Editor’s Note: 5 things to love about is a brand new feature at RE/VISIONIST. RE/VISIONIST staff member Nydia Swaby wants to know 5 things you love about someone who’s important to you! Submissions welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nydia starts things off this week with 5 things to love about Sarah Lawrence College alum, Barbara Walters!
by Nydia Swaby
1. Broadcast journalist Barbara Walters is arguably America’s best-known television news personality. Walters co-hosted NBC’s The Today Show for ten years, spent twenty-five years with the ABC news magazine 20/20, and also served as a news correspondent for ABC World News Tonight. As the first female co-anchor of network evening news, Walters can be credited as changing the all-male face of U.S. network news.[i]
2. Walters is the co-creator and part-time co-host of The View, a daytime talk show that features a panel of women discussing current issues ranging from social and political news to tabloid headlines and celebrity gossip. Walters serves as the show’s part-time moderator/co-host. Since launching in 1997, The View has had ten co-hosts including Meredith Viera, Lisa Ling, Rosie O’Donnell, Star Jones, and Whoopi Goldberg. During the opening credits of its premiere episode, Walters declared that she created The View because she “always wanted to do a show with women of different generations, backgrounds and views”.[ii]
3. In April 1999, Barbara Walters presented an ABC special honoring “100 Women of the Century.” Some of the women on this exhaustively comprehensive list include Maya Angelou, Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Margaret Mead, Amelia Earhart, Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Thatcher, Billie Holiday, Marian Anderson, Lucille Ball, Georgia O’Keeffe, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Princess Diana, and Indira Ghandi, [iii]
4. Walters is famous for her in-depth interviews with world leaders and celebrities alike. During a 2000 interview with singer Ricky Martin, Walters asked Martin several times to address rumors about his sexuality. Martin refused to answer her questions and as a result rumors fueled that in doing so Martin essentially admitted to being gay. In a recent special looking back on her 29-year career, Walters expressed regret that she pushed Ricky Martin to answer questions he was obviously uncomfortable with. “Unless someone is openly gay and happy to talk about, it’s nobody’s business including mine,” Walters said. At the same time however, Walters believes that homosexual celebrities and professionals should be able to openly discuss their sexuality without fear of retribution. According to Rosie O’Donnell, Walters offered her a position on The View knowing she was gay and encouraged her to openly discuss issues concerning the gay community. [iv]
5. As an alumnus of Sarah Lawrence College, Barbara Walters continues to back to the SLC community in a variety of ways. She’s donated $1 million to support the permanent public exhibition gallery at the Monika A. and Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Visual Arts Center and has participated in commencement and fundraising events. On January 29, 2010 400 SLC students, faculty, and staff had the privilege of participating in a Q&A round-table discussion with Walters. Addressing the students Walters stressed the importance of self-confidence and dedication to one’s career pursuits: “Start on the ground floor. Don’t be afraid to get your foot in the door… There’s nothing like having to work to make you work your way up. Make yourself invaluable…. Find a way to make it work for you.”[v]
[ii] Wikipedia. “The View.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_View_(U.S._TV_series) (accessed March 3, 2010).
[iii] About.com: Women’s History. “Barbara Walters Honors 100 Women.” (accessed March 5, 2010).
Advocate.com “Walters Regrets Ricky Martin Question” http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/03/06/Ricky_Martin_is_Barbara_Walters_One_Regret/ (accessed March 15, 2010).
[v] Frederic Richter and Judith Schwartzstein. “Around the Round Table with Barbara Walters: The Incomparable Interviewer Answers the Questions.” Sarah Lawrence College Web site, Posted February 11, 2010, http://www.slc.edu/news-events/features/Interviewing_Barbara_Walters.html (accessed March 12, 2010).