* Meet Geneva Thomas – the smart, sassy and funny media dynamo who has become a breakout star due to her role on the hot TV reality show “Blood, Sweat and Heels.”
Throughout the season the Detroit beauty has been “the voice of reason,” even though she’s the youngest amongst a cast of professional women living in New York City who are in pursuit of their big dreams.
Of course turning her dreams into reality is nothing new for Thomas, who is an enterprising lifestyle journalist whose byline has appeared in publications like Ebony Magazine, Italia’s Vogue, Huffington Post, and Uptown Magazine.
She is also a principal at 1530 Agency where she develops creative and strategic concepts for some of the world’s hottest beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands. The Robertson Treatment recently caught up with this friendly diva to talk about the show and to find out her plans for the future.
Robertson Treatment: How did you come to the attention of the producer’s “Blood, Sweat & Heels?”
Geneva Thomas: I was approached by production. They were looking for African American women in fashion and media. I got a call, and a year later, the rest is all heels
RT: What do you feel that you add to the ensemble?
I add unapologetic realness. I’m generally the one in the group that says what people are thinking. It’s all straight and no chaser. I’m also the youngest on the cast, so career-wise, you’ll see me sharpen and further define my career as a style and pop culture journalist and brand strategist.
RT: How do you feel about the critics who say that reality television paints an unflattering picture of women, especially black women?
GT: Well, I’ve been the critic, myself. I’ve written often about the representation of Black women on reality. There are undoubtedly unflattering images out there. What we need in Black America, is not exclusion of representations—because it’s entertainment, it’s also how some women live, and finally, numbers show they we all watching. What we need is balance. I’m elated to reveal “Blood, Sweat and Heels” has zero violence. We throw shade, not bottles. Our conflict is what women in New York City really experience. Our conflict is honest, witty, and clever. Real women will relate to that. We’re also extremely aspirational for young viewers. Our show offers a bit of the balance we’ve been missing.
RT: How do you plan to leverage this opportunity to grow your brand?
GT: My professional mantra has always been, “Work first. Brand later.” My exhaustive education and experience as a media and marketing professional will power the brand I’m developing. My work as a journalist is the intersection of style and pop culture. The goal is to come behind my writing desk a bit more, and create platforms where I can speak with authority and candor on celebrity culture, fashion and lifestyle. Uptown Magazine has helped me do that with the launch of my Style for Breakfast Series (SFB). SFB is an experience designed to connect beauty and fashion brands with media and social influencers. You’ll see my partnership with Uptown and SFB explored on the show. I also recently launched the 1530 Agency. It’s a digital agency for beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands that want to market to millennial women – particularly Black and Latina millennials. I’m so thrilled about it, because I get to merge my work as a content creator and brand strategist. I get to help brands concept and ideate digital strategy and strategic partnerships for the world’s power influencer, and that’s Black and Brown women. 1530 Agency soft launched in September during fashion with the social media driven event “Hair Icon” —which I designed and curated for Beautiful Textures, BET and Cadillac.
RT What’s the secret to your success as professional journalist?
GT: What worked for me is that I spent a lot of time researching and grasping a command on race, pop culture, and style. I did this at the graduate level at NYU and during my undergrad work at Michigan State University and during international studies. So that’s what my work became all about when I started at Clutch Magazine, and ventured off to AOL, Huffington Post, Vogue Italia and eventually as a editor at Ebony. I think it’s critical for journalists to really narrow your interests, and your beat, and do everything you can to be able to speak fluently on that topic. Whether you explore it in grad school, or actually work in that industry. There’s nothing worse than journalists attempting to write about topic areas they have no real experience with and passion for. Female journalists that inspire me Michaela angela davis, Farai Chideya, Lola Ogunnaike all have a strong command of their voice in their work, and that has really inspired me.
RT: Why is brand identity so important in today’s workplace?
GT: Well jobs are over. Let’s just establish that. Professional Black Americans have to really embrace becoming a versatile millennial professional. It’s silly and so 90’s for folk to think you can just have one job, or one title in today’s climate. When people ask me what I do, I say, ‘How much time do you have?’ Everyone’s talking ‘my brand this, and my brand that…’, but it’s key to know your positioning. There can be no brand without positioning. Marketing professionals know this well. What is your unique identity in the market? What are your qualities and attributes that distinguishes your brand from other brands. Why should people trust you? If Black professionals haven’t answered those questions for themselves, than they really should omit, “my brand” from their vernacular. Also, an one check chick, is the new basic chick. Ha! Let’s all embrace the inflow of varying coins. Finally, it’s cute to have thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram, but your Linkedin should be completely updated, accurate and polished. I’m checking for folk’s LinkedIn profiles first, and then I’ll see if they’re straight flexing on Instagram.
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Gil Robertson is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author and president of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA).
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