New Englander Paulana Lamonier is an Oprah in progress. She doesn’t have her version of the OWN Network yet, but her career milestones thus far are definitely very, very Oprah-esque. She’s a writer for ESPN’s The Undefeated, and has also been a scribe for media moguls Danyel Smith and Elliot Wilson’s ground-shattering media venture HRDCVR. Oprah had her share of obstacles, and has looked at so-called failure in the face and rolled her eyes and kept on moving. So has Paulana. Years ago, she made a bold audition to become host of BET’s “106 and the Park”. She wasn’t selected, but do you think she threw in her journalism pen? No, ma’am. As a matter of fact, the journalism and TV maven made another one of her intrepid career bids, this time for a role as TV anchor at Complex Media, one of the biggest digital and print media firms in the nation.
Let’s have a little conversation with the CUNY York College graduate.
Kreyolicious: Growing up, did you ever wish that your name was just Paula or just Anna?
Paulana Lamonier: Growing up, I loved my name especially when I found out that my grandmother named me after her mother, I fell in love with it even more. However, I did get teased a lot! But, I’ve never let that get to me where I’d want to change my name.
Kreyolicious: Did anyone ever called you Polyanna for play or just because they wanted to?
Paulana Lamonier: No. Because my name is a combination of two names I have a lot of nicknames like Paulie, Popo, Lana, P. It’s disrespectful when someone doesn’t take the time to learn my name and make one up of their own.
Kreyolicious: What drew you to media?
Paulana Lamonier: I’ve always been drawn to entertainment, music, and media since I was young. Growing up I learned how to play the violin, I was obsessed with Brittany Spears and Usher, and I was always in the school and church choir. I’ve just always loved to entertainment people and get them engaged. So, in high school I wanted to be a radio host, but when I got to college I realized that the possibilities were endless when comes to having a career in entertainment.
Kreyolicious: Did your parents ever steer you towards other professions?
Paulana Lamonier: My grandmother, yes. But not my parents. They’ve always known since young that I’ve wanted to be some type of entertainer and they’ve always supported me following my dreams. Of course, they have their opinions on how I should’ve went about it, but nonetheless the support is always there and I take it with a grain of salt. [Laughter]
Kreyolicious: You once created an entire website to pitch yourself for a position at Complex Media, a major media company. This is something that would scare most people? Where do you get this drive? This fearlessness?
Paulana Lamonier: You are so right because I was scared out of my mind! When you’re broke, you’d do a lot to make sure you get the job of your dreams. [Laughter] But what really encouraged me was listening to an episode of the MyTaughtYou podcast by Myleik Teele where she’s interviewing Datwon Thomas, Editor-in-Chief of Vibe Magazine and they’re talking about pursuing your dreams with reckless abandon. In that interview, I learned the importance of going full throttle with your dreams, and going the extra mile for your dreams, because it’s never crowded there. I was literally listening to that episode for the second time while I was creating the website as a form of encouragement to follow-through.
In a career like entertainment, there’s always a lot of applicants, but not a lot of positions, especially when being an anchor. I wanted to make sure that I was the person to get that job. Although I didn’t get the job, it showed me how far and creative I can be if I put my mind to it.
Kreyolicious: Sometimes, you can be such an overachiever that you’re never satisfied with your accomplishments. But when you sit there and think about your path in life thus far, what do you find yourself being most proud of?
Paulana Lamonier: I’ve always learned you’re always good as your last work or achievement. So, I’m always finding ways to set new goals and how can I make them happen. My most proud achievement was working for HRDCVR magazine and writing for ESPN’s The Undefeated. With HRDCVR, I learned a lot about working with remote teams, creativity and also being inclusive.
Kreyolicious: On the journalism end, you worked with two legendary media magnates Elliott Wilson and Danyel Smith. What have you learned from these bastions of pop culture that you’ve applied or plan on applying to your life?
Paulana Lamonier: One thing that I’ve learned is to be original and make sure that whatever I’m doing is pushing the culture forward. Seeing all the work that they’re doing is both of these two qualities. They continuously push the culture forward, keep importance conversations going where it’s beneficial for everyone.
This concludes PART I of the interview with Paulana Lamonier! Be on the look out for PART II!