All Articles Tagged "soledad o’brien"
‘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.”
Soledad O’Brien’s company Starfish Media Group is a year old this month, and it’s got much to celebrate. She’s said to be working on “several documentaries that will air on cable news,” among them, one on veterans with PTSD, another about New York’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy and another on the Washington Corrections Center for Women. Three of the documentaries she’s got in the pipeline will air on CNN, her old employer, says TVNewser.
Really, the reason why we wanted to talk about this (besides, of course, offering our congrats to Soledad) is to note this bit from the New York Daily News: “The best part? She owns almost everything viewers will see her on — or produce — going forward. She describes her company’s approach as ranging from long-form documentaries to news segments and things that may exist purely in a digital space.” It’s very important to own some piece of your work, even if it’s the intellectual property. Take what you know and build a brand.
The growing strength of Starfish Media also comes at a time when diversity in the media is a big issue. NPR just announced that it is ending its last remaining show addressing issues targeting African Americans, “Tell Me More.” Moreover, Pew Research finds black newspapers struggle for circulation numbers and advertising dollars, while on television, programming geared towards black news and black news topics is scarce. Station ownership is virtually non-existent.
O’Brien’s voice and perspective are clearly sorely needed in the media today. What more would you like to see?
It’s that time of year again. Hardworking students, sporting the dazed look of achievement as they face the Big Bad World outside of the gates of their college campus. But before they head off on their own, there are a slew of entrepreneurs, artists, activists, teachers, and visionaries who are pushing the 2014 graduating classes to spread their wings and fly. These commencement speakers and honorees are giving graduates a little glimpse into what is possible.
The easy, breezy, beautiful Soledad O’Brien, along with her production company Starfish Media, is teaming up with CoverGirl’s “Girls Can” campaign to release a new web series that will seek to uplift, empower, and boost underserved women pursuing a higher education.
The webseries, according to O’Brien, will follow “…the lives of several young women who have been helped through O’Brien’s foundation, the Soledad O’Brien and Brad Raymond Starfish Foundation,” according to Women’s Wear Daily. [h/t The Gloss]
The award-winning journalist said that she decided to jump on board CoverGirl’s “Girls Can” movement because it mirrors her passion to elevate women who feel weighed down by the “Girls Can’t” societal prejudice.
“There are thousands of inspirational stories waiting to be told about young women who yearn for a great education. They are stories of struggle and stories of success, and they will inspire others to take action and work to change lives,” O’Brien told Women’s Wear Daily.
The video series will explore the obstacles that young women encounter while pursuing their career goals. The main purpose is to show women that achieving your dreams may be an uphill battle, but “can’t” should always be turned into a “can.” This content will be launched within the next couple of months.
O’Brien isn’t the only spokeswoman for CoverGirl’s campaign. Katy Perry, Pink, Queen Latifah, Ellen DeGeneres, Sophia Vergara, Becky G, and Janelle Monae have all appeared on CoverGirl’s first “Girl’s Can” ad which premiered during the Olympics Closing Ceremony.
“I heard that girls couldn’t rap. I rap!” Queen Latifah said, “[I heard] girl’s couldn’t own businesses. I own my own business!” Oh snap. Clip below. Can’t wait to see what Soledad has in mind.
Call her Ms. Dealmaker. Since leaving Soledad O’Brien has been busy inking deal after deal. Her latest: Her production company, Starfish Media Group, will partner with Google for her first speaking tour, O’Brien told the Huffington Post.
By using Google+ Hangouts, Google Apps for Business and her YouTube channel, Google Starfish will try to reach the broadest audience possible. And Google will also sponsor the “Soledad O’Brien Presents Black in America” speaking tour beginning February 17th. On the tour, O’Brien will speak at college campuses and art centers in five cities to encourage conversations about social change.
According to O’Brien, the partnership is “non-exclusive” and is part of her push to make Starfish Media a “multi-platform” firm.
O’Brien also said the speaking tour will bring her to a new audience.
“The speaking tour is very different than doing a show where you can have momentary jitters about nailing a break, getting to commercial on time, or finishing the interview in four minutes,” she said. “I’m not nervous about anything…. I’m looking forward to things getting challenging.”
She also has several television commitments. O’Brien, who still has ties to her old network, is continuing her In America series for CNN. She is also a contributor to Al Jazeera America.
“Growing an audience takes time– I think what they’re doing has been to put high quality pieces on, and that’s the best strategy,” O’Brien said of the recently launched Al Jazeera America. “Some networks talk about a commitment to good journalism and just do entertainment. But the quality of their reporting has been tremendous.”
O’Brien also told HuffPost Media she working on various documentaries to air on CNN and Al Jazeera America as well as a piece for HBO’s Real Sports. The next segment of the Black in America documentary series will air on CNN during summer.
Two weeks ago, the biggest and brightest names in Black Hollywood gathered together for a celebration we love: Black Girls Rock! The 2013 awards show was once again hosted by our favorite funny gals, Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King, and honored everyone from Misty Copeland to the Patti LaBelle.
We were on site on the red carpet to chat with a few of this year’s honorees and attendees, and to switch things up a bit we asked the ladies one interesting question: “If your life was a love song, what would it be?” Check out what Sanya Richards Ross, Soledad O’Brien, Ledisi, and more said in the video above. Do you like their choices?
Media Matters has conducted a survey on diversity on the Sunday morning talk shows and, once again, the results show that for the most part, the panels that are brought together to discuss the pressing issues of the day are overwhelmingly white males.
“Six of the seven shows analyzed – This Week, Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday, Meet the Press, State of the Union, and Up – have hosted white men at a significantly higher rate than their 31 percent portion of the population,” the site writes. In fact, “75 percent of Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday solo interview subjects were white men,” the article continues. Gender diversity is also an issue.
On both fronts — gender and ethnic diversity — the networks are improving, with MSNBC the clear front runner in these areas. In fact, it’s one MSNBC show in particular, The Melissa Harris-Perry Show, that tops all others.
“Melissa Harris-Perry provided the greatest diversity among guests, providing a much higher rate of white women and African-American guests than the other programs,” the results find.
When we talk about this topic, it’s not just about diversity for diversity’s sake. If the point of these shows, and of media in general, is to present the news and then provide context and analysis, varying perspectives bring the texture necessary to achieve that.
“The dearth of diverse perspectives in media discussions is very telling of how America continues to deal with, or not, issues of race and ethnicity,” Tia T. Gordon, founder and CEO of TTG+Partners told us in an email. “…It’s a thoughtless (and lazy) approach to having real conversations about real issues that affect real Americans. If the bookers of these Sunday talk shows would look beyond their ‘usual suspects’ of guests—and work with PR folks like me who often pitch without success a long roster of qualified, well articulate African-American experts who could speak on a myriad of issues—they will begin to understand that broader discussions could happen.”
In other words, finding even a few more guests with diverse backgrounds to speak on the topics of the day shouldn’t be so difficult for the media. Soledad O’Brien, speaking to FishbowlNY at a recent media event, says it’s “disheartening” that she’s been talking about this topic for the past 26 years.
“It’s actually not that hard. All you need to do is tell the stories of diverse people and hire diverse people. You can make sure that you’re promoting and supporting your diverse candidates who you want to be in leadership positions, because that’s really how the tone in an organization is set,” the site says.
To keep this conversation going , MadameNoire Business will be talking with TTG+Partners and Colorlines publisher Rinku Sen will be participating in a Twitter chat tomorrow at noon ET, “Covering Race in the Media.” Join us on Twitter (#ttgpchat) and bring your questions and thoughts on this topic. Check out the details here.
Since Soledad O’Brien was dismissed, CNN has been in the hot seat for its homogeneous, “invariably white” staff. Swooping in to dissipate criticism, Geraldine Moriba, the new Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for CNN Worldwide, will work to bring a splash of color to the news network.
Ever since Jeff Zucker was appointed president of CNN last year, the network has developed a poor track record on diversity. Along with O’Brien, Roland Martin and Donna Brazile were removed from their analyst positions on the network. “Do you think that the vision Zucker has for CNN may be a ‘White-out?’” an Ebony contributor once asked. Martin, describing CNN executives as “largely white males,” believed they refused to renew his contract despite his good ratings because they were threatened by “having strong, confident minorities” on board.
Just last week, rumors were circulating that Zucker was pulling the plug on CNN’s Diversity Council, but CNN announced the contrary: African-American journalist Geraldine Moriba will be spearheading a revamped Council to address multicultural issues facing the news network.
I had the pleasure of working with her prior to my time at CNN, and always found her to have a terrific sensibility and understanding of some of the complex issues we face when it comes to diversity and inclusion,” said Jeff Zucker, chief of CNN.
For the first time, the VP of Diversity and Inclusion will be required to report directly to the President on matters concerning diversification.
Moriba, also an Emmy-winning executive producer for CNN’s Program Development, has demonstrated her credentials for her new position through her work on CNN’s In America. The program featured 11 groundbreaking documentaries in two years which “focused on communities which had previously been underserved,” a press release stated. Moriba also created the “In America Blog” which surpassed 15 million readers within the first six months.
Aware of the scrutiny CNN has received for hiring few anchors of color, Moriba explained, “Some of the smartest journalists in the business work at CNN and I know that the prevailing sentiment in our newsrooms is that it is crucial for our content and workforce to reflect the audience we serve. These are goals accomplished by working as a team. This isn’t only about pursuing a noble purpose, it’s about continuing to share news from across our increasingly diverse and interconnected world, in even more effective ways.” The anchors in the image up top are some of the network’s more famous faces. But Jane Velez-Mitchell (host of Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell), Van Jones (one of the hosts of the revamped Crossfire), and Don Lemon (host of CNN Newsroom on the weekends) are some of the other anchors on the network.
The award-winning CNN Diversity Council was created back in 2003. Its basic initiative is to enforce CNN’s diversity mission of “growing its business by reflecting diverse audiences and perspectives in its programming and supporting an inclusive culture for its employees,” a press statement said.
Fresh From The AdColor Awards And Twerking With Arsenio, Nick Cannon Launches Tie Collection At Macy’s
The 2013 ADCOLOR awards, a ceremony that champions diversity in the media, were held at the swanky Beverly Hilton hotel on Saturday with Nick Cannon taking home the “All Star” award for his successful multifarious career. CNN anchor Don Lemon hosted the event.
Cannon, known as an industry chameleon with work covering a variety of media, was lauded for his achievements in television, film, and radio broadcasting, executive producing and philanthropy. We can add twerking to the mix. Cannon showed off his rump-shaking abilities on The Arsenio Hall Show this week with Arsenio labeling Cannon’s performance as “genius.” Check out the performance in the clip below.
And Cannon just can’t stop. Just this week, Macy’s announced they will be launching Cannon’s new brand of striped, dotted, plaid, and bold-colored ties. “Retailing for $65 and made of silk, each tie will express a distinct style sensibility,” Daily Finance said. The exclusive line of 25 ties will be available online and in select Macy’s retailers.
Other AdColor honorees included Ryan Tarplay, a Creative Artists Agency executive, Janet Mock, a writer and founder of the #GirlsLikeUs Project, and Torrence Boone, a managing director and business developer for Google.
Additional presenters and attendees included Randy Jackson, Garcelle Beauvais, Soledad O’ Brien, Wilson Cruz, Laz Alonso, and MC Hammer with performances by Elijah Blake and DJ Eric Cubeechee.
AdColor strives to bring the next generation of underrepresented professionals into the media fold by celebrating the accomplishments of African-Americans, American Indian/Native Americans, Asian Pacific-Americans, and Hispanics.
Congratulations to all the honorees!
The next installment of Soledad O’Brien’s Black In America documentary series will debut on CNN on August 30 at 10 pm ET/PT. Titled “Great Expectations,” it will explore education inequality, specifically as it affects African-American boys in a low-income area of Minneapolis. The pros and cons of charter schools will also be explored.
O’Brien has been very involved in education of late. She will be an instructor in the Sundance Channel’s documentary Dream School, which will give 15 troubled students another chance at a high school education. And O’Brien is a fellow at the Harvard School of Education. O’Brien is also a special correspondent to the new Al Jazeera America network and has signed on for HBO’s program Real Sports. The documentary has been produced through O’Brien’s new company Starfish Media Group.
Will you be tuning in?