Early Years and Education
Elaine Welteroth was born on December 10, 1986, in Santa Clara, California United States.
Her parent is of different ethnicity as her father was a Caucasian, and her mother was African American.
She grew up in Fremont, California and went to Newark Memorial High School in Newark, California before graduating in 2004 where she competed in track and field.
In 2007, Welteroth graduated from California State University, Sacramento, majoring in mass communication/media studies with a minor in journalism.
Welteroth’s first job in her hometown was being a mascot for her local Hometown Buffet, wearing a bird suit.
She explained that the best career advice she’s ever received as: “Bite off more than you can chew. And then chew as fast as you can”.
Welteroth secured an internship at the advertising, marketing, and public relations firm, Ogilvy & Mather as a Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) Fellow, after graduation from California State University-Sacramento.
She then became a content producer for SomaGirls.TV, a digital media company. Welteroth started his career into the magazine industry via an unpaid internship at Ebony magazine.
In pursuit of the internship, Welteroth wrote Harriette Cole, then editor in chief, a letter asking for an informational interview, sent her an email, and called her assistant several times until she got the chance to assist with a cover shoot for Serena Williams in Los Angeles.
Impressed with Welteroth’s professionalism on set, Cole decided to fly her out for an internship with Cole at Ebony; Welteroth then later became Cole’s assistant.
This next became a permanent position as the magazine’s Beauty & Style Editor from 2008 to 2011.
Welteroth joined Condé Nast in September 2011 by becoming the Beauty & Style editor for Glamour magazine in 2011, and then Senior Beauty Editor.
She became the Beauty & Health Director at Teen Vogue in October 2012, making her the first African-American to hold this position.
In the February 2013 copy of Teen Vogue, her debut issue as Beauty & Health Director, she wrote the article “Natural Wonder”, where Welteroth encouraged readers to embrace their natural hair texture while also sharing her favourite natural hair products.
In May 2016, Welteroth was named Editor of Teen Vogue, replacing the founding Editor-in-Chief my Amy Astley when Astley left to become editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest.
Welteroth’s first issue to print as editor of Teen Vogue had Willow Smith as the cover model and featured headlines like “Cultural Appreciation: Real Girls, Real Beauty, Real Talk”
On September 8, 2016, Welteroth won the Editor of the Year Award at the Fashion Show & Style Awards through Harlem Fashion Row, a platform for multicultural fashion designers.
In the same year, Root’s List named her number 47 among Top 100 Influential African-Americans.
Condé Nast Publications officially named Welteroth Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue on April 29, 2017.
In 2017, She was named an Honoree by Girls Write Now, a non-profit mentorship program based in New York City which encourages at-risk girls to find their voices through writing, for their May 23 Annual Awards ceremony.
On December 7, 2016, Teen Vogue made an appearance on the award-winning ABC sitcom Black-ish.
In the episode “Nothing, but Nepotism”, Welteroth plays herself as Editor of Teen Vogue while Black-ish character Zoe gets the opportunity to intern at Teen Vogue to boost her high school resume by using her Advertising Executive father’s professional connections.
At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern credited Welteroth for transforming Teen Vogue into a publication that “treats teenagers like rounded human beings with agency and intellects”.
Stern continues with, “The result is a teen glossy with seriously good political coverage and legal analysis, an outlet for teenagers who—shockingly!—are able to think about fashion and current events simultaneously’.
Welteroth expanded the magazine’s focus and received recognition for the noticeable increase of content in Teen Vogue on politics and social justice.
“I was the girl who just said yes to everything,” said Ms Welteroth, who grew up in a small Northern California town and was the first in her family to go to college. “There weren’t a lot of people that I grew up with that were dreaming big,” she said.
Ms Welteroth felt a lot of responsibility to bring cultural awareness to Teen Vogue, she said.
“There’s so much opportunity to mean more to this audience,” she said, and to accomplish that, leaders and employees need to represent every kind of person.
“That was something I was very diligent about,” she said. “You can’t just change the image or the stories, you need to change the storytellers.”
In July 2018 Elaine Welteroth, engage the service of a ride-sharing service and was taken by a New York Uber driver to an unfamiliar spot in Brooklyn when her driver stopped blocks from her destination and told her to get out.
What happened next was all caught on camera, as the 31-year-old recorded the driver calling 911 on her, slamming a car door on her arm, and then blatantly lying to the 911 operator by saying that Elaine was actually the one attacking him.
Welteroth was lucky to have all the event recorded on her iPhone and even shows that her hands are full, making it impossible for her to have any chance to attack him.
“We are afraid of reputational damage, we are afraid nothing will be done, and frankly, we don’t have time — so we stuff it. We stuff things like this every single day. But you know what? We shouldn’t have to.” She said.
‘As a black woman with a platform that I utilize intentionally to bring light, joy, and positivity, I cannot shy away from exposing the kinds of things that happen to women like me every single day.’
‘I want you to know it happens to me too. No matter of career success, kindness, clout, education, or money invalidates you from being treated like trash by people you pay to deliver a service to you’.
‘I would never typically share any of this publicly (for all of the aforementioned reasons). But I have been met with this kind of behaviour over and over and over again.’
In different ways, with different levels of aggression. In cars at the hands of drivers, at airports at the hands of TSA officers, at parties at the hands of bouncers’.
‘It’s so shameful how one drop of power over another person can make people (typically men) behave so badly.’
‘I have had enough. Too many of us deal with this kind of mistreatment daily and we just keep moving. Because we know we are bigger and stronger than the awful, petty things that happen to us.’
‘Because we know that our energy and time are our most valuable commodities. Because we believe in practising the living mantra: “When they go low, we go high.”
‘But we expect to be respectful, effective, and professional on our jobs every day. We deserve the same in return. No matter what we look like,’ she said
Elaine Welteroth is currently a freelance journalist and editor who is signed to Creative Artists Agency.
She was a former Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue who brought the magazine toward social consciousness, wants young people to know that to find success, they should not try to conform to the status quo.
“Being yourself, you’re going to stand out — you actually cannot help but stand out,”
“Your unique perspective that no one else can bring should hopefully help empower you to be your full self,” she said.
Ms Welteroth, 31, who was the youngest person and the second African-American to hold an editor in a chief title at Condé Nast in its nearly 110-year history.
She said that earlier in her career, she tried to confirm for the sake of credibility.
“I don’t think that I actually reached my potential until I shed that weight,” she said.
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