Zandile Blay

 A Midtown Manhattan Hotel lounge, February, 2013.

This is Zandile.

How do you recognize genuine talent?
Genuine talents have an aura that shines like a beacon on a hill. Sounds so cliche but life has shown this to be true in almost every capacity of my life and work . The fact is, everyone is genuinely talented but very few people tap into or cultivate it, and those that do – by walking and working with their given talents – are so obvious that you don’t have to look too hard to recognize it or them.

Tell me about your new job as a professor.
It’s surreal. I attended the Newhouse School at Syracuse University as an undergrad almost ten years ago – so it’s super cool and  super strange – to walk those same hallways as a professor. In fact, my faculty i.d photo is the same as the student i.d one I used years ago. I teach Fashion & Beauty Journalism. The class is such a great outlet to share all I’ve learned – and who I’ve learned from – over my last few years as an editor at magazines like Paper, Essence and as a columnist at The Huffington Post. But the coolest thing about it is that these students teach me way more in a given day than I can ever teach them in a semester. I feel really fortunate for this experience.
Who or what today, inspires you?

Always, always, always and forever my family – especially my mother, aunt and sister. Their strength, their love, their spirit, and their stories set a bar that I hope I can reach in my lifetime.


Zandile Blay gets it and will tell you just how well she does.
My encounters with Zandile have always been brief but never boring or conventional. I adore her and look up to her.

Z is the kind of girl who is supportive and also ambitious. In her professional career, as she mentions above, the positions she’s held include; Style Columnist for the Huffington Post, Digital Fashion Editor for ESSENCE Magazine, Women’s Fashion Editor for Paper Magazine and Readers Editor at SEVENTEEN Magazine.

When we met for this photo op, Zandile was patiently waiting for me in a hotel lobby somewhere in Midtown where she was about to sit on a panel for South African Tech & social media week. During and after our shoot the women who came up to greet Zandile expressed so much appreciation and respect for her work. I was standing off to the side rather sheepishly smiling at the beautiful and striking women in front of me.

Zandile’s future will always bright because she fully believes in herself, her strengths and also understands her weaknesses. Understanding the dynamic between strength and weakness is a muscle used most efficiently when both ideas of self are accepted.  This is what I’ve learn from Zandile: to own it. And that’s all I can really say.

Zandile will be moving to Africa for a new adventure come May. We will checking in with her then and also checking up on her blog, Africa Style Daily.

- Jen