News & Scoops

2011 July 19

The Assistant Files, Vol. 20: Jessica Duncan, Glamour's Cindi Leive

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Jessica Duncan Jessica Duncan
Alexandra Ilyashov
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What’s the most surprising thing about the job?
There are sweets everywhere in the office all the time. Cookies, cupcakes, cake. It just seems to materialize. 

What surprises you most about Cindi?
She’ll have the occasional Diet Coke for breakfast. Also, she never gets sick. Ever. Also—and I think I might be the only person that knows this—there’s this particular type of pen that Cindi really, really likes. We go through so many boxes of it, and they just disappear from her office. I’ll give her 10 one day, and a week and a half later, they’re all gone. I’ll ask, “Do you snack on these?”

Does Cindi encounter bizarre pronunciations of her name often?
Totally! Her last name is often pronounced as Lee-vee, so she has this cute thing where she says, “It’s like that song, ‘I took my Chevy to the Leive…”

How social media-savvy is Cindi?
She’s really into it; she tweets all the time, she blogs for She’s pretty techy, which is great—our readers are increasingly more tech-savvy themselves. She likes to be where the reader is.

Does the line between professional and personal ever blur in your job?
Well, I have been to Cindi’s house—and so has the rest of the Glamour staff, because she hosts the annual holiday party at her place.  Cindi always takes her shoes off, so she’ll be walking around barefoot being a total hostess. She’s really respectful about that distinction between work and personal. Sometimes I’ll run an errand for Cindi, and she’s always apologetic about it, but I’m happy to do so.

Where are Cindi’s haunts?

She frequents Michael’s, db Bistro Moderne, Sushi Zen and the Lamb’s Club. They know who we are when I call, and they take really good care of us.

What’s the "Women Of The Year" awards process like?
We actually call it WOTY around the office. It’s a big deal! There’s a lot to do, and there are very important people involved. Even just dealing with security detail can be an ordeal. It’s the most amazing event—you laugh, you cry, and it’s always inspiring. I actually got to be backstage with Cindi last year, helping her get ready and liasioning with Carnegie Hall personnel. Julia Roberts walked by me, and Oprah was there. I was so starstruck. We’re already working pretty hard on WOTY, although it’s in November. We’re already securing the honorees and preparing the videos. I honestly feel like as soon as one WOTY is done, we do a post-mortum the next day to talk about the next year.

What would you be shocked to see on Cindi’s to-do list?
Maybe shopping. Cindi loves beautiful clothes, and she loves fashion as much as the next girl, but she’s got so many other things going on, shopping is not something she takes time out of her day to do.

Who are Cindi’s editor pals?
Cindi is friends with Lucy Danziger at SELF, she has drinks with GQ’s Jim Nelson, and she actually went to elementary school with [Lucky editor] Brandon Holley.

What are Cindi’s guilty pleasures?
Definitely the Diet Coke. I’ve seen her have two or three in a day, but that’s pretty rare. Usually it’s just one. Cindi doesn’t smoke or drink, but she likes her Diet Coke. In terms of TV, I know Cindi likes Conan, but I don’t think that counts as a guilty pleasure, because Conan is awesome.

What are Cindi’s pet peeves?
If she does, they must not be very severe because I don’t really know what they are! Maybe grammar? Her emails are indeed perfect; they’re funny, witty, and cute. That’s a Glamour thing, though. Everyone on the staff sends emails like Cindi’s, whether it’s a baby shower or a reminder to close our blinds so we can conserve energy—even those emails are Glamour-voice and publishable.

What is Cindi’s stay-fit routine like?
She definitely makes an effort to keep in shape! Sometimes she’ll have a run at 5:45 in the morning on her calendar, so she’s got a very full life. She’s very fit, and she takes time to stay that way. It’s important, and quite inspiring for me. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have time to work out, and then I think about how Cindi is the editor-in-chief, she has two children, and she still takes time to take care of herself.

What was your dream job, circa childhood?
I always wanted to be a professional ballet dancer, but by the time I was 18, I realized that you really can’t go to college if you want to make it—those are the prime years. I realized I wanted a college education and the career that goes with it.

What do you hope to do in the future, at Glamour and beyond?
I’m really interested in our relationship department. Relationships come naturally to me because of the aforementioned boyfriend, and also because of conversations with lots of friends about the topic. I just want to be more involved with the features department, and someday I’d love to do cover stories. I think editorial assistants and assistant editors typically hang around for a few years in order to absorb everything they can. 

What do you think is on Cindi’s bucket list?
She loves to travel, and I’m sure there are a few countries she hasn’t ticked off yet. I’m sure there’s a book or two she’s dying to read.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done on the gig?
Not long ago, my editor called me because we were shooting Heidi Klum for the cover, and we’d already done the interview but there were a few holes to fill and I was asked to go. I met Heidi at the shoot, and she was lovely, we had a great chat and some of the quotes I got made it into the article. She told me I had pretty eyes and I nearly fainted.

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