Editor-in-Chief, The Lily at The Washington Post, Washington DC
One day I came across an online publication called The Lily and specifically their First Person essays section. After reading several, I was hooked on their messaging; even the illustrations were captivating - simple, elegant and effective. I further discovered that this project is housed under the Washington Post umbrella and is run entirely by women. You can read more about the story behind the Lily here, but the main driving force of the newspaper is Amy King. I reached out to Amy to meet and hear more about what drives her and showcase her ambitions for the paper. The plan is to make the Lily a place for the "curious minded and for those who want to be heard". The team of six bright, talented women (highlighted in Q 20 below) and countless contributors like those in the "First Person" essays will bring you coverage of national news, politics, gender equality, health, film, fashion and more. They "expect you to feel uncomfortable. To agree and then passionately disagree." That sounds like a perfect recipe for the current political climate. I'm hooked. With an honest, fresh voice, discussing topics that interest passionate females everywhere, I present the latest WOW Woman - Amy King.
2. Where is your hometown?
North Canton, Ohio
3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?
I am the Editor in Chief and Creative Director of The Lily and Design Director for the Emerging News Products team at The Washington Post.
4. What was the journey like to get where you are (career wise)? When was the mental shift to start the journey?
I’ve always had the urge to create something new. In my early 20s I tried working with friends to create original web publications — one on fashion and one on weddings — but the projects didn’t last more than a couple months. It’s tough to make new things. I ended up going back into journalism, to work at a big paper as a print designer. I loved working at a newspaper, but I always knew I was just creating and designing within guidelines someone else set, executing someone else’s vision. This isn’t super satisfying. So to have the opportunity to work at The Washington Post and also create a The Lily from nothing has been wonderful and something I could not have foreseen at the beginning of my career.
5. What did you study in school?
I went to Ohio University and studied publication design from two former newspaper designers. They were both quite influential and made me appreciate the relationship between journalism and visuals.
6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?
When I was 20, I probably thought I should be married with kids by 30. Luckily, I grew out of this idea for my life and instead have a wonderful partner and no kids. But maybe someday. I did not see myself working in Washington, D.C. or at The Washington Post. But I do think I knew journalism was for me. Ever since high school, I loved the atmosphere of a newsroom. I love creating something with people I find smart and interesting and funny. I love the pace of my days. The news is quick. Never boring.
7. Biggest accomplishment since making the (physical/mental) move?
I feel great that I launched The Lily. But more than that, I feel excited that I assembled a team of five incredible women who helped me do it. It took us more than a year to convince stakeholders and then plan and prepare for launch. And for most of this year, we were doing this on top of our full-time jobs.
8. What was biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?
In regards to my current job and launching The Lily, I can’t think of anything that’s been disappointing. It’s been exciting and new and challenging. Something that’s been difficult for me over the past year was caring for my mom, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last October, during the same time I was working to launch The Lily. I wrote about it here. It was really hard to be away from my parents when they were dealing with so much.
9. Advice for other women?
Be your own advocate. Tell people what you want and what you think. Don’t assume people know because most people are just thinking about themselves. I hear a lot of talk about not being chosen for something or not getting a certain opportunity — but you can’t wait around for these things. And if no one will listen to what you want to do, you can usually find a way to just start doing it. Even if it’s in a small way. And do what you can do speak highly of your colleagues or people you manage in front of other people. I was fortunate to have previous bosses do this for me, and it was invaluable to my career. Also, be kind to the people you interact with every day. Be patient. And be calm.
10. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it for "feminist values"?
With The Lily, we are hoping to share the stories of women around our world. I think it’s important to expose as many diverse voices and perspectives as we possibly can. I am hopeful.
11. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?
I love being with my partner. Anywhere with him, I am standing tall. I feel supported and loved and challenged. I love most when we are climbing a mountain or flying somewhere on a plane or talking about journalism or drinking a bottle of wine. I also feel energized at work, with my team, discussing a new idea or project we want to pursue. Being at the beginning of an idea is a good place to be. We can think of something new anytime we want. And then do it. That is special.
12. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?
I have an Instagram account called @foundaqtip where I find qtips on the street. This has nothing to do with work or any other part of my life. It’s just something I do for fun, and people seem to think it’s weird or cool or disgusting. People have feelings about it, which counts for something. I also like hiking. I like the people you meet hiking and the clothes you wear hiking and the way your brain feels while you’re hiking and the chocolate that seems to come with hiking.
13. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?
I made a promise to myself to leave the country at least once a year, but I’d like to travel more internationally. I’d like to live somewhere abroad for at least a few months. I’d like to have a bernedoodle come and live with me. I met one the other day in an elevator. I want to live in a house I can help design. I want to buy less things.
14. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?
I would I could be less of a hypochondriac. I recently forced myself to stop searching symptoms on Google.
15. Anything you'd do differently (if you had another go at life)?
I love how my life is going. But I did almost take a video production class in high schoo instead of taking journalism. In another life I am a Director or a Director of Cinematography. Maybe there’s still time.
16. What inspires you?
My partner. He looks at life differently than anyone I’ve ever known. He’s instilled a healthy skepticism in me that I wouldn’t want to do without. He challenges systems and people and ideas, and I admire it. I’m inspired by other people’s works of art -- books and movies and albums and television. I’m inspired by the shapes of trees and fruits and flowers. I’m inspired by how objects are spaced out or how they interact with each other in the physical world. I’m inspired by people who have a sunny disposition and by people who are good at editing their lives.
17. What are you hopeful about?
I am hopeful about everything. Maybe I am hopeful to a fault. I think I’ve been pretty fortunate that most things in my life have worked out to be ok, even when times are tough.
18. What are some ingredients to a good life?
A good life is one that’s shared. It’s full of projects where the time passes quickly. It’s outside and up mountains and down trails. It’s with laughter and with wine and with a lot of sleep. It’s with proper lighting and soundtrack. It’s with things that don’t seem so great so that the great things really are. It’s with novelty and anticipation. It’s just long enough.
19. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)
I just started reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This year, I’ve been reading a lot of books by Ann Patchett. I love every one of them. I’ve read Commonwealth, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto and most recently State of Wonder. I usually try to convince every one around me to read whichever book I just finished. Other good ones from this year: White Fur by Jardine Libaire, My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout, Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy. I also loved Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler.
20. Who is a “WOW Woman” in your life who inspires you (and why)?
I’m inspired by the five other women on Team Lily (@neema.rp, @rachelanneorr, @smashleynguyen, @amycavenaile and @carol_shih). They are smart and dedicated and full of ideas. And they genuinely care for each other and our team. They champion each others ideas and help each other realize those ideas, and it’s quite lovely to watch.
21. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?
My website is amynking.com
Instagram @the.amy.king and @foundaqtip