Inside the August Room With Audrey

In the bustling heart of the digital world, nestled amongst the glitz of big-name magazines, Audrey Malone makes her mark. She has a heart made from the molten core of her island home and is dedicated to telling real stories. The room she created has an August atmosphere filled with authenticity, passion, and cultural richness. Step into the digital sanctuary of “SITI Girl Virgin Islands,” where stories dive deep into the abyss, encapsulating the essence of lives lived with purpose. Audrey, the scribe behind it all, is an ‘equal opportunity editor’ who relentlessly ensures her platform resonates with real women’s heartbeats, trials, triumphs, and tales of resilience. Here, diversity and authenticity are celebrated, and the variants are unmasked. So, come into the August Room to learn more about Audrey’s mission and vision behind SITI Girl Virgin Islands.

Tell us more about your why. Why SITI Girl Virgin Islands, and why a magazine?

In full transparency, it would never and could never be anything else. Whether I live in a different state or country, I am an island girl, and I wear the VI on my back. A magazine is just a combination of opportunity and a chance to do something I’ve wanted to do. I grew up sifting over magazines in my aunt’s hair shop, glossing over pictures and stories. And I always took the Jet, Ebony, and Essence magazines to read over and over again. To see women who looked like me, and learn about lives that I probably would not have, had always been something I looked forward to. I wondered how it would be to have your story written in a magazine that everyone read and clamored over, wondered what it was like for the person who was trusted to put that story together. As much as I wanted to be the subject of the story, I wanted more to be the one to write it.

Which parts of your communications background have been the most valuable in your role as Editor-in-Chief?

Which part hasn’t, lol?! Truth is, not many people know about my communications background. At some point in my life, from high school to the present, I’ve landed somewhere in communications. High school was with WTJX and CBS-TV2 with Graffiti Street and its short-lived competitor Teen Jamz. Those shows are where I learned about telling the stories of the community, asking the right questions, understanding the topic, and framing it for entertainment. In college (the first time around), probably the most memorable impact, I had a short stint on HOT 91 WNSB as an on-air personality. I was so nervous my first night on air, but when I popped that mic, something about it just clicked. That experience taught me how to connect with my audience. And some of the shenanigans still make me smile when I think about it. 2013 I was back on air in St. Thomas, on Radio One AM 1000 with my own show, Evenings w/Audrey. Now that opened so many more doors than I could imagine, and it gave me chances to be involved in the community. I became a trusted voice and worked on several other projects that impacted me as much as I did others.

All of these experiences impact what I do in this role, and I don’t take any of the influences for granted.

Can you tell me more about how SITI Girl Virgin Islands ensures that women from diverse backgrounds have their voices heard on the platform?

I’m an equal opportunity editor; I welcome every story that’s going to inspire and change the world. Or at least one person’s world. I want women; truthfully, I want women from the Caribbean and other parts of the diaspora to know that there is a digital space dedicated to their stories. Like any media brand, I am selective about how stories are portrayed. I am critical of what image and perception can be made about the magazine and the women I showcase. So, I do as much research as possible. I want to know how involved they are in their communities, how people receive them, and, importantly, how authentic they are. I have no interest in highlighting anyone who wants to sell me a six for a nine. You have to be a true game changer, no matter your field, and come from an authentic place of passion. Someone with a personal brand that does not match their professional brand is considered but with great pause. It’s important that these stories come from the heart because someone out there will read them and take them to their heart.

What does Virgin Islands’ representation in the digital space mean to you?

For me, that means making sure the faces and stories that we see and share are about Virgin Islanders that are changing the landscape in some form. More than that, it’s about representing our community in totality, not just in popularity. We have scientists, artists, writers, and such the like that deserve more than just a footnote or a quick bit of story. The way we fight to keep the traditions of culture alive, we should also put in the work to make sure that Virgin Islanders know that they can see themselves in the stories, pictures, and headlines that are shared. The outcome of individual dreams is infinite, and the work to make sure that as many dreams are represented, needs to be a collective effort of all Virgin Islanders, to ensure every possible dream is authentically represented. SITI Girl Virgin Islands is doing its part, and I hope other outlets will do the same.

Which publication(s), digital or print, do you derive inspiration from?

I would call it every black girl’s trifecta Jet, Ebony, and Essence. Essence is the front-runner. It has been able to continue to be a voice for black women, and I’ve watched it reinvent itself with the rise of social media and that dark period where the patriarchy almost caused it to crash. Essence’s CEO Caroline Wanga is also a major influence as a leader. I love the way she shows up, her vibe, vision, and passion. I’ve never seen the head of a media powerhouse show up as she does. She gives me chills, and I would love to sit at the table with her!

What do you believe sets SITI Girl Virgin Islands apart from others in the SITI Girl collective?

I am proud of my other EICs, and I want all of us to be incredibly successful; that’s number one. I’m fortunate to have the experience and the degrees (finally!) to mold and create a space that amplifies women in the best way. What sets SITI Girl Virgin Islands apart are the stories, the community that supports the women behind them, and, I guess, my determination to make it work. I want every woman in the magazine to feel like they have received celebrity status recognition, and that experience is at the forefront of every story I publish. Also, I’m not afraid to ask my #SITIGirls to bring all of them. People find it hard to talk about themselves, and that’s okay. Vomit all the details, and I’ll polish the rest. The reaction from every one of them inspires me and lets me know I’m on to something.

Can you speak to any future projects or directions that you are excited to explore with SITI Girl Virgin Islands in the next five years

Five years… I really can’t speak that far ahead. Right now, my focus is the next month and the next issue. I would love for the magazine to be a part of cultural dialogue and how we can use all our media spaces to market the Virgin Islands as the cultural epicenter it is. Maybe be a part of a larger collaboration that shakes it up with the big-name magazines. But truly, I just want the magazine to be successful enough to tell the stories of at least 100 women. Then I’ll up the ante from there.

What advice do you have for young Black women looking to enter or create names for themselves in the communications world?

Find a way to do it and pursue it with every fiber of your being. Landing the dream role or opportunity may be a fractional journey like mine was, but never be afraid to take the risks that lead you to your goal. Chase it, rearrange it, evolve it as time passes, but never give up on it. The door will open to the space and place you are meant to thrive in. I wanted to write for Essence, part of me still does, but I get to do something I am passionate about and with full creative and authoritative control.

How do your personal values align with the mission of SITI Girl Virgin Islands, and how do you bring your authentic self to the role?

I have been through some things, and I have dug deep to find my authentic self a lot of times. I work hard to be someone that others can trust, know they can be safe with, and value who they are. I am by no means perfect, and I am still a work in progress, but I work hard to be better each day. It took me a minute to get to this point, and now that I am here, those are the values I pour into the magazine.

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