O'Brien at Marquette University, February 7, 2008
María de la Soledad Teresa O'Brien|
September 19, 1966
St. James, New York, United States
|Education||Harvard University (B.A.)|
Anchor of CNN In America|
Author of Latino in America (2009)
|Spouse(s)||Bradley Raymond (1995–present)|
|Children||2 daughters, 2 sons|
|Awards||Local Emmy Award|
María de la Soledad Teresa O'Brien (born September 19, 1966) is an American broadcast journalist and executive producer. She is the chairman of Starfish Media Group, a multi-platform media production company and distributor. O'Brien continues to be a television anchor and correspondent and lists CNN, HBO and their sports news program Real Sports and the Al Jazeera America news program America Tonight, among a growing list of networks she is working with through her Starfish Media Group. She also served as executive producer and moderator of the National Geographic Bee, replacing Alex Trebek who moderated for 25+ years, until 2016, when Mo Rocca succeeded her. In addition to her production and journalism pedigree, O'Brien in 2013 was named a Distinguished Visiting Fellow by Harvard Graduate School of Education and was appointed to the board of directors for the Foundation for the National Archives in Washington, DC. She also serves on the board of directors of ExpandED Schools, formerly The After School Corp (TASC).
She was the anchor of CNN's morning news program Starting Point, which premiered on January 2, 2012, until it was announced on February 21, 2013, that she would end that post to start the Starfish Media Group production company.
My parents were both immigrants—my mother from Cuba, my father from Australia. Both attended daily Mass at the church near campus. Every day my father would offer my mother a ride. Every day, she declined. Finally, she said yes. One year later, the day after Christmas, the two of them were married.
O'Brien's parents married in 1958 in Washington, D.C. Her father, Edward Ephram O'Brien, an Australian (from Toowoomba, Queensland), was a mechanical engineering professor, and was of three quarters Irish and one quarter Scottish descent. Her mother, Estela Lucrecia (Marquetti y Mendieta), a Cuban from Havana, who is Afro-Cuban, was a French and English teacher. O'Brien is the fifth of six children, all graduates of Harvard University; O'Brien attended Harvard-Radcliffe College from 1984 to 1988, but did not obtain a degree until she returned in 2000. Her siblings are law professor Maria Hylton (born 1960), GE corporate lawyer Cecilia Vega (born 1961), businessman Tony O'Brien (born 1962) who heads a documents company, eye surgeon Estela Ogiste (born 1964), and anesthesiologist Orestes O'Brien (born 1967).
Interracial marriage in Maryland was illegal until 1967, so O'Brien's parents married in Washington, D.C., where marriage laws were less restrictive. The newly wedded O'Briens then moved to the Long Island community of St. James, where Soledad O'Brien was born and raised. She graduated from Smithtown High School East in 1984. On the NPR quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, O'Brien explained that in Spanish her full name means "The Blessed Virgin Mary of Solitude". When she started working in TV, many people recommended that she change her name, but she refused.
O'Brien states that she does not speak Spanish fluently and that has sometimes resulted in some awkward exchanges with people who assume she does, including former U.S. vice president Al Gore. Since 1995, O'Brien has been married to Bradley Raymond, co-head of investment banking at Stifel. Together they have two daughters, Sofia (October 2000) and Cecilia (March 2002), and twin sons Charles and Jackson (August 2004).
On September 8, 2008, FactCheck.org said that O'Brien had inaccurately asserted during an interview with a McCain campaign spokesman that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, as governor of Alaska, had slashed the special education budget by 62 percent when in fact she had increased it.
On May 1, 2016 Soledad O'Brien hosted PBS Newshour Weekend, filling in for Alison Stewart.
Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel
It was announced on June 12, 2013, that O'Brien was joining HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel sports newsmagazine. In addition, O'Brien's Starfish Media Group signed a deal granting HBO "first look" rights for new programs or concepts it develops.
On July 1, 2013, it was announced that Soledad O'Brien's Starfish Media Group would produce a series of hour-long documentary specials for Al Jazeera America.
Honors and recognition
O'Brien received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Stony Brook University in 2016.
In April 2008 O'Brien became the first recipient of the Soledad O'Brien Freedom's Voice Award, an award created in her name by Morehouse School of Medicine "to recognize outstanding catalysts for social change".
O'Brien has won an Emmy award for co-hosting the Discovery Channel's The Know Zone. She won several Emmys for her coverage of Haiti earthquake, 2012 election, and "Kids on Race". In 2007 she was honored with the NAACP President's Award.
She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, which named her the Journalist of the Year 2010 O'Brien was inducted as an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority in February 2011.
O'Brien has given several keynote speeches over the years, including the undergraduate commencement at Bryant University in May 2007, where she was presented with a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree, She gave a keynote address at the 2016 conference of the National Association of Social Workers in June 2016.
In 2006 she was featured in the Newsweek cover story "15 People Who Make America Great".
- July 1999–July 2003: Weekend Today co-anchor
- July 2003–April 2007 American Morning co-anchor
- January 2012–March 2013: Starting Point anchor
- Edelhart, Courtenay (2005-10-24). "CNN's O'Brien embraces her own diversity". Indianapolis Star. Archived from the original on 2005-12-24. Retrieved April 2, 2006.
- Starfish Media Group web site http://www.starfishmediagroup.com/smg-story. Retrieved 12 March 2016. Missing or empty
- "Soledad O'Brien joining HBO's 'Real Sports'", USA Today.
- "Soledad O'Brien on her move to Al Jazeera network, other upcoming projects", Entertainment Weekly.
- National Geographic Press Room. ""Soledad O'Brien Named New Moderator of National Geographic Bee", ''National Geographic'', May 22, 2013". Press.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
- "Foundation for the National Archives Board of Directors". Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Board of Directors". ExpandED Schools. ExpandED Schools. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
- Ariens, Chris (2011-12-29). "New CNN Morning Show to Launch Monday". TV Newser. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- "CNN O'Brien leaving morning show, starting Starfish Media Group production company". Times Colonist. Associated Press. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
- "Anchors & Reporters Soledad O'Brien". Retrieved April 22, 2007.
- "The Church Across the Street" Guideposts, April 2004.
- Soledad 1966 – 1995. soledadobrien.info. Retrieved on 2012-06-30.
- Gigi Anders. Hispanic Magazine.com – June/July 2005 – Cover Story. hispaniconline.com. Retrieved on 2012-06-30.
- Stated on Finding Your Roots, January 12, 2016, PBS
- "Soledad O'Brien's Interactive Family Tree | Finding Your Roots". Pbs.org. 2016-01-13. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
- Harvard Alumni Directory 2000 - Cambridge: President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2000, vol. I, p. 1038, vol. II, p. 300.
- "Behind the Scenes: Black and shopping in America". CNN. July 24, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- "Soledad O'Brien – Pride of Smithtown". Smithtown Alumni Association. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me". NPR. August 19, 2006. Retrieved August 19, 2006.
- O’Brien encourages diversity in journalism Butler University Dawgnet (2005-10-30).
- "Senior Management - Investment Banking - Institutions". Stifel. 2005-12-01. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
- CNN 2003-2007. soledadobrien.info. Retrieved on 2013-02-06.
- Sliming Palin, False Internet claims and rumors fly about McCain's running mate, Newsweek (2008-09-08).
- Lowry, Rich (2015-06-14). "Dylan Byers and Mackenzie Weinger, "Soledad O'Brien puts guests on the griddle", Politico". Politico.com. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
- Shapiro, Rebecca (2011-12-29). "CNN Morning Show Gets Name And Debut Date". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- Suratt, Billy (2013-06-18). "Soledad O'Brien joins HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel"". Apex MediaWire. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
- "Al Jazeera America signs Soledad O'Brien as special correspondent", Al Jazeera America.
- MOSH. "Nation's Top Hispanic Influencers and Business Leaders Coalesce Around New Digital Platform MOSH.".
- Harris, Janelle (October 23, 2013). "SO WHAT DO YOU DO, SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CEO OF STARFISH MEDIA GROUP?". Mediabistro. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
- Morehouse School of Medicine Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 22, 2010. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- Bloomberg School Awards Goodermote Humanitarian Award to Soledad O’Brien, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, November 18, 2008
- "CNN's Soledad O'Brien Named Journalist of the Year by Black Journalists Group".
- "Delta Sigma Theta Welcomes New Honorary Members, Gwen Ifill and Soledad O’Brien", February 7, 2011.
- Sweeney, Tracie (August 16, 2007). "Bryant University Commencement 2007". Bryant University. Archived from the original on November 18, 2007. Retrieved January 2, 2008.
Soledad O'Brien will deliver the ceremony's keynote address.
- "Soledad O'Brien to seniors: Finding your passion can take time".
- "Anchors/Reporters: Soledad O'Brien". CNN. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- Soledad O'Brien at the Internet Movie Database
- Convocation 2007 Preview Cornell Daily Sun, May 24, 2007 – Interview with O'Brien