At the intersection of sports, race, media and gender lie athletes like Chiney Ogwumike – an NCAA standout, talented WNBA All-Star, World Cup gold medalist, executive producer, national radio program host and WNBA Players Association vice president.
The many hats Ogwumike wears have enabled her to be a switch to and from the basketball court and inspire women and girls to reach their goals. Although she did not play in the 2020 WNBA season in the bubble due to health concerns, the Los Angeles Sparks power forward executive producer added to her resume with the ESPN movie “144” and began hosting Chiney and Golic Jr. on ESPN Radio in August 2020 and will be the first black woman to host a national daily radio program. This month, Ogwumike also launched his own podcast “Chiney” on ESPN.
USA TODAY Sports caught up with Ogwumike to discuss the importance of representation during the Olympics, in sports media and beyond. In his partnership with Secret deodorant’s “Just Watch Me” campaign, Ogwumike addresses the lack of representation and funding for female athletes. With campaign paintings in New York, Atlanta and Philadelphia, Ogwumike is one of the athletes on display.
Let’s talk about your partnership with Secret deodorant and the “Just Watch Me” campaign.
Ogwumike: It’s a great seamless partnership, but most importantly it feels like we’re all on the same team. We are teammates in this endeavor because we are both committed to watching this game grow and doing it through the lens to see us compete at the highest level because young girls need representation. And being an athlete at this point is really strong and having secret teams together and helping young girls feel like they don’t have to sweat the little things. We have athletes who have their backs and see them and appreciate them and we push for more coverage. It really is a perfect alliance.
Last time you spoke to USA TODAY Sports, the movie “144” was only a few days away from the premiere and when it was sent, it was truly a huge success. How was it for you to see everyone’s reaction to the film?
Ogwumike: It was really humiliating and rewarding. It was our baby for eight to ten months, and what we were able to achieve was representation in its greatest form – showing women from the WNBA, the 144, and how powerful they are, not just for what they do the path, but more importantly, who they are as people outside the court.
It has been one of my missions in life to just keep testing boundaries and it was a creative outlet. It was so much fun to see the players as excited to see themselves as they want to be seen. And I think that’s what it’s all about.
You’re the first black woman to host a national ESPN radio program, and you see firsthand that there are not many black women in the industry.
When situations like that we all saw with Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor transpire, what is the only thing you hope people take away as it pertains to black women in sports media?
Ogwumike: We see trends that all have work to do to create cultures for success. We see it in sports and we see it every day and no one is immune to it. Everyone has understood that after going through the year we had in 2020 and now we are on our way to 2021 where everyone will be connected again, I think we are starting to realize that we need to make room for everyone, whether it is for groups of people who have been marginalized or women – and especially women in sports. We are a work in progress. At the very least, we are working to create fairer situations for all. It is not an ideal scenario to consistently see these problems come up, but at the same time it highlights that improvements can be made, and that is within every group, every system, every team, every culture.
So even though it’s been fun because I get to deliver my dream every single day, for the people in the air, it’s also pressure because we know what’s possible out there through representation.
USA BASKETBALL: Program director for women’s braces is resigning after Tokyo
Chasing gold: Sign up now for our Olympic newsletter
Back in June, when your sister Nneka was dropped from the Team USA list to the Tokyo doctors, you did what any good sister wanted and you guaranteed for her. What does it mean to you that both you and Erica are listed in Nigeria’s preliminary team for the Olympics in Tokyo?
Ogwumike: I think the beauty of being born and raised in the United States, but also of having Nigerian parents, is that there is an opportunity to celebrate the best of both worlds. That is the beauty of this time. We can celebrate double heritage, and that is what our country is all about. Being able to compete – hopefully – in the Olympics together as sisters, that’s just how we roll. It is on-brand for us and it will be a great opportunity if it manifests itself.
We have seen black women dominate the headlines for the Olympics. What does this mean for you personally, and how important is it for the world and the next generation to see black women represented on such a huge stage?
Ogwumike: When we celebrate the black women who are magical, we still hurt the women who have been denied opportunities. I think this time highlights that in different circumstances there is little room for error for black women, and that is what pushes us to be great. It has been great to fall in love with the stories of people and athletes through the Olympics, but at the same time, I hope people continue to support black women outside of every four years.
These women have trained and done great things beyond every four years, and it’s great to work with Secret deodorant because you’re going to adapt to people who want to push for the right coverage of women in sports. Having campaigns and murals that give young girls a chance to feel seen instead of ‘oh, it’s this time of year again’ (Olympics) or ‘oh it’s WNBA season.’ These campaigns make it something permanent.
Disclaimers for mcutimes.com
All the information on this website - https://mcutimes.com - is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. mcutimes.com does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (mcutimes.com), is strictly at your own risk. mcutimes.com will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website.