Mabel Martinez, Editorial Assistant, Glam Belleza Latina

I don’t want it to be like “She’s Latina, she’s pretty, let’s put her here”. Like, no.

ON HER ETHNICITY

I’m Dominican, born and raised in the Bronx! I grew up with my mom while my dad was living in the Dominican Republic. He came back into my life by the time I was finishing high school. We [my mom and I] used to live with my aunt, her husband and three kids, so it was a full house. It was fun for me because now we’re so close and my cousins are like my brothers and sisters. However, it was tough because my mom worked long hours and wasn’t always around. In elementary school there was a little bullying. It’s weird because I wasn’t a popular girl in school. I would be with some of those girls, but I wasn’t really in that group. I was the smart girl, you know? Always studying and they’d copy my homework, that kind of thing. But, all the guys liked me, which I didn’t understand and I think that’s where the bullying came from. At the time I really didn’t think I was pretty. Once I got older, I wasn’t shy anymore and I didn’t care what people thought of me. I knew I was going to high school soon and I figured I didn’t need to care about what they thought. My mom always instilled in me to never let people get in my mind and to always believe in myself. From there, I focused on school and stopped caring about what people thought.

HER EARLY JOURNALISM JOURNEY

I went to Long Island University in Brooklyn. My freshman year, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I just took Liberal Arts classes. One of them was a journalism class and I ended up liking it a lot. Then, one day, my journalism professor asked me, “Can you join the school newspaper? You’re a really good writer.” I said, “Sure”. I joined the school newspaper, Seawanhaka, and I started my first internship at the daily Spanish-language newspaper, El Diario La Prensa.

My first day, my assignment was on the crimes in Mexico. I knew nothing about that topic and I wasn’t really a hard news writer. But, I took on the assignment and I did my research. Plus, I had to write it in Spanish. I’m better at it now but back then I wasn’t that good. It was difficult because I would have to think in English, and then translate it in Spanish in my mind for it to make sense on paper! I wrote up my article and an hour later my editor said, “This is a great story, I’m going to publish this tomorrow.” He also told me that I was the first intern to do a story and have my work published the next day. I felt really happy about that.

During my junior year in college, I decided that I wanted to be the Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper. So I ran for the position and won. I had so many ideas that I wanted to implement and one of them was re-designing the entire newspaper. I worked together with my school counselor at the time, Richard Nau and we mocked up a layout. I later presented it to the Chair of the Journalism department. He loved it and said I should present it to the Provost of LIU. I met with her and she was like “Wow, this is really good, let’s run with it.” I served two years as Editor-in-Chief and started the official website.

ON GETTING TO GLAM BELLEZA LATINA

During my junior year, I applied to the internship program called ASME (American Society of Magazine Editors) a program that only accepts 10% of all the students that applied. To my surprise I was accepted into the program. They placed me at People magazine. I was doing celebrity reporting, covering events, and writing for the magazine and people.com. I also did a little bit of beauty and worked with the style and beauty team. One of the highlights from that summer was when I broke the story about a certain celebrity that was in a car accident. The article was posted on the site the next morning and it was the number one story for about a week.

After my internship, I kept in touch with the editors at People and freelanced while I was still in school. That spring, I obtained an internship with Cosmopolitan for

Latinas. I wrote for the website and worked with the beauty team and the magazine. Then, People called me and asked if I wanted to come work for them. So, I worked for them for one year, covering red-carpet events, interviewing celebrities and even covering New York Fashion Week.

I also freelanced for Urban Latino and worked with stylist Billie Causieestko styling celebrities and working on a fashion show. Then layoffs happened at People (including myself), and I started to think, “What am I going to do now?”

Ironically, while I was at People I kept in touch with the fashion editor and she later went to Essence magazine. She hired me as a freelancer to work on the Essence Reader’s Choice Beauty Awards. That was a great experience because I learned so much about beauty and organizing a beauty awards package. It was crazy, but a lot of fun.

After Essence, one of the former editors from People went to Parade magazine, and he emailed me about a position opening up as a temp employee for the summer. I interviewed for the position and got the job. I worked at Parade for the entire summer on the digital side, which was more celebrity and entertainment. While I was at Parade, a friend contacted me about a beauty position at Siempre Mujer magazine. I went on an interview and then went to Texas with my friend for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference. While I was in Texas, I got the call that Siempre Mujer wanted to hire me and I accepted. I was at Siempre for a few months but it wasn’t the best fit for me and I started looking for other opportunities.

Eventually, I bumped into Lyndsay Green (former Beauty Editor for TeenVogue.com.), who was at Glam Belleza Latina at the time, and mentioned to her that I was looking for something else. She gave me encouragement, told me to have patience and something will come up at the right time. Next thing you know, she was preparing to head to Teen Vogue and told me to send her my resume for Glam Belleza Latina! I previously wrote for the magazine, so I was already familiar with it.

I met with the editor and I left it all in God’s hands. A few days later I got the job! I’ve always wanted to work there and I’d been reading the magazine since the Jennifer Lopez cover. I’m now the Editorial Assistant for Glam Belleza Latina and I couldn’t be happier. I learn so much from the Editor of Glam Belleza, Patricia (Reynoso). I get to write for the website and magazine, call in and try new products, cover events, and conduct interviews. Its all so much fun. There’s never a dull moment!

HER GO-TO BEAUTY PRODUCTS

ON SEEING MORE LATINAS LEAD IN MEDIA

I feel like we’re getting there. We’re starting to see a lot of diversity and seeing more Latinas and women of color in general in media and in top-level positions at companies. However, there aren’t that many people in the industry that I look up to and say “I want to be like her.” One person I do admire a lot is Soledad O’Brien. She’s an amazing journalist and really speaks her mind and brings up those tough subjects that people don’t usually talk about. She’s truly her own boss and has her own voice. That’s what I love about her. That’s another reason I want to be a Latina on television one day.

Sometimes people see me and categorize me as if I can only do Latino outlets and I don’t want to be categorized. I can do anything I put my mind to and succeed. I would love to do television someday, in front of the camera or behind the scenes. Who knows? That’s one of my dreams and something that I’ll work towards. I don’t want it to be like “She’s Latina, she’s pretty, let’s put her here”. No.

I never thought I would be writing for a magazine. This is still surreal to me. It’s a blessing and something that I’ve worked hard for my whole life. I want to show the younger Latina generation that if I can do it, you can do it too. Sometimes life may take a different road than what you imagined but that’s okay, things always happen when you least expect it and next thing you know, it’s even bigger than what you imagined.

Check out Mabel’s website here and follow her on Instagram, @msmabelmartinez!

Makeup and styling by JV.