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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU Journalism Professor Brings Her Vivacious Personality and New York Experiences to the Classrooms of Umphrey Lee

The Umphrey Lee classroom 278’s small, intimate setting with dim lighting couldn’t be more opposite of the bright personality and vivacious spirit of the Southern Methodist University magazine writing professor, Andrea Artebery.

Her chic, puffy-sleeved black blazer with black polka dots over a black t-shirt that says “La Femme” in bold white letters says it all. She’s fierce. She’s fun. She’s daring. Wearing trendy Air Force One sneakers, layered gold chunky necklaces and ombre glittery nails. Even her make-up is glowy and minimal as if it was done professionally.

Eighteen years ago, at the age of 22, Arterbery graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in journalism, an internship at the Dallas Morning News, and a serious relationship. She met magazine editor Mimi Valdes at a journalism convention and was inspired to leave Denton and move to New York to work as an editor. That night, she couldn’t sleep after dinner with her boyfriend, who had just put marriage on the table. Wide awake, she pondered her life’s purpose. She had packed her belongings, found a roommate and apartment on Craigslist, and purchased a one-way ticket to the Big Apple before sunrise the next morning.

She stepped off the plane and into the crowded streets of NYC. Walking down 5th Avenue and 18th Street, she met her first “real New Yorker,” she says, describing her exotic peacock-like manager, Maria, waving her arms in the air as if she had wings and feathers. After six months of sales at Express on 5th Avenue, she began looking for her dream editorial job. She eagerly typed in all 10 digits, hit call, and waited impatiently with every ring. Women’s Wear Daily picked up the line and invited her to come into the office. The next day, she took matters into her own hands. After her shift ended at Express, she dashed to the 3rd avenue office for WWD.

The elevator doors opened and she locked eyes with the very intense, dismissive, fiery red-haired, deadline-oriented, cursing, and size-too-small wearing Julie Noten. Arterbery and Noten talked about everything except her resume. From Dr. Pepper obsessions to organizing boxes, the two hit it off. She was hired without details of when to start or what her role would be, but she knew it would enhance her writing career and give her the exposure necessary to succeed in the city.

“They finally offered me a full-time job, moving on up, but I still had no benefits,” she said. “So if I got hit by a bus, it was just ‘good luck girl.’”

Her peers nicknamed her “Little Miss Southern” for her friendliness in NYC, and she received free perks like $3,000 foot treatments, expensive facials, teeth whitening, and nose hair massages. She met fashion editors Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley, who influenced her style and writing.

“Photographer, hairstylist and makeup artist friends made me the most fabulously poor person ever,” she said. “Forget your Anna Delvey, I was New York’s it girl, except I wasn’t scamming people.”

Andrea in New York.
Andrea in New York. Photo credit: Andrea Arterbery

For three years, Arterbery’s daily routine included opening Express at 5:30 a.m., selling until 3 p.m., and then going to WWD until nightfall. She even covered events that lasted until her limited-brand store shift the next morning.

“I was so savage,” Arterbery said. “I was a true hustler.”

She met Bill Cunningham, a NY Times fashion photographer known for candid street photography, on his bicycle one day while walking to work.

“Bill told me to always hang out with the weirdos,” she said. “I eventually met Tasha T, an editor at Essence magazine, who put in a good word.”

According to Essence Communications, it’s “the number one media, technology and commerce company dedicated to black women and inspires a global audience of more than 17 million through diverse storytelling and immersive original content.” Also, the Essence data portrays it has “only 69 employees and an annual revenue of about $5.8 million.”

Arterbery got an interview with Mickey Taylor, who she said was the black version of her WWD manager, Pete. Arterbery said for the black community, the magazine is Essence. She sat with a beaming smile for over five hours, awaiting her interview. She sat next to Essence editor, Jessica, now a close friend, who handed her a magazine, rolling her eyes at Artebery’s excitement.

“Child, if you’re waiting on Mickey, you might be waiting until tomorrow,” Jessica said.

Taylor arrived in her trench coat, more interested in finding a mirror and tweezers than Arterbery’s background and experience.

“Mickey said, ‘That’s good, baby, but should I make this one higher or do they look symmetrical, you do it,’” Artebery said, describing her encounter with Taylor, the beauty and cover editor. “So, I plucked Mickey Taylor’s eyebrows and I got the job at Essence.”

Even as an official beauty editor, she couldn’t afford the high rent. She made $42,000 a year with benefits.

Arterbery, 40, grew up in East Texas but now calls herself a New Yorker. She embodies pop-cultural femininity. Her fashion sense, unshakeable charm, and expertise help shape younger generations, while her candidness makes college educational and fun for her students.

She advises her students to be accessible and remembered. Interns are, in her words, “a dime a dozen,” and no company wants a lazy intern who will mess everything up.

“You have to be smart and make sure you leave an imprint on people’s minds to get the job,” Arterbery said.

Journalism senior at SMU, Kelley Small, shares her thoughts on why she believes Arterbery is a great addition to the department.

“She utilizes her years of real-world adventures and brings it into lectures and discussions,” Small said. “She is also full of advice for students wanting to get into the journalism field after graduation.”

She’s learned from her city life as a freelance writer and magazine editor for Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Elle. She hopes to show her students what it’s like to work in the industry from doing cover shoots with Tyra Banks, writing book reviews, and going on press trips.

Artebery’s career highlight was when she was published in the NY Times. She ran down to the deli at 5 a.m. in her robe and slippers. It had been her childhood dream. She had her own page and felt like she had won a Pulitzer Prize.

“It must’ve been the equivalency of being an Olympic runner and winning gold,” she said.

At the age of 30, she had her son, Aiden. It was difficult to juggle pumping, writing, all-nighters, and finding peace of mind as a single working mom. After Aiden turned 2, she went to Times Square to lay on the cold concrete, look into the night sky and ask for a sign. A man then walked by, dropped the f-bomb, and yelled at her to get up. That was enough for her to call her mom and fly back to her southern roots.

Andrea and her son.
Andrea and her son. Photo credit: Andrea Arterbery

“The problem with living in New York is that everything is so fast-paced that it’s difficult to focus on the details,” she said. “You can’t slow down there, you have to hustle.”

It’s been difficult returning to Dallas after 11 years in NYC. She felt she had to start over and taught at UNT before moving to SMU. She is constantly reminding herself to slow down as she walks across campus. Aiden excels in third-grade math and models for the Kim Dawson Agency, with his mom as his stylist.

Jenny Davis, a professor in the fashion media department at SMU, said that Arterbery knows what makes up a unique magazine. Davis said Arterbery is exactly what this program needs and she is grateful for her skillset, enthusiasm, and insight.

“All of her wealth of experience makes her a stronger professor because she teaches students how to do a job from a 360-degree standpoint,” Davis said. “She teaches you how to be professional with tips from her own personal experiences.”

Living in Dallas, she channels everything she learned in New York so she can share her wisdom with her students. Her next goals include being an author of her own book and earning her Ph.D.this is an imagethis is an image

“I miss the energy of New York and want to go back eventually, but I was there at such a particular moment in time,” Arterbery said. “For now, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

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