Jewel Wicker: Freelance Reporter

Born: In Atlanta, Georgia
Educational Background: Bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University
Current Computer/Mobile Device: MacBook Pro/iPhone X
High Point: Living it right now
Low Point: Recovering from a major car accident

What do you do for a living? 

I’m a freelance reporter. I write about a variety of things, but my main beat is entertainment and culture.

What do you love about your work?

I get to tell the stories of interesting people.

How did you get to this point?

I went freelance, and that allowed me to have more control over the stories I write and more variety.

What is your most significant accomplishment? Is there anything you hope to do even greater?

I wrote a personal essay about my family for BuzzFeed last year, and it is by far my most important work to date. I hope to write a lot more about family and trauma in the future.

How do you keep track of what you’ve done?

I’m a pretty forgetful person in general, so I keep lists everywhere. I try to keep a happy jar, too. Having a place where I track happy moments, no matter how small, comes in handy when I’m having a hard day.

Who do you most admire in your field?

I most admire the minority reporters who are fighting to make the field more diverse.

What are your favorite apps/tools that help you do what you do?

Google Docs is my best friend.

When you make sacrifices for your work, do you tell people or keep it to yourself?

In general, I don’t discuss the sacrifices I make.

What do you do to recharge yourself?

I’m always down for a good nap, but I also take Slow Flow and Meditation yoga class that leaves me feeling recharged.

What was your childhood dream?

I wanted to be a singer because I watched too much Making the Band.

What would you regret not fully being, doing or having in your life?

I have always been a person who wants children.

For what are you most grateful?

I’m the most grateful for my family. It took me a while to appreciate growing up in Atlanta within five miles of most of my relatives. But I now realize that everyone isn’t blessed to live close to loved ones.

Who is the most influential person in your life?

My mom is the most influential person in my life. The work of a mom is never done, and, even now, my mom is still very much continually nurturing, encouraging and supporting me.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

One of my favorite things to do as a kid was “play Oprah.” I’d use a microphone and record myself interviewing people while pretending to be the famous interviewer.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by various types of art, ranging from documentaries to music.

What scares you most?

I think my biggest fear is growing older without family around.

What do you feel your impact is on those around you? What would you like it to be?

I hope as I continue to learn more about what it takes to be a better person, friend, family member, etc. I’m able to pass that knowledge on to those around me. I hope that my lasting impact is one that involves telling the stories and experiences of minority groups.

Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a while? If so, what is it and why haven’t you?

I’ve wanted to decorate my office, but I’m terrible at decorating. I’m trying to create a space away from my bedroom, so I don’t just wake up grab my laptop and stay in my pajamas all day. #WorkLifeBalance

Where is your favorite place?

Atlanta is hands down my favorite place in the world, specifically southwest Atlanta. Growing up, I didn’t realize how lucky I was as a young black girl to grow up in a community where everyone looked like me. It helped instill pride and confidence in me and my blackness as I grew up and moved to places where I was the minority.

If you could take a one-month trip anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go and what would you do?

I’d spend a month traveling to various countries in Africa, starting in Morocco.

In conversation do you tend to talk or listen more?

I work in a business that requires me to listen more than I talk, a skill that was hard for someone who was raised as an only child to grasp. But, in my relationships, I’m not short on words.

What are you looking for when you have a conversation with someone? What topics do you want to discuss?

It varies, but in general, I ask questions to get to know people better. I’ve been told I’m nosy/inquisitive.

What topic(s), if any, do you consider too personal to ask an interview subject?

I think this would depend on the person with whom I’m speaking.

If you were guaranteed honest answers to two questions, what would you ask and to whom?

I’d want to speak with people I’ve felt harmed by to get an understanding of how the cycle began. What were the traumas that haunted them?

What piece of literature has influenced you the most?

I’ve read a lot of literature throughout my life that has had a significant impact on me, but Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye was one of the first books by a black woman I read. As a young girl with binders full of short stories, songs and poems, I was deeply inspired by Morrison’s work.

What are you currently reading or is the last book you read?

I just read Darnell Moore’s No Ashes in the Fire for work, and I was blown away. I highly recommend.

What is the most exciting thing you’ve read online recently?

It’s not a fun read, but I was impressed with the profile on XXXTentacion in the Miami New Times. An intern found the rapper’s address on a speeding ticket, showed up at his door and got an interview. Then she got the first interview with his accuser. I work with interns a lot, and this is such an amazing example of how to carve out a lane for yourself and stand out during your internship.

Who is your favorite person to follow on social media?

@CraigSJ is one of my favorite people to follow on social media. His passion for writing and music makes him one of my current favorite music writers.

Do you have a favorite restaurant? If so, what is it?

Buy me a burrito bowl from Chipotle, and I’ll be your best friend.

What is your favorite comfort food?

I’ll take a bowl of collard greens, topped with tomatoes and onions any day.

What is your favorite food to prepare?

I love anything that can be prepared on a grill. Quick and easy!

What is a song, album or playlist that everyone should hear?

I’m obsessed with the production, vocal arrangements and lyrics throughout Ravyn Lenae’s Crush EP.

When is the last time you cried and why?

I cried last night because I’m in a time of change in my life. I’ve been focused on self-care, physical and mental health for the past six months, and it has led to amazing changes within me. But, with that comes an understanding of things that are unhealthy and toxic. Once you’re more aware of these things, you usually have to let some people and things go.

What has been your biggest disappointment in life, and how did you handle it?

I experienced the death of a loved one for the first time at 12 years old. I’d seen my uncle the night before but was rushing home to watch TV. I didn’t know it would be the last time I would see him. This was a lesson to me at a young age to live in every moment.

What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?

I moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, without knowing anyone.

What do you wish you spent more time doing five years ago?

I wish I had more fun and was more social in college.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to be more compassionate to myself. I wouldn’t discount my experiences, and I’d give myself more room to be a mess. What good is the success that comes with being a perfectionist if you’re too anxious to enjoy it?

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned so far is understanding how to redefine success in a way that best suits me. Taking the pressure off of myself when it comes to professionally succeeding has led me to work that is fulfilling and leaves me less prone to burn out.

How do you define success?

As long as I feel accomplished and like my work which has made an impact on those around me, I feel successful.

What is happiness to you?

It’s taken me years to finally reach a point in my life where I feel genuinely happy. For me, happiness is feeling secure in yourself and the things you’re putting into the universe. It means being unshaken by small disappointments.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

At least 37.

Do you have a mantra or quote that guides your life?

“I’m safe.”

How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered as someone who taught, motivated and inspired others to care for themselves form a deeper understanding of others.

Who would you like to answer these questions?

Necole Kane.

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