Meet Julia Rendleman, the Daily Egyptian’s interim adviser

By Jamilah Lewis, Staff Reporter

Corrected 2/3/2021 11:19 a.m. a previous story of this version said Julia Rendleman was the first woman to hold the position, we later learned this was untrue and corrected the story.

SIU’s School of Journalism has hired SIU alumna and photojournalist Julia Rendleman as the interim adviser for the Daily Egyptian.

A freelance photojournalist originally from Makanda, Ill., Rendleman now lives in Richmond, Va., and works for various news outlets such as Reuters, The Washington Post and The New York Times. 

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Rendleman previously worked at SIU as an instructor and taught classes the fall of 2020. 

Rendleman received her education at Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in photography and later went to SIU to earn her graduate degree in photojournalism.

While at SIU, she worked for the Daily Egyptian, which helped her build her professional portfolio.

“I really like storytelling and I think that it can have great impact, and my time at SIU and at the Daily Egyptian taught me to care about my community and community storytelling,” Rendleman said.

Rendleman said the DE is an attractive aspect of SIU’s journalism program and is way for students to get real-world experience in a newsroom.

Prior to attending SIU, Rendleman lived in New Orleans and Chicago, and worked as a music venue photographer and wedding photographer, respectively.

“I’m really, really excited for this opportunity and it’s interesting because if it wasn’t for COVID-19 and everything being virtual I wouldn’t have this opportunity to be the interim advisor to the Daily Egyptian,” Rendleman said. “It’s sort of the silver lining on an otherwise pretty crappy situation.”

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Rendleman’s best-known photograph, taken June 5, 2020, features two Black ballerinas posing in front of a monument of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond.

The photo followed shortly after the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It was 11 in the morning but I noticed these ballerinas kind of posing around it with their mothers,” Rendleman said. “So I went and talked with their mothers and I asked them ‘Is it ok if I take their photos?’”

With Richmond having been the capital of Confederacy, the toppling of Confederate statues there is a way of repurposing the city from its dark history, Rendleman said.

Shortly after the photo was published, it went viral. 

Rendleman said she didn’t know how much publicity the photo would get until the next day, when it was posted all over the world, gaining recognition from celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Courtney Love.

“Hundreds of people have reached out to me about it and I still get emails almost every day about it,” Rendleman said. “It was all these [positive] things for them in a really hard year.”

Rendleman said her goals for the DE are to continue building on the legacy of community storytelling and build a community relationship within the organization.

Rendleman will be with the DE until the full-time position is permanently filled, for which she will also apply. 

Rendleman’s photography work can be found on her website.

Staff reporter Jamilah Lewis can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @jamilahlewis

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