2004 Honoree

Lola Ogunnaike

Reporter, The Consummate New Yorker; Journalist, New York Times

Written by Umi Gigsby

She jokes that her friends call her Carrie Bradshaw, but she is more Miranda, with her dry humor and penchant for telling it like it is.

“After biding my time in Virginia, waiting for life to get started, it finally happened in 1997 when I got here.. I have always been a New Yorker at heart.

“I never expected to be at the New York Times so early in my career. There is something amazing about being young and naive because you really believe you can do anything,” said Lola.

After college, she took internships with MTV’s House of Style and Entertainment Weekly. Xeroxing the entertainment and gossip pages of all the major newspapers every day at EW was very “Daniel-san, wax on and wax off” and helpful for her future.

She credits a 500-word Destiny’s Child Vibe cover story with helping establish her career. “When I moved to New York, I sincerely believed that I would be able to do all the things that I have accomplished. And that wasn’t arrogant, it was simply being naive…Naivete is a beautiful thing sometimes.”

Another important event happened later in an interview with R&B singer, Erkyah Biadu, in which Lola wrote that she [Badu] had fake dreadlocks. A week later, Ms. Badu was bald, called Lola, and cursed her out. It was the first time that she learned that people, other than her friends, read her pieces. “Before that I was Luke Skywalker with this random light saber- chopping off heads unknowingly and not really thinking about the consequences.”

Having established herself as a writer, Lola has recently begun her foray into television with appearances on CNN. She has also been approached to write novels, which she believes will happen in the future since she lacks an attention span at this point. While one would think that after living in New York for seven years few things would surprise her, she says that the favorite part of her job, and incidentally New York City, is that no day is the same.

Like a lot of New Yorkers, Lola is an emigre to the City, not from Nigeria, her parents homeland, but Northern Virginia, where she was born and raised.

Lola Ogunnaike is the cultural reporter for the Arts, Leisure and Style Section of The New York Times, the “go-to-writer” for Vibe and the New York Daily News and a regular on TV.

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