Former Teen Vogue Editor Elaine Welteroth Says Writing New Memoir 'Brought Me Back to My Roots'
Elaine Welteroth has always been one to take the “unconventional path” in life.
At 29, Welteroth became the youngest editor-in-chief in Teen Vogue‘s history, and only the second Black woman to hold the title at a Condé Nast publication. Just as she refashioned the magazine to suit the current political climate, Welteroth has taken the uniqueness of her own life and crafted it into a memoir, More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say).
“I have often found myself situated in the in-between, stretched like a bridge between worlds: Black and White, beauty and activism, the past and the future,” Welteroth, now 32, writes. “But in this sliver of space, this intersection I now own, I have learned to create magic.”
In the memoir, the former Teen Vogue leader opens up about climbing the ranks of media and infusing social consciousness into the magazine’s pages — all as a biracial Black woman. But Welteroth didn’t set out to simply write a book, she told PEOPLE at a New York event hosted by genealogy company Ancestry.
“I wanted to inspire people. This is not just about me. My story is so much bigger than just me. It’s our collective story,” Welteroth says. “It’s meant to invite other young women to know that their stories are valid and there’s space for all of us.”
It was young Black women she kept in mind when promoting the project on social media. She announced the book’s release on June 11 with an Instagram video featuring dancers with the American Ballet Theatre and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
“Everything I do I wanna take the unconventional path and I wanna figure out how to fill the white space and do what’s never been done before. I wanna throw out the formulas and figure out a way to do what feels like it’s true to the spirit of the book,” the Project Runway judge says.
“This idea was to incorporate the very girls I’m writing this book for, young Black women, women of color. It’s meant to invite other young women to know that their stories are valid and their voices are valid and there’s space for all of us. I felt like I wanted to figure out a visual way to communicate all of that.”
Welteroth’s memoir was not only about telling stories but learning them, she says. She got to flex her journalism muscles as she interviewed her family members for the project chronicling her life as the ambitious child of an interracial couple in California.
Now, Welteroth says the “cathartic” writing has pulled her even closer to her loved ones.
“It brought me back to my roots. Writing a book is more than just writing, it’s a lot of internal work. You dig up your roots and you examine them. It required me to dig up those family stories and to ask my family to compare notes and collect their oral history,” she tells PEOPLE.
“I’m about to get married and with the loss of my great-grandmother, I’m thinking more about mortality and that my parents will not always be here. So to be able to create something with them means that it’s a time capsule,” she explains. “Their voices on this audio book will outlast them. One day they’re not gonna be here and I’ll have this piece of them with me. That’s special.”