Magazine publisher speaks at Livingstone College
By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Education and hard work helped propel Dr. Jamie Foster Brown from working as an advertising secretary for Black Entertainment Television’s founder Bob Johnson to running her own magazine.
That’s what she told Livingstone College students Wednesday during the school’s weekly assembly.
“I have to express to you that I would have never been in this position if I didn’t have a great education and if I didn’t have skills,” she said.
Brown, the publisher and owner of Sister 2 Sister magazine, is a graduate of the University of Stockholm in Sweden. She received a doctor of humane letters from Bennett College for Women in 2008.
After being promoted to producer and successfully working on BET shows like “Video Soul” and “Video LP,” Brown decided to set out on her own by starting the magazine. She had to learn the business from the ground up, devoting much time and energy to the project.
Brown said her father taught her the importance of a good work ethic.
“You come early, you stay late,” she said. “If the guy is giving you 10 cents an hour and you agree to that, you work 150 percent no matter what.”
Brown said it’s important for students to find their niche.
“I didn’t know I could run a magazine …” she said. “My father taught me to be a good secretary because if you were a good secretary, back in those days, he said you could get your feet in the door, any door.
“Once you’re in that door then you can navigate your way around, but you have to have a skill to get in.”
Strong writing and language skills were the tickets Brown used to get ahead at BET.
Brown said students also need to be willing to start at the bottom.
“When I started out I was only making $10,500,” she said. “That was nothing, but the opportunity was huge.
“A lot of these kids come out of college and they feel they can be the director of this or that, but it’s not like that.”
Clarence Jackson IV, Livingstone’s student body president, said Brown gave an inspiring talk.
“She gave a lot of poignant information about what we need to prepare for a future in anything that we would like to do,” he said. “It gave students another perspective to see that if we work hard we might be able to do the same thing.”
Brown briefly discussed her relationship with Whitney Houston, who she considered a close friend. The two met while Brown was still working at BET and Houston went on to be on the cover of Sister 2 Sister several times.
“This is a very, very difficult time,” she said. “So it’s good for me to be here today because I feel good to be among you guys.”
Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy Jenkins invited Brown to speak at the college after the two met at the Congressional Black Caucus.
“I always want to talk to our children because it is very important for them to know what they can do and how they can do better, be better,” she said. “I want them to have good lives …that’s kind of my passion.”Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.