Briana Draguca
January 10, 2018 02:00 PM

CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin kicked off 2018 on an empowering note.

Baldwin and CNN launched an eight-part digital video series, American Woman, to highlight the lives of some of the biggest female trailblazers. The CNN Newsroom anchor will interview Ashley Graham, Isaa Rae, Diane Von Furstenberg, Betty White, Ava Duvarney, Sheryl Crow, Tracy Reese, and Pat Benatar –– eight women who are extremely accomplished in their respective fields and have carved unprecedented paths for future generations to follow.

Baldwin will continue the conversation about gender equality and feminism –– one that has been ignited by the #MeToo movement, the Women’s March, and Hollywood’s efforts to end workplace sexual harassment with the Time’s Up initiative –– by sitting down with these women for a personal and candid discussion about their lives and careers. Baldwin’s interviews will uncover and explore all of the triumphs, obstacles, and setbacks these eight inspiring women have experienced in order to accomplish their goals and change society for the better.

American Woman with Brooke Baldwin

Below, our conversation with Baldwin on the launch of American Woman, her take on the Time’s Up movement and more.

What has been your immediate reaction to the Time’s Up movement?
“Just like so many of you, my Instagram feed has been full of prominent women posting about #TimesUp. This is just another example of how woman are working together, lifting their voices and saying ‘enough is enough.’ I salute all these women (and men too!) who are speaking up – not just for Hollywood – but for all the women whose voices haven’t been heard in this country. But that is going to change. What do I think? ‘Welcome to 2018. This is just the beginning…'”

RELATED PHOTOS: Time’s Up Merchandise at the Golden Globes: Where to Buy the Statement-Making Accessories

Why is it important now more than ever for women to empower other women? 
“It has always been important for women to empower other women. It has been my personal mission — especially the older I’ve gotten — to make sure the women I meet (in an elevator, on a CNN shoot or my closest girlfriends) know they matter. I credit my mom for teaching me confidence and kindness as a young girl — and that I must speak up. I try to practice what I preach, keeping my office door open for a variety of CNN ladies who need a chat/a cry/a laugh/a glass of champagne (just kidding — maybe!). And there are women in my world who offer me exactly the same Trust me, I have my days too. What’s been fascinating about shooting my series American Woman is the ubiquity of a woman’s experience — and no matter who you are a rockstar, film director, mom — we all are celebrating this movement of female empowerment but we also realize we have a long way to go.”
How was the idea for American Women born?
“I had this idea a little over a year ago. I’d covered the 2016 presidential election — crisscrossed the country attending debates, rallies, interviewing guests on my show — and I listened. And what I heard was female voices in record numbers. Sure, so many of them were hoping for history to be made: a first female president. But when that didn’t happen… I wondered: ‘Where will all these women’s voices go?’ Then I went to Washington and stood just off stage at the Women’s March. I saw thousands of women who’d traveled long distances—women we all recognize and those who are our neighbors — who’d come to DC to speak out and speak up. I made a decision to dedicate this next chapter of my career to women like these. That’s how American Woman was born.”
RELATED VIDEO: Women of Hollywood Attend Golden Globes Together in Support of the Time’s Up Movement

Who are you most excited to have on the show? 
“Do I have to name just one?! We shot season one of American Woman this year. We interviewed: Issa Rae, Pat Benatar, Betty White, Tracy Reese, Sheryl Crowe, Ava DuVernay, Diane von Furstenberg and Ashley Graham. These selections are very deliberate. I wanted to interview women I genuinely admire, who’ve shattered their own glass ceilings in their respective fields and are actively helping other women do the same — and they’re all just total and complete badasses. Just as these women and their stories will inspire you, let me be the first to admit they’ve inspired me. I’ll catch myself during the day thinking: ‘Well, what would Ava do?’ I dare you not to binge watch all eight videos in one sitting!”

Who are you most nervous to interview? 
“Oh wow. I’d definitely have some butterflies if the day ever came when I’d get to sit down with Oprah. I mean…it’s OPRAH. But my goodness does she have a story to share. She is the epitome of the ‘American Woman.’ Also on my wish list for season two: Alicia Keys, Salma Hayek, Reese Witherspoon, Viola Davis, Amy Schumer, Tiffany Haddish, Lena Waithe… I’d also like to expand the series to women whose names you may not recognize but whose contributions to society you most definitely well. Stay tuned for that!”

2018 is an exciting year for you professionally and personally! How is wedding planning going? 
“Yes, I’m getting married!!! Took me 36 years to find him…but boy oh boy, he was worth the wait. He’s English. We met at a holiday party in NYC two years ago. My 2016 was basically spent covering Donald Trump and falling madly in love with James Fletcher. What a year! Our whole plan was to get married on his dear friend’s farm in England but when that fell through, we managed to find the next best thing: a beautiful barn in upstate New York. We’re thinking elegant rustic. And my 14-year-old pug will be there in a tux! We just sent out save the dates for our wedding weekend. And allow me to be the first to admit I have zero interest in planning a wedding — other than picking out the venue, the food and the music… any recs for a good Motown band based in NYC?! I’m fortunate enough to confess: I have given in and hired a planner!”

You can watch American Woman with Brooke Baldwin on CNN’s digital platforms, and CNN Newsroom every Wednesday at 2:00 PM from January 3 through February 28.

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