We had the good fortune of connecting with Cordilia James and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cordilia, what principle do you value most?
Authenticity. There’s just something special about people being the most genuine versions of themselves. We live in a sea of nuances and grey areas, yet many of us spend so much time concerned about what we should or should not be in the eyes of others. I think it’s so beautiful — poetic, even — when someone is comfortable enough to be vulnerable, bearing their imperfections knowing not everyone in the room will like them. At the end of the day, that’s their personal truth in that moment, and no one else has the power to change that, no matter how hard they might try. To me, being authentic means celebrating your idiosyncrasies even if it’s a party for one. It’s also an awareness of your truth in any given moment (including the good, the bad and the ugly) coupled with an ability to hold yourself accountable so that you can become the kind of person you want to be. I feel like some people hide who they really are when they are ashamed, either in their own eyes or someone else’s. But wearing a mask won’t change what’s underneath it. In short: Life’s a journey and nobody’s perfect. Whoever you are in a given moment, own it. Change if you want to, don’t if you don’t. Those who stick around will stick around. Those who don’t shouldn’t have to.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
All the journalists I know work their butts off so I’m not entirely sure how much this sets me apart, but I’ve been told I’m fairly young for the vast experiences I’ve had in the industry over the years. Since 2017, I’ve done internships/fellowships in five different newsrooms, including The Wall Street Journal. I temporarily worked full time as a digital content producer before I graduated from American University with my journalism degree. I’m currently working on a project for The New York Times Student Journalism Institute, and a month ago I started my first full-time job post-grad as a reporter for The Real Deal. Doing all of that wasn’t easy, and I worked hard to make myself stand out in every opportunity. One of the biggest lessons I learned over the years is to never be afraid to ask for help. Still, I think my biggest challenge might be finding that work-life balance everyone talks about. Work often gets in the way of my health and creativity, and I’m still trying to figure out how to manage that. I guess I want the world to know that even with all of those fancy experiences, I’m still learning. I love that there’s so much about the world that I don’t know. It feeds my curiosity and allows me to tell stories through fresh eyes. I’d also like people to know that everyone’s journey is unique. Just because yours doesn’t look like mine, doesn’t mean you won’t get to where you want to be.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The pandemic has really changed a lot of things/closed plenty of businesses, so I’ll imagine we’re living in a world where places of the past are up and running to some extent: One morning I’d have my friend join me for some kind of group workout class, most likely at Dupont Circle Yoga. Afterwards we’d grab brunch at Emissary downstairs, and stroll around the farmer’s market nearby. The rest of the week would be filled with days visiting museums like the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and more local depending on what other exhibits are in town. We’d visit Eastern market and have picnics at the National Arboretum or The REACH. If it’s crawfish season, we’d *have* to visit the seafood market at the Wharf and maybe take a water taxi to Georgetown so they can try a cupcake from Baked & Wired. For nights out, we could catch a show at the 9:30 Club or watch an outdoor movie near Navy Yard. The Big Hunt was a cool place to watch stand up for part of the evening, and then go right next door for some salsa dancing at Cafe Citron. For bar hopping I’d recommend whatever’s open on U Street or Adam’s Morgan. KoChix, Roaming Rooster, Ben’s Chili Bowl, Duke’s Grocery and El Cucho are some of my favorites for lunch spots while Doi Moi, Pisco y Nazca and Espita are some of my favorite brunch spots. Letena, Barcelona Wine Bar and Le Diplomate are some of my favorite places for a nice dinner, with the Tour of the World menu at Compass Rose topping the list.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many names here! The names on this list are people who have really guided me throughout my journey thus far. Whether it’s by responding to my frantic messages with thoughtful advice or encouraging me at times where I didn’t see my potential, the actions by these people mean the world to me. I don’t know how I would be where I am now without their support, and I hope to maintain these relationships in the years to come. Adam Thompson, Amy Eisman, Andrés R. Martínez, Bowdeya Tweh, Courtney Rozen, Ellen Byron, Haley Samsel, Lisa Bannon, Lynne Perri, Mike Miller, Nancy DeVille, Rachel Kurzius, Sherri Williams. My shoutout is dedicated to them, my parents and all of my closest friends who remind me that I’m still a human being beyond the work that I do. No matter how far I go, I don’t ever want to lose myself or forget that.