Lisa Jean-Francois MFA ’09

Lisa Jean-Francois MFA ’09

Lisa Jean-Francois MFA ’09 is a journalist and full-time content creator. Her website, Lisa A La Mode, has evolved from beauty and fashion to include a focus on the Black Feminist community. She studied nonfiction writing at Sarah Lawrence.

Why did you choose Sarah Lawrence for your MFA?
I attended a large party school for my undergraduate degree, so I knew I wanted to attend small liberal arts school for my graduate degree. I also loved that Sarah Lawrence offered conferences, as I knew I would want to get up close and personal with my professors!

What was your favorite class?
Gosh, it's hard to decide. One of them was actually an elective. I can't recall the name of the course, but we watched movies and read film scripts and it was powerful. It was there that I learned how to a) place myself in the position of my readers and b) tell three-dimensional stories. I also really enjoyed my workshops with Jo Ann Beard and Rachel Cohen.

How did your time at Sarah Lawrence lead you to where you are now?
Well, I'm writing for a living, which is crazy. I never thought I would ever make a dime as a writer. Still, I always felt that my MFA was something I had to do. I didn't want to teach, or get a law or business degree, so getting a writing degree was almost a no-brainer. It's been something I've been doing forever. Writing, that is. I can't really explain it, to be honest. I just felt that I had a story to tell and Sarah Lawrence was going to help me tell it.

Your blog, Lisa A La Mode, mixes fashion, lifestyle, and beauty with what you describe as your viewpoint as a Black Feminist. What does that mean to you each day when you decide what to write about?
Well, for one, I write for my audience. My readers are predominately black women aged 25-45 and I create content specifically for them. I'm mindful not to publish work that will perpetuate stereotypes against black women, and I'm also careful not to inundate my audience with negativity. While I share what's trending, including celebrity news, I work really hard to keep my site from becoming a gossip column. I also share things I love: makeup, hair, and fashion (which was originally the intent of the blog). About a year ago, I began to include trending stories and think-pieces and since then the site has grown considerably. I now have a team of writers who help me to stay on top of what's going on in our community.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I hope to have more speaking engagements, as well as grow my site to be the premier one-stop-shop for trending topics, beauty, and fashion. I also want to continue to build my personal brand. I'm still figuring things out, to be honest. I know that I'm on an unchartered course, so there's no telling where I will wind up.