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Emil Wilbekin

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Information about Emil Wilbekin

Profile image of Emil Wilbekin

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Journalist
Magazine Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
West Indian Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
Stay In Your Lane and Always Be Your Best Self

Birthplace

Born:
9/16/1967
Birth Location:
Cleveland, Ohio

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Journalist
Magazine Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
West Indian Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Paris, France
Favorite Quote:
Stay In Your Lane and Always Be Your Best Self

Birthplace

Born:
9/16/1967
Birth Location:
Cleveland
See how Emil Wilbekin is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Journalist and magazine executive Emil Kraig Wilbekin was born on September 16, 1967 in Cleveland, Ohio. His father, Harvey, was a lawyer and structural engineer; his mother, Cleota, a law judge and sociologist. In 1989, Wilbekin graduated with his B.S. degree in Mass Media Arts from Hampton University, where he was also editor of the Hampton Script. He went on to receive his M.S. degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1990.

Upon graduation, Wilbekin remained in New York City and worked as an in-house editorial assistant at Metropolitan Home and freelanced for a number of publications, including People Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, and The New York Times. In 1992, Wilbekin became a founding editor of Vibe magazine. He went on to serve as Vibe’s associate editor and style editor, and then as fashion director; in 1999, he was named editor-in-chief. In 2002, under Wilbekin’s leadership, Vibe won the coveted National Magazine Award for General Excellence from the American Society of Magazine Editors. Then, in 2003, he became vice president of brand development for Vibe Ventures, where he oversaw Vibe.com, mobile, books, and Vibe TV, and executive produced the first Vibe Awards.

In 2004, Wilbekin left Vibe and was hired as vice president of brand development for Marc Ecko Enterprises and became a contributor and editorial board member of Complex magazine. He then went on to serve as a reporter for AOL Black Voices; a freelance writer for Out magazine; a consultant for Microsoft; and a consultant for Epiphany Media, where he worked in writing, curation and brand development. In 2008, Wilbekin was named editor-in-chief of Giant magazine and Giantmag.com, and in 2009, was made managing editor of Essence.com. He was then appointed as editor-at-large of Essence magazine in 2012. Wilbekin resigned in 2014 and became an independent consultant and editorial content executive.

Wilbekin has served on the boards of LIFEbeat - The Music Industry Fights AIDS, The Stonewall Foundation, the American Society of Magazine Editors, the Design Industries Fighting AIDS (DIFFA), and the Black AIDS Institute. His honors include the Pratt Institute’s Creative Spirit Award, the Howard University Entertainment, Sports, and Law Club Media Award, The Anti Violence Project’s Courage Award, and The Hetrick Martin Institute’s Emory Award. Out magazine named Wilbekin as one of 100 most influential gay people in America in 2002, and he was inducted into the Hampton University Mass Media Arts Hall of Fame in 2007.

Emil Wilbekin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 16, 2014.

See how Emil Wilbekin is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Emil Wilbekin's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Emil Wilbekin lists his favorites, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Emil Wilbekin lists his favorites, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Emil Wilbekin describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his paternal family's Crucian heritage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his maternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Emil Wilbekin talks about being adopted
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Emil Wilbekin describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his mother's membership on an all-white tennis team
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Emil Wilbekins talks about his maternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Emil Wilbekin describes his childhood home in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Emil Wilbekin describes how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Emil Wilbekins describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Emil Wilbekins describes the music played in his home as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Emil Wilbekin describes his childhood neighborhood, Kennedy Heights in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Emil Wilbekin talks about similarities between African American and West Indian culture
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Emil Wilbekin describes his relationship with his elder brother
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Emil Wilbekin talks about managing a learning disability as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Emil Wilbekin describes coming to terms with his sexual identity while studying abroad in London, England
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Emil Wilbekin describes his first impression of Hampton University and his desire to start a magazine and be a millionaire
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Emil Wilbekin describes his extracurricular activities at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia and his involvement with Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Emil Wilbekin talks about beginning to understand his sexual identity and being 'in the closet' at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Emil Wilbekin describes coming out to his parents
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Emil Wilbekin talks about influential professor Lottie Knight and being editor of the student newspaper at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Emil Wilbekin describes his summer internships at the Cincinnati Inquirer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Emil Wilbekin talks about applying to magazine jobs and journalism school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Emil Wilbekin describes his summer internship at Company magazine in London, England
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Emil Wilbekin talks about studying at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Emil Wilbekin talks about getting his first job with Metropolitan Home magazine and being openly gay at work
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Emil Wilbekin describes his social life as a young journalist
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Emil Wilbekin talks about freelance writing while working at Metropolitan Home magazine
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Emil Wilbekin talks about Metropolitan Home magazine's partnership with Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA)
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Emil Wilbekin talks about joining the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) board
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Emil Wilbekin describes the development of Vibe magazine
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Emil Wilbekin remembers creating the test issue of Vibe magazine
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Emil Wilbekin talks about being editor of the new talent "Next" column in Vibe magazine, including interviewing Mary J. Blige
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his relationship with HistoryMaker Quincy Jones and his father, Harvey Wilbekin's, sudden passing in 1997
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Emil Wilbekin describes his first fashion week in Milan, Italy as fashion director of Vibe magazine
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Emil Wilbekin remembers the night he was asked to be editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Emil Wilbekin describes some of his most memorable photo shoots as fashion director of Vibe magazine
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Emil Wilbekin talks about Bevy Smith
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Emil Wilbekin talks about HistoryMakers Keith Clinkscales and Leonard Burnett, Jr. and also Johnathan Van Meter, Vibe's first editor-in-chief
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Emil Wilbekin describes the reputation of Vibe magazine
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Emil Wilbekin talks about the murder of Biggie Smalls (Notorious B.I.G.) outside a Vibe after party
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Emil Wilbekin talks about the sale of Vibe magazine from Time Warner to Miller Publishing
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Emil Wilbekin talks about managing Vibe magazine's fashion budget
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Emil Wilbekin describes his vision for Vibe magazine as editor-in-chief
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Emil Wilbekin talks about Vibe magazine winning an American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) award in 2002
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his involvement with HIV/AIDS literacy organizations and LGBT media
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Emil Wilbekin talks about Vibe's December 2001 issue commemorating 9/11 and transitioning out of his role as editor-in-chief
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Emil Wilbekin talks about working for Marc Ecko
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Emil Wilbekin talks about leaving Vibe and blogging about LeBron James' life off the basketball court
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Emil Wilbekin talks about working at GIANT magazine
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Emil Wilbekin talks about being recruited to run Essence.com
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Emil Wilbekin describes his experience as editor-at-large of Essence magazine
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Emil Wilbekin recalls the controversy surrounding Essence magazine in 2010 when Elliana Placas was hired as fashion director
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Emil Wilbekin considers his future plans at the time of the interview
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Emil Wilbekin reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Emil Wilbekin considers what his father would think of his career and describes his mother's compassion
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Emil Wilbekin describes his mother's personality and accomplishments
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his mother's quilting
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Emil Wilbekin describes spending time with his parents as a child
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his childhood social activities
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his well-known extended family members
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Emil Wilbekin remembers his family reunions
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his maternal and paternal family ancestry
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Emil Wilbekin recalls being babysat by HistoryMaker Nikki Giovanni
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his involvement in Jack and Jill of America, Inc., pt.1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his involvement in Jack and Jill of America, Inc., pt.2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his involvement in Jack and Jill of American Inc., pt. 3
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his social circle in New York, New York
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Emil Wilbekin talks about the Coffee Shop eatery in Union Square and discovering new talent as editor of the Vibe column "Next"
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Emil Wilbekin talks about Nicola Vassell
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Emil Wilbekin describes moving upward in the ranks in Vibe's fashion department
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Emil Wilbekin explains how the jobs of celebrity stylists and fashion editors intersect
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Emil Wilbekin talks about high fashion in Vibe magazine
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Emil Wilbekin talks about tension between high fashion and hip hop culture
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Emil Wilbekin describes watching the ascent of Sean "Diddy" Combs' career
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Emil Wilbekin talks about mediating tense situations at Vibe as editor-in-chief
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Emil Wilbekin describes balancing the editorial and business sides of Vibe
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Emil Wilbekin talks about maintaining journalistic integrity amidst blurred lines between celebrity and journalism
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Emil Wilbekin talks about iconic Vibe magazine celebrity covers
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Emil Wilbekin describes directing photo shoots as editor-in-chief of Vibe
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Emil Wilbekin explains how Vibe developed alongside hip hop culture
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Emil Wilbekin talks about how Vibe changed after the departure of HistoryMakers Keith Clinkscales and Leonard Burnett, Jr.
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Emil Wilbekin talks about his online arts and culture curating and sharing platform "WOW," World of Wilbekin
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Emil Wilbekin reflects on hip hop's appeal to upper-middle class African Americans
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Emil Wilbekin talks about negative aspects of hip hop culture
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Emil Wilbekin talks about Vibe magazine's role as an interpreter of hip hop culture
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Emil Wilbekin talks about fashion trends that emerged from hip hop culture
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Emil Wilbekin reflects over the legacy of hip hop culture
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Emil Wilbekin explains his digital platform "WOW" the World of Wilbekin
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Emil Wilbekin narrates his photographs