Smart, witty, fun, and always ready to lend a hand is how I would describe my friend Christiana Lilly. We met during the time we both worked together at Boca Magazine. Christiana was the web editor and work never felt like work when we collaborated on many projects. As a journalist, Christiana is on top of her game with her journalistic integrity, compassion for the subject matter, and dedication to presenting a story both factually and with humanity. I'm so excited for our followers to learn more about this super talented friend of mine.
What is your favorite quote or life motto?
“You don't have to be satisfied with America as you find it. You can change it.” – Upton Sinclair
There are so many great quotes, but this one always sticks out to me, particularly right now that our country is going through so many changes and taking a deep look at how we can be better. Sinclair was a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and he wrote “The Jungle,” about an immigrant fam- ily who struggles when they arrive in America. Most importantly, he shared the unsanitary and unsafe conditions people at that time were working in in food factories. Because of his book, people demanded major changes in the workplace and it lead to the creation of food safety laws!
How did you get into journalism and was it something you knew you wanted to do early on?
I wanted to be a journalist since middle school. My friend and I started a classroom newsletter in sixth grade – you know, super important issues like the lunch menu, upcoming field trips and people’s birthdays. I still have copies of it! In high school I joined the school newspaper and got a real taste of journalism and knew this was what I wanted to do. Oddly enough, I had a hard time reading and writing in elementary school. But one day, it all clicked for me and writing became a mode for me to tell stories.
As a journalist, you get to meet and chat with so many interesting individuals. What is your most memorable interview?
I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been able to interview celebrities, people who have done incredible things, and also ordinary people making a difference. I’ve interviewed a 5-year-old who won a trip to Hawaii with her family through the Make- A-Wish Foundation and I’ve also interviewed a World War II woman pilot!
Probably the interview that stands out to me the most was in college when I went to prison twice to interview a gang member. It was for a class project and the theme was skin, so I took the idea of tattoos a step further and wrote a story about gang tattoos and how it is a terrible re- minder of the past for people who leave that life behind. I wrote letters to a few inmates I found online who had telltale gang tattoos and one of them agreed to an interview.
You’ve also covered and written stories dealing with human trafficking and domestic violence. This is a cause that you are very involved in. Please tell us more about the nonprofit No More Tears.
Journalism lead me to this cause! When I was a reporter for the Sun Sentinel’s community papers, I interviewed the founder of No More Tears, a domestic violence and human trafficking nonprofit that was just a few years old at that time. I hit it off with the founder and we probably talked for an hour after the interview. This is an important cause to me because I’ve seen so many people around me belittled, threatened and abused by the people who are supposed to care for them. I started volunteering and doing what I could with my media background, and I am now on the board of directors. The world of charities can be so political, but I’ve stuck with No More Tears because of how hands-on we are with survivors and their families. The founder, Somy Ali, is incredible and I hope to be half as awesome as her!
To date, what would you consider your greatest accomplishment?
It’s not why I do it, but I’ve gotten some awards for my reporting by the Florida Magazine Association and the Society of Professional Journalists Florida chapter. So, I guess that’s pretty cool!
What is one fact that most wouldn’t know about you?
Most people know I grew up moving around Asia because of my parents’ work, but more specifically, it's because my father was in the Central Intelligence Agency. I'm not sure what he did everyday at work. I mean, do you know what your dad did everyday at work?
Now let’s talk fashion! How would you describe your personal style?
Now let’s talk fashion! How would you describe your personal style?
I’m still trying to figure this out! But when I look at my closet, I see a mix of sleek neutrals and boho. One day I’ll wear all black with my leather biker booties, the next I’m wearing a flowy embroidered dress, and the day after that I’m in my favorite white tee with shorts. But no matter what, I love accessorizing with jewelry.
Who’s your celebrity style crush?
It changes all the time, but right now I’m digging Chrissy Teigen’s vibe.
What’s your go-to outfit when you’re pressed for time?
It depends where I’m going, but I’m most comfortable wearing jeans. There’s nothing better than a good skinny jean with heels.
What’s your fashion or beauty indulgence?
I’m more into clothing, and I’m not cheap -- I’m frugal! When I see something I like, I will patiently wait for it to go on sale or find it through fashion resale sites. I’ve also been buying things second hand more in my effort to lower my carbon footprint. Some of my favorite brands right now are Zara and Free People.
Which shoe brand do you love most?
If you were to tally the brands in my closet, the leader of the pack would probably be Nine West. They have a good mix of trendy and classic styles, they’re well made, and the prices are great. I’m still devastated about a pair of strappy gold heels I left at the hotel during a friend’s wedding!
What’s your favorite shoe style?
Whether it’s boots, flats or heels, I love pointed toes. It adds that extra layer of sophistication, even when you’re dressed casually.
Why do you like the line of products by Protect My Shoes?
When you first shared your business with me, I was in love with all the great prints the stuffers come in! It adds a nice punch of color in my otherwise monochromatic closet. My favorite print is still the elephants (my favorite animal). It’s something you didn’t realize you needed until you have them. Also, it’s a small, woman-owned business.
What is your dream travel destination?
Two places: Morocco and Turkey. The art and design in both locations are breathtaking and I’ll probably never leave the bazaars or souks when I finally go. I hope we can safely travel soon!
What cocktail best describes your personality?
Sangria. A mix of fun ingredients, easy to drink, and well-traveled.
If you could have dinner with three special guests, who would they be?
Right now, with the amount of time we’ve been in quarantine, I would love to have dinner with any three friends of mine! I miss getting dressed up to go out to dinner. But for a once-in-a-life- time dinner, I would say Lisa Ling, Tracee Ellis Ross and former President Barack Obama.
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