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Nora O'Donnell

Deputy Editor at The Red Bulletin

Location icon United States

I love telling stories about topics that enhance life—entertainment, food, travel, science—and I live for connecting with thinkers and game changers to bring their ideas to a larger audience. This portfolio offers a glimpse of some of my writing and editing samples.

Currently at The Red Bulletin. Formerly a senior editor at Playboy and Chicago magazine and journalism teacher at Columbia College and Northwestern University.

Portfolio

Writing Highlights

The Red Bulletin
08/08/2021
Daughter of the Desert

With sand in her veins and years of training under her belt, off-road desert racer Mia Chapman is a true revelation in her sport. But her real secret weapon is something more familial.

The Red Bulletin
Meet the Brave Volunteers Saving Lives in the Wilds of Iceland

WINNER: Best Single Article, 2018 Folio Awards. THE TEAM IS THE HERO: In Iceland, a team of highly trained unpaid volunteers serve as the island’s rescue crew. Individually, they are ordinary people with day jobs, but together they are what makes the country great.

Chicago Magazine
The Life and Work of Street Photographer Vivian Maier

A LIFE IN SHADOW: The doc Finding Vivian Maier was nominated for a 2015 Academy Award. For Chicago magazine, I broke the story behind Vivian's life, with an exclusive interview with the family that knew her best.

Playboy
Kumail Nanjiani Q&A

The comedian and Silicon Valley star talks tech and the impending robot apocalypse

Playboy
09/01/2015
Women On Top

TV sex is more realistic than ever with women running the show

The Red Bulletin
Jean-Claude Van Damme Wants to Kick Ass in comedy

WINNER: Best Action Photo, 2018 National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards. JEAN-CLAUDE IS THE REAL DAMME DEAL: The legendary action star returns with a new secret weapon: comedy. We talk to the Muscles from Brussels about his new show on Amazon and why he's ready to crush your funny bone.

The Red Bulletin
03/01/2017
The Real Action Stars

Behind the scenes of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters, there are the stunt performers who spend long, hard hours on set, ready to execute fantastic feats of physical power at a moment's notice. They are chameleons of fitness, capable of making the impossible possible.

Editorial Direction

Playboy
Pamela Anderson

For Playboy's final nude issue (before they brought it back a year later), I had the honor of editing the cover story: an interview with Pamela Anderson.

The Red Bulletin
Ready to Roll: Loren Kaplan Mutch

To the doubters who still think roller derby is just a melodrama of sharp elbows and fishnet stockings, four-time world champion Loren Kaplan Mutch is here to prove you wrong.

The Red Bulletin
Pulling Through

Deep in the Alaskan wilderness, one intrepid dogsled team battles the elements and harsh terrain to preserve a hundred-year-old mountaineering tradition—the long, technical ascent up Denali.

The Red Bulletin
Cuco Is Back with a New Label and a New Sound

CUCO ON THE RISE: Omar Banos is an indie-pop prodigy on the verge of mainstream fame, but last October, his career hung in the balance after a semi-trailer crashed into his tour van. Here's the story of his comeback.

The Red Bulletin
The Evolution of Competitive Breaking

BREAKING GROUND: Twenty years ago, a trailblazing event in Seattle—Lords of the Floor— revolutionized competitive breakdancing. Now, with breaking set to make its Olympic debut in 2024, this is the story of how this athletic art form evolved from a fringe activity into a global phenomenon.

The Red Bulletin
Inside the World's Toughest One-Day Mountain-Bike Race

SLAYING THE DRAGON: In the Eastern Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the Tour of the Dragon takes mountain-bike riders over 15,000 feet of brutal climbing in just one day—and on a journey to find their personal well-being.

The Red Bulletin

The Red Bulletin
05/06/2021
Full Circle

In Chilean Patagonia, four adventurers follow in the footsteps of their heroes as they attempt a rare ski descent of a volcano surrounded by savage jungle. A new self-produced short film documents their quest for the purest of climbs.

The Red Bulletin
05/07/2019
Eye of the Storm

Last summer, an adventure photographer and her crew shadowed a renowned storm chaser all across the Great Plains' famed Tornado Alley in pursuit of nature's fury. Trust us, they found it.

The Red Bulletin
06/01/2017
The Future of Entertainment

VR pioneer Danfung Dennis is creating visceral experiences that give you a firsthand look at the world's suffering, as well as it's beauty.

The Red Bulletin
05/01/2017
Ilfenesh Hadera

Actress Ilfenesh Hadera is a study in contrasts: A seasoned New Yorker who's overtly compassionate and an intimidating beauty who's refreshingly approachable.

The Red Bulletin
04/29/2017
This Dog Makes More Money Than You

Kelly Lund brought home Loki, a puppy that would change his life. With over 1 million followers on Instagram, Lund is now a full time social media manager for his furry best friend. Kelly Lund brought home Loki, a puppy that would change his life.

The Red Bulletin
Katheryn Winnick

Known for her role as a fierce shield maiden on Vikings, the actress and martial arts master keeps crushing it.

The Red Bulletin
09/20/2016
This Motorcycle Maven Rides 1,500 Miles A Day Like It's No Big Deal

I started modeling when I was 13 years old, and I got a lot of pushback from both sides. I always said that modeling hurt my riding career, and riding hurt my modeling career. I've modeled for every motorcycle out there, and back in the day, they only wanted me to pose on bikes.

The Red Bulletin
Meet The World's Top Street Fighters

One of the world's top street fighter players comes from Compton. His mentor walked a similar path to esports success. Darryl Lewis and Alex Valle are what happens when your mom tells you to stay inside and play more Video games.

The Red Bulletin
Tracktown Is The Latest Running Film You Have To See

When Tracktown premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival a few weeks ago, it was clear to the audience and to critics that it wasn't a typical sports flick. That's because its star, Alexi Pappas, was not only playing an Olympic running hopeful-she is one in real life.

The Red Bulletin
Seize the Holiday

Edited this travel cover story that includes five endurance tests that'll get your blood pumping.

The Red Bulletin
Brent Bushnell Has Created The Smartest Circus You Will Ever See

Growing up, Brent Bushnell was the kid on the block with the best toys. As one of the sons of Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, Brent learned early on the joy of invention and the thrill of entrepreneurship. "Making my own games," Brent says, "that was my dream."

Playboy

Playboy
01/01/2015
The Year in Sex

Since the 1970s, the Year in Sex has been an annual Playboy feature.

Playboy
04/01/2014
Lina Esco Q&A

The actress and activist gets some thoughts about topless equality off her chest

Playboy
10/01/2014
Dan Harmon Q&A

The Community creator on breaking in and out of Hollywood

Playboy
12/01/2014
Tiki Time

Escapism in a ceramic mug is here to stay

Playboy
10/01/2014
Foul Players

Female comedians are filthier and funnier than ever. Deal with it.

Playboy
07/01/2014
Best Summer Ever 2014

All the parties, drinks, events and random stuff you need to kick summer into high gear

Playboy
04/01/2014
Respect Your Roots

Any guy can cook a steak; chefs train their sights on the carrot. Here's how to kick it up

Playboy
04/01/2014
Hard Core

Think all hard ciders are weak and cloying? Think again. These five sophisticated bottles blow the top off of this divisive drink

Playboy
03/01/2014
Beyond Condoms

Get lost, latex. A competition to reinvent the condom produces some stimulating proposals

Playboy
10/01/2015
Playboy's Top Party Schools

Since the dawn of the great keg tap and the invention of the red Solo cup, the perfect pairing of partying and schooling has evolved into an advanced social and technological spectacle. Here are the top 10 party schools with a higher degree in modern revelry, plus a look at recent campus headlines and the apps that are changing student culture.

Playboy
Six Degrees of Fermentation

More celebs than ever are in the business of making booze. Our somewhat scientific breakdown of how they're all connected

Chicago Magazine

Chicago magazine
Green Awards

In 2006, I cofounded Chicago magazine's Green Awards, an annual feature that honors innovators in environmentalism. The feature won a CRMA award for community service in 2009.

Chicago magazine
Fall Fashion

As the editor of Chicago magazine's fashion coverage, I traveled to China with fashion director Stacy Jones and photographer Brian Doben for a shoot on the streets of Shanghai.

Chicago Public Radio
Chicago's secret photographer: Vivian Maier

The streets of Chicago have been documented by many famous photographers, including Art Shay and Harry Callahan. But during the 1950s and '60s, another shutterbug was busy at work. Vivian Maier was a nanny in Chicago's northern suburbs.

Chicago magazine
03/30/2012
Inside the Mind of Philip Glass

It's been nearly 60 years since the celebrated experimental composer Philip Glass left his home in Baltimore at age 15 to attend the University of Chicago. "That experience has empowered me my whole life," he says.

Chicago magazine
07/07/2010
Choose Your Own Summer Adventure

My opener to this summer guide, a loving homage to the Choose Your Own Adventure books, was so dead-on that their publisher threatened to sue us. (It never made it to court!)

Chicago magazine
05/31/2011
Rufus Wainwright Talks Opera, Shakespeare

Rufus Wainwright is a tough man to pin down. Even before his first opera, Prima Donna, in 2009, the New York-based singer-songwriter, 37, conjured a mystical blend of folk, pop, and Gilbert and Sullivan pomp.

Chicago magazine
The Inventor

In 1965, a young and impressionable engineering student at Michigan State University listened to the visionary architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller give a speech on how technology could, more or less, solve the world's problems. The student was Bil Becker, and the speech changed his life.

Chicago magazine
The Spokesman

Howard Learner may be soft-spoken, but he doesn't skimp on the details. Ask him to name his proudest environmental achievement, and without pause, he'll happily name two: cleaner energy and reducing mercury pollution in Illinois.

Chicago magazine
The Soprano

n the early 1990s, Nicole Cabell dropped out of her high-school marching band and went looking for something more. She found it, mixed among her mother's album collection of Broadway standards, Joni Mitchell, and the Doors: a cassette tape of the opera great Dame Kiri Te Kanawa singing "Vissi d'arte" from Puccini's Tosca.

IndieWire

Indiewire
How Authentic is 'Transparent?' A Transgender Activist on Jeffrey Tambor and Other Portrayals

There are many reasons why you should be watching Amazon's "Transparent," but is it the best transgender depiction on television? Indiewire chatted with activist and writer Jen Richards, the co-director of the Trans 100 and creator of the website We Happy Trans, about her take on Jeffrey Tambor's performance, the transgender roles that speak most to her, and which upcoming shows she's most (and least) excited about.

IndieWire
SXSW: The 5 Best Things We Learned From 'Boyhood" Post-Production Team

SXSW: The 5 Best Things We Learned From 'Boyhood'' Post-Production Team "Twelve years went by like that," said "Boyhood" editor Sandra Adair with a snap of her fingers. The end result of the Oscar-nominated film appears seamless, but for Adair and her colleagues, the process was unprecedented.

CNN

CNN
Insider Guide: Best of Chicago

From the restaurant where the Obamas eat to the clubs that make America laugh, welcome to the biggest small town in the States

CNN
07/09/2013
9 classic U.S. dive bars

What makes a classic dive bar? Is it the sticky floors or the peanut shells? The killer juke box? The heady aroma of stale beer and the haze of a million cigarettes? (In some states, anyway.) These are all things that are worth debating, and we welcome you to disagree with the picks below.

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