Lyric McHenry was my friend. We worked together at Refinery29 and she became more than just my work wife. She was one of my closest friends.
We both made our careers in and cared deeply about media. As such, I can’t be silent about the way she is being portrayed in the press in the wake of her death. She deserves better. This is how I remember Lyric.
Lyric and I started as R29 interns together in June of 2016. I was fresh out of college, unsure of who I was going to be. Lyric, on the other hand, knew exactly who she was — she had big plans. She was already two years out of Stanford, ready to make her mark on the world. She was filled with ideas, writing scripts devoted to opening up a dialogue around racial and social awareness. Her ambition and drive to do something meaningful motivated me.
I’ll never forget the moment she introduced herself to a dozen of us at the Refinery29 orientation. It wasn’t just her beautiful name or smile that immediately stood out — her friendly, positive energy was just magnetic. We became friends instantly.
I can’t be silent about the way she is being portrayed in the press in the wake of her death. She deserves better.
Within our first month here, we began to discuss how we could make Refinery29’s content more inclusive. Shortly afterwards, Lyric created a web series, Lingo with Lyric, and was an early champion for Refinery29's Unbothered, a page made by and for Black millennial women. She was also someone who believed that other voices were just as important as her own.
I remember finding out she was on reality series EJNYC, and while she was proud to be on a show with her dearest friend EJ Johnson and her sister, Maya, it was just one of many things on her plate. It was a show to celebrate her friendships and her family. She not only appeared on EJNYC, but served as a producer as well. Lyric was so much more than a “reality star” – she was a dreamer and a hustler.
The photo atop this essay was taken on a brutally hot day on a rooftop in Brooklyn. It was the first big shoot we’d been assigned, and it wasn’t glamorous. We were lugging heavy equipment up and down a fifth-floor walk-up for a 12-hour shoot. It was strenuous, time was passing ever-so-slowly, and honestly, I was over it. But Lyric saw an opportunity to make it better. As always, she had an idea. She asked the wardrobe stylist if we could borrow a few pieces from the shoot.
“At least we’ll look chic while we take everyone’s lunch orders,” she said.
At first, I felt ridiculous wearing these sequined, flashy outfits while picking up sandwiches for the crew at the local bodega. But soon, I realized Lyric was right. She didn’t just make that day bearable — she made it memorable, and she made it really fun. That was the kind of person she was. She could make even the most mundane task into something extraordinary. She genuinely cared about the people she loved, and her positive outlook on life was infectious.
Right now, I’m reading a lot of salacious headlines created to drive traffic. This is devastating for everyone who loved Lyric. I’ve been inundated with texts and calls from friends who are just as shocked and hurt by the loss of someone who meant so much to us all. Lyric spent the last moments of her life celebrating with her close friends and her little sister Maya, whom she loved more than life itself.
Her life (and no one's life) could never be summed up in a headline — especially the ones that are being published. It makes me question the way women are portrayed in the media, especially women of color. And I wonder now: Do we ever really know the full story?
She genuinely cared about the people she loved, and her positive outlook on life was infectious.
A week ago, I saw it was Lyric’s 26th birthday. I thought to myself, I need to reach out properly so we can catch up. I knew she’d been working as an associate producer at Complex and had a bunch of other exciting projects in the works, including a feature screenplay she had just written. But I didn’t reach out. Life got in the way like it does, and I’ll always regret not making that call.
Yesterday, I learned an important lesson. Even though it seems like we're always in each other’s lives because of social media, we aren’t. It’s important to remember to reach out and tell people who you care about that you love them. I wish I had told her how much I did. I’ll miss her forever.
I love you, Lyric. Rest in peace.