Story behind the story: Keaton Bell

By Carly Robinson

I interviewed Keaton Bell, a former OU student and current Entertainment Associate for The Talent Group. The Talent Group has representatives from every Condé Nast magazine who do all entertainment booking for everything Condé Nast-related. While writing is not technically a part of Bell’s job description, he was recently published in Vogue for his piece The Girl in the Spider’s Web’s Sverrir Gudnason Knows That His Life Is About to Change.

The article focuses on an interview with Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason, and his appearance in the upcoming film The Girl in the Spider’s Web. When asked what the most challenging aspect of writing the piece was, Bell explained that Sverrir was, in his terms, “boring”. He had two interviews with the actor, and was convinced that his interviewing skills were lacking. After speaking with colleagues who had interviewed the actor before, he learned that they had the same experience. I admire Bell’s ability to create such a compelling article by putting his own spin on the subject matter. Sverrir didn’t provide the most exciting content, so Bell went in another direction, focusing more on the film itself, and the narrative surrounding a famous Swedish actor entering American cinema.

Bell encouraged the concept of knowing your audience when conducting an interview. He described Sverrir as rather rigid and “buttoned-up”. In this case, he simply asked each question and moved on to the next, but, in other cases, he finds value in making the subject feel comfortable by avoiding the most generic questions that they’ve likely been asked hundreds of times before. He also emphasized the importance of allowing a piece to shape itself if possible. In some instances, that isn’t possible because of time restraints, but for the most part, he doesn’t impose his own ideas.

Considering that this piece was not very controversial, Bell didn’t receive backlash or any surprising responses. However, in past articles, he doesn’t invest much time and energy into negative commentary. He primarily writes about pop culture, and has run into angry Ariana Grande fans when he didn’t list “Dangerous Woman” as the best album of the year on his list of the best pop albums of 2016, and Stevie Nicks fans were furious when he referred to her as a witch in one of his reviews of her concert. For the most part, he simply finds these comments humorous.

I was the most amazed by how Bell arrived at his current position at Vogue. After a frustrating post-gradation season of internship and job denials, he guessed the email address of Rolling Stone’s editor-in-chief, explaining why he deserved to be a summer intern for him in New York City. Within an hour of sending the email, his assistant had emailed him back to set up an interview. The next day he had an official offer. From there, he moved from Oklahoma to New York, made connections through Rolling Stone, and made his way to Vogue.

Thomas Wavering and the Birth of the Innovation Hub


“Our mission is to increase innovation and entrepreneurship across OU and throughout our community. We want to create a vibrant innovative ecosystem filled with dynamic companies and opportunities for amazing OU students to find the career of their dreams here in Oklahoma.”

Suddenly, education takes on a new meaning through the words of Thomas Wavering, the Founding Executive Director of the University of Oklahoma’s Innovation Hub. He reminds us of the underlying goals we are all striving to attain throughout our college careers and beyond: to be passionate, to seek the heights understanding that anything is possible and to build a community of like-minded individuals to challenge us in our pursuits.

Designed as what creators refer to as a “maker space”, the Innovation Hub stands as a modern space for visualization and collaboration. Complete with a Digital Fabrication Lab, Data Visualization Zone, wood-working shop and so much more, the I-Hub destroys all perceived notions of what student collaboration should look like in today’s society.

Prior to his involvement with the Innovation Hub, Wavering spent over 18 years in leadership and executive roles, often with universities, pursuing research, development and commercialization of innovative technologies through various startups and products. Throughout these roles, however, he was consistently disappointed by colleges’ unrealized potential as a result of politics and bureaucracy.

The I-Hub brings about an entirely different approach to the concept of creation, and encourages diversity. Unlike many study centers on any given college campus, the Innovation Hub invites everyone from every background, be that business, engineering, research, marketing, science, etc. This space is not directed toward any certain group of people, but rather to the masses. The idea is to combine as many different individuals as possible to bounce ideas off of in order to bring about the most successful results in any goal. In fact, members of the Norman community are invited to experience all the Hub’s amenities as well. These unique features are what attracted Wavering to get involved and make a difference.

Wavering’s first day on the job was the first day the Innovation Hub opened in September of 2016. Since opening, he has taken on a wide variety of responsibilities, including the creation of their engaging programming, establishing policies, expanding basic capabilities to include a Code Lab and even the introduction of a Startup Legal Clinic.

The I-Hub was built on a platform of community involvement that Wavering emphasizes abundantly. It is clear in his tone that the people who pass through the doors are what make the Hub so successful. It is referred to as a “hub” because it attracts so many and is said to have many “spokes”.

Although the Innovation Hub is already wildly popular after being open for only a year, Wavering envisions even more potential for the center. According to OU public affairs, to aid in these efforts, the I-Hub was awarded the SBIRxOK program from the U.S. Small Business Administration with $2.5 billion worth of funding. This program is intended to encourage small business research, especially among women, and is lead in some cases by Wavering himself. For example, the Oklahoma Innovation to Market Roadshow is a “series of half-day workshops across Oklahoma to help innovators envision commercial outcomes for their ideas, consider collaboration opportunities and learn more about SBIR and the new SBIRxOK efforts.”

Wavering’s efforts to inspire leadership and progression in the community are very telling of his character and offer an exciting potential to bring ideas to life in the Norman area. The Innovation Hub finally gave him the opportunity to cultivate enthusiasm and motivation in a university setting.

“No other university in the country has anything comparable to the Innovation Hub”, said Wavering.

As the world becomes more technologically advanced at such a rapid pace, so do the needs involved in education. In a constantly changing society, Wavering pictured a space that welcomed new and evolving concepts.

As seen in an article from Sooner Magazine, Brandt Smith, director of the Innovation Hub’s fabrication lab, explained that “there is value in diversity. We want to broaden the perspective of people by putting them together”.

Smith and Wavering’s unique outlook on bringing people together from all backgrounds is what makes the center a breeding ground for growth. Students are given the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others in the community and vice versa. The community is given a look into the future, in a sense. They are able to observe our generation’s progressions and aspirations while simultaneously acting as mentors.

Wavering explains that the Hub is currently working on creating a new and improved website, but encourages the community to follow along on social media or sign up for their email list ( to keep up to date on the programming they have in place and are anticipating in the future.

In a society revolving around immediacy and never ending demands, Thomas Wavering’s unique initiative and mind-set is something to admire. We need to start focusing on the fact that our ideas do have the potential to come to life. We need to focus on our passions and finding a way to utilize them on a regular basis in a way the benefits our community. Wavering’s upbeat attitude in terms of the future in addition to his work to bring about confidence and leadership in young creatives is an inspiration carried over to the success of the Innovation Hub.

Q&A: Supriya Sridhar on her path to journalism by Carly Robinson

How did you get started with the Daily?

My freshman year, I met this girl in my zoology lab because I was pre-med and she had worked at the Daily and really liked it a lot. Both of us hated our zoology class, so once a week every week we would go to Crossroads and get milkshakes and talk about how we loved writing and didn’t want to be pre-med. Now it’s funny because I’m a senior and she’s my roommate. I joined second semester freshman year and have been there ever since and switched my major to journalism.

What was your major before journalism?

It was international studies pre-med. I had this notion that I wanted to work for Doctors Without Borders and that’s why I did that. Then I switched to just international studies because I genuinely like it, but as I went through the Daily and saw the sort of training and workshop behavior that some higher level Gaylord students were experiencing, I knew I wanted that. I changed to journalism and had my international studies credits become my minor.

Do you know what you want to do after college?

I actually have no idea which is just funny because I’m very particular about things. I guess my life is organized chaos!

Has your family influenced your career path? If so, how?

My family has not influenced this decision. They were very hesitant for me to not be pre-med. They just always wanted a math or science to be a part of my education because they believe that those fields are shown to give a consistently high income. They have always been the kind of people that have always been very financially aware, so ya me kind of switching to journalism without any math or science background is very scary for them. There is no consistency in this field or the promise of a consistent income which is very nerve-wracking for them, but they also see how much I do want to do this with my life, so I think that has helped them become more supportive.

What advice would you give someone pursuing a degree in journalism?

Definitely, definitely, definitely join the Daily if you are doing journalism. I think being at the Daily versus another journalism organization gives you real life practice. You see a level of quality and real journalism through our work. Organizations through Gaylord are very practice oriented and ours is very real. We do view ourselves as this campus’ news organization and we take that very seriously. This isn’t just an after school activity for us, it’s very real. We do provide a service on this campus. If you really want to do this with your life and you get the opportunity to do this with your life, I think you owe it to yourself to take that opportunity.

Where did you start off at the Daily?

I started off as a news reporter and a designer. I would report during the day and design the paper at night. Then I moved on to being what was called community outreach editor and I did collaborations with different organizations on campus. That was the goal and so in that role I did a mental health series which I spent a large portion of the semester doing that had students talk about their mental health disorders and kind of give their first-hand experience of what that’s like being on campus. That was very special and very rewarding. Then I moved on to being special projects editor and organizing themed editions of the paper and certain particular projects that we wanted to do, like the SAE anniversary edition and things like that. Then I moved on to being the engagement managing editor which was a big leap up, but I think it was really worth it because I got to see the importance of social media and engaging your audience.

What position do you hold with the Daily today?

Now, I’m the Arts and Entertainment editor and for me, knowing what is important to our audience has influenced my internships because I think, “What do people in this community want to read?”. It’s been a journey and I’m happy that I had it!


Essay: Connecting the dots


Pools of blue-gray bleed into rich cardinal red and ivory, combining to form a cropped view of the American flag, billowing in the breeze. A 23-year-old Clyde Sharp gazes into the distance, just escaping eye contact with his viewer. He appears strong, handsome and peaceful. He shows no signs of fear as a soldier preparing for war. His perfectly chiseled features separate him from the remaining 49 pieces surrounding him.

As I stood back viewing the painting of my grandfather hanging at the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., I couldn’t help but pinch myself. It was as if the whole world stopped as I admired my work. In a single word, I would describe the moment as joy. Happiness is external, but this feeling came from deep inside my soul. For the first time, I had received public recognition for my passion in arguably one of the highest regards possible as a junior in high school.

Winning the Congressional Art Competition in 2014 strengthened my artistic confidence like never before. My painting brought tears to the eyes of friends, family and even Congressman Bridenstine, the judge of the annual contest. I had achieved what great artists strive for: I had evoked emotion.

Still, the most fulfilling praise was from my parents. As an only child, I wanted then, and still want now, nothing more than to please them and make them proud. My mom is the source of my creative inclinations. Grace, compassion and inspiration flow from her like a thundering waterfall. My dad exudes a gentle, kind-hearted nature. He is someone I can always count on for an honest opinion or simply as an ear to listen, but falls more toward left-brained tendencies. As different as my parents may be, they came together despite divorce to celebrate my accomplishment. It is moments like these that make me feel the most content.

Despite all the excitement, I stood in the tunnel system of the U.S. Capitol critiquing my work. I honed in on a section of thick, red acrylic paint that I hadn’t watered down enough. In my eyes, it stood out like a sore thumb. You could clearly see the ridges my paintbrush had dug, whereas the rest of the painting was smooth and seemed to blend into itself. The pocket on my grandfather’s uniform looked as though it was painted by a kindergartener.

My trip to Washington D.C. still stands as one of the greatest trips I have ever taken; however, I was still able to convince myself that a career in the arts ultimately would not bring me success. I eventually accepted my creativity as a hobby, not a feasible profession. It wasn’t realistic or dependable.

. . . . .

About a year after that trip to Washington, D.C., I shook the hand of the headmaster at my private Christian high school and received my diploma. As I walked across the stage, friends and family members of the class of 2015 were informed by the emcee that I would attend the University of Oklahoma in the fall, pursuing a major that had yet to be decided. College was such a wonderful mystery, and in that moment, peering out onto my class of 96 students, I couldn’t wait to embark on a new adventure.

The day finally came to depart Tulsa yet again; however, this time lacked the excitement of my previous trip. All of the anticipation of finally gaining independence materialized in the most unexpected of ways. As my mom finished making my bed, my dad took me outside into the cramped hallway of my dorm. Before he could even begin his pep-talk, I burst into tears and embraced him like it was the last time I would ever see him. He told me in that hallway that he was proud of me, and that he knew I would be great. He held me for what seemed like an eternity and I never wanted it to end. My mom emerged from my tiny room next and the tears continued. She gave me her signature advice, “You got this!” Finally, I hugged both of my parents simultaneously. Those few seconds of unity with my mom and dad are some of the most precious.

Before I knew it, all traces of family members were old news and college life had officially begun. After battling for some time over what my major should be, I decided on business. I was tired of telling friends and family members I was “undecided” when they asked. Undecided essentially translated to “I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.” My dad majored in business and even got his masters in it. He was so successful. Business was a safe bet, and as a confused, lonely freshman just trying to figure life out on my own, safe sounded good.

I enrolled in all the necessary business courses and felt content for the first time in a while. I would be getting a degree in something my parents would be proud of. My dad would be able to impress all of his friends by telling them that his one and only daughter was in the Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma. That had a nice ring to it, and it made me feel like I was doing something practical with my life.

Unfortunately, this feeling of peace and belonging did not last long. My first macroeconomics test rolled around and I studied as hard as I ever had. I needed to prove to myself and to everyone around me that this was the right path for me. Long story short, I bombed it. This was a feeling I had never experienced before, being a 4.0 student throughout high school. This was my moment of realization. I’m not going to be the best anymore. It’s impossible.

Despite this heart-breaking failure, I decided to chin up and give it another go. I would study even harder for the next test. I would hire a tutor and put in as many hours as it took. I wasn’t going to be knocked down that easily. A few weeks later, as I sat in my dorm room at 5 a.m. vigorously studying flashcard for the test I would be taking in a matter of hours, it clicked. I jolted up from my slouched position. I shouldn’t be living my life for others. My dad is going to be proud of me no matter what I do. I should be living my life for me, myself and I, doing something I love.

. . . . .

I couldn’t have been more excited to meet with my adviser the next day. I sat with her for nearly an hour. That appointment was more comparable to a therapy session than is was an advising appointment.

I had decided on journalism as my major. My whole complex of not finding success through creativity was shattered. Journalism was a way to incorporate both my love of writing and being artistic with a more practical basis.

In Vogue: The Illustrated History of the World’s Most Famous Fashion Magazine sat on my shelf, staring me down. It was reminding me of who I was and who I wanted to be. My obsession with the publication grew so strong that I even ventured to make it the subject of my senior art portfolio. Its pages are full of some of the 20th century’s most respected artists, cover illustrators and photographers. These inspirational individuals embody characteristics that I want to exercise in my future career. They are bold and tenacious. They follow their dreams. They believe in the power of their vision and its potential impact on the world. That’s who I want to be. That’s what I want to accomplish.

Fast-forward a year and I’m sitting awe-struck on my twin bed at my sorority house. Completely dumbfounded. I had received an internship position at The Brides of Oklahoma Magazine. Tears of joy escaped my eyes as I realized yet again that my passions and skills hold value. I was flooded with self-confidence and excitement for the future. My inner Anna Wintour came out and I can only hope she sticks around. Who knows, maybe one day that will be me, overlooking the New York City skyline from my corner office, making the final call on a cover design.

“In today’s world, you have to interact. You can’t be some difficult shy person who is not able to look somebody in the face; you have to present yourself. You have to know how to talk about your vision, your focus and what you believe in.” –Anna Wintour

Carly Robinson: The story behind ‘Waiting Game’ by Emma Keith

Senior reporter at the OU Daily, Emma Keith, crafted a feature entitled “Waiting Game” last spring in which she highlighted the difficulties students seeking mental health care at OU face when making appointments through the University Counseling Center at Goddard. Keith states that limited staffing and a tight budget cause patients wait times of up to several months to meet with a counselor.

By this point in her career at the Daily, Keith had adopted mental health as her beat as she herself deals with mental illness and is passionate about advocating for those who share in her struggle.

When she decided to join the Daily in the spring of 2016, Keith had no journalism experience whatsoever. Her first semester with the publication was in one word “terrifying”. She struggled to overcome a lack of confidence in the news room, but she persisted. Eventually, Keith found her groove, despite frustrating points. She added, “I have a great team around me and continue to try to challenge and grow myself here”. Her endurance as a journalist is commendable and a characteristic I think our class can learn from. Growth can only come from change, and not every assignment or job we get throughout our lives are going to be ideal. Honestly, most of them will not be, but learning to adapt to a situation has the potential to cultivate personal development.

Keith dealt with 2 major challenges in writing this piece. The first being that she had never written an article so long or detailed before. “Some help from great editors shaped this story into a much more compelling read”, said Keith of this uncharted territory. Asking for help and feedback in writing is so crucial, and something I personally need to get more comfortable with.

Her second trial was in representing all of her sources evenly, despite the fact that she had previously formed relationships with some of her sources through her work in covering mental health. Maintaining an unbiased outlook throughout reporting and writing is arguably one of the most difficult aspects in journalism. Keith’s uncanny ability to convey each student’s perspective on the issue while simultaneously expressing Goddard’s desire to care for their patients is a perfect example of equal representation. A journalist’s purpose is to inform and assist their community in forming opinions with as many details as possible from all angles.

In regards to the interviewing process, Keith expressed that she is normally very nervous beforehand, but she counters her apprehensions with incredible grace. “I always try to interview from a place of empathy, sincerity and sensitivity”, says Keith of her approach to covering such personal and sometimes even painful subjects. Feature Writing will require quite a few interviews throughout the semester, and Keith’s advice on talking with sources is certainly something to remember in our writing endeavors.

“Waiting Game” received very high praise after being published. In this case, Keith’s subject matter was not a particularly controversial stance. She explained that readers were engaged with her work as a result of its relatability. Something that interests you might not necessarily interest everyone else. Keeping your audience in mind is a vital component of writing. The ability to reach more than one is challenging, and something that Keith executed flawlessly.

The amount of research Keith performed for this piece is evident. Statistics and accurate, informative comparisons can enhance the credibility of a story greatly along with the use of well-known sources.

Overall, “Waiting Game” is a prime example of what every journalist should strive for in reporting and writing as seen through Keith’s unique ability to compile information in a clear, concise and engaging manner.

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