Dana Fowler '01

 

Cruising with Penelope

%540%right%Dana Fowler '01 was sky high when she responded to a request for this interview. And that's no metaphor,she was actually on a plane coming back from Durango, Mexico, where she ran a cover photo shoot with Penelope Cruz. She later confessed that at the time she was transporting thousands of dollars worth of jewelry that Ms. Cruz wore during the photo shoot. "I was wearing all of it," she admitted. "And even though I had a guard with me, the whole thing made me kind of nervous."

It's all in a day's work when you're the photo editor at Gotham, a glitzy New York-area lifestyle magazine that chronicles the goings-on of the rich and fabulous. Gotham is owned by Niche Media, which also publishes Aspen Peak, Hamptons, and L.A. Confidential.

As photo editor, Fowler is responsible for overseeing the covers of all four magazines. This includes putting together the photo shoot, coordinating with the featured celebrity, assigning the photographer, and handling all aspects of the event,from makeup and fashion to catering, "Which isn't as easy as it sounds. When I order food for the shoot, I have to make sure that the celebrity in question will actually be able to eat it!" She found Penelope Cruz to be low-key and extremely pleasant to work with, as was Law & Order star Elisabeth Röhm, who surprised the tired crew with a late-night pizza delivery.

"Sometimes I send out e-mails to my friends and say, 'I can't believe this is my life!'" she said, laughing. "I get to do amazing things and go to wonderful parties, and the funny thing is I've started to get used to them. I invite my friends on a rotational basis, so that everyone gets to go to at least one."

Glamorous it may be, but it's still a lot of work. Fowler works long days, from 10 to 7:30 or 8, but she'll answer e-mail on her BlackBerry at all hours. "Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night and answer work e-mails," she said. "But I don't mind. It's very exciting how quickly things can change." She says that the hours leading up to a photo shoot are the ones most fraught with tension, "But it always ends up coming together. And the moment that first picture is taken, it's such a rush. And when the magazines arrive in their plastic covers, and I can see what I've done,it's so cool."

%541%right%Although the sleek Gotham magazine offices are quite a change from Mayflower Hill, they're not as distant as you might think: Editorial Director Jason Oliver Nixon is a '92 Colby graduate. Fowler's first job out of school (which stemmed from a Jan Plan internship) was at Lachapelle Representation, an agency that represents photographers,and is owned by Linda Lachapelle '77, a friend of Nixon's. Fowler met Nixon after attending several Gotham parties, and he contacted her when the photo editor job became available.

"At most magazines, you really have to spend a long time going through the ranks," she said. "Niche Media takes in young, hungry kids who are really excited and want to do everything, and Jason was wonderful to give me a shot at the job." He also hired Gillian Nadel '05 for an internship last summer, and (in the interests of full disclosure) he gave this writer her first magazine internship.

"Colby alums have done so much for me," Fowler said. "I really feel a responsibility to give back as much [to Colby] as possible."

,Mackenzie Dawson Parks '99