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Life Lessons: Angela Burt-Murray (VIDEO)

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Life Lessons:
Angela Burt-Murray (VIDEO)

Hey guys! I am EXTREMELY excited to introduce you to a special group of women. As some of you who follow me on Facebook may know, I have been tapped as one of the hosts of a new, original program on Magic Johnson’s Aspire network (check here for local listings). Exhale is a unique talk show featuring views and well, real talk, about issues pertinent to  African American women. It features strong women, not only in front of the camera but behind the scenes too; I feel incredibly honored and blessed to have worked on it.

So I this week I’m introducing you to my co-hosts and the women behind the concept. Yesterday was Issa Rae; today it’s Angela Burt-Murray. I have known Angela for many years and respected her long before that. The former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, Angela is taking her formidable talent online as c0-founder and editorial director of and Cocoafab.TV. Trust me when I say, this woman is playing for keeps! More now on Angela and be sure to watch  Exhale, Wednesdays on Aspire!

Are you happy at the moment?

I’m very happy with my life and look forward to many new adventures. My life at 43 is fuller, richer, more layered and more exciting than I ever could have imagined. I’ve written two books (releasing a mystery series next year), run Essence magazine, married the man of my dreams, have two amazing boys that make me laugh every single day, and have the creative freedom to pursue my passion on my own terms. I’d say it doesn’t get better than that.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of challenges and bumps along the way, but through the darkest times where I stumbled my family and my friends stood by my side and saw me through. I know there’s nothing I can’t face because of those experiences.

If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be? 

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Stop being so shy and hiding behind your books. Get out there and meet new people and stop worrying about what people think. The world is wide open and you’ve got a lot to share.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

Hard work pays off. No matter how hard the road, the twists, or the detours, if you believe in what you’re doing it will all come to pass. When I left Essence magazine two years ago I said I was going to move to Atlanta and go into TV and digital. It’s taken a little longer than I thought but it’s finally coming together and I couldn’t be more excited!

What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

I want to take my company to the next level, launch new fashion, beauty, home décor and wedding web series and create a quarterly digital magazine.

What’s your secret to happiness? 

Good friends, healthy children, a husband that always supports my dreams and my passport!

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What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded? 

I don’t have any rituals but I think international travel is the greatest gift I’ve given myself and my children. Seeing the world is a powerful way to see beyond yourself and develop an appreciation for other people and cultures. We traveled to South Africa and Japan last year and I think those are memories we will all treasure forever.

What’s your biggest regret?

I don’t have one main regret but one thing I do wish I would do less of is procrastinating. I can be a worldclass procrastinator particularly if it’s something I really don’t want to do.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

I hope I’ve taught them to respect women and do make their own choices and not follow the crowd or what society expects of them as young Black men. I feel like they are bombarded with so many negative messages about who society expects them to be and how they should act and how they should treat women. But my husband and I want them to always think outside of any boundaries and find their own path. Hopefully as children of two entreprenuers they’ll do that!

What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

Procrastination. I’d accomplish so much more!

Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

I’m most proud of being the editor-in-chief of Essence magazine for five years. It was an incredible opportunity that allowed me to cover the major stories of our time like the election of Barack Obama and having the opportunity to interview him in the oval office and to interview Mrs. Obama as well. I hired the magazine’s first Washington correspondent and first Africa correspondent and produced the magazine’s bestselling issue in history.

When were you happiest?

On my honeymoon.

What ten words best describe you?

Driven, competitive, funny, sarcastic, helicopter mom, stylish, protective, loyal, creative, passionate.


Angela Burt-Murray is the former editor-in-chief of ESSENCE magazine and the co-founder of Cocoa Media Group, a new digital media and consulting firm.

While at ESSENCE magazine Burt-Murray oversaw the editorial direction for ESSENCE magazine—the premier lifestyle, news, fashion and beauty magazine for African-American women—as well as—the leading daily online destination to serve that audience. As steward of ESSENCE’s editorial content from 2005-2010, Burt-Murray increased circulation by 20 percent and empowered the brand’s audience of 8.3 million readers of the monthly magazine and over one million monthly unique users of the website.

Burt-Murray also expanded the ESSENCE brand into books, live events and created co-branded news and entertainment specials for CNN and TV ONE.

Prior to joining ESSENCE, Burt-Murray served as executive editor of TEEN PEOPLE and HONEY magazines. She is also the co-author of The Angry Black Woman’s Guide to Life (Dutton), and the novel, The Vow (HarperCollins/ Amistad) which has been optioned by actress Gabrielle Union.

Featured as one of the “40 Under 40” by Crain’s New York Business, she appears regularly on CNN, The Steve Harvey Morning Show, Good Morning America, MSNBC and The Today Show.

A graduate of Hampton University, she resides in New Jersey with her husband and their two children.


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