For Variety’s latest issue, we asked Lena Waithe to write a tribute to Radhika Jones, one of 50 people to make our New Power of New York list. Here’s why Jones, the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, represents a new generation of movers and shakers that capture the best of Manhattan. For the full list, click here.
Radhika Jones. Today I honor you.
For the contributions you’ve made to entertainment and the world. By putting someone who looks like me on the cover of Vanity Fair you said to the world: Women like me matter. Black women matter. Gay black women matter. Masculine-presenting black women matter. A girl raised by a single mother on the South Side of Chicago matters. Thank you for forcing the world to hold my gaze.
At an early age, you learned the value of hard work and creativity from your parents — an American folk musician and a Mumbaikar exchange student — who instilled love, dedication and the importance of education.
You once said your father taught you the significance of discovering new talent and keeping an open mind to new voices — and that one of the most powerful things a person can do is bring artists together. As the first woman of color to be the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, you get to do that every day.
I applaud you in your efforts to ensure that the pages of Vanity Fair are filled with more than just the usual rhetoric. You’re showing us who we are. You’re exploring who we can become. You’re reminding us of who we were.
We are forever connected, you and I. Your first issue. My first cover. A moment of clarity. A clear sign that a change had come. A snapshot of a memory I’ll never forget. Dearest Radhika, you will always have my deepest gratitude.
Lena Waithe is a writer, producer and actor and the creator of the Showtime series “The Chi.”