The Oregon Woman 2019

Meet the Portland Woman Penning the Words for Nike’s LeBron James Commercials

She's a comics nerd, marketing whiz, and possible superhero.

By Karen Brooks April 23, 2019 Published in the May 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Celeste Noche

The comics world needs a new superhero? Our recommendation: Jordan Dinwiddie. Let’s begin with the 28-year-old’s website tagline: “Writer. Nerd. Bad Bitch.” Is anyone better suited to save the planet these days?

Standing nearly six feet tall and sporting warrior-princess braids, the Chicago native’s childhood nemesis was a stutter; to avoid talking, she read fantasy, slaying Lord of the Rings by the fifth grade. Today, Wonder Woman is inked on her arm. Tattooed on her thigh: Marvel’s power-mutant Storm. “I didn’t come to fuck around,” she says with a wicked grin between sips at Deadstock Coffee, Portland’s sneakerhead central.

Did we mention sneakers? Add this to Dinwiddie’s abilities: slam-dunk hoops wordsmithing. At powerhouse Portland ad agency Wieden & Kennedy, she pens commercials for Nike, the king of uplifting, revenge-of-the-underdogs, damn-the-doubters messaging. Surely, you’ve seen Come Out of Nowhere, the LeBron James ad that cleverly celebrates the Cleveland Cavaliers’ emotion-choked, David-vs.-Goliath NBA championship win over the Golden State Warriors in 2016. It’s a marvel of tight storytelling and nuanced meanings, told through young ballers constantly overlooked and underestimated on playgrounds—one of whom grows up to be LeBron James. Along the way, girls shoot over boys, emphatically; a pint-size nerd strips the ball from a strapping giant; and a defensive block “out of nowhere” mirrors James’s career-defining hustle play in Game 7. Yep, Dinwiddie wrote it all, down to the quotable line: “You’re not even supposed to be here, and yet here you are.” ESPN called it “one of a kind,” even by Nike standards.

Dinwiddie knows about coming out of nowhere. In 2012, she was writing a sharp-witted blog called “Trashy Beyoncé” in her grandma’s Chicago basement. A year later, she was a “strategy intern” at Wieden + Kennedy, where she caught the attention of senior copywriter Nathaniel Friedman. Friedman, a cult sports writer known as freedarko, helped convince her to become a copywriter.  By 2017, Dinwiddie was the unlikely “influencer” on BET’s “25 people killing the shoe game” -- an unknown, rising star  copy writer in Portland, Oregon, parked somewhere between Michael Jordan and Rihanna.

What’s next? Her upcoming Nike projects are under wraps, but Dinwiddie wants to fly in many directions. She’s a founder and alum at the Thicc, an anti-Goop lifestyle newsletter for “people who don’t have $700 for a snake-skin mask” that debuted in 2018. Screenwriting is a dream, with sports and women of color as prime subjects. But mostly, she confides: “My big thing? Showing, empowering what people want to be: themselves.” Spoken like a superhero in the making.

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