Emi Kolawole

Emi has spent a decade in and around journalism and storytelling. Her career has taken her from television to Web and print.

The daughter of a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, Emi was born in the Midwest. When her brother was born, she was sorely disappointed to discover that the “surprise” waiting at home was not, in fact, a Teddy Ruxpin — the hot toy on the market at the time. Today, she couldn’t be prouder of him (her brother, not the bear).

Emi’s education involved skipping through schools spread across three different states up and down the East coast and at least half a dozen institutions, private and public. Her professional work started as early as The Madeira School, an all-girls high school where she went to class four days a week. The fifth day, Wednesday, Emi interned at a series of places during the last three years of high school: The Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, the D.C. offices of then-Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and the Washington, D.C. Shakespeare Theater. Madeira’s then-Headmistress Dr. Elisabeth Griffith as well as two assembly speakers during those years influenced the course of Emi’s life and career: Washington Post Publisher Katharine Graham and then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Emi went on to Clinton and Griffith’s alma mater, Wellesley College, and declared a theater major. But she realized during a semester abroad at The National Theater Institute that Chekhov would be her undoing. She graduated with a degree in Theatre Studies despite this, but tacked on an International Relations major as insurance. A semester studying abroad in Paris with New York University and the Pantheon-Sorbonne helped warm her to the degree choice.

She worked for both the theatre department and the college president while at Wellesley. The latter campus job led to a chance meeting with former White House press secretary and award-winning journalist and commentator Bill Moyers. The meeting led to her first job out of college — as a production assistant for Moyers’s Public Affairs Television.

It was the 2004 election, and the Republican National Convention took place just blocks away from the office. The political bug bit hard that year. Emi went on to work as a researcher at Congressional Quarterly, specializing in defense and foreign policy. She then was generously offered a chance to become a staff writer for The University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication project, FactCheck.org. There she covered the 2006 mid-term and 2008 presidential elections. She completed her Master’s in Producing for Film and Video at American University in tandem with her work at FactCheck.

Eventually, Emi was offered the the Associate Producer position at “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill,” public television’s longest running public affairs show. After a formative year with the show, she was offered a position at The Washington Post as a producer for Post Politics. A year later, she was promoted to editor and switched beats, moving to innovation. She developed and ran The Post’s Innovations blog, writing, editing and producing content. While working on Innovations, Emi also served as co-host of the weekday news video series “59 Seconds.”

Emi has been named a Global Shaper by The World Economic Forum. In 2013, she was listed among The Grio 100 and was named a French-American Foundation Young Leader. Emi was the recipient of the Post’s Publisher’s Award for her reporting on the Mars rover Curiosity’s landing. She is also the inaugural recipient of The Madeira School’s Young Alumna Achievement Award.

Emi came to the d.school from The Washington Post for a variety of reasons: to reset her understanding of what storytelling can be and gain a deeper understanding of innovation. She also wants to discover what really drives profits around content creation, how those drivers can be changed and, ultimately, how a renaissance can be born.

Follow Emi on Twitter at @emikolawole and on Facebook.

Related Links

“Mars rover Curiosity lands”
Emi Kolawole, The Washington Post

“Elon Musk Unveils Hyperloop plans”
Emi Kolawole, The Washington Post

Of Apollo, newspapers and ticking clocks
Emi Kolawole, The Washington Post

Is this what the future of fitness looks like?
Emi Kolawole, The Washington Post

It’s not the Jetsons, but it may be coming soon
Emi Kolawole, The Washington Post

“Tonight: Special live election coverage” (Video, 2012)

Read more by Emi at The Washington Post.