Lakers Media Day Year 2

I arrived at the copper gates of the UCLA Health Training Facility for Lakers Media Day an hour early where I was met by a guard with a purple shirt and a clipboard, “Name please,” she asked me. I nervously uttered Lauren Jones. She signaled to the other guard obstructing the driving path, ‘she’s good to go.’ As I came around the bend to the parking, there was a line wrapped around the corner filled with media members waiting to enter the facility. News trucks from the local stations, ABC7, NBC4, ESPN, etc. occupied many of the parking spaces. As I walked up, I saw few familiar faces. In fact, I felt like the newbie. It was like watching a reunion in school after coming back from summer break, people have been promoted and the excitement level is high.

For most of the time I was in line, I just observed and quickly noticed one of my favorite writers, Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times, just so happened to get in line right behind me. He was greeted by several longtime Laker writers and I just took notes. After making my way inside the gym, it was an overwhelming amount of cameras, production crew members, lights, and of course the podium where LeBron James would be addressing media first. Fortunately, I was sitting beside fellow journalist Justin Tinsley of ESPN’s The Undefeated, who I was privileged to meet earlier in the summer at a sports and entertainment panel at Howard University where he spoke. I received a notification on my Twitter and it was a picture captured on The Ringer’s Twitter page from Lakers media day.

I Tweeted out the schedule for media day. I’m not quite sure how the algorithm works, but it was really the first time that my Twitter had gained so much attention. Speaking of attention,  as King James walked into the gym sporting his Lakers uniform for the first time, the media swarmed. He remained unfazed and without expression as he took his seat. The questions ensued. Unlike last year, I was empowered to make sure I asked a question. I watched the microphone play hopscotch and finally it landed on me.

Immediately following the conclusion of James’ media session, I had a few writers approach me and tell me that they were impressed with my question. I was humbled, but I know that as the new Lakers beat reporter for the L.A. Sentinel, asking a question is only a small fraction of the job I am undertaking.

As I was leaving the facility, something in me told me to take the “long way,” back to my car. Once I turned the corner towards the exit, none other than Magic Johnson walked into the hallway. His face lit up as he saw me, “What’s up girl?” The most comforting familiar face I could have asked to seen as my media day experience in year two concluded. I was able to finally tell him that I would be covering the Lakers this season. He looked at me and said, “I am so proud of you.” With that, Laker legend “Big Game” James Worthy tapped Magic on the shoulder and they had a short exchange.

In that moment, I felt as if all of my hard work was finally paying off. To be able to witness the exchange between two Laker greats as I cover a soon to be other Laker great in LeBron James is surreal. I am so thankful to the Bakewell family, the L.A. Sentinel and L.A. Watts Times for the opportunity to cover my childhood favorite team in the Los Angeles Lakers. Stay updated with my coverage on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 

The Lo Down: How Issa Rae Inspired Me

Yesterday, I attended a meeting with a moderately successful entrepreneur. She asked me questions like, “If you aren’t getting views you have to ask yourself, does anyone want to see your content?” and “How many Instagram followers do you have?” It threw me for a bit of a loop and I left that meeting feeling confused, upset and asking myself, “Does anyone care about the stories I want to tell?” questioning my brand and if it would be successful.

Fast forward to today, I made it a point to go see Issa Rae the mastermind behind HBO’s “Insecure” and the sensational web series “Awkward Black Girl.” She spoke at Macy’s in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall. As soon as she started speaking I got overwhelmed with emotion because for me she represents all the things I’d like to accomplish. She took an unconventional path by not asking for permission to make content she believes in and being unapologetically black.

Campbell Hall – Women’s Empowerment Alumni Panel

I was asked to speak on a Women’s Empowerment Panel at my alma mater, Campbell Hall High School, for the second year in a row. It’s an annual event for prospective students and their parents from all-girl schools to hear the ways in which Campbell Hall cultivates young women to be leaders both in the classroom and beyond. Last year, when I was first asked to speak on the panel, it was a panel comprised mainly of students from my graduating class (2010). This year, I was the youngest panelist, the women were well established in their careers, some even had children that attend Campbell Hall now. The young woman directly next to me was a forensic scientist for crying out loud. Admittedly, I was a bit intimidated.

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The Lo: My Campbell Hall High School Return

 I was invited to speak at my high school twice in the past two weeks after not having visited the Campbell Hall School campus in nearly two years. The first, I spoke at the Lead Like a Girl: Empowering Girls at Campbell Hall event. I was among a diverse panel of female alumni in front of a group of prospective parents detailing my experiences of how Campbell Hall prepared me to become a female leader in adult life. When asked questions like how did you find a clear voice at Campbell Hall or what skills you developed that enabled your success in college and beyond, it forced me to really think.
In order for me to clearly answer those questions, I had to take a long walk down memory lane. My time at Campbell Hall was such a juxtaposition. Here I was excelling socially, in the classroom, teachers and faculty gravitated towards me almost immediately and all the while I was hating it. I made it a point to make my mom’s life a living hell for sending me to a school I didn’t want to attend. Every year, we would go back and forth about how I wanted to transfer to a public school and every summer I would be preparing for another year at Campbell Hall. I was best friends with the likes of Magic Johnson’s son and sitting in class next to the son of the owner of Guess/Marciano Jeans, the son of the owners of Canters Deli, the granddaughter of the creators of Days of Our Lives. In the midst of all this ironic juxtaposition, however, I did find my voice.

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The Lo Down: I Met Jackie Robinson’s Family

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]I[/su_dropcap] attended the unveiling of the Jackie Robinson statue at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. The entire city of Pasadena was in attendance including nearly 100 members of Jackie Robinson’s family. While covering local stories is always a thrill, it was a subtle gesture that took place after the festivities that changed my life.

There was a private reception held for the donors and special guests of the unveiling. I was told that opportunities to interview key speakers would be available at the reception. I made my way down to the tunnel, I saw a security guard with “the list,” also known as the few names of the elite meant to keep the fray out. Since I had correspondence with the public relations contacts ahead of the event, I just knew my name was going to be on there. I said my name, the security guard skimmed over the list, even checked the back and said ‘Sorry you aren’t on here.’ Just as I was being turned away, I saw the public relations woman escorting Jackie Robinson’s wife, Rachel and daughter Sharon Robinson. They were getting off the golf cart when I told the woman that I was a reporter. She waved me off and said, ‘You have to wait for my boss, the director of public relations if your name isn’t on the list.’ She proceeded to guide Mrs. and Ms. Robinson into the tunnel. I was embarrassed and kind of deflated. Then I overheard Jackie Robinson’s daughter say, ‘Let her in…I don’t care she can come with us.’

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