Danyel Smith

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Danyel Smith
Born (1965-06-23) June 23, 1965 (age 53)
ResidenceBrooklyn, New York
Alma materUniversity of California
OccupationJournalist, magazine editor
Years active1989-present
Known forCelebrity interviews
Spouse(s)Elliott Wilson

Danyel Smith (born June 23, 1965) is an American magazine editor and journalist.[1] Smith is a 2014 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.[2][3] She is also writing a history of African-American women in pop music.[4][5] Smith is also the former editor of Billboard[6] and the first African-American editor of the magazine. Also, she is the former chief content officer of Vibe Media Group and former editor-in-chief of Vibe and vibe.com.[7] She was the first African-American, and first female editor of Vibe.

Among other outlets, Smith has written for Elle, Time, Cosmopolitan, Essence, The Village Voice, The New Yorker, CNN, Rolling Stone, Condé Nast Publications, Ebony and NPR.[8][9]

Early life and education[edit]

Smith was born and raised in Oakland, California.[10] She graduated in 1983 from St. Mary's Academy in Inglewood, California, and went on to attend the University of California, Berkeley. Her mother is of Filipino and African-American descent. She has one younger sister, Raquel. In addition, she has a younger stepsister, Nicole, and stepbrother Keith. Smith currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Elliott Wilson. They were married in Los Angeles in June 2005.[11]

She was named in "10 Mentors to Follow on Twitter" by Her Agenda.[12] Soon to be featured in Spike Lee's Bad 25 documentary (about Michael Jackson's acclaimed 1987 album), Smith has appeared as a featured commentator on The Biography Channel, VH1, ABC, BET, CNN, CTV, PBS' Charlie Rose, CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, and NPR.[13][14][15][16][17][18]


Smith started her career in 1989 as a freelance writer, columnist and critic in the San Francisco Bay Area at The San Francisco Bay Guardian[19] and The East Bay Express. From 1990 to 1991, she served as the music editor of SF Weekly. By 1992, Smith was freelancing as a reporter for Spin magazine, where she wrote a pop culture/music column called "Dreaming America".[20] In 1993, Smith moved to New York to become Rhythm and blues editor for Billboard magazine. At that time, she was also reviewing live shows and recorded music for The New York Times.[21]

In 1994, she became music editor of what was then Quincy Jones' new Vibe magazine. Two years later, Smith was awarded the National Arts Journalism Program fellowship at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. After her year in Evanston, Illinois, she was named editor-in-chief of Vibe in 1997.[22] In two years, Smith raised Vibe's circulation from 500,000 to 750,000+ readers. In 1999, she resigned and joined Time Inc. as an editor-at-large. There she consulted and wrote for magazines including Time, Entertainment Weekly and In Style.

Smith left Time Inc. in 2001 to pursue a Master of Fine Arts at the New School University, then published two novels and taught at the university level. Her first novel, More Like Wrestling (Crown, 2003), was drew critical praise: the New York Times Book Review called it "lyrical and original",[23] while the San Francisco Chronicle described it as "beautiful, and in its way, miraculous".[24] The Washington Post Book World said that Smith's "prose sings with precision".[25] During this period, Smith worked as a workshop leader at the Radcliffe Publishing Course in Cambridge, Massachusetts and served on the adjunct faculty of the Writing Program at the New School University. While working on her second novel, Bliss,[26] Smith was on the guest faculty at Saint Mary's College of California. Smith was also a writer-in-residence at Skidmore College.

In 2006, Smith returned to run Vibe Magazine, responsible for the digital as well as the paper platforms. Smith's cover profile of Keyshia Cole was featured in Da Capo Press's Best Music Writing 2008. After three years, Smith had a short stint at The Washington Post's African-American political site, The Root, before returning to the music industry publication Billboard as editor. In 2012, she resigned to write a history of African-American women in pop music.[27] In 2015, HRDCVR[28] a hardcover culture magazine created by diverse teams for a diverse world founded by Smith and husband Elliott Wilson was released. In addition to HRDCVR, Smith and her husband began a podcast on iTunes called, Relationship Goals[29] in which they talk about pop culture, hip hop music and how they make their relationship work.

In 2016, Smith was named the culture editor[30] of ESPN's newest venture called, The Undefeated.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Danyel Smith". March 29, 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  2. ^ http://knight.stanford.edu/
  3. ^ http://knight.stanford.edu/fellows/class-of-2014/danyel-smith/
  4. ^ "10 Mentors To Follow On Twitter". Her Agenda. May 3, 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Hoods Deep, Worlds Wide". The Seam. 2015-10-05. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  6. ^ Lucas Shaw (March 9, 2012). "Billboard Publisher, Editor Out, Other Top Staffers Follow". The Wrap. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Danyel Smith, formerly of Vibe.com, named executive editor of The Root.com". Targetmarket News. September 8, 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  8. ^ Taylor Mallory. "Danyel Smith - Editor in Chief, Vibe and Vibe Vixen". Little Pink Book. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Rolling Stone contributors - Danyel Smith". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  10. ^ Jeni Wright. "Danyel Smith Interview". Colored Girls. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Danyel Smith Misses the BART". New York. May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  12. ^ "10 Mentors To Follow On Twitter". Her Agenda. May 3, 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  13. ^ Mara Schiavocampo, Jeff Johnson & Danyel Smith on Black Enterpris (Youtube). United States. 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
  14. ^ Danyel Smith - Jackson Leegacy. United States: CNN. 2009.
  15. ^ Private Funeral for Houston. United States: CNN. 2012.
  16. ^ MLK Day and the inauguration. United States: CNN. 2009.
  17. ^ "Jon Pareles & Danyel Smith on Whitney Houston". Charlie Rose. February 13, 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  18. ^ Danyel Smith (August 31, 2012). "Remembering Chris Lighty, Hip-Hop Leader And My Friend". NPR. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  19. ^ Jeff Chang. "Urban radio rage". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  20. ^ "Dreaming America". Spin. Spin: 127. 1992. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  21. ^ "Danyel Smith - About". March 29, 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  22. ^ "Former Vibe Journalist Named Editor-in-Chief of Billboard". Madame Noire. January 11, 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  23. ^ "Junot Díaz: By the Book". The New York Times. August 30, 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  24. ^ Christopher Hawthorne (February 19, 2003). "Oakland Underdog / Hip-hop writer Danyel Smith's debut novel makes her hometown the star". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  25. ^ "Tambling Book Reviews". Nichelle Tramble. February 3, 2005. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  26. ^ "Bliss By Danyel Smith". Nathaniel Turner. July 19, 2005. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  27. ^ "Fmr. Vibe Editor Danyel Smith Named Managing Editor Of The Root". Black Snob. September 9, 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  28. ^ Life+Times. "Journalist Danyel Smith Talks New Publishing Endeavor "HRDCVR" | Life+Times". lifeandtimes.com. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  29. ^ "danyelliott - Relationship Goals by Winner's Circle Media on iTunes". iTunes. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  30. ^ "ESPN Adds Five Acclaimed Journalists to The Undefeated's Editorial Team". ESPN MediaZone. Retrieved 2016-04-02.

External links[edit]