Press Lives Matter: Nandi Howard, Writer of 713 Magazine + Houstonia Magazine
Written by Greg Harris
It's been some time since we focused on the Press Lives Matter interview series, but it's only we come back with another innovator in their respective industry. For most of these interviews, we get the view of life from different individuals in the music industry, but this go-around we're going to the sphere of journalism in the Houston area.
Hailing from the Bayou City, Nandi Howard has been one of the key people in the area who's been helping the Houston creative scene elevate. First noticed her work with 713 Magazine on their blog and helping organize their live events, one being the Houston Food Bank show they did with FOE G4NG and Maxo Kream. Since then, she continues to be one of the trail-blazers in H-Town highlighting the city's culture from the lenses of Houstonia Magazine and 713 Magazine.
We had the opportunity to speak to her about her upbringing, how did you she get into writing, how she wants to help cultivate Houston and more.
How’s Your Modern Life?
Busy. Which means it's good. I like being busy
What are three things you have to do when you first wake up in the morning?
It honestly varies but my ideal morning would be something like gym, shower, eat? It normally goes me waking up and rushing to work though haha.
Coming up in Houston, how was your upbringing?
I didn't come up in Houston. I didn't move here until I was about 12. I was born in Columbia, Missouri. My mom was getting her medical degree at Mizzou when she had me as well as being a captain in the military. Since the time I was born, I have been a military kid living from base to base and moving from city to city until my mom was out of the military. I was in private school until 9th grade so I was pretty sheltered until high school.
Coming from the H, how would you describe the nature of the city compared to the rest of the state?
I think Houston has great potential if everyone in the city can get on one accord. I think very few people have made it out of here in the past which creates this mindset that only a few can make it now. That is false. Millennials in Houston can create a space for the creative community to thrive.
From the aspect of being a writer, what aspects of the city inspires you to go above and beyond to write your story and tell others as well?
There are so many stories in Houston because there are very few journalist in Houston. At Houstonia all my editors went to school in New York and then moved back after their 30's. So every good journalist here moves, which makes writing and sending pitches very easy. All it takes is effort.
What were some defining moments for you that inspired your writing?
Going to DePaul University in Chicago. DePaul is a great school and then Chicago is the best city. There was a show almost every night and I wrote for the newspaper and magazine at Depaul. Since I was the only hip-hop writer they sent me to every show which allowed me to meet some great people in the industry.
How would you describe your writing style?
Good haha. I take my time, I connect with whoever I am interviewing, and I make sure to ask questions no one has. I am really protective over my stories, I print them out and highlight specific parts of the story I like or want to change. I may do that 2-3 times before I turn it in to my editor.
Aside from the experience you’ve had growing up in Houston, you’ve also spent some time in Chicago for college. How was your experience there and how did you feel like it helped you grow in your career?
Chicago is the best city for journalist. Its not like NYC where you have to know someone. I literally walked up to Andrew Barber at a Mick Jenkins and Smino show last year and in a month I started writing for Fakeshore and a year later he wrote me a recommendation for law school. I've had internships at Chicago Woman's Magazine to Do312 and it was all because I just went out of my way to email someone or go to the office like, "hey, hire me." Chicago taught me how to be self-sufficient.
Being in a position where you have a voice to influence the culture in the city of Houston, what do you feel like your responsibility is when it comes to figuring out what content to pitch and publish?
I think my responsibility is putting out good content. I hate click bait. I think a lot of these blogs think that is whats going to drive their followers but it might, and then those followers eventually catch on. Finding authentic stories, and finding credible people to write those stories are important.
How do you get in the position of being of the leading voices for Houstonia and 713 Mag, and how do you feel like these opportunities have helped you grow in your career?
Ok, I'll try to make this short. 713 had under 100 followers on Twitter. I reached out to Brandon to see if I could write for him. I think I was like a freshman in college so I just wanted to be published at that point. He and I connected so well and we just became business partners and he is one of my best friends. He picks up where I lack, and where I lack he picks up. We hit 300 followers on Twitter and we thought that was so good, now we're at 7,500 and have had concerts with Uzi, Carti, Maxo, Uno, Dice, Sammy, Rizzo and the list really goes on. I don't think I would be anywhere without 713. This was the first tangible thing I could put on my resume.
In the past 5 years, Houston has been experiencing a shift in the area of the arts and culture scene, how do you feel about it and do you feel like the city is progressing?
I touched on that earlier but, I think Houston will get it together.
Being a tastemaker in the city, how do you feel like you can be able to help Houston reach the heights of having the same appeal as LA or NY?
You know, I think Houston wants to be like LA or NY but it shouldn't. I think Houston should work on capitalizing off being a real city where people work hard to get where they're at. If the city stops focusing on trying to be like other cities they would realize all the gems that are truly here.
"I think my responsibility is putting out good content. I hate click bait. I think a lot of these blogs think that is whats going to drive their followers but it might, and then those followers eventually catch on. Finding authentic stories, and finding credible people to write those stories are important."
Who are 5 artists that you think people should listen to at the moment?
The Stallion. Bbymutha. Rico Nasty. Asian Doll. Janelle Monae
What are three of your favorite spots to eat in Houston and why?
Dish Society. HR Green. Lotus.
I like to be healthy but I die for lotus.
What are three of your favorite pieces you’ve written this year and why?
That's hard. I did a story on the Hive Society, that was dope and probably the profile on my friend Tacharra Perry but, I also really liked the one I just put out with Daze.
What are three goals of yours for this year?
Launch my multimedia company for women, attend law school, and really just to have fun doing it all.
When it’s all said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
As a genuine person.