Neda Ulaby

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.

Scouring the various and often overlapping worlds of art, music, television, film, new media and literature, Ulaby's radio and online stories reflect political and economic realities, cultural issues, obsessions and transitions, as well as artistic adventurousness— and awesomeness.

Over the last few years, Ulaby has strengthened NPR's television coverage both in terms of programming and industry coverage and profiled breakout artists such as Ellen Page and Skylar Grey and behind-the-scenes tastemakers ranging from super producer Timbaland to James Schamus, CEO of Focus Features. Her stories have included a series on women record producers, an investigation into exhibitions of plastinated human bodies, and a look at the legacy of gay activist Harvey Milk. Her profiles have brought listeners into the worlds of such performers as Tyler Perry, Ryan Seacrest, Mark Ruffalo, and Courtney Love.

Ulaby has earned multiple fellowships at the Getty Arts Journalism Program at USC Annenberg as well as a fellowship at the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism to study youth culture. In addition, Ulaby's weekly podcast of NPR's best arts stories. Culturetopia, won a Gracie award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation.

Joining NPR in 2000, Ulaby was recruited through NPR's Next Generation Radio, and landed a temporary position on the cultural desk as an editorial assistant. She started reporting regularly, augmenting her work with arts coverage for D.C.'s Washington City Paper.

Before coming to NPR, Ulaby worked as managing editor of Chicago's Windy City Times and co-hosted a local radio program, What's Coming Out at the Movies. Her film reviews and academic articles have been published across the country and internationally. For a time, she edited fiction for The Chicago Review and served on the editing staff of the leading academic journal Critical Inquiry. Ulaby taught classes in the humanities at the University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University and at high schools serving at-risk students.

A former doctoral student in English literature, Ulaby worked as an intern for the features desk of the Topeka Capital-Journal after graduating from Bryn Mawr College. She was born in Amman, Jordan, and grew up in the idyllic Midwestern college towns of Lawrence, Kansas and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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5:16pm

Tue December 9, 2014
Code Switch

The Annie Of Tomorrow Has The Same Hard Knocks, But Different Hair

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 2:09 pm

Quvenzhané Wallis, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild, plays little orphan Annie in the new film adaptation of the 1977 musical.
Barry Wetcher Sony Pictures Entertainment

When you think about the musical Annie, what associations come to mind? Probably the song "Tomorrow," right? And Annie's bright red, curly hair? Red hair comes with its own cultural mythology. In this case, it underscores Annie's plucky, independent spirit.

As it turns out, hair is almost a character in this trailer for the new version of Annie coming out Dec. 19, says Noliwe Rooks, a professor at Cornell University. In just 2:19 minutes, you'll see three or four jokes about or references to hair.

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4:58pm

Thu December 4, 2014
All Tech Considered

Sapiosexual Seeks Same: A New Lexicon Enters Online Dating Mainstream

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:27 pm

This post was updated at 11:10 a.m. ET for clarity.

How would you — or do you — identify on online dating sites? Gay? Straight? Bisexual? Well you're about to have many more options on OkCupid, one of the most popular sites for people seeking love and connection.

OkCupid has about 4 million users, and within the next few weeks the site will give all of them brand-new options for specifying their gender and sexual orientation — options like androgynous, asexual, genderqueer and questioning.

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4:23pm

Thu November 27, 2014
Movie Interviews

Beware The 'Babadook,' The Monster Of Your Own Making

Originally published on Thu November 27, 2014 7:12 pm

In an independent, Australian film, a single mother (Essie Davis) and her troubled young son (Noah Wiseman) are terrorized by a mysterious character from a children's book called Mister Babdook.
Matt Nettheim Causeway Films

The monsters of repression are what terrorize a single mom and her little boy in The Babadook. The small, independent, Australian, feminist horror movie was one of the buzziest films coming out of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. As of this writing, The Babadook enjoys an impressive 97 percent positive score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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3:05am

Mon November 10, 2014
Book News & Features

If Literature's Great Characters Could Text, They'd Charm Your Pantalets Off

Originally published on Sun November 30, 2014 5:40 pm

In Mallory Ortberg's modern retelling of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, Miss Havisham texts wedding dress photos from a blocked number.
Madeline Gobbo Courtesy of Henry Holt & Company

What if the greatest characters in literary history all carried around smartphones and typed out messages to each other? That's the conceit of the new book Texts from Jane Eyre. Author Mallory Ortberg knows it sounds gimmicky, but she loved imagining how Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester might have texted.

"It's just re-imagined dialogue that I think all of these characters would absolutely say in a slightly more familiar context," Ortberg explains.

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5:51pm

Sun October 19, 2014
Arts & Life

Waterless Worlds The New Hot Dystopia

Originally published on Sun October 19, 2014 7:09 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

5:34am

Thu October 16, 2014
Television

HBO To Start Online Only Streaming Service

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 12:32 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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6:50am

Fri September 19, 2014
Book News & Features

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel Awarded MacArthur Fellowship

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 7:57 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

6:39am

Tue September 16, 2014
Business

Hachette Authors Take Their Case To Amazon's Board Of Directors

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 7:59 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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3:31am

Fri September 12, 2014
Movie Interviews

Film Triptych 'Eleanor Rigby' Tells Three Sides Of A Breakup Story

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 1:03 pm

James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain star in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Him, Her and Them.
Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

There are three sides to every story, or so the saying goes — yours, theirs and the truth. That's basically the premise of a new triple feature: three films that show a crumbling relationship from different points of view. Together they're called The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Him, Her and Them. (Them comes out in theaters Friday, and Him and Her will be released next month.)

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8:17am

Sat August 16, 2014
Author Interviews

Lois Lowry Says 'The Giver' Was Inspired By Her Father's Memory Loss

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 10:09 am

Lois Lowry says she didn't think of The Giver as "futuristic or dystopian or science fiction or fantasy" — it was just a story about a kid making sense of a complicated world.
Matt McKee Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Just for a second, imagine a world without war, conflict or grief. Refreshing, right? But it's also a world without memory, at least in the premise of Lois Lowry's 1993 novel The Giver. The movie adaptation opened this week and stars Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges.

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