Stories by

Ayana Archie

By Laura Zornosa

When Ayana Archie wrote about a seemingly blue sand dune on Mars, she realized that she would try anything once when it came to journalism.

Ayana, 20, covered the red planet last summer when she interned at CNN. Hard news was a foreign beat to a writer who swears by arts and entertainment, she said.

Her editor at CNN, however, advised her to not look at a journalism background in arts and culture as a weakness and to use that voice to infuse her stories with a narrative.

So she did.

As a proud Atlanta native (she loves Waffle House, which originated nearby), she said the city’s character has influenced her craft.

Atlanta’s environment and culture “has really shaped the way I write and the things I choose to write about.”

Ayana is a junior at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. But journalism was not her first choice: Ayana also thought about film school. She even submitted the script of a miniseries she wrote with a friend to The Black List, the website of the screenwriter Lena Waithe.

“The basis for journalism is storytelling, so I don’t feel like I missed out” by not going to film school, Ayana said. “I do still feel good in journalism and being able to tell other people’s stories.”

Eventually, Ayana wants to get into scriptwriting for television. She said her natural gravitation toward writing ties her interests of scriptwriting and journalism together.

She wants to keep all options open, but writing is a constant. Other than that, Ayana is not picky about what publication she ends up at or where it is. What matters to her is the ability to use her skill set.

“I want to have the opportunity to explore the stories that really matter to me and I’m sure matter to a lot of people and be able to explore it in different ways,” she said.

Photo by Gabriella N. Báez/NYT Institute

Three members of New York’s hip-hop scene, two artists and a DJ, explore incorporating different influences into their craft, while also hoping to regain New York rap’s relevance in popular music. To create a new “New York sound,” they draw on deep connections from their lives, surroundings and careers.