ABOUT PAULA - THE LONG STORY
Although my current work projects with independent bookstores, and participating in the Diversity Equity and Inclusion committees for California Independent Booksellers Association (CALIBA) and the American Booksellers Association (ABA), reflect my love for books, writing and writers, it is only a portion of my personal and professional history. Over the years, I’ve reinvented myself many times! My journey has taken me to great cities throughout the United States and abroad. It’s introduced me to amazing people, both known and unknown who have influenced my world personally and professionally. As a news broadcaster and print journalist I have interviewed iconic characters like Rosa Parks, Johnnie Cochran and Dennis Archer, the former mayor of Detroit.
At the start of my news career in Dallas, I was an in-house producer and reporter for a radio network. That pivotal first job led way to opportunities to cover events such as the falling of the Berlin wall, the dismantling of apartheid and the infamous Rodney King verdict right from my desk. I was hooked. Eventually, I returned to my hometown of Detroit where I worked for national news networks. As an eager reporter/producer, I took on anything and everything, covering small stories to big, significant stories: School board meetings and newspaper strikes, to major court cases such as the Malice Green shooting and the Tanya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan controversy (Remember? It started in Detroit!).
A few years later, although still involved in news journalism, I felt creativity brimming within. As such, I moved to New York, the most exciting city in the world, expanding my writing through freelance journalism and film/theater criticism. There, I worked downtown, while living uptown, and volunteered at a community video production center in Harlem. I poured myself into self-studying film, and benefited from working with other creatives. In New York, I learned about FrancoisTruffau, Jean Luc Goddard and Julie Dash, as well as when best to take the crosstown bus instead of a subway connection at Time Square. I had press credentials for several film festivals, including The New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center, and Shakespeare in the Park through the Public Theater. I met and interviewed directing gods Pedro Almodovar, Ang Lee, Wes Anderson, and George C. Wolfe. Four days after 9-11, while returning to New York, I was seated on the train across from filmmaker Mira Nair. We talked for much of the ride, but silence took over as we shared a cab to our respective homes and observed a city shaken to its core. Later, she would grant me an interview to discuss her latest film.
At one point, l, like many New Yorkers, was wearing many hats. I worked for creative agencies and did some substitute teaching by day, but switched gears to work sales and marketing at a friend’s store by night. In fact, it was at that iconic establishment, that I met what is now the topic of my documentary project-in-progress. Maybe it was fate or just inevitable burn out, but after twelve years in the city that never sleeps, the lure of something different and warmer led me to the San Francisco Bay Area where I have now been for several years.
Although I continue to write- website content, freelance reviews and feature stories, as well as personal essay projects- my work at Book Passage keeps me busy and finally puts my hard-earned English degree to good use. As a buyer, I interact with representatives from the major publishing houses. As coordinator of the Well-Read Black Girl local book club, I curate reading lists, facilitate discussion and help to bring together a small, but vibrant community of Black women. As an event host/moderator, I have introduced many dozens of local and nationally renowned writers, including interviewing literary luminaries such as Anand Giridhardas, Jose Antonio Vargas, R.O. Kwon, Karine Jean-Pierre, and Jacqueline Woodson, to name a few. It is the later part of my tenure has perhaps brought the most professional fulfillment - curating special panel events - “Toni Morrison Tribute,” “Race in America,” “Racism in America,” and “Immigration in America.” For these projects, vital political and social topics are the motivations, and featuring authors and activists with keen insights is key to draw in and educate the community is key.
Through all my iterations, the common denominator that drives me is a passion for writing, people and the arts. I’ve gained lifelong skills as a journalist and as a creative. I’ve surprised myself by acquiring new work experiences that I've come to appreciate and realize I actually thrived in. As long as there are stories to tell, issues to discuss, and interesting people to meet, I plan to write, talk and connect.
Leave a Reply.