Women in Media Meet (WIMM) was created as a conduit to celebrate extraordinary women who are legends in our field, present exemplary stories, modern day women and WIMM members to the general public; through our blogs and social media.
We all agreed there was one woman whose impressive career we needed to celebrate was María de la Soledad Teresa O'Brien, professionally known as Soledad O’Brien.
Soledad has worked for the top networks in this country from The Today Show to CNN and “has produced award-winning, record-breaking and critically acclaimed documentaries on the most important stories facing the world today.”
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Soledad in her Manhattan home. A spacious, bright and airy open floor plan that was warm and welcoming.
We arrived a little early and was just about to settle when she arrived with a whirl wind of energy. After a few introductions, the next comment from Madame Producer Soledad was “quiet on the set.” Hilarious, but necessary we were warmed up and enjoying this very private, personal moment.
What I enjoy about Soledad is how she thinks. She clearly reads everything about her subjects and does the deep dive in her interviews. She is fascinated by how people think and what motivates them to do what is necessary to reach their peak performance, no matter their background; albeit financial, racial or religious.
Having watched her career from afar, I often wondered how she was able to balance her home and work life and finally, I had the opportunity to ask!
Soledad: I always thought this isn’t just a balance. I have 4 children, and to create a balance assumes there is an order to having to be a parent and business owner; which is often difficult to be locked into one type of scenario.
Soledad does a lot of running around and isn’t relegated to being in a particular space to do a particular aspect of her life. She does the stuff she loves and works with everything and everyone that she absolutely loves. I quickly asked how with All the things that she does, how do you manage the intersections?
Soledad: I created the year of no. Saying no to anything outside of the scope of the things I care about and believe in. I am into philanthropy and I enjoy managing experiences with my children.
Soledad has outlined four areas that are critical to her and anything that she does must fit within these boundaries; Her Children best, Hanging out with her husband, Philanthropy that assists girls/women, Producing work - untold stories
Having outlined these areas and commiting to them has made her life quite efficient and enjoyable. She sticks with these four sectors of her life and has managed how to say no quite often, and this is a zero sum game. It frees up time for everything from science projects, Home work, science fair, to drinks with her husband.
As a mother who was truly on the fast track with a daughter who often reminds me of what I missed in her development due to work. I couldn’t help but ask how she manages this phenome with her children.
Soledad: My daughter is in the 4th grade and had a graduation. I wasn’t able to attend. But, Soledad has no guilt about missing the fourth grade graduation. She said, no I told her it was the fourth grade and there would be many more for me to attend. I thought that her daughter understood and had moved on – NOT. Soledad indicated that her daughter was still mad – but it would be something that she could share with her therapist later.
Too often watching Soledad on television I often wondered how she began this incredible career.
Soledad: I was interested in nursing and while I was taking a chemistry course, my sister asked why I was memorizing the formulas and not get the basic root of each theory or problem. My sister on the other hand had an in-depth understanding, one that did not interest me. I did like English/American Literature and my sister became an Ophthalmologist.
Soledad started working at WBZ TV in Boston and fell in love with it. It was there that she discovered the love of the industry as she fetched coffee and ran errands.
Soledad: I was good under pressure. Just knew it was wonderful and as I climbed the ladder, production line producer, multitasking – the pressure as a correspondent was wonderful. I was comfortable and quick on my feet.
Soledad will not fake things, she reads a lot tells her audience exactly what she saw in the field. She absolutely thrives in that environment and knew it was what she was going to do. She enjoyed breaking news and was finally able to roll it into a brilliant package, which led to becoming a show producer, doing the stories live.
Soledad: I learned the things to be successful, you must be prepared and must be on able to think on your feet. I like to report and what I actually see in the field.
Imagine, from CNN, Today Show, and the Weekend Today Show. Soledad has had an amazing platform. While these opportunities for her were indeed amazing and I am certain there isn’t a young woman majoring in journalism would jump at the chance to do either of those positions; Soledad O'Brien loves documentaries.
Not only does she love the idea of documentaries, she loves the process; from the exploration of the story to actually capturing the story. She produced nine award winning documentaries and loved it.
Soledad is committed to creating quality work and is committed to protecting her brand by any means necessary. At the end of the day, any advertiser knows with Soledad the the product is smart and news worthy and quality and she guarantees that the data will be 100% accurate.
We hope you enjoy this video of Soledad O’Brien’s interview, I had a ball, I hope you do too!