It’s officially summer, grrls! And part 2 of 4 of “Behind the Zine” interviews with the awesome editors of Grrlpunch! I hope everyone loved getting to know a little more about Samantha and what she does for our magazine. In this interview, I talked with Jada Akoto, artistic editor for GrrlPunch (and recent high school graduate!). Enjoy!

Chelsea: Congratulations on graduating high school! Are you excited?

Jada: Thank you! I’m so excited, I just finished submitting my final financial aid stuff, like, 15 minutes ago, so it’s all very real now.

C: Do you have any fun plans for the summer?

J: Maybe! I was just told we may be going to Las Vegas, which is really fun! But right now, I’m just focused on getting a job and saving up money before college.

C: Where are you going to school?

J: Rhode Island School of Design

C: Wow, that’ll be a big change from Memphis! Have you lived in Memphis your whole life?

J: Yeah, I have. My dad, he’s from Ghana, but my mom has lived here her entire life.

C: So, what are you going to study at Rhode Island?

J: Most likely graphic design. Like, that’s the thing I’ve been doing the past four years, ever since freshman year of high school, so I’m pretty sure that’s what I want to do.

C: Do you have any ideal places you would like to work in the future?

J: I really want to work either in advertisement or publication, designing layouts for magazines or newspapers.

C: That’s awesome, since you already have the experience with an online magazine!

J: Yeah, definitely!

C: How long have you been involved with GrrlPunch?

J: I started in December of 2015, and I became artistic editor in October 2016.

C: What does the job of artistic editor entail?

J: Basically, I handle how the images are supposed to be formatted on the website, but I also talk to the grrls about their artistic styles and how to clean up their artwork, so it can be better for the publication. Just making sure it kind of fits with the style of Grrlpunch and what we’re all looking for as editors and what we want our website to be represented as.

C: What would you say that style is?

J: Well we don’t have a “definite” style yet. We’re very into graphics right now, just because that’s what most of our grrls are using, but we also love oil paintings, just different mediums, trying to show what grrlpunch represents.

C: What does Grrlpunch represent, in your opinion and in your life specifically?

J: Grrlpunch to me is basically a freedom of expression. Lucy started this up, and she didn’t have something like GrrlPunch when she was younger and when she needed it, and I think that’s what we’re giving to younger girls. That’s why I’m so excited to be a part of it, being able to give my voice to younger girls so they can have their own.

C: Since you started in 2015, how would you say GrrlPunch has evolved and grown?

J: I kind of came in late to the game. Lucy and Emily have been there since the beginning, so they probably have a better understanding of what it’s become. But we definitely have evolved in the social media aspect; we’re getting better at that, getting our name out there in the world, which is very exciting to hear and see. We have grrls from all over the world now, and it’s so exciting to see it evolve in that way.

C: Do you have any hopes for where GrrlPunch will go in the future or specific changes you would like to see?

J: I want us to just keep growing bigger and have a constant community, like people who are dying to read Grrlpunch every single day. I want our design to be HUGE. I want it to be the biggest thing since Rookie or like Messy Heads now. I want us to be up there.

C: If there was anything you could say to Grrlpunch readers, what would that be?

J: I really want people to know that GrrlPunch is a very inclusive group and a very inclusive publication. We support everyone in everything they do – girl, boy, in between, every race. I think it’s just a matter of being able to speak out and speak up for what you believe in, anything to get your message across.

C: Thank you so much, Jada, for giving us some insight into your life, your future, and how much you love GrrlPunch! Thanks to Jada, and our other amazing editors, Grrlpunch is growing and improving all the time. We can’t wait to see what’s in store!