Consummate freelance feature writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner is going to The New York Times as a full-time staff writer. Brodesser-Akner, who has written cover profiles of pop stars and celebrities for many publications, including The New York Times Magazine and GQ — where she has been a contributing writer to both outlets — will be doing double duty as a features writer for the culture desk and a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine.
“Taffy is a prolific writer with tremendous range who can capture and unfurl all types of pop personalities,” New York Times Magazine editor Jake Silverstein and culture editor Danielle Mattoon wrote in a joint announcement. “Who else could tell you everything you need to know about Don Lemon through the pronunciation of a common dessert? Or get Nicki Minaj to unpack the meaning of ‘Anaconda’ while sleeping? Or explain how Andy Cohen’s particular understanding of human nature — earned through producing hundreds of hours of ‘Real Housewives’ — allowed him to predict the results of last year’s election?”
Just in the course of the past year, Brodesser-Akner has profiled a range of big-name subjects, including Tom Ford, Kesha, Jake Tapper and Marie Kondo. She has something of a knack for taking celebrity profiles up a notch to create a sense of character, and moments from those in-depth profiles have a tendency to go viral — such as when she opened a GQ cover story about Lemon by recounting the CNN anchor’s insistence that the “t” in the word sorbet was not silent. Another anecdote from a cover profile Brodesser-Akner wrote for GQ caused actor Tom Hiddleston’s recipe for bolognese sauce to become a Twitter sensation.
“What is special about the Times is that there are so many times you write something, and people read it, or it has to be crazy for people to read it,” Brodesser-Akner told WWD. “At the Times, you can tell a great story and know that the world is going to read it. What more could a writer want?”
Brodesser-Akner’s most recent story for Times Magazine was a complex look at people who decide to leave ultra-Orthodox Judaism.
“When I started out, writing for GQ was my only goal and I was willing to do anything I had to do to get there and anything to stay there. They let me do magical things. I really lived in those stories; each one changed me a little. I didn’t think I’d ever want to leave,” she said. “I have really loved freelancing for a lot of reasons: There is something that feels almost like you’re really living life like you’re supposed to when you’re sent to explore people and places you wouldn’t come across in a regular life. And working for all those magazines, I got this huge view of the world. But I always wondered, what could I do if I didn’t have to work quite so quickly and work quite so efficiently? What kind of stories would I write if I were on salary somewhere, and there was an investment into thinking of ideas, and less worry, and less calling accounts receivable? I had to try it.”