Samantha Willis

Journalist and Writer in Richmond, Virginia

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Samantha Willis is an independent journalist and writer with a decade of print, digital, and broadcast media experience. Her work has appeared in publications including Glamour, Essence, HuffPost Life, Scalawag Magazine, and the Columbia Journalism Review, and within a wide range of Virginia-based media including WRIC ABC 8News, NBC 12 News, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Virginia Mercury, and VPM (Virginia's Home for Public Media).

Willis' writing consistently centers African American history, culture and perspectives; her work has earned multiple awards. In April 2020, Willis earned a Virginia Press Association first place award for specialty arts writing, for her feature story on a University of Richmond photo exhibition that shared the lived experiences of Richmonders during the Civl Rights Era. In April 2019 her feature article about Brook Field Park (where Olympic champion Arthur Ashe first discovered and honed his love for tennis) helped Richmond Magazine win the Award for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service from the Virginia Press Association, the highest award the organization bestows. In August 2019, Willis was presented the Award for Excellence in Journalism and Creative Writing by the Community Healing Network. Willis has presented her work at conferences of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), World Information Architecture Day, and the University of Michigan's School of Environment & Sustainability.

While working full time as arts editor at Richmond Magazine, Willis co-created the Unmasking Series, a public dialogue forum examining the historic and contemporary impact of racism in distinct regions of Virginia. The series began in Richmond in 2016 after a blackface scandal rocked the city (#UnmaskingRVA), and continued in Charlottesville (#UnmaskingCville) in June 2018, nearly a year after white nationalist groups brought deadly violence to the city. Willis led the development of Unmasking Hampton Roads (#UnmaskingHR) in October and November 2019, in partnership with Virginia Humanities and the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.

Willis studied English and Creative Writing at Radford University. She serves on the Rosel Schewel Fund Advisory Committee (Virginia Humanities), and the Community Advisory Board of the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper. Willis lives in central Virginia with her husband Jamaal and three sons.

  • Education
    • Radford University