The July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair magazine is dedicated to exploring and understanding the African continent, and it takes an in-depth look at the people, places and events that are shaping its future. Gayle talks to Aimee Bell, deputy editor of Vanity Fair, about the making of the special issue and some of its highlights.
Aimee says the special issue was guest edited by rock star and activist Bono, who she says approached the magazine's editor in chief Graydon Carter with the idea of devoting an issue to Africa on behalf of his (RED) campaign. She says Bono's concept was readily embraced by the Vanity Fair staff, who felt the timely message would benefit their readers.
Photographer Annie Leibovitz was enlisted to shoot the issue's unprecedented 20 different covers, which features 21 famous personalities who she paired up in the photographs. Some of the pairings include President George W. Bush with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, George Clooney with Jay-Z, Dr. Maya Angelou with Madonna, and Oprah with Bill and Melinda Gates.
While many media outlets reflect on Africa in terms of "famine, strife and war," Aimee says Bono's mission was to reflect the full picture. "Bono's point is always that there's a vibrancy, a culture, a lot of independence there," she says. "There isn't just poverty everywhere you walk—there is a professional class in Africa, there are 53 distinct countries, it's not just a big blob—and I was very eager to bring that to our readers."
With articles ranging from the ethnic and geographic diversity of Africa to political struggles to combating HIV/AIDS, Aimee says the issue provides readers with much-needed facts about the continent as well as the good news that's emerging. "People are working towards a positive future for Africa," she says.
Published on July 06, 2007