Lauren Zakalik

WFAA has empowered me to seek out powerful stories, no matter how hard they may be to tell, and tell them in a big way.

Lauren Zakalik is a reporter at WFAA in Dallas, TX, specializing in stores from Tarrant County.

1) Who are you? To know me is to know who and where I come from. I am an older sister to two brothers who keep me humbled and laughing. I was raised by an Iowa-born-and-bred mother and a father who came to the United States as an adult. Both of them have incredibly warm and supporting extended families who’ve molded me into the person I am.

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I am a proud Michigander. I can show you where I come from on the palm of my hand and my blood bleeds maize and blue. I live for summers on the beaches of Lake Michigan, apple cider and hot donuts in the fall and farmers markets in the spring. I can do without the winters, though, which is why you’ll find me happily living in Fort Worth.

I did my bachelors work at the University of Michigan, then went on to receive my masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. That education sent me on a life-changing path through three states and stations, all of which are in my heart. Lansing, Michigan, is where I first cut my teeth with some of the state’s smartest political reporters. I then traded rural mid-Michigan for the vast beauty of New Mexico. After three years, I said goodbye to the mountains and desert and arrived in home-sweet-Texas, where the gorgeous Trinity Trails and welcoming people continue to take my breath away.

2) What are your interests? In my job, my interests lie in telling you things you didn’t know about your community. Sometimes they’re things that are hard to hear; other times, they’re stories you can’t wait to run and tell someone else. Whichever the case, I want to tell that story so it opens your eyes, ears and heart. My favorite stories to tell are ones in which ordinary people are doing extraordinary things.

Outside my job, I stay busy. I enjoy playing competitive team sports; adult kickball has introduced me to some of my best friends. I cook, I run, I play tennis. I look forward to the Sunday crossword in the New York Times, even though it often humbles me. I enjoy Fort Worth’s many art museums and film festivals. Concerts in the Garden, the Colonial golf tournament and the Main Street Art Festival are my favorite Fort Worth events.

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I travel often, including many trips to Michigan a year to see my sweet family.

3) What do you like about working at WFAA? WFAA has been the greatest surprise of my career. I came here hoping I’d learn a thing or two from some of the best journalists in the country. That happened, yes, but there’s been so much more than that. WFAA has empowered me to seek out powerful stories, no matter how hard they may be to tell, and tell them in a big way. They value the stories of all people and want to spotlight those original experiences.

That is what I love most about working here. I work with people who see the big picture. They see a ‘Yes’ where others might see a ‘No.’ They see a ‘Cool! How should we move forward?’ instead of a ‘Sorry. Better luck next time.’ And that allows me to do so much more, reach so many more people and, hopefully, impact more people’s lives.

4) What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about you? People might be surprised to know I am first-generation American. My father came here as a refugee in his 20s. I grew up surrounded by his friends from Poland and Russia and had such a rich understanding of my culture. My youngest brother and I are in the process of interviewing my dad about his life and background and are learning so much more about where we come from!

On a lighter note, you also might not know my front tooth is fake! I got it knocked out playing softball in high school. I remember the baseball coach telling me I’d still get a date to the prom.

Lauren is excited to get to know the people of North Texas. If you have a story you'd like her to tell, please e-mail her at lzakalik@wfaa.com.

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