Day presented an opportunity for people to get out of their house, enjoy the weather, and honor those who have served our country.

People sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Memorial Day 2020. (Yousef Nasser/MEDILL)

The giant of Michigan Avenue

By Alyk Russell Kenlan
Medill Reports

Imagine waking up on the 80th floor, going down to work on the 35th floor, grabbing lunch on the second floor, stopping by the grocery store or dry cleaner on the 44th floor and eating dinner on the 95th floor before going back home to the 80th floor. Residents of 875 N. Michigan Ave., formerly the John Hancock Center, don’t have to imagine. Their amenity-rich, mixed-use skyscraper epitomizes the idea of a city within a city.

On March 7, 1970, the dedication of the John Hancock Center marked the beginning of a new architectural movement and the renewal of Chicago’s urban life in the Gold Cost. Since then, lessons from the building’s construction have inspired other iconic structures like the Willis Tower and the Trump Tower.

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Tyler Perry’s ‘Bruh’ co-stars discuss new BET+ series

By Bre’onna Richardson
Medill Reports

Joining the list of Tyler Perry’s directorial projects currently airing on television and streaming services, “Bruh” premiered May 7 on BET+. The series, starring Barry Brewer, Mahdi Cocci, Phillip Mullings Jr. and Monti Washington, follows four friends as they navigate life and relationships through the strength of their brotherly bonds. According to the BET network, in a society where companionship between men of color is often misjudged and misrepresented, the show depicts a healthy image of black brotherhood.

I caught up with some of the stars of the show.

Photo at top: “Bruh” cast poses in front of the show’s title card. (Courtesy of Tyler Perry)

What I’ve learned: Nina Manavello

By Nicole Girten
Medill Reports

Nina Manavello, 35, is a Miami based jewelry designer and runner-up on the 2011 “Project Runway” spin-off “Project Accessory,” who recently rediscovered her craft and became a new mom in the last year.

When I first started making jewelry — like, let’s be honest — I drove a hand-me-down car that was literally falling apart that had a hand-crocheted steering wheel cover from my grandmother’s best friend because it was her car. I was sleeping on a couch in my studio and shopping at Goodwill.

I stumbled into being a jewelry designer when I was quite young, and I didn’t know too much about it and I just knew the creative and I didn’t know anything about the business. I started making jewelry for fun and it grew quickly and I had amazing experiences that launched me to levels I previously didn’t think I could get to without design school. So I hit a really high creative point when I was able to be on “Project Accessory” and get validation in that sense. When I was back in the real world I realized I didn’t know much about the business. Things kind of went in a different course. Continue reading

High school seniors ‘devastated’ with graduation cancellation

By Jenny Ly
Medill Reports

For seniors Brina Taylor and Brejona Hutchinson, June 10, 2020 was marked in their calendars as one of the best days of their lives.

The two students at George Westinghouse College Prep, located in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on the west side of Chicago, were devastated to learn that their graduation was no longer happening as planned due to the global pandemic.

Instead, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in a statement that there will be a virtual graduation for all graduating Chicago Public School seniors.

When the girls aren’t busy with cheerleading or working as a teacher assistant, they are actively involved with Breakthrough, a program in East Garfield park that partners with those affected by poverty. The program builds connections, develops skills and opens doors of opportunity.

While there is no set date for the virtual graduation, the mayor’s office has said it is for mid-June.

Photo at top: George Westinghouse College Prep Class of 2020 Seniors. (Courtesy of Brejona Hutchinson)

Preserving a coffee lifestyle in the ‘notable’ cafés of Buenos Aires

By Xinyi Zhang and Yilin Xie
Medill Reports

BUENOS AIRES — Fifteen years ago, Nestor Pichelli decided to change careers and found himself helping preserve a mainstay of life in this capital city: the café notable, or historic coffee shop. “The coffee culture in Argentina is a lifestyle,” he said, as he sat among tables full of patrons at Café Tortoni, one of the city’s oldest “cafés notables,” and a magnet for tourists. “It is a mode of how people interact and talk about life.”

The ornately decorated Café Tortoni — with dozens of artifacts hanging on its walls — has a history going back more than 160 years. Before it became a destination for international tourists, it had long been a social meeting place for artists, writers and politicians in Argentina.

Café El Banderín is another of the city’s classic neighborhood coffee bars. Its history is told through the wall of pennants and pictures from soccer teams given to owner Mario Riesco over many decades.

Riesco isn’t betting his bar on the lure of its history. He is seeking a younger clientele, with original and novel drinks and specials. He hired Agustina Sarni to help bring in a more diverse, neighborhood crowd, many of whom have become regulars at this cozy coffee bar.

Photo at top: In the afternoon, almost every café is full of customers. They come here to unite, to chat about things that have been going on, or just relax and enjoy the coffee. (Yilin Xie & Xinyi Zhang/MEDILL)

Detroit all-girls school offers Biomedical Science and Veterinary program

By Bre’onna Richardson
Medill Reports

Detroit International Academy for Young Women is the only all-girls public school in Michigan. The school has partnered with The Detroit Zoo and The Michigan Humane Society to develop a Biomedical Science and Veterinary Medicine career pathway. The program provides students with college credit, internships and scholarship opportunities. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, students are now forced to take all classes online.

Photo at top: First and second graders are amazed by the new chicken at Detroit International Academy. (@diayoungwomen/Instagram)