Interview: Victoria White, editor of Company magazine

Mother-of-two Victoria White hails from the North East and is editor of one of the UK’s leading female magazines.

Victoria White, editor of Company magazine
Victoria White, editor of Company magazine

AS editor of Company – one of the country’s biggest-selling magazines for trendy twenty-somethings – Victoria White has rubbed shoulders with A-listers such as George Clooney and Take That, attended the Oscars and had an audience at Number 10.

She receives invites for all the best fashion parties, dresses head-to-toe in designer threads (with a good mix of high street finds thrown in) and is friends with some of the country’s most influential media high flyers.

The hard-working mother-of-two readily admits her life is as fantastic as it sounds.

“I have got a nice life, a nice job, a nice husband, nice kids, what’s not to celebrate? says the 39-year-old. “I don’t want to seem smug but it really is a nice job. It’s hard work but it is exciting.

“People always ask me, do you get to meet celebrities and, yes I do, all the time. It’s not something that I stop getting excited about. I was dumbstruck when I met Take That. They were stood three feet away from me but I was frozen and couldn’t speak to them! I have met George Clooney, and he was really nice – very easy-going and pleasant. It’s very rare that I get my photograph taken with celebrities, I never seem to do that.”

Victoria has been editor of Company magazine, a fashion and lifestyle bible for women in their 20s, for six years. During her career she has championed using real-women instead of models on the pages of her publication and has overseen the magazine’s Get Home Safely campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the risks posed by young women getting home on nights out.

She developed a taste for journalism while growing up in the North East. Born in Fenham, Newcastle, to parents Graeme and Iris Ross, Victoria grew up in Darras Hall and attended Ponteland High School. Her parents still live in Jesmond.

“I actually did some work experience at the Chronicle and Journal in 1992,” she recalls. “I did a big university supplement for The Journal. They let me write it all, which was brilliant work experience.

“I was at the Chronicle for a week and then spent a couple of weeks at The Journal, and then they asked me stay for the summer. I was keen and just got on with whatever they gave me. I got really good stuff to do. I went and sat in on court sessions, interviewed people and had my work published.

“I have pretty much always wanted to be a journalist but, back then, you didn’t do media studies or journalism at school. Nobody from my school had ever been a journalist or expressed an interest, particularly in working for magazines.

“I wanted to work in magazines and fashion and they looked at me and said, have you thought about retail management? I was so determined, which is why I did so much work experience.

“My parents were always really supportive.”

Victoria also spent time working at BBC Look North and worked closely with television presenter Wendy Gibson. “She was fantastic with me,” says the editor. “She really took me under her wing and took me out on outdoor broadcasts.

“She said if I ever wanted any help then to stay in touch. My dad, a retired sales director, saw her recently in a restaurant in Newcastle. He told her ‘you won’t remember my daughter but I wanted to say thank you, she is now a magazine editor in London and she started out in the media partly thanks to you’.

“Wendy was very touched.”

Victoria left Newcastle to attend the University of Sussex to do a degree in American Studies. “Back then, you didn’t do journalism at university, “ she says.

During university, she went travelling to America and lived with an aunt in Los Angeles. Victoria says: “When I was there I made friends with an English girl who was an actress and one of her friends was the LA correspondent for TV Hits magazine in the UK. I told her I really wanted to be a journalist. She told me to phone TV Hits say I knew her and get some work experience.

“I had already applied for work experience at lots of London magazines and got tons of refusal letters. I probably applied to Company magazine, too.

“I went to TV Hits for work experience and never left.”

In her final year at university, Victoria worked one day a week at Inside Soap magazine. “They asked me to come and work for free and I didn’t mind at all,” she says. “I was incredibly grateful. They gave me a job.

“I do lectures with students now and they always ask how to get on in media and I say not to pay any heed to how I got into journalism as that won’t get them a job in journalism now. You can’t do unlimited work experience anymore, there are laws now. It wasn’t like that 20 years ago.

“It’s hard because there are not that many jobs.”

While at Inside Soap, Victoria was offered a job in Australia to edit a new magazine that was launching. “I went there for a year and then I was offered the chance to go to LA to be a bureau chief for a lot of Oz magazines doing the Hollywood junket. It meant that I got to go to interview stars in hotels. It was when Titanic was released so I interviewed Leonardo Di Caprio, George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Damon, everyone that was a star.

“It was a brilliant job and the best year of my life.” It was in LA that Victoria met her husband, British actor Peter White, who had a small part in Titanic. The couple moved back to the UK, married and now have two children – Arthur, seven and Sebastian, three.

“I got on a women’s magazine called B as deputy editor,” she says. “That was always what I wanted to do, to work on a women’s magazine, and it was too good an opportunity to miss.”

The mum-of-two was there for four years before the magazine closed and she moved to Company, where she took up the role as deputy editor for four years before becoming editor.

The May edition of Company is a real women edition featuring readers modelling clothes instead of models. Sunderland university student Hannah Traynor can be seen modelling animal prints.

“I brought in the real women issue three years ago.” says Victoria. Every year, we have an issue of Company in which we don’t use models. We have a reader on the cover. Times have changed, people want to know about street style and who is wearing what. It’s great to use real girls.”

The Company team have visited the North East in the past scouting for girls to model and they were at the Metrocentre last year looking for girls to come and edit parts of the magazine for the special edition.

During her career, Victoria has also attended the Oscars, the Emmys and The Brit Awards.

It’s not all about fun and fashion, though. The Get Home Safely campaign has seen Company magazine and some of its readers go to Number 10 to talk to David Cameron. Victoria was there recently at a party to celebrate International Women’s Day. These days, she rarely find times to come back to the region, although the family holidays once a year at Bamburgh.

“I really love my job,” she says. “It’s fun, it’s young and it’s a really fun magazine to edit. I get to do things with music and fashion. I love the fact that I am nearly 40 now but the magazine is for women in their 20s – it keeps me in touch with what’s happening.”

The May edition of Company, which features Sunderland student Hannah Traynor, is out on April 14.

 

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