Candice Frederick: Senior Culture Reporter for the HuffPost

 

Angela Tuell: 0:05

Welcome to Media in Minutes. This is your host Angela Tuell. This podcast features in-depth interviews with those reports on the world around us. They share everything from their favorite stories to what happened behind the lens and give us a glimpse into their world. From our studio here at Communications Redefined, this is Media in Minutes. Today we are talking with Candice Frederick. Candice is Senior Cultural reporter at HuffPost, where she writes about film, TV and 90s pop culture, often at the intersection of identity and social issues. Before that, she was a freelance journalist at numerous publications, including the New York Times, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and the Washington Post. She started her career as a writer and editor at Essence. Hello, Candice, how are things in Brooklyn?

 

Candice Frederick: 0:58

It’s good. It’s actually very dreary, and wet and dark here. So not so great.

 

Angela Tuell: 1:04

Oh, man. Well, you were in Indianapolis, and our weather usually comes there we were dreary yesterday and rainy, today it’s sunny. So hopefully, tomorrow, you’ll have sun.

 

Candice Frederick: 1:13

Bring that over here. Happy to see it.

 

Angela Tuell: 1:17

So I’m excited to jump in. So let’s start with you know, when you were in college, did you ever think you’d be covering film, TV and 90s Pop Culture one day?

 

Candice Frederick: 1:28

You know, I’m not actually sure. I mean, I think I knew that I was gonna be doing pop culture. I think when I first started college and kind of, I was a communications major, and then maybe my sophomore year, I switched to a major in journalism and minor in communications and then dropped the communications. I had a number of internships that were within like this pop culture space, like I had interned at MTV News. I interned at Cosmo and Cosmo Girl at the time. And I don’t think Cosmo girl’s around anymore.

 

Angela Tuell: 2:02

No, I don’t think so. Yeah.

 

Candice Frederick: 2:04

That was really big, then. I feel like I’m missing one more magazine. But it was all within this pop culture space. And so because I had gained this experience throughout college, I kind of figured that that would be the direction that I would I would definitely take. 90s pop culture, you couldn’t have told me that in like the early 2000s or even late 90s that I would be talking about 90s pop culture because that is just like that was current basically at the time.

 

Angela Tuell: 2:32

Yes.

 

Candice Frederick: 2:33

But –

 

Angela Tuell: 2:34

It’s hard to think of, it’s hard to think of how long ago that was now. It doesn’t feel very long ago. But it was a long time ago.

 

Candice Frederick: 2:40

Yeah, seems like yesterday.

 

Angela Tuell: 2:42

Yeah. Well, preparing for this episode, I noticed one of your first jobs was actually working on medical articles for a medical journal. And then you went back and forth a little bit between journalism and PR roles, right? Even serving as a radio host. So there’s also been a lot of variety there. You know, please tell us a little bit more about where you’ve been and what led to that current role after you know, some of those internships you, you mentioned.

 

Candice Frederick: 3:08

Yeah, I mean, I think I just wanted to stay within the publication space. I knew that I wanted to write for a mainstream magazine. And I went back to, I couldn’t find a job here in New York. I went to school here in, at St. John’s. I went back to Boston, which is where I’m from. And so the only only thing I could get I knew I needed a job. The only thing that really set this medical journal, I was not, I was not handling like the editorial of the actual medical content. Was you needed to have, you need you needed to be a doctor because it was very, very nitty gritty cardiovascular stuff.

 

Angela Tuell: 3:52

Oh, yeah.

 

Candice Frederick: 3:53

But I did do a lot of like, anything I could, I could really do editorially, like help with, help the doctors kind of go through the, like kind of shuffled through the editorial process. I think at one point, I handled the Table of Contents, because that’s something that I actually could do and not have to know like medical medicine or anything like that.

 

Angela Tuell: 4:15

Right.

 

Candice Frederick: 4:16

And then I just kind of, I came back here when I got the job at Essence, and that was pretty firmly into the journalists space. And it was just a lot of my jumps were due to layoffs. Like I went into the link right after that I was at Penguin Group, that kind of came because I was doing, I was working in, one of the jobs I had an Essence was working in the books department. So I had gained all these connections working with publishers and so then I got a job at Penguin and then I stayed in PR from there because I just I got honestly just a better paying job at a small ah –

 

Angela Tuell: 4:57

Yeah, right?

 

Candice Frederick: 4:59

Yeah, a boutique PR firm, and that laid off from there. It was like a lot of the changes were due to, like layoffs. But um, but I also really enjoyed PR enough. And then I couldn’t still like write press releases, which is a very different type of writing but –

 

Angela Tuell: 5:19

Right, exactly.

 

Candice Frederick: 5:20

Yeah. But it was, it was at least like, allowing me to still kind of keep the writing muscle. It wasn’t where my heart was, PR, and never really was. But I knew that I was I was good enough doing it so that I just kind of stayed. When I was the communications manager at the Schomburg Center for Research and black culture up in Harlem, that kind of, I was leaning more on, like the stuff that I knew when I was studying communications. So it was like social media, which I was also working on all their publications and all their website content.

 

Angela Tuell: 5:54

Oh wow.

 

Candice Frederick: 5:55

Yeah. So it was it was extremely busy. I was a one person department. And then I went into free – I just freelanced for a long while after that. Longer than I had anticipated. But I was sedulous. I just got really kind of burned out at after Schomburg. And I wanted to kind of redirect back to journalism. Yeah, it was freelance until I got this job at HuffPost two and a half years ago.

 

Angela Tuell: 6:24

Okay, great. So you’ve been there, as you mentioned, almost three years ago. Now, what were you surprised to learn when you started there?

 

Candice Frederick: 6:31

I don’t think anything really shocked me, I knew that they had gone through a number of changes, just HR wise. As with every publication and outlet, they suffered through a lot of buyouts and layoffs and restructuring just galore. And that was still actually even happening within my first year here. So I knew that going in, and I had kind of built this armor around just everything that was going on in journalism in terms of just like, the devastation of the industry. So I kind of felt that armor, especially being a freelancer. And so I kind of expected that going in. Yeah, I don’t think anything particularly shocked me, because I also had worked at various publications in the past. So I kind of knew coming in what to expect. I liked that we work remotely, because I had got, after freelance, and for so many years, I had gotten used to working just alone.

 

Angela Tuell: 7:33

Right, getting more done, right?

 

Candice Frederick: 7:35

Yeah, exactly. I’m so much more productive.

 

Angela Tuell: 7:37

Yes, yes. And HuffPost is very widely read with more than 16 million UVM. So needless to say, your audience is extremely large. Who is your typical audience? How do you describe or, you know, think about them?

 

Candice Frederick: 7:55

This is interesting, because this is a question that I often ask.

 

Angela Tuell: 7:59

That you’re trying to figure out still, right?

 

Candice Frederick: 8:02

I knew a lot of what we do in culture, we are a team of exclusively women and exclusively women of color.

 

Angela Tuell: 8:11

Okay.

 

Candice Frederick: 8:12

And we also talk a lot about, we write a lot about issues of diversity, and reputation and identity and a lot of socio political intersections with entertainment. I say that all to say what we do in culture is really cultivate a more diverse audience. And I think HuffPost is really used to. I think, at its core, it’s used to a very hard news politically engaged audience that skews white that skews older, and that skews conservative.

 

Angela Tuell: 8:44

Oh, really? Okay.

 

Candice Frederick: 8:45

Yeah. I mean, that’s what I –

 

Angela Tuell: 8:46

I’m a little surprised to hear that.

 

Candice Frederick: 8:49

I was too, honestly, because I know, the work that HuffPost does, and I don’t I don’t really know why any of that is true. But that I am only kind of getting that also from the engagement that I would get, like the feedback and the comments, I would get whenever, like, one of our pieces, and I say our meaning anyone across the culture team –

 

Angela Tuell: 9:14

Sure.

 

Candice Frederick: 9:15

Would, you know, as I said, what we what we do is do a lot of things that are more left, left minded and first forward, things like that, and we challenge a lot of the default status quo. And so we are in kind of, I guess, this was a shock actually, to answer the earlier question, this was a shock to kind of learn how off putting the our content would be to this core audience that kind of fold into this more conservative space even though most most of what HuffPost covers is not within that, that mindset, but then we have that but yeah, and so…

 

Angela Tuell: 9:57

It has to be disheartening as well.

 

Candice Frederick: 9:59

That was tough, that was tough. And that was interesting because I come from, I come with the audience that’s been following me over the years. I think in this social media era that we’re living in, I think a lot of people being lured to certain articles on certain websites like ours through social media. And so they’re not always going to look at like, you know, everything across what HuffPost is covering. And so I say that, like, I’ve accumulated an audience, I’ve cultivated an audience from before my years, before HuffPost. And I think that, that happens a lot with either, even other people within the culture team. So we’re bringing an audience that is coming specifically to read our work.

 

Angela Tuell: 10:43

Right.

 

Candice Frederick: 10:44

And so like, there’s like this kind of dichotomy of like, the core audience that HuffPost has, and then the audience that the four of us just bring over. And so I don’t think that those two audiences ever, ever intersect. And I think that a lot of people were kind of coming to us, the culture team, and may not be going anywhere else on HuffPost. I mean, it’s great for the culture. But it’s, um…

 

Angela Tuell: 11:09

Right.

 

Candice Frederick: 11:10

I think we have that kind of like a dual audience in that sense. And I think that’s specifically an experience at the culture team has.

 

Angela Tuell: 11:18

I love that. And I love that you cover film and TV with an eye on identity and social issues. You know, talk a little bit more about that.

 

Candice Frederick: 11:28

Um, yeah, I mean, when I first started covering TV, I use TV and film, I used to have a blog, that’s when I first started covering it. So probably right after I was laid off, at Essence, I found myself with nothing really to do with my time. And so I started this blog. And it kind of spawned from, like conversations I was having with people from across various diverse backgrounds. And so within that, it kind of made me think, think about the art that we consume through various lenses, and understanding that everyone’s bringing something different, everyone with various experiences that are molded from their own backgrounds are bringing various interpretations of the art. And so that’s really where the basis of how I approach my work comes from just like talking to people and understanding like, oh, we are all like, it’s so different. And it’s, it’s challenging people in different ways, is also upsetting people in different ways, and in ways that I might not even fully relate to. And I think that’s what I get to really ponder and grapple with in my work and everything I do, I don’t really, I don’t really write pieces to get people on my side, I write is to get people to think more deeply about the art in which they’re consuming, I think more deeply about just, you know, the ways in which art is expanding our minds and also can be really I don’t want to say thinning, but like, it could be really creating harmful certain stereotypes. Or intentionally, you know, it has it art always has its own agenda. So…

 

Angela Tuell: 13:24

Yes.

 

Candice Frederick: 13:25

It’s really Yeah, about creating conversation. And I like, you know, interviewing people that that a lot of times are much smarter than me or have experiences that I don’t entirely relate to that really, that really opened up the piece. I mean, I all of that is from just kind of knowing people, and then like, understanding that we’re all kind of bringing various experiences that are really informing.

 

Angela Tuell: 13:52

Yes, yeah.

 

Candice Frederick: 13:53

We are we really interpret art.

 

Angela Tuell: 13:56

What do you think today’s TV and film is getting right, and where does it still need work? Which, I know, there’s still a lot of work.

 

Candice Frederick: 14:04

No question. I mean, I think the obvious one is, like, you know, I think that Hollywood is still white centered. I think is white driven, I think is white, male driven, but still white across all genders driven. And so I think that’s really informing some of the antiquated views of race, of gender, um, of sexuality. And so I think that’s kind of we’re seeing, we’re seeing that not evolve as much as it should in 2024. Yes, right.

 

Candice Frederick: 14:46

That, um, I don’t think this is across the board, but I think that there is effort to overcome that. And I still think that there’s this like so much more. So, so much more work to be done and I I mean, I love that people like Issa Rae or Eva Longoria or various other, particularly women of color that are have their own production companies and, you know, kind of putting out art that they’re also producing. Are throwing it and things like that. So that’s that I think is more, more prevalent now than I think it ever has been. So that’s forward movement, I think.

 

Angela Tuell: 15:27

Yeah, unfortunately, it’s baby steps, right? We need to see bigger, bigger leaps.

 

Candice Frederick: 15:33

Yes.

 

Angela Tuell: 15:34

What have been some of your favorite stories recently? Or even doesn’t have to be recent.

 

Candice Frederick: 15:39

I think one thing that I really, really liked that I’ve worked on is I did this piece, kind of after watching, there’s a docu series, or I think it was actually a documentary on Freaknik, which was a festival centered in Atlanta. It was it was very much like, you know, as a black Festival, and they had like, really great, like music and activities. And just like a really safe space for particularly young black folks, particularly those in college would come together and really just have community. And by the end of the 90s, so this was part of the 90s series that I do. It really, really devolved into this really terrible space where rampid rape and sexual assault occurred.

 

Angela Tuell: 16:32

Oh, wow.

 

Candice Frederick: 16:33

And so and it was devastating because it was, you know, it was, it had the best intentions. And then like, because it started in, I think, in the late or mid to late 80s and then dissolved by 1999. And so I wrote this piece really kind of expanding on like one, how, black female sexuality and Vax female sexual empowerment in the 90s was in direct conflict with this deeply misogynistic, misogynist, as well as cholinergic space, where people were being more informed because we had like these great artists like Lil Kim, and all these, like, sexually empowered women, who were also in this space of deep misogyny. And so on the one hand, just like, wow, sexual empowerment. On the other hand, you have rampant sexual abuse. So it was it was very much like this, this idea of empowerment was, was challenging. And ultimately, like, kind of losing this battle –

 

Angela Tuell: 17:38

Right.

 

Candice Frederick: 17:40

of misogyny. And so I kind of talked a lot about, I spoke to experts who are scholars and who really illuminated a lot of what the issues were in a lot of some of those issues that still remain. So yeah. Yeah.

 

Angela Tuell: 17:57

That’s great. We’ll have to link to that one in our show notes. Definitely. What what does your typical day look like? Is there a typical day?

 

Candice Frederick: 18:05

In the morning, I do a lot of reading in the news. And I see like what we’re at, because so much of my job is like, I don’t really like to write articles that other people have written numerous times. And so I, my thing is like, Okay, I’m only going to write or write something, if I knew if I know that I’m adding to a conversation, I’m writing something that I don’t see I’m writing something that I want to read. And so a lot of it in the morning is really looking at what other people are saying about things, what other people have written about, like, you know, TV, art, film, the 90s. Even this, what’s going on at college campuses right now. Everything is so, everything informs everything.

 

Angela Tuell: 18:46

Right.

 

Candice Frederick: 18:47

And so I just kind of really get in there in the morning. And then like throughout the course of the day, sometimes it’s a writing day, sometimes it’s a research day. Like I’m looking to delve a lot of what I wear a lot of the stories that I write I try to think about like just the the space in which they’re coming into. And so, like meaning like what film and TV show, what socio political space kind of gave rise to why is this show happening right now? Why is it important? And what is doing right? What is doing wrong? Do we need? Do we need this? So there’s a lot of like, questioning art that I’m consuming. I also screen a lot of like films and TV throughout the day. There’s that.

 

Angela Tuell: 19:33

I was going to say you probably have to watch a lot of TV and movies and stuff as well. Right?

 

Candice Frederick: 19:39

Constantly, constantly. Yeah, so it was really like staying informed and like seeing what other people were writing about, doing my own writing. I’m researching and I try to be, before I write anything, I try to be as informed about the thing that I’m writing before, really, you know, putting pen to paper so to speak. Yeah, that’s that’s a lot of it.

 

Angela Tuell: 20:02

Do you ever get tired of the of the screening part, you know, the watch of the TV and movies? And, you know, I know, it’s different when you’re watching for pure enjoyment as far as watching for your job, you know.

 

Candice Frederick: 20:17

No…I mean, there’s, I, I’ve been kind of dealing with this thing, like, why are, like there are some, there are some series that I think should be 90 minute films. And so there’s like this, what is happening.

 

Angela Tuell: 20:32

I always wondered that too, yes.

 

Candice Frederick: 20:33

Yeah, like, this is like, so much time, like, initially, there’s 90 minutes. So that’s when it’s just like, you know, feel like it’s like just taking up so much more time than it should. And I don’t think it should be seven episodes, it should be 90 minutes.

 

Angela Tuell: 20:47

Right.

 

Candice Frederick: 20:50

And so, um, yeah, those are the only not the only times, I mean, I get to do this thing that I think is I have a lot of privilege in doing it. And actually, it’s something that I want to do, which is like, I think I read somewhere only, like 40% of the people in this country are doing with it, what that actually makes them happy. And I’m actually part of that. And so I’m lucky in that regard. So there’s not like, oh, gosh, I can’t believe it that like, watch all this stuff or whatever.

 

Angela Tuell: 21:22

Right? A hard job.

 

Candice Frederick: 21:25

Yeah.

 

Angela Tuell: 21:25

Like you probably can’t watch anything without being through that lens anymore, though, right?

 

Candice Frederick: 21:33

That is true. I’m an awful person to watch anything with. Just ask any of my friends, Ugh, I just want to have a good time. I’m not having fun.

 

Angela Tuell: 21:43

Like, I want to turn my brain off and not, you know.

 

Candice Frederick: 21:47

Exactly. You got it.

 

Angela Tuell: 21:49

How many stories are you typically writing a week?

 

Candice Frederick: 21:53

Um, I, you know, sometimes I don’t write any. And then other times, it’s like, I think at most, because I’m a feature writer. And so my articles tend to be lengthy.

 

Angela Tuell: 22:08

Okay, right.

 

Candice Frederick: 22:09

So I think I do at most two.

 

Angela Tuell: 22:12

Okay.

 

Candice Frederick: 22:13

Yeah.

 

Angela Tuell: 22:14

That’s great. How much research and, and thought goes into all of them? And you can definitely tell as you’re reading them, they’re very informative and thought provoking. So I just love your work. What do you

 

Candice Frederick: 22:21

Thank you. recommend? And I might know, know this a little bit from some of the stuff I’ve read recently. But what do you recommend we should all be watching now? You know, I just, this is just so fresh in my mind. But I saw Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, which is in theaters right now.

 

Angela Tuell: 22:41

My youngest wants to see it so badly. He keeps asking every day.

 

Candice Frederick: 22:45

It’s fun, it’s fun. It’s very, like so much suspense and everything. And it’s actually a good time at theater. I had some, like, quibbles with it, but like, that’s just how my brain works. But I think it’s really, really, it’s like, I think it’s over two hours, but it moves so fast.

 

Angela Tuell: 23:01

Okay.

 

Candice Frederick: 23:02

So that one for sure. Um, there are things that are coming up, I just can’t think of anything that’s like, on TV that’s happening right now. I’ve been watching a lot of like, older movies and TV. Like, I’m like, I’m always thinking about just like, and that’s just kind of also to inform the way in which I approach are in having a deeper understanding of what pop culture was doing decades ago, and how it really was a reflection of the times which, which is part of why I do the 90s series is to get a deeper understanding of why things, why we were seeing the type of art that we were seeing and the type of responses that we were seeing and how that shape us as a generation, things like that.

 

Angela Tuell: 23:48

And how it’s changed or not changed, right?

 

Candice Frederick: 23:50

Right. And a lot of it hasn’t.

 

Angela Tuell: 23:53

Yeah.

 

Candice Frederick: 23:54

I mean, a lot of it shouldn’t. You know what I mean, right?

 

Angela Tuell: 23:57

Sure, sure. Yeah. So is there anything we shouldn’t spend our time on watching?

 

Candice Frederick: 24:03

Oh, my goodness.

 

Angela Tuell: 24:04

I’m asking hard ones, right?

 

Candice Frederick: 24:06

I know, I’m just like, oh, you know what? So I’m in a very tiny minority of not really caring for Challengers.

 

Angela Tuell: 24:16

Okay.

 

Candice Frederick: 24:17

Which is a movie in theaters with staring Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor. So yeah, I did not care for that one. It’s a, that’s also a long movie doesn’t have much story. But it’s a long it’s a long movie. So you kind of have to it’s, it’s asking a lot, I think, of its audience. It can be thrilling at times, but ultimately, I think very empty.

 

Angela Tuell: 24:45

Too much. Yeah, a lot of, I feel like there’s been a good number of films like that that are just go on to too long or too much. You know, more than what what they should have been.

 

Candice Frederick: 24:55

Yes, for sure.

 

Angela Tuell: 24:56

You have to also mention that you have been at NABJ award winner.

 

Candice Frederick: 25:01

Yeah, it was just the one award. I think this was when I was at Essence. And it was with my team. We worked on a package called, I don’t even think they still do it anymore. But at the time, they had a package called do Reitman, which

 

Angela Tuell: 25:14

Right. I am sure. Before we go, I’d love to know is kind of like, the Essence version of 50s most beautiful people, or hottest men alive or something like that. But our Essence was a package of hot men who were also doing and giving back to the community as a whole. I mean, it was very, a lot of different like dimensions to it. Because I think at the time, digital was starting to blow up. So there’s like video components, there’s like, audio, and there was just like this, you know, talking about all that there was like this trip that I think the spread was at one point in like Puerto Rico one year. But yeah, it was really just kind of talking about, especially in this space, are responding to this narrative that black men are no good. This piece, this package, really, and I think it was like 50 guys had this, was kind of flipping that narrative on its head and talking about how, you know, these are good men, and in our opinion, also very hot. And so a lot of, a lot of them were like submissions. I think all of them were almost, there were a lot of Haitians, there was also a lot of celebrities as well. So those were like pitches, or people pitches that we would get things like that. And so it was like kind of half and half, but we wanted to make sure that, you know, accessibility was a big thing. So but yeah, that was our impetus that we were just trying to challenge the narrative that still remains, by the way. something that others may be surprised to learn about you if you’re willing to share.

 

Candice Frederick: 27:02

Um, yeah, I’m a foodie and a cyclist.

 

Angela Tuell: 27:08

Okay.

 

Candice Frederick: 27:09

When the weather gets much better today, I’m usually on a bike going somewhere.

 

Angela Tuell: 27:15

Oh, nice. That this kind of work good together. Right. So you, you exercise? You love food as well.

 

Candice Frederick: 27:21

Yes. I hike, I do – I’m very much an outdoorsy person.

 

Angela Tuell: 27:26

Oh, that’s great. And in Brooklyn. I mean, there’s lots of lots of outdoorsy, but it’s a little hard to find some nature sometimes, right?

 

Candice Frederick: 27:33

Very much so. I mean, like there’s trails, but like for like bike trails and things, like you can you can definitely bike across the across the borough’s, but I think like upstate and is where I usually hike.

 

Angela Tuell: 27:47

Okay.

 

Candice Frederick: 27:48

So much more space up there. Wilderness.

 

Angela Tuell: 27:52

Yes. So how can our listeners connect with you online?

 

Candice Frederick: 27:55

You can find me at HuffPost, you can probably I think the easiest way to find me on HuffPost is to just search my name, my byline. And across social media through also searching my name. On Twitter my handle is Reel Talker. That was probably the platform that I’m most active on. But like Threads and Facebook and Instagram I’m on all of those.

 

Angela Tuell: 28:24

Great and we will link to all of those in our show notes as well. Thank you so much, Candice.

 

Candice Frederick: 28:29

Have a good one.

 

Angela Tuell: 28:31

That’s all for this episode of Media in Minutes, a podcast by Communications Redefined. Please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe to our show. We’d love to hear what you think. You can find more at CommunicationsRedefined.com/podcast. I’m your host, Angela Tuell. Talk to you next time.

In today’s episode, Angela talks with Candice Frederick about HuffPost’s culture team, the need for diverse and inclusive representation in TV and film, 90s pop culture and media consumption, as well as challenging narratives and stereotypes in media and entertainment.

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