Hi. I’m Kierna. A recovering media exec with a bent toward stunning visuals, #blackgirlmagic and brainy stuff. I'm also an award-winning writer and editor. I like to think of myself as both cultural critic—and culture creator. Historian by nature with a futurist vibe, I've been at the content x creative game for over 20 years. I've seen and done some shit.
I'm currently an executive producer and the showrunner for the Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social Impact, a live production award show (and the first of its kind named after a Black woman). We shot the pilot in February 2020 in NYC, just before the world came to a screeching halt. As the show's creative lead, I scripted for notables like global activist Martin Luther King, III and the Academy Award-winning Common. Solange Knowles was our first honoree. If you love beautiful things, let me tell you, she's a radical gift to the culture.
AS SEEN ON
I’ve appeared on several major podcasts including Longform, the Combat Jack Show and Slate’s ‘Slow Burn,’ as well as on popular documentaries including MSNBC’s Story of Cool and HBO Max’s On the Record.
Back when I wore blazers (don't be silly, I will always wear blazers), I was the EBONY magazine Editor in Chief and Vice President of Digital. During my tenure (2011-2016) I lead ebony.com to critical acclaim, and boldly rebranded the venerable, 70-year-old publication. I ultimately re-introduced EBONY to a vastly wider, younger audience. Under my direction, we were among the first to give space to many of the original wave of Black Lives Matter-era millennial journalists and thought-leaders. For EBONY's pop culture side, I brokered a partnership with Apple iTunes for Black History Month. I personally curated the Black film selection for the iTunes landing page that year.
In 2016, I was named Senior Vice President, Content and Brands at iOne Digital/Urban One where I developed the “born unapologetic” Millennial and Gen Z brand CASSIUS (cassiuslife.com), and directed several multicultural lifestyle, news and pop culture digital platforms. I'm really proud of the digital doc I EP'd while there, Something to Say: Black LGBTQ+ Life in Atlanta.
WAY BACK THEN
In the earlier part of my career, I co-founded Honey magazine. As Editor in Chief of the niche, late ‘90s fashion and lifestyle publication, I helped foster an uncharted visibility for millions of women of color of the hip-hop generation. Now out of print, Honey is widely considered a cult-fave and an historic touchstone for modern Black feminists.
From my maverick days at The Source magazine in the early 90's as a pioneering hip hop journalist, to my aught years as the lone Black editor at Hearst Magazine's CosmoGirl, to my Editorial Director stint with Tyra Banks, until today where I appear as a guest contributor discussing race and gender related topics on CNN and other networks, I am proudly credited as a storyteller with an unwavering commitment to the cultural perspective of people of color, women and other underrepresented groups.
As a writer, I’ve penned provocative articles, essays, cover stories and first-person narratives for national publications including: Essence, Marie Claire, The New York Times, Vibe, Cosmogirl, The Root, The Smithsonian and others. I am a contributor to Nation Books’ 2019 release, How We Fight White Supremacy, and in 2018, I wrote the forward to She Begat This by Joan Morgan (Atria Books) about the enduring cultural legacy of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Many of my earliest writings are referenced and excerpted in academic and commercial texts including the seminal, And It Don’t Stop: The Best American Hip Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years (Faber & Faber).
As an editor, I've worked with NYT Best-Selling authors and National Book Award nominees. The range of potent writers and journalists I've coached and published is truly part of my secret sauce.
AWARDS & ASSOCIATIONS
Throughout my two-decade career at the intersection of media, culture and brands, peers have recognized my diverse range of work for excellence. I am a Folio 100 and The Root 100 honoree, and I have been awarded distinguished honors from GLAAD and the NAACP. I’m also a recipient of the “Veteran Award for Extraordinary Leadership and Lasting Contribution in Media” from Women in Media Meet Up.
As a graduate of Hampton University with a B.A. in Mass Media Arts, in 2016 I was bestowed by my alma mater with the “Esteemed Alumna Trailblazer Award for Digital and Print Media.” (I still have a love/hate relationship with HU, but that's for another time.)
I am a proud Brooklyn native residing in Long Island, NY (in an 127-year-old center hall colonial) with my husband and our three teenage sons. Obviously, this is a lot. In a good way, I mean. When I'm not falling in the toilet, or discovering there is, yet again, nothing in the refrigerator, I'm either working on my incredible TV series or obsessing about interior design and my fantasy life as a HGTV flipper.
I'm on Twitter and IG (sometimes). @kiernamayo.
You are welcome to keep checking back here to see if I finally took new press shots. Spoiler: I no longer have a perm and have, um, filled out a bit.*