Could you tell us about your charity?
My husband and I started a charity recently--it's the Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond Family Foundation. And the reason we decided to start a--a foundation was because in a lot of the travels that I was doing and a lot of the stories I was working on, I'd meet incredible people, usually young people, who were this close [indicates an inch's length with her thumb and forefinger] to realizing their dream. Sometimes they just couldn't fund their education. Sometimes they just couldn't pay for day care so they could finish high school. And we realized there was such great need, and I had a good opportunity to meet people, and this was a really good way to, uh, underwrite some of the projects that we were really personally committed to.
What's more important: winning or having fun?
[Giggles] I know the right answer to that question--"What's more important: winning or having fun?"--is... [coyly] having fun! Alec told us, "Have fun!" But I wanna win! I wanna win, win, win, all the way to the million dollar prize, I wanna win! ...And have fun. [Rolls eyes]
Did you prepare differently for this appearance than the last time?
Well, you know what got me a little tripped up the last time was the buzzer--the buzzer! I mean, you know, I couldn't--the lights--the buzzer--the timing. By the end of my first appearance, I had it down, I got in a rhythm. But I kept not being able to hop in at the right time... the first time.
How might your experience as a journalist give you an edge?
[Quick sigh] You know what's interesting? I was--when--when you--when you watch Jeopardy!, for me, it's not really about the stories that you've covered, it's about those things that pop into your head. Shows you watched as a kid. Books you read in college. [Chuckles] So I'm not sure you can study for Jeopardy! I know people who have, for their appearances, but, but I never think of it as studying. I think it's about being comfortable, being ready, being in the zone, trying to get the mind connected to the thumb with the buzzer. That's my strategy this time around, and we'll see if it works.
"Currently the host of CNN's Special Investigations Unit, she's received critical acclaim for her documentary Black in America. Please welcome..."
Playing on behalf of Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond Family Foundation.
Soledad O'Brien is an anchor and special correspondent for CNN/U.S. Since joining the network in 2003, O'Brien has reported breaking news from around the globe and has produced award-winning and record-breaking documentaries on the most important stories facing the world today. She also covers political news as part of CNN's "Best Political Team on Television."
O'Brien's most recent project, Black in America 2, was a four-hour documentary focusing on successful community leaders who are improving the lives of African-Americans. O'Brien's reporting for Black in America in 2008 revealed the state of Black America 40 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She has also reported for the CNN documentary Words That Changed a Nation, featuring a never-before-seen look at Dr. King's private writings and notes, and investigated his assassination in Eyewitness to Murder: The King Assassination. Her Children of the Storm project and One Crime at a Time documentary demonstrate O'Brien's continued commitment to covering stories out of New Orleans.
O'Brien joined CNN in July 2003 as the co-anchor of the network's flagship morning program, American Morning, and distinguished herself by reporting from the scene on the transformational stories that broke on her watch, including Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Southeast Asia. For CNN's Katrina coverage, O'Brien's reports on the storm's impact included an in-depth interview with former FEMA chief Michael Brown. She also covered the London terrorism attacks in July 2005, and in December 2004, she was among a handful of CNN anchors sent to Thailand to cover the disaster and aftermath of the tsunami.
O'Brien was part of the coverage teams that earned CNN a George Foster Peabody award for its Katrina coverage and an Alfred I. duPont Award for its coverage of the tsunami. Her numerous other awards include a Gracie Allen Award in 2007 for her reporting from Cyprus on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict as well as her reports from the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. The NAACP honored her with its President's Award in 2007 for her humanitarian efforts and journalistic excellence. In 2008, she was the first recipient of the Soledad O'Brien Freedom's Voice Award from the Morehouse School of Medicine for being a catalyst for social change. Also in 2008, O'Brien was the first recipient of The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Goodermote Humanitarian Award for her efforts while reporting on the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina and the Southeast Asia tsunami.
O'Brien came to CNN from NBC News where she anchored the network's Weekend Today since July 1999. Prior, O'Brien anchored MSNBC's award-winning technology program The Site. O'Brien joined NBC News in 1991 and was based in New York as a field producer for Nightly News and TODAY. Before her time at NBC, she served three years as a local reporter and bureau chief for the NBC affiliate KRON in San Francisco. She began her career as an associate producer and news writer at the then-NBC affiliate WBZ-TV in Boston.
O'Brien is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She is a graduate of Harvard University.