Meet The Firecracker Behind Ebony Magazine

Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
There's no shortage of amazing women in this city, but Ebony magazine editor-in-chief Mitzi Miller is a next-level trailblazer. Seriously, you don't get ranked number 16 on The Root's list of the Top 100 most influential African-Americans — the highest of all Chicagoans — for being a slacker.
It's Miller's tenacity and hardcore work ethic that give her the confidence to run the most successful magazine on newsstands for women of color. But, when we caught up with the media superstar, her recent success isn't the only thing we chatted about — her thoughts on everything from Kendall Jenner's cornrows and the lack of diversity in women's publications to the "controversy" surrounding Blue Ivy's hair and her own go-to lip color also came up, too. Read on, and prepare to be inspired!
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
How does it feel to be running the No. 1 African-American lifestyle magazine? Does Ebony's history create an added sense of pressure?
"It's been insanely exciting and frightening at the same time. Being responsible for leading such a historic brand is such an honor. It definitely adds pressure… and additional gray hairs."

What was the biggest change you wanted to make when you took over?
"I wouldn't call it a 'change,' more like a refocus. I wanted to bring more gender balance to [the] publication so that we could increase our male readership. If I told you my plans, I would have to kidnap you... I kid, I kid! I believe the way to increase gender parity is through content and appearance. Not only am I increasing the amount of stories geared towards guys, I'm also mindful of resisting the natural urge to go all soft and pink in the appearance."

Bar III dress, Calvin Klein tights, Via Spiga shoes, BCBG Max Azria necklace, Rolex watch, Rachel Roy earrings.
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
You were just ranked number 16 on The Root's list of the 100 most influential African-Americans — and the highest-ranked Chicagoan. Do you think the city needs more black influencers?
"Absolutely. I think every city benefits from diversity, and Chicago is no different."

African-American hair and makeup is tied to racial and societal identity. What are your thoughts on celebs like Miley Cyrus wearing Bantu knots or Kendall Jenner wearing cornrows?
"I find Miley and Kendall's recent 'discovery' of these traditional African-American hairstyles rather amusing. However, I wonder if they actually understand the significance."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
What are some of the best beauty tips you've picked up?
"A concealer and foundation that match your skin perfectly are game-changers. Add a dope eyebrow powder and pop of lipstick to the mix, and you will never take another bad picture."

Aside from Fashion Fair (owned by Johnson Publishing Company Chairman Linda Johnson Rice), of course, what are some of the best beauty brands for darker skin tones?
"Aside from Fashion Fair, Make Up For Ever, St.Ives, Aveeno, MAC, and NARS."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
Do you think the natural hair movement is having a moment? Or, is it just getting more media coverage?
"The natural hair 'movement' has been around and going strong since people of color came to this country. Happily, I think it's finally receiving the positive media coverage it deserves. It's encouraging to see that being comfortable with the texture hair that you were born with is considered cool, and becoming more accepted in corporate settings."

Have you been surprised and/or disappointed by the ongoing conversation surrounding Blue Ivy's hair?
"I was surprised and disappointed. Blue Ivy is a child. It's really distressful that people can be that critical of a little girl who is unable to tie her shoe let alone comb her own hair. It seems really petty and mean."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
What do you hope for the future of women's publications and how they portray women of color?
"I really hope that more of the mainstream publications will be more proactive and inclusive of black skin and hair issues. It's very disappointing for me to read magazines where, in 2014, there is no mention at all of black beauty issues. Considering how diverse the world is and how the majority of our traditions/trends trickle down, it just seems so pedestrian to wait for Miley Cyrus or Kim Kardashian's little sister to attempt it before they are willing to recognize it as beautiful and worthy."

Theory pants, Aqua sweater, Carolinna Espinosa shoes, Rolex watch, David Yurman ring, Earrings from Argentina.
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What does your beauty routine consist of?
"Every morning I wash my face with St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub. Next, I apply Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer to my entire face. On the average workday, I'll dab a bit of Make Up For Ever High Definition Concealer, to help out with the dark circles I've inherited from my mom, and lightly pat on some Make Up For Ever High Definition Foundation.

"Then, I'll fill in my brows with Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo; apply some eye shadow (copper and soft, smoky tones are my favorite); swipe on Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner on the top lid and bottom lashes; add Maybelline Volum' Express Mascara; and bump the cheeks with Fashion Fair Perfect Finish Illuminator in Sun Soleil. Last, but not least, my go-to lip color all year-round is Fashion Fair's Siren. No matter the season, that red always hits the right note.

"At night, I use Target Makeup Remover Cleansing Towlettes and Make Up For Ever Sens’Eyes makeup remover to clean my face. I rinse with cool water and pat dry. Then, I apply Bobbi Brown Extra Eye Repair Cream and the Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
What have you learned from working with women like Desiree Rogers (CEO, Johnson Publishing Company) and Linda Johnson Rice?
"That there really are women who look amazing every single day of the week. Seriously. My bosses are smart, driven women who spend all day multitasking issues that would keep the average person shaking in their boots — yet, they both look great all the time."

What's one of the coolest perks about your job?
"The travel. I wish I could stay longer on some of my trips, but I really appreciate the opportunity to be on-the-go."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
How do you unwind?
"I love to spend time with my friends and loved ones, as well as travel to warm places where I can read on the beach. I'm most at peace when I am near the ocean."

Do you feel the way your book, The Angry Black Woman, portrays African-American women by personality is still accurate today, 10 years later?
"Honestly, I haven’t read my book in so long I couldn't give you a 100% yes or no. However, the primary purpose of the book was to poke fun at an untrue, negative stereotype that attempts to lump together all opinionated women (because there is an Angry White Woman category, as well). And, I think that sentiment holds true to this day."

Any plans to pen another book in the future?
"Absolutely. I love being an editor, but my true passion lies in creating and sharing entertaining stories."
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
Where in Chicago do you like to shop for your hair/skin/makeup products?
"I'm really low-maintenance when it comes to beauty. If it isn’t in Target, Sephora, or Macy's… I'm probably not going to be able to keep it up for too long."

Whose beauty/style do you admire and why?
"Nia Long. Her fresh-faced, girl-next-door beauty has been turning heads for as long as I can remember. And, I love that she represents for the petite curvy girls."

Sea skirt, H&M shirt, Enzo Angiolini shoes, Vince Camuto cuff, Necklaces are Miller's own
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
Do you have any homemade/DIY beauty treatments?
"Absolutely. Years ago, my amazing hairdresser shared this leave-in hair conditioner that I use to this day — one part extra virgin olive oil, ¾ natural aloe gel. I just mix it up, fully saturate my hair, lightly diffuse, and go. The oil moisturizes and gives my curls shine while the aloe gel offers a light hold so that my hair doesn't frizz."

Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil, $13.45, available at Amazon; Lily of the Desert 99% Aloe Vera Gelly, $6.22. available at Herb.com; Kimblebeauty Bounce Back Curl Revitalizer, $15.99. available at Kimblebeauty; Kimblebeauty Bounce Back Curl Cream, $12.99, available at Kimblebeauty.
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Photographed by Lucy Hewett.
What's the best beauty advice you've ever received?
"Remember to smile. It makes you more attractive than all the makeup in the world. My mom has been reminding me of that my entire life."
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