Q&A with Mandy Stadtmiller, xoJane deputy editor and NU alumna
November 28, 2012
Mandy Stadtmiller (Medill ‘97) has a unique voice she uses to tell stories about everything from networking and careers to exposes on dark sexual fantasies. She discovered that voice as a journalism major at Northwestern where she was entertainment editor of The Daily Northwestern. She is currently the deputy editor of xoJane.com, a website “where women go when they are being selfish, and where their selfishness is applauded.” The Current recently spoke with Stadtmiller about her journalism journey, interviewing celebrities as an NU undergrad and taking chances.
The Current: What is your favorite memory from your time at Northwestern?
Mandy Stadtmiller: I have a lot. You know, probably, when I was entertainment editor of The Daily Northwestern and we pulled off some really awesome stories and covers, like I interviewed Conan O’Brien as a student and I did a story that helped me get an internship at The Washington Post when I chronicled the rise and downfall of Sassy magazine, which ironically was Jane Pratt’s first magazine venture, and that’s who I work for now.
The Current: What is your favorite article you have written?
MS: I’m proud of an article I wrote about getting sober. I really liked the writing in it. I wrote one story for The New York Post about meeting strangers from Myspace for an entire week in 2006 when Myspace was really huge … and that was a really special article for me because I got more reactions from that article than many others.
The Current: What do you like most about your job as deputy editor of xoJane.com?
MS: I like being able to write things in my own voice. ... (At) xoJane I’m able to bring all the things to the table that I think are my strengths, including my vulnerability and sense of humor and authenticity and insight. That’s an absolute dream for any writer. I also really love doing a lot of the editing work that I’m doing. I’ve gotten a chance to go from pop culture trends that I’ve seen and then kind of immediately assign them and see them come to fruition immediately.
The Current: How would you describe your voice as a writer?
MS: I would say authentic, raw, funny, honest, provocative, brutal. I try to look at myself with the same unflinching honesty that I look at others. I also try to be fair and not do kind of an easy, black and white, good guy/bad guy fairytale lampooning of the characters in a story, but really look for the subtle shades of grey. Those are the kind of stories I like to tell, the ones that are more honest and not slanted. I think at my core, I really love honest, brutal, unflinching writing.
The Current: What advice do you have for students?
MS: The main thing would be to not be afraid and to recognize the asset you have in your youth and your position as a college student. ... I got flown out to New York by Miramax to interview Gwyneth Paltrow, David Schwimmer and a ton of other stars in ‘96 just because I called and left a message. I called some movie company, looking to do an interview with some celebrity ... and they were doing this junket and they called me and flew me out to New York. I was interested in comedy writing, so I called NBC and left a message wanting info about how to be a comedy writer and they had my info, so they called me and I got an interview with Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno because of that.