Written by Ashley Arenal
Samantha Olson says her dream as a journalist is to give a voice to the systematically silenced... and maybe attend the Met Gala while she’s at it.
As chief operating officer and editor at large for Shifter Magazine, Samantha certainly accomplished her goal of highlighting unheard voices by upholding Shifter’s mission of being a “collective space for fellow queer folks, black, indigenous and people of color, outcasts, freaks, fashion lovers and rule-breakers.”
When founder Ví Martinez-Rivera needed a right hand to launch Shifter in 2020, Sam was the obvious choice. Anyone would be hard-pressed to find a 25-year-old with more talent, ambition and experience than Sam. She graduated with a bachelor of arts in journalism, a minor in creative writing, and a certificate in editing and publishing from the University of Central Florida that same year, but did she stop there? As Cher Horowitz, one of Sam’s favorite film characters, would say — “As if!”
Sam wrote and edited for six different publications while earning her degree. Her experience as an editorial intern for Orlando Weekly and as editor-in-chief of Centric Magazine prepared her for the responsibility and technical aspects of running Shifter. Writing and editing for Her Campus at UCF allowed Sam to do what she loves most: write about pop culture, the latest movies, music, and TV shows, and award shows. She covered similar topics—as well as beauty, fashion, and lifestyle—as Seventeen Magazine's assistant editor from 2020 to 2023. Her current gig as Cosmpolitan's assistant news editor allows her to continue pursuing these passions while keeping the iconic legacy brand up with all things Gen Z.
Sam’s favorite part of her multifaceted role at Shifter is running Shifter Fest. This project showcases up-and-coming performance artists including musicians, drag performers, visual artists, and more. Human connection is at the center of Sam's personal mission, and Shifter Fest allows her to cultivate relationships by connecting these artists with new fans.
She is particularly proud of the personal essay she wrote for Shifter, “How I Became the It-Girl of My Own Life,” and with a true “it-girl” like Sam as chief operating officer — the sky's the limit for a unique media platform like Shifter. Her charisma, nerve and talent paired with her signature wit are bound to score her an invitation to cover the Met Gala sometime soon.