Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff sits comfortably in her London home, her innocuous smile draws you to her face before being distracted by the backdrop of her bookcase which is inundated with books on culture, anthology and her own work. Gazing at Charlie across the screen seems fitting as she almost seems like a virtual character, as through her work as the Editor-in-Chief of gal-dem she has mastered the world of online magazines.
Gal-dem magazine covers articles on culture, politics, lifestyle, music and articles written in a first-person perspective. The themes of the articles focus mainly on culture, identity and issues related to people of ethnic minorities and marginalised groups.
At only 27 years old, Charlie has worked hard to get her foot in the door. She has an impressive resume which includes not only being the current Editor-in-Chief at gal-dem, but also a freelancer at the Guardian and former editor and writer at Dazed. She’s also freelanced and written columns at other notable and reputable news and media outlets including Metro, the Observer, The Financial Times and easyjet magazine.
Despite the vast achievements in her career, Charlie remains modest about her success. “Because I went to school in Scotland, I ended up going to university when I was 17 so I tend to be a year ahead of most of my peers. it’s not because I’m smart or anything it’s just because the Scottish education system is a bit weird.”
Alongside writing for endless publications Charlie is also a published author, she has written two books: Black Joy and Mother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children. The latter she wrote in just two months “It was really hard, and I often look back on how unfair that ask of the publisher was,” says Charlie.
Working for gal-dem, a magazine produced by women and non-binary people of colour focussing on the perspectives of these marginalised groups, it’s no surprise that Charlie’s books carry on the themes of race and belonging. Charlie, who was born in Hackney and moved to Edinburgh when she was 8, understands the topic of race very well because of her cultural background. “I’m black and mixed race I usually identify myself as being a mixed-race black woman. My mum is Jamaican and Cuban, and my dad is white.”
She’s had to learn how to navigate an industry that has for a long time been dominated by white men, though things are beginning to change. “Very early on I found a community of young journalists who were also people of colour. And we were able to hold each other’s hands as we move through the industry because there are barriers there are things that will happen that will not happen to your white peers necessarily.”
Present at Charlie’s online talk are 20 aspiring journalists. Thaddeus O’Connor-Dunphie, 22, said: “I really enjoyed listening to Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff’s masterclass and I found it very thought provoking.” In awe of how much she has accomplished at such a young age, he adds “Charlie looked so young which made her long list of achievements seem even more impressive.”
Hanna Leppanen, 32, a student and Content Editor for UN Women, was also inspired by Charlie’s talk. “I think she was great and really passionate about what she was doing. She’s a great example for aspiring journalists who want to bring change and get those voices and stories out there that need to be heard.