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Thursday, December 3, 2020
HomeNews & StoriesEmerson Alum First New York Times Arts Fellow Critic

Emerson Alum First New York Times Arts Fellow Critic

Maya Phillips headshot

In 2019 The New York Times scrapped its longtime newsroom summertime internship for a yearlong fellowship aimed at rising journalists. This year, Emerson alumna Maya Phillips ‘12 was selected as one of this year’s 34 distinguished fellows.

Each fellow is focused on a particular area of journalism, such as editorial news design, politics, science, business, visual investigations, and more. Starting June 8, Phillips will be the only Arts Critic Fellow for the program.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Emerson, she earned a master’s degree from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers. Phillips recently worked as a web producer and copy editor for The New Yorker, but jumped at the chance for the fellowship.

“I saw this an amazing opportunity to have my dream job to learn about arts criticism, and have one-on-one mentorship with some of the best critics across the country,” said Phillips, who does do some art critic work at her present job, but doesn’t do straight reviews.

Phillips has freelanced for The New York Times for several years. Her primary focus and preferred topic is live theatre, but she dabbles in writing about movies, television, and the occasional poetry review.

Maya Phillips headshot

The competition to be a fellow was tough. The Times received more than 2,200 applications, and the inaugural class represents 16 U.S. states, as well as Egypt, Taiwan, and Syria.

“We believe the new program better trains journalists, provides greater benefits for participants and our newsroom and establishes relationships that will pay off for years to come,” explained the Times.

In addition to having her work appear in The New York Times and The New Yorker, she’s written for Vulture and Slate, she’s published Erou – her own book of poetry, and more. She also recently signed a book deal for hser second book, NERD: On Navigating Heroes, Magic, and Fandom in the 21st Century, which will be out on Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, in summer 2022.

So why did she want to be a NYT Fellow?

“For one thing there’s the exposure. I think it really helps. Just in the first days since it was announced I’ve had a bunch of people reach out to me,” said Phillips. “I think it will improve me as a writer. I think the practice of writing every day and working with critics…I don’t know how I wouldn’t improve. And I’ll learn about theater and become a better theater critic that way.”

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