On the Horizon: Lola Ogunnaike
Lola Ogunnaike’s journalism professors told her to “follow the writing.” She did. Now she’s the in-demand pop culture correspondent for “American Morning” on CNN and appears on NBC’s “Today” as well.
Ms. Ogunnaike’s writing took her from the University of Virginia, in her home state, to New York University, where she got her master’s in journalism, to the New York Daily News as an editorial assistant.
She did a five-year stint at the New York Times, where her stories on rock stars and rappers earned her invitations to discuss them on TV, and became a member of the repertory group of pithy pundits who participated in the “90-Second Pop” talk on CNN’s morning show.
Ms. Ogunnaike, 31, quickly learned that she loved the live TV experience.
Then came an opportunity, seconded by Times Op-Ed columnist Frank Rich, for her to sit in on ABC’s daytime show “The View” during what she describes as “the good times when Rosie [O’Donnell] and everybody were still getting along.”
Rumors that the Times had been caught by surprise by the booking put Ms. Ogunnaike on the New York tabloid gossip pages, and “The View” opened the professional floodgates.
Ms. Ogunnaike had no agent when she began getting calls asking if she’d consider TV. By the time a CNN talent development exec called, she’d decided, “Why not? I was happy with what I’d done in the print world.” She signed on at CNN in May 2007.
Ms. Ogunnaike, who got 350,000 hits for a CNN.com piece she wrote on Michelle Obama, now has the best of both of her professional worlds.
“I used to be the type of person who had a five-year plan. Now my goal is just to be able to read the teleprompter,” she said. “TV has taught me to slow down and to be patient with myself and just to allow it to evolve organically, as opposed to trying to control every aspect of it and want it immediately.”