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COOL FACES OF BASTET NOIR: Meet Amanda Randone, International Freelance Journalist

Amanda Randone wearing The Ori Dress by Bastet Noir custom-made for her | Photography by Bailey Theado

Personal decisions can sometimes be anything but personal. Living as a young woman foreshadows a lot of “do’s” and “do not's” in the eyes of those surrounding us, be it, friends or family. A woman’s career choice is a subject that always appears to be up for debate, which is why a lot of girls can crack under the pressure and try to appease others and go for something safe, rather than follow their dream in spite of being aware of how hard it might get. Journalism as a field of work is one that offers a lot of uncertainty, and at times can make one question their own conviction. That is why the strong-minded and self-assertive thrive, but that can only be achieved through lots of trial and error, as well as self-reflection.

Journalism has always been the main tool used for gaining global up-to-date information on the daily. Today, so many conversations are brought to the table regarding issues of race, politics, and religion — not as conversations that are happening in a vacuum, but as part of an effort to cover how these issues inevitably overlap and inform a more comprehensive view of the world. That is why it’s crucial to use all platforms as a source of knowledge for the masses and amplify the voices that need to be heard through our own.

Amanda Randone has been dedicated to doing just that for many years. She is a London-based writer and editor for magazine mavens such as British Vogue, Refinery29, Vogue Arabia, Coveteur, and Elle — among others — where she covers topics ranging from fashion to religious and health issues. And if that’s not enough, she’s also the founder of Amanda Randone Creative Services, through which she works with various brands as a language and culture consultant. What really caught our eye with Amanda though, despite her many achievements is her objective approach in tackling topics like race and religion. But, that’s not all she has up her sleeve. Demystified, her Refinery29 style series delves into the meaning of traditional symbols and motifs across cultures. How cool is that? We are beyond thrilled to have Amanda be our latest Cool Face of Bastet Noir, so keep on reading to find out more about this awe-striking woman.

Amanda Randone wearing The Ori Dress custom-made by Bastet Noir | Photography by Bailey Theado

Who is Amanda Randone?

I’m a work in progress! My passion-turned-profession as a writer and interviewer affords me the opportunity to always be learning something new, and to challenge my own worldview whenever I’m invited to consider someone else’s.

At the moment, I’m based in London where I cover fashion, culture, and women’s issues both within this city and beyond. My latest story, for example, looks at how the pandemic has furthered an alarming decline of labor rights among Asian garment workers along the global supply chain. I also have a series on Refinery29 called Demystified which explores the cross-cultural significance of trending symbols in design (think the coiled ouroboros of a Gucci ring or Marine Serre’s affinity for the crescent moon).

I’m a wife, a sister and a daughter, a New Yorker, and a lover of books and vintage clothes.

Amanda Randone wearing The Ori Dress custom-made by Bastet Noir | Photography by Bailey Theado
The Ori Dress
custom-made by Bastet Noir| Photography by Bailey Theado

What’s your morning routine like?

Having the flexibility and privilege of being a freelancer has allowed me to be more deliberate in how I choose to start my day. It can be hard to establish structure (and boundaries!) in your routine when you’re your own boss, especially when your entire schedule can get turned upside down at the click of a button if a pitch is picked up or you’re asked to turn something around quickly for a client or an editor. So I’ve tried to carve out time for myself in the mornings, which really means avoiding screens.

A few years back, I was struck one morning by how profoundly technology has encroached upon our everyday lives while clawing for my phone as soon as I had woken up. I was perturbed by how natural it had become for me to engage with an inanimate device before the actual human being beside me, and since then I’ve stopped bringing my phone into the bedroom. My days start by acknowledging my husband before anything else.

Next, I drink 800ml of water and read a book for at least 45 minutes. Then caffeine, and then the screens.

Amanda Randone wearing The Ori Dress custom-made by Bastet Noir | Photography by Bailey Theado

Your words have been published in powerhouses such as British Vogue, Vogue Arabia, Elle USA, Bustle, Refinery29 and the list goes on and on, which is truly impressive. How did it all start and when was that pivotal moment in your career when you knew you’ve chosen the right career path?

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I could read, and I’ve always trusted that instinct. But journalism is an undoubtedly volatile industry with little promise of stability. For that reason, I’d been advised against going into it all throughout college, despite pursuing studies in journalism and editing the student newspaper. But writing and reporting came so naturally to me that I was actually more afraid of the parts of myself I’d lose by not exploring this professionally than I was of entering such a turbulent industry.

I think any time someone agrees to an interview with me for an article, I feel confident in my choice to keep moving forward in this career path, even when that requires crossing a media landscape that is constantly in flux. It’s a tremendous responsibility to be trusted with another person’s thoughts, ideas, or story, especially when that story deals with the kind of trauma, discrimination, or hardship I have not, and in some cases will never, encounter myself. Doing justice to those lived experiences and translating them for a wider audience must be done thoughtfully, and with respect.

That being said, profiling Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir — one of the youngest world leaders and a stalwart environmentalist — in 2018 was a remarkable moment in my career. Within months of that conversation, I ended up speaking with women like Stacey Abrams (a candidate for Georgia governor at the time) and now-Congresswoman Veronica Escobar about considering female leadership in American politics through a more intersectional lens. These are the women who are actively making the world a better and safer place, especially for its oppressed and invisible populations. Asking them about this work was extraordinary.

Amanda Randone wearing The Ori Dress custom-made by Bastet Noir | Photography by Bailey Theado

You co-author a monthly newsletter alongside Alice Brace and Mary Frances Knapp called “Medium Rare” which has a very unique approach to it, reading almost like a conversation between friends on a given topic. How did this come about and has there been a specific topic that has made you seriously put your thinking cap on?

Thank you for bringing up Medium Rare (psst: you can subscribe here)! It’s a project I’ve taken on with two brilliant writer friends who are former colleagues of mine, and we decided to launch it as a way to contemplate, challenge, and rethink our own perspectives on current events while inviting others to do the same. This felt important in the throes of a global health crisis, a high-stakes presidential election, and a belated racial reckoning taking place across the globe. The initiative is still in its early stages (we’re approaching issue #8 next month) and, so far, it’s helped me to recognize and celebrate the value of our words when there is no paycheck attached.

By nature of its format, Medium Rare encourages me (and, I hope, our readers) to dive deep below the surface of my thoughts because each month one of us prompts the other two with a topical question. Every fourth month, we invite a guest editor to do the same. Our first contributor was Chinazo Ufodiama, creator and co-host of the podcast Unpretty, who asked about the validity of the public labels we assign ourselves (ex. feminist, ally, and so on). In response, I was forced to confront how I project myself to the world, especially online. Where is the line between meaningful solidarity and virtue signaling, and have I ever crossed it? My co-writer, Mary Frances, put it best: Is this an expression of myself that is not only necessary in this space but authentic to my actions?

What do you wish you knew before starting out?

I wish I knew to be more cautious in excavating my own life for a story (particularly during the personal-essay boom of 2015–2017) before fully unpacking those pieces of my identity for myself first. The media — be it in the press, in films, in documentaries, or in books — likes to fetishize women’s pain, and while there’s power in taking ownership of your struggle and choosing how you want it to be portrayed, at the same time, putting it all out there to be inspected, judged, or even enjoyed by anonymous strangers can be difficult, terrifying, and dangerous, especially if you’re a Black woman or a woman of color. So if the most you hope to gain from that experience is a byline, it might not be the right moment to put that inner pain under a public microscope.

I also wish I was more conscious about diversifying my source list when I first started getting published. Using the platforms I have access to for passing the mic over to those whose voices have been silenced or ignored is just one step towards better representation. That work needs to be done at every level of the reporting process, from the scholars who are interviewed to the existing research that is cited, to the photographers who are hired. All of these facets of storytelling present an opportunity to engage with and learn from non-white experts and creatives whose input and perspective are too often missing from mainstream conversations in media.

Amanda Randone wearing The Ori Dress custom-made by Bastet Noir | Photography by Bailey Theado

Biggest setback in life and what you’ve learned from it?

It’s not so much a single setback that I’ve learned from, rather the consistency of rejection that you simply can’t escape as a freelance writer. This is never easy, but it becomes more tolerable when you stop taking it personally, remind yourself that all writers go through it, and stick with it long enough for your skin to thicken. There are a slew of reasons your pitch might not be getting picked up, be it budget constraints, scheduling issues, or something else entirely. You just never know what’s happening on the other end of that email. 

Still, the rejection can be crippling; it can put a strain on your mental health and cause you to question your own skill and talent. So developing your tool kit for navigating this part of the process is necessary for succeeding as a freelancer. Also, asking for feedback when possible is an effective way to improve your own pitching style and approach.

Books that changed your life

While it’s hard to point to one single book that has changed my life, there are many that have had a direct and positive influence on how I live. Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age, for example, is the reason I’ve established boundaries with my smartphone. Orsola de Castro’s Loved Clothes Last has caused me to rethink the relationship I have with my existing wardrobe.

But it’s always the magic of fiction — and its ability to transport me elsewhere in my own mind and to change my perception of what literature could be — that’s had the biggest impact on me as a reader. Most recently, I’ve been inspired by how books like Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half and Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other use imagined stories to expose very real truths about relationships, family, intergenerational trauma, sexism, racism, joy, love, and so much more.

Favorite female empowerment speech

This speech isn’t about empowering women specifically, but it’s delivered by a woman who has channeled her otherness into a lifelong pursuit of justice on behalf of New York City’s marginalized communities. Tahanie Aboushi is a civil rights lawyer running to become Manhattan’s next district attorney and, if elected, Aboushi — born into a Palestinian immigrant family — would be the first person of color and the first woman to hold this office in Manhattan, and the first Muslim DA in America’s history. 

Aboushi has been advocating for intersectional, community-first solutions to fundamentally transforming the criminal justice system in New York long before these progressive ideas became widely discussed across the U.S. in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. The clip below is from the speech she gave at the National Black Theatre in Harlem to announce her historic candidacy in January of 2020.

What’s in your Bastet Noir cart?

The Marge Set from Bastet Noir’s latest Siciliana collection (that blue baroque-inspired pattern is the look I didn’t know my summer wardrobe was missing), these patterned scrunchies, and the Ali Dress for as soon as I have an excuse to get dressed up again.

If you liked Amanda’s story, there’s plenty more to come, just hit that sign up button to get in our inner circle of coolness and never miss a thang!

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