‘I Feel Lucky That My Life Is A Little Chaotic:’ Soledad O’Brien Says Women Can Definitely Have It All
Last week, Soledad O’Brien hosted the Starfish Foundation’s fourth New Orleans to New York City Gala. The foundation, which seeks “to provide promising young women a bridge between obstacles and opportunities,” holds the annual event to honor scholars and fund scholarships for the women awarded by the Starfish Foundation.
“It is always a great gathering as we honor our scholars and the commitment they’ve shown to pursuing their education. I look forward to celebrating with them and our supporters in a festive evening,” the Award-winning journalist said of the event.
We were recently able to catch up with the philanthropist and mom of four, who dished on everything from diversity in media to whether or not she believes it’s possible for women to have it all.
On why the Starfish Foundation’s mentoring component is so crucial:
“We realized pretty early on that tuition was critical, but it was not enough. You could actually give people money and they wouldn’t finish school because what you need to finish school is support, cheerleading and sometimes pushing and shoving, sometimes bailing out of stupid mistakes. That’s the kind of thing that helped me get through school. We realized that our scholars needed mentors pretty early on, now we assign two mentors to each young woman so that they have a life mentor and then an academic mentor. What should I be studying? When should I take this? What should my major be? Someone who can really help them navigate the school system that they’re in. And then, we also started backing them up with getting internships because obviously, it’s hard to get a career because you haven’t had a lot of internships.”
On what the Starfish Foundation is doing to help scholars get to the next level:
“There’s so many things that are not available for you if you don’t have a college degree and there are lot of ways in which you can get derailed. You can run out of money. You can have a baby. You can have a death in the family. It can just be hard. So really, what we decided to do is to make sure we’re supporting people.”
On having personal principles for balancing work and family:
“Haha, no, there’s no balance. You know, I don’t really know that I’m a person who has balance, I tend to run around maniacally. It’s hard to run a foundation. It’s hard to have four kids. It hard to have a career. It’s hard to be a CEO of a company that’s super busy. In addition working on a documentary on veterans coping with posttraumatic stress, we’re in the middle of shooting five other documentaries. We also have other projects for Cover Girl, which is a partner of ours. We have a lot going on. We’re excited, it’s fantastic, but we’re busy. So I’m not really in a space where I’m going to get balance and I don’t know if I’ll ever be the girl who’s succinctly balanced. I try to get things well when they’re in front of me. I try to take breaks so that I don’t lose my mind. And I try to remember how lucky I am that have healthy kids—thank God—and a great husband and a career that I like even though it’s frustrating at times; and that I get to run the show for myself. It’s stressful, but I’m doing what I wanted. ”
On the idea that having it all is a myth:
“I would just say, ‘What’s having it all to you?’ You’re having it all and my having it all might be very different. I don’t do much. I run a foundation. I have four kids. I’m married and I run a company. I do nothing other than that. I really don’t. For other people, they may say, ‘Well, Soledad doesn’t have it all. She doesn’t always go to fabulous parties.’ So yeah, they’d be right. By my definition, I have it all and more. I’m very content in my life because I feel like I’m doing things that are worthy of my time and are worthwhile for the greater good. I feel really good about that. To me, having it all is doing things that make me feel good about my contribution to the world. But if your definition of having it all is cooking, you know my mother is a fabulous cook. My having it all doesn’t involve cooking. I put it on my to-do list and eventually gave up. I don’t do it. I’m never going to do it. I’m done [laughs]! I’m out! You know, I think when people do that, ‘Oh, you can’t have it all,’ I think as a journalist, you have to define the terms first. What does having it all mean? My guess is that you’re going to have it all. You’re going to find a life where you feel fulfilled. Some days it’s out of whack, of course it is out of whack some days. I feel lucky that my life is a little chaotic and unbalanced. To me, I feel that’s having it all.”