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February 19th, 2011
10:55 PM ET

Face to Face with Fredricka: A Conversation with Iman

By Fredricka Whitfield

She’s a one name wonder. Iman. You’ll remember her from the covers of every fashion magazine around the world in the 70s and 80s. American, French, Italian Vogue, Glamour you name it. Her flawless complexion. Graceful neck. Statuesque body in elegant poses. And, of course, her strut down the catwalk and the audible cheer from the photographers and fashion fans at the sight of her. All of that and more made Iman iconic. But while visiting with her just days ago in her 7th avenue office she is as gracious as she is stunning. Open to talk to me about what it is to be an icon. How “they” didn’t build her, “she” built herself. How as a Somali diplomat’s daughter, her natural instincts and political intuition were her guideposts when her modeling break came at age 18.

You’ve got to see my Face to Face interview with Iman. You will be inspired by the frank words from her mother to “know your worth”. You’ll be impressed and motivated to hear Iman’s advice on protecting your image and owning it. To plan the next “act” in your life. And whatever you have up your sleeve, that passion you want to turn into an enterprise? She says “research, research, research.” Oh and what about life outside of Iman’s now booming multi-million dollar cosmetic line, home and fashion designs? Yes, the David Bowie part. She opens up, a little, about protecting the privacy of their two decades long marriage and family life. Iman Face to Face with Fredricka.

Filed under: CNN Newsroom • Fredricka Whitfield
September 26th, 2009
08:11 AM ET

Are men happier than women?

Are you happy? Breaking it down to gender, are MEN happier than WOMEN?

Do you believe a new General Social Survey that concludes YES to the latter. That disproportionately, men are happier than women? In other words, the study claims that women are getting gloomy while men are getting happy.

Part of the findings declare that rooted in the disparity are family life, career and marriage . The study says women are feeling more stressed about all of those things compared to men. Do you believe any of this?

Men and women out there: are you feeling more or less stressed these days and why? Does it have anything to do with marriage, family life or career? Or how about the economy? Are you taking on more than usual in these days of economic tough times? We want to hear from you this weekend and include your thoughts in our 4pm Saturday show when we ask ARE MEN HAPPIER THAN WOMEN?

Filed under: Anchors • Fredricka Whitfield • Josh Levs
August 29th, 2009
10:13 AM ET

Remembering Senator Kennedy

As the nation mourns and pays tribute to the Lion of the Senate, Edward Kennedy, share with me your memories of him, his legacy.

Remembering Senator Ted Kennedy

Remembering Senator Ted Kennedy

Saturday’s Boston mass and burial at Arlington National Cemetery caps three days of a national send off following his death of brain cancer Tuesday.

So many Americans have conveyed how Senator Kennedy has touched their lives directly and indirectly. I look forward to hearing your stories.

Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield
July 18th, 2009
12:20 PM ET

Walter Cronkite: The way it was

No one ever wants to say goodbye. America is doing that today.

Walter Cronkite touched our lives in so many ways. Whether it was the calming voice, the glasses or the wisdom, he made us take notice. If it came out of Cronkite's mouth, it MUST be important. President Lyndon Johnson knew it and so did the rest of us.

So as we say goodbye to an icon, we remember how he enhanced our lives by helping to teach the value of information. For broadcast journalists, he was a model: This is how it’s done (my words) and “That’s the way it is”(his). I’d love to hear your comments, your memories of pioneering Walter Cronkite.

Filed under: Anchors • Fredricka Whitfield
July 4th, 2009
08:31 AM ET

Making a difference in the Big Easy

This Independence Day weekend is loaded with headline stories. From Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s announcement to funeral and memorial plans for Michael Jackson to bubbling violence in Afghanistan. A complicated confluence of events. So it’s especially nice to bring you a couple examples of how kind deeds are changing lives in the still deeply wounded city of New Orleans.

While thousands of tourists are converging on NOLA for the Essence Music Festival which is this year paying tribute to the King of Pop, we wanted you to know about something else happening in the Crescent City. Check out my stories profiling the Roots of Music  and separately, musician Josh Charles.  

Roots of Music gives you a view of the potential every child, anywhere, has. And that along with nurture and good nature, every child is exceptional.

You’ll see what I mean when you watch the story. And if the children don’t inspire you( which I know they will), how about the founder of the program, Derrick Tabb.  Wow, what a big heart being shared so unselfishly. 

And then, check out what musician Josh Charles is doing. A talent who is using the power of lyrics to help impact the city in another way. And he’s got an inventive way to engage you to perhaps play a role.

I’d love to hear your impressions of New Orleans recovery and resilience.

We will air full stories from New Orleans throughout the weekend here on CNN.

Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield
May 30th, 2009
08:58 AM ET

Out of school, out of work

Graduation day is one of the highest points of anyone’s life. And for their parents and loved ones too.

That apex hits a particular crescendo when a college graduate can say he or she knows what is coming next: heading off to the dream job they worked so hard in school to land.

Sadly, fewer college grads these days are familiar with that sense of surety. The jobs for today’s grads are few and far between. Which is why we are inviting you, Grad, to share your employment hunting experiences with us.

Then join us at 4PM as we dedicate our show to this topic.

May 24th, 2009
12:18 PM ET

Is the internet today's wild west?

We all remember bullies in school and what it meant to be bullied or witness it.

Nasty notes slipped in nap-sacks, whispering, books knocked out of
hands, perhaps a mean threatening scowl. Well like everything, stuff has changed. We’re seeing new examples underscoring it’s far more complicated being a kid these days. Some of the inventions that universally have made all our lives a bit easier to communicate, sadly being used in a big way to ridicule, demean, scare and worse. Which brings us to this topic and question.

Cyber-space is often compared to the wild west. Lawless, rule-less and wide open for anything. Here's a question for you:

Is it time to draw a line on what gets posted on the internet? And if there is a line, how does it get regulated?

Here's the KING story that made us want to tackle this subject:

We’d love to share your responses with everyone on this blog and on the air.

Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield
May 23rd, 2009
08:59 AM ET

Honoring our men and women in uniform

Update: As promised, here are the links that were discussed during today's 4p hour: Housing Assistance

This Memorial Day weekend I want to say thanks to all our men and women of service, past and present.

We are inspired by the work carried out by all our honorable members of the armed services.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you this weekend as we devote our Saturday 4 PM Eastern hour to you, your dedication and sacrifices.

And a message to any and all of you who come into contact with a man or woman who has served, a kind word of thanks goes a long way. Our service-members can't hear it enough. They should be reminded as often as possible their service is appreciated and noticed.

Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield
May 17th, 2009
08:11 PM ET

My take on the President's commencement address and the controversy leading up to it

The first roar in the Joyce Center at the University of Notre Dame today set a tone. If you were watching our live coverage starting at 2 p.m. Eastern today, you know what I mean.

During the commencement ceremony for Notre Dame’s class of 2009, expectations were high. High that someone or many would audibly or silently express discontent with the invited guest speaker, the President of the United States Barack Obama. After all, three weeks of staged protests near and on the South Bend, Indiana, campus preceded to this day.

So when the 6’2" robed president strode into the building and that roar I spoke of filled the room, it wasn’t immediately clear to me, from our Atlanta-based news set, what the sound meant. Not until the live cameras revealed a crowd on their feet, clapping, people smiling. Hmm, maybe all the pre-commencement protest is just that, pre-commencement.

Not so fast.

The president had barely received his honorary law degree and was just minutes into his speech as the keynote, when again, big sounds filled the room. Aha, sounds like a voice of dissent. But in a room of thrilled grads and their equally thrilled loved ones, a different but equally overwhelming roar attempted to quiet, but not necessarily silence, that apparent voice of dissension.

Regardless of the conflicting views held by any of the analysts I interviewed, the grads, their loved ones, the U.S. President or the University President...THE TONE of this commencement was made clear.

2009 grads WOULD still have their moment. Despite any dissension, disagreement or disruptions, this WOULD be a memorable day.

Click the picture to view the President's entire speech at Notre Dame.

Filed under: Anchors • Fredricka Whitfield
May 8th, 2009
12:13 PM ET

Honoring Our Flyboys


This week is the anniversary of the first American flyboys to officially win the distinction "First Top Guns. " Move over, Tom "Maverick" Cruise.

Despite what we all remember seeing in the 1986 movie "Top Gun," I was reminded this week by historian and "Heroes at War, Heroes at Home" author Zelli Orr that the original Top Guns were Tuskegee Airmen.

Here's the story: on May 2, 1949 members of the first black fighter wing of the U.S. Army Air Corp won the USAF Fighter Gunnery contest at Las Vegas AFB, Nevada.

Congrats to the Top Guns and all others inspired to follow their extraordinary path in the skies and on the ground.

So, that now brings me to this. It's been nearly four months since the Tuskegee Airmen attended the swearing-in of the 44th president of the United States.

And it's been nearly ten months since the Beijing Olympic Games. And what is striking is that during the telling of those recent historic moments, our CNN audience got to know a man very special to me and inspirational to a host of others: my 84-year-old dad, Mal Whitfield.

Almost weekly, (not an exaggeration at all) I get a friendly reminder of how my televised profiles of my dad - a five-time Olympian of the 1948 and '52 games and a Tuskegee Airman gunner beginning in 1943 - touched someone. This is what I hear from perfect strangers who have approached me in the grocery store, at professional seminars and awards events, even one time while working out at my gym: "I loved that story about your dad" or "what an inspiration" and "did your dad see old friends?" and my favorite, which came earlier this week, "seeing that story inspired me to plan a trip with my father."

The backstory as to why I profiled my dad last year leading up to the Olympic Games and during, is this; I wanted my dad to see his Olympic buddies on the 60th anniversary of his first medal wins. After he assured me he physically felt strong enough for the 19-hour journey, without dad's knowing, I contacted his buddies spread out across the country from California to Pennsylvania. Yes, they had plans to be in Beijing. Perfect, I could plan my dad\'s excursion without him knowing his buds would be there. Unaware a beautiful surprise would await, he was just thrilled at the notion of celebrating his Olympic anniversary in a country he last visited as a career American diplomat two decades prior. I had planned only to videotape our journey for our family's viewing.

But colleagues and friends urged me to share it with the world. So, what viewers got to learn along with me, is that octogenarians like dad, gold medalist diver Sammy Lee, gold sprinter and hurdler Harrison Dillard and bronze long jumper Herb Douglas shared a brotherhood and comaraderie that is enviable and everlasting. Together, they individually and collectively proved their muster in the face of so much adversity and resistence. Similar champion characteristics were the ingredients of another cadre of fighters; fighters who were members of that first African-American fighting wing of the U.S. Army Air Corp - the Tuskegee Airmen –which I mentioned at the top.

For the first time, 60 years after their service as pilots and crew in World War ll, approximately 200 airmen all now in their 80s and 90s, were invited special guests at the swearing-in of America's new Commander in Chief, Barack Obama. So, dad was determined to be there, despite threats of below freezing temps. He allowed me, as his escort, to be as inventive as possible to assure his warmth.

Not at all embarrassed that my scheme meant turning my dad into one hot dog, I enveloped him in a down sleeping bag. Only his face would feel exposure. He was warm, happy and proud - proud to witness firsthand a historic turnaround after serving in a segregated U.S. military.

These heroes like Olympians Mal Whitfield, Sammy Lee, Harrison Dillard, Herb Douglas, airmen Hillard Pouncy, Lee Archer and Ray Williams set the bar for all generations to follow. And it's comforting to know that across all races, gender and ages these heroes are awe-inspiring, appreciated and unforgotten. If there was one thing I was hoping the stories of dad, his fellow Olympians and Airmen would do, it was that it would encourage people to ask their moms, dads, grandparents and any other elders in their lives about the experiences which shaped their lives. If you haven't yet discovered, you'll be pleasantly surprised how their paths will end up shaping yours.

Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield
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