Soledad O'Brien may've caught out attention with her "Black in America" series on CNN, but the bi-racial broadcaster has done so much more during her career. Beginning as a producer more than two decades ago, O'Brien has earned her spot at the top as one of the country's best broadcasters. We're honored to have her join us at the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience on July 6-8. Here's a look back at her journey.
Introducing Mrs. O'Brien
Born María de la Soledad Teresa O’Brien, if it weren’t for her father’s persistence, she may never have been born.
“My parents were both immigrants—my mother from Cuba, my father from Australia. Both attended daily Mass at the church near campus,” she told press. “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.”
Here is O’Brien accepting the ‘NAACP Presidents Award’ during the 38th annual NAACP Image Awards in 2007.
Born and raised in St. James, Long Island, Soledad attended Harvard University. Despite her Cuban maternal history, she does not speak Spanish.
Here she is with comedian and actor D.L. Hughley during “CNN’s Moment of Truth: The Countdown to Black in America 2” in 2009.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.com
Of Many, One
Soledad O’Brien is the fifth of six children and she, along with each of her siblings, graduated from Harvard College.
Here’s O’Brien with the Harlem Figure Skaters in 2012 in New York City.
Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage
The Way Up
Starting out as a producer for an NBC affiliate in Boston, O’Brien rose to become a field producer for Nightly News and Today. Then she moved to San Francisco to serve as bureau chief and reporter on KRON’s The Know Zone. Joining MSNBC’s The Site in 1996, she departed to co-anchor Weekend Today in 1999. In 2003 she began co-anchoring CNN’s American Morning. Following the show’s cancellation, she contributed to Anderson Cooper’s 360 with Anderson Cooper and joined Starting Point, CNN’s newest morning program, in 2012.
Here she is attending “A Tribute To The Music of Motown” after party in February 2012.
Photo by John W. Ferguson/Getty Images
Black and Latino in America
In 2007, O’Brien began a CNN documentary series entitled Black in America that turned quite a few heads. Digging into the African American experience, the reporter exposed what life is like for blacks in this country. Thanks to the show’s success, the follow-up Latino in America aired in 2009.
“My Cuban-born mother is wonderful … this woman who didn’t teach her children Spanish did teach us pride. ’Don’t let them tell you you’re not black,’ she tells me. ’Don’t let them tell you you’re not Hispanic or not Cuban.’ And I don’t. The fact that I work for CNN has fostered my commitment to telling great stories about people of color,” Soledad wrote for CNN.
Delta Sigma Theta
In addition to serving on a number of boards including the Harlem School of the Arts and the After-School Corporation, O’Brien also became an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 2011.
Here is Soledad with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity brother Steve Harvey and his wife Marjorie Harvey at Cipriani Wall Street in May 2012.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
During her career as a news broadcaster, which spans more than two decades, O’Brien’s picked up a number of accolades including an Emmy, a George Foster Peabody award, a Gracie Allen Award and an Outstanding Anchor from the American Women in Radio & Television Gracie Allen Awards, pictured here.
Photo by G. Gershoff/WireImage
In 1995, O’Brien married Bradley Raymond and the couple have two daughters and twin sons. Here is Soledad with her girls Sofia and Cecilia in 2010.