Why you should care
A crack journalist with an eye for high and low – and mixing them up – O’Neil reliably provides iconoclastic takes on the new and next.
The camera loves her. So do we at OZY. Recently minted Columbia J-School grad Lorena O’Neil is among OZY’s most prolific journalists, and one with an especially keen eye and pen. By turns tart and tender, O’Neil reports on Chechen strongmen, man-gagement rings, Bill Gates and tea from Paraguay (O’Neil is half Paraguayan). Her range is intimidatingly broad, but O’Neil has several areas of special interest: LGBT communities and rights, feminism, South America and Shonda Rhimes. Catch up on a sample of her best work.
Frank Lowe tweets about being a full-time father — er, a “gay-at-home dad” — and with a Twitter persona far campier than his IRL one, Lowe’s amassed a following of more than 56,000. Some sub-140-character gems include “Some playground kid said to my son ‘HEY WHITE SHIRT, IT’S YOUR TURN!’ And without missing a beat, he turned around and said, ‘It’s CREAM.’” Also: “Got drunk last night and bedazzled all of my son’s Hot Wheels.” Little wonder that comedians, LGBT advocates and others go ga-ga. But how to tell truth from fiction? “If it could have happened, or it’s heartwarming, it’s probably true,” Lowe told O’Neil.
O’Neil’s profile of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov juxtaposes his bloody reputation with his adorable Instagram feed. On the one hand, there’s the gold-plated gun, his pledge to “keep killing as long as I live” and suspicion he was involved in the murders of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and human rights activist Natalia Estemirova. And on the other, there are pictures of him playing with his kids and snuggling with baby chickens, deer and tigers. Can an Instagram feed soften a tyrant’s image? Nope. In fact, we’re pretty sure that a “lo-fi filter on a torture chamber” makes it even more chilling.
As the Sochi Olympics ignite debate about how LGBT allies should register dissent with Russia’s anti-gay laws, O’Neil looks at the precedent for Olympic protest: the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. African American runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos won the gold and bronze, respectively, in the 200-meter race. When they took to the podium to receive their medals and hear the Star Spangled Banner, both men — and Australian silver medalist Peter Norman — bowed their heads and raised a black-gloved fist in a salute for human rights. Negative reaction against this peaceful protest came fast and hard, with Time Magazine suggesting the salute made the Olympics “Angrier, Nastier, Uglier” and the Chicago Tribune calling it “an insult to their countrymen.”
Alas and alack! Even in feminism’s third wave — or post third-wave? – many young women still start freshmen year hoping to use their college years to find their husbands. O’Neil has contrary advice: Find your bridesmaids instead. Boyfriends become distant memories, and if you do find your intended during your college years, you’ll have the rest of your life to spend with them. Moreover, it’s harder and harder to make friends as you age. So get on it, ladies! (Guys, too.)
O’Neil shows off her Paraguayan roots with this video piece about the country’s national beverage: tereré. Made with yerba mate leaves and ice-cold water, tereré is “an iced tea version of hot maté.” But it’s so much more than a beverage — it’s a ritual that embodies a sense of community and friendship. Be warned: the video will whet your thirst