Updated: May 31, 2012 6:53AM
"Stella's Column," which debuted in the Chicago Sun-Times on Dec. 2, 2003, is one of the newspaper's most popular columns. Its popularity is a testimony to its writer, Chicago journalist Stella Foster, who has enjoyed a career as a writer, broadcaster and as the long-time assistant to the late Irv Kupcinet who wrote Kup’s Column: the longest running nationally-syndicated column of its kind.
Now with her own column in the same space once occupied by Kup’s, Stella Foster is leaving her own “Stellar” imprint on Chicago’s media landscape.
“Stella’s Column” which runs every Tuesday and Thursday, reflects Stella’s personality, zest for life, compassion and love of people. Like Stella, the column is funny, witty, cheery, edgy, gritty, high-energy, sassy, bold, irreverent and refreshingly honest. Its distinct quality is that it is written in the conversational “Stella-style” that has become her signature.
The column is an eclectic mix of news that spans every arena: sports, entertainment, politics and the arts. There is also a healthy dose of juicy gossip including make-ups, break ups and hook ups -- as well as birthday wishes. The column, like Chicago, is multiethnic, multigenerational and covers a broad interest base. She also publicizes charitable events, particularly those that benefit causes that are close to her heart like child abuse, teenage pregnancy and women’s issues. As an extension of this, she is proactive when it comes to issues that hit a nerve. When her nephew was gunned down, she spoke out against black on black crime and senseless violence. While he eventually survived and went on to graduate from Brown University with honors, she continues to be an advocate on this issue.
What also makes the column unique is Stella’s candor. In her own inimitable style, she sounds off on provocative issues and emboldens readers to action with her courage and outspokenness.
Stella Foster is not new to the media scene. Her rise in the industry is due to hard work, dedication, her innate love of people and her magnetism that has endeared her to the legion of readers who make “Stella’s Column” part of their daily reading. Of her goal for the column, Stella “I want Stella’s Column to become a must read...if you don’t read the column, you’re missing out on a good thing.”
Born in Chicago and raised in the Englewood community, she attended Chicago’s public schools and then began pursuing a professional career. The serendipitous rote that brought her to her current status as a highly-respected journalist began in August of 1969 when Stella’s sister, Jamie Foster Brown, told her that the legendary Irv Kupcinet was looking for a new secretary. She interviewed for the position and was hired. She characterizes this as a “turning point” in her life.
For 34 years, Stella was Kup’s assistant, confidante, organizer and the glue that kept the column alive and vibrant. In her high-profile role, she interfaced with luminaries from all walks of life.
Stella’s writing career was officially launched in the mid ‘80s when her brother-in-law, Dr. Lorenzo Brown, approached her about writing for Sister 2 Sister, a national entertainment magazine that he and his wife --Stella’s sister Jamie-- were starting.
Without the benefit of formal journalistic training, she penned the monthly entertainment column titled “Starlights by Stella” that featured celebrity news. Her down-to-earth style captivated readers and became one of the publication’s favorite features.
Later, in a column irreverently titled “Oh Boy! Ain’t She Opinionated,” Stella sounded off on a wide range of topics and created buzz with her unique take on current affairs.
Along the way, she realized she had an authentic gift for “telling it like it is.” For ten years, her “Stellatorials” graced the publication and helped catapult Sister 2 Sister to national prominence.
When the Sun Times’ editorial page featured Personal Views, Stella contributed and expounded on a variety of topics that piqued readers’ curiosity and elicited diverse opinions.
Stella took her “act” to television when Fox News approached her about being a morning commentator. The weekly segment, titled, “Stella Sez,” featured a mix of newsy nuggets that captivated viewers during the year it was on the air.
As Kup began to age, his health began to deteriorate and he was in the office less frequently. To keep the column alive, Stella began assuming the bulk of the writing duties. The Sun Times recognized her contribution by giving her a byline at the end of the column, and eventually gave her co-writing credits.
When Kup died on November 10, 2003, Stella was widely heralded as one of the women behind his success. At the funeral, she eulogized her former boss and reflected on her long association in a Chicago Sun Times special tribute to Kup.
Now hailed as a Chicago treasure, Stella’s gift of writing is matched only by her compassion. She is a humanitarian who promotes organizations whose missions parallel causes that are dear to her heart. She uses the power and pull of her column to galvanize her readers and friends around these issues.
She is also a passionate friend who counsels, dispenses advice and lends a helping hand. Each day, she performs an act of kindness, extends a favor and gives visibility to a cause.
As part of her August 6 birthday festivities, Stella hosted an annual Diva Party that attracted a rainbow coalition of the city's most powerful women who networked, sang karaoke style and had a good time – Stella Style. While the bash was hailed as an opportunity for her friends got a chance to pay tribute to her, she always managed to turn it around to pay tribute to them. At this power party, deals were brokered and business relationships and long-time friendships were launched.
She has been profiled in Chicago Magazine, Today’s Chicago Woman, N’Digo Magapaper, Rolling Out and the Chicago Defender. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the “Promises Fulfilled Award” from South Central Community Services; a Communications Award from the 100 Black Men of Chicago, the Chicago Journalists Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, The Chicago Latino Network’s Platinum Communications Award, the A. Phillip Randolph Pullman Porter Gentle Warrior Award, the National Association of Black Journalists’ Distinguished Service Award, the Rainbow PUSH Media Trailblazer Award, the Archibald Motley Excellence in Arts Award, from the Englewood Committee, Mt. Sinai’s Parenting Institute’s African Village Award (which she shared with her family); the Torch for Journalism from Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, the “Making A Difference Award” from Rainbow PUSH Coalition as a Woman of Distinction, the State of Illinois African American Media Award from the Secretary of State’s Office, the African-American History Service Award from Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church, the A. Philip Randolph Gentle Warrior Award, the Rainbow PUSH Media Trailblazer Award, the prestigious Joint Civic Committee of Italian American's coveted Dante media award, and the “Shero” Award for Career Achievement from NABFEME. She has been saluted by the Midwest Radio and Music Association, hailed as a “Phenomenal Woman” by the Expo for Today’s Black Woman, and named one of The “100 Woman Making a Difference” by Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine. She received the Each One Teach One Literacy's Englewood Community Award for Excellence in Journalism, and has earned awards from the Chicago Black Public Relations Society and from the National Council of Negro Women. She was also presented the Irv Kupcinet Media Giant Award, named in honor of her late mentor. She is a member of the Chicago Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Association of Women Journalists, the Press Club, and the Chicago Journalists Association.
Stella has appeared on WVON, and has been a guest on numerous other media outlets.
When not writing her famous column, Stella enjoys reading, watching television, dancing and listening to rhythm and blues. She also enjoys downtime with her family, whom she values and cherishes.
Stella is “happily single” and lives in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.