Hi. I’m Kierna. A veteran media exec and content leader 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 (produced by The Mark Twain Prize team, and the first of its kind named after an African American woman). We shot the pilot in February 2020 in NYC, just before Covid hit and 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 popular podcasts including Longform, Slate’s ‘Slow Burn,’ the Combat Jack Show and others. I've also been featured in provocative 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 Editor in Chief and Vice President of Digital of EBONY magazine. During my tenure (2011- 2016) I lead ebony.com to critical acclaim, growing the online audience by over 400%, and boldly rebranded the venerable, 70-year-old print publication. Under my direction, EBONY was among the first national publications to publish many of the original wave of Black Lives Matter-era millennial journalists and thought-leaders. For EBONY's business side, I reimagined the EBONY Power 100 franchise and event, and helped broker a significant multi-year partnership with Apple iTunes. I also personally curated the Black film selection for the iTunes 2015 Black History Month landing page.
In 2016, I was named Senior Vice President, Content and Brands at iOne Digital where I developed the “born unapologetic” Millennial/Gen Z platform CASSIUS, and directed several culturally diverse news, pop culture and women’s lifestyle sites. I managed all content teams, reaching a collective audience of 20MM monthly unique visitors. I'm incredibly proud of the digital doc series I executive produced while there, Something to Say: Black LGBTQ+ Life in Atlanta.
WAY BACK THEN
In the earlier part of my career, after honing editorial skills as an urban affairs reporter for City Limits, 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 nascent days as a pioneering, female hip hop journalist and original member of The Source magazine "Mind Squad," to my aught years as the lone Black editor at Hearst Magazine's CosmoGirl; from my Editorial Director stint with Tyra Banks, to my appearances as a guest contributor discussing race and identity related topics on cable networks today, my legacy is that of a multimedia storyteller with an unwavering commitment to the perspective of people of color, women and other culturally underrepresented groups.
As a published writer, I’ve penned articles, essays, cover stories, Q&A's 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 independent content consultant, I am commissioned for a variety of corporate brand writing projects. I've worked on executive speeches, creative briefs and presentation decks, product copywriting, and branded content.
As an editor, however, is where I thrive. Over many years I've both cultivated new talent and worked closely with well-established writers including NYT Best-Selling authors and National Book Award nominees. The scope of talent I've coached, edited 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.
My current memberships include the Kennedy Center Hip Hop Culture Council, US Breakthrough Advisory Group, and the National Advisory Committee of the non-partisan, philanthropic Democracy Fund. I am a former member of the American Heart Association Diversity Leadership Committee and Hearst Magazine Diversity Leadership Group.
As an HBCU 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'm still critical of HU's conservative policies, but let's discuss a little later.)
I am a proud Brooklyn native residing in Long Island, NY (in a Black Barbie Dreamhouse, 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 an 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.*