May 08, 2000 12:00 PM

DEMOGRAPHERS USUALLY CALL ON THEIR computers to generate portraits of the nation’s multiracial future. The computers can now be called off. A portrait of Soledad O’Brien, coanchor of NBC’s Weekend Today, is all that’s needed to stir the old melting pot. O’Brien’s mother, high school teacher Estella, 69, is black and from Cuba; her father, mechanical engineer Edward, 66, is a white Australian of Irish descent. In the past few years, O’Brien, 33, has been honored by both Hispanic and Irish-American groups for her contributions to journalism. Sixteen years ago, though, as a student at Smithtown High School East in St. James, N.Y., O’Brien was an anomaly—yet she did blend in with other ’80s teens in one way. “Growing up on Long Island, you had to have the big hair,” teases her brother Orestes, 32. “Solly’s hair was puffy at the prom, and then two weeks into college it flattened out.” O’Brien went to Harvard but dropped out at age 21 to become a newswriter and producer at Boston’s WBZ-TV. “What adds luster to her beauty,” says ABC’s Jack Ford, her former co-anchor at Weekend Today, “is a combination of intelligence, warmth and good humor.” Adds O’Brien pal, makeup artist Lisa Jear: “She has a really beautiful skin tone. “That may also be the glow of pregnancy: O’Brien and her husband of almost five years, investment banker Brad Raymond, 34, expect their first child this fall. While motherhood will surely be an adjustment, waking before dawn is already old hat. O’Brien’s duties for Weekend Today and MSNBC’s Morning Blend have her up at 4 a.m. Her hours have given her an appreciation for cosmetics. “Bags under your eyes? Concealer!” she says. “Got a pimple? Cover it up!” Once she gets home to her Manhattan apartment, however, she can’t wait to wash the makeup off her face. “If I didn’t, my pillow would be covered,” she says. An avid jogger and recreational boxer prepregnancy, O’Brien now keeps her 5’5″ form fit by walking. That body, often clad in leather pants and high heels on the job, does turn heads—but, O’Brien maintains, “I don’t think being beautiful takes away from your credibility.” We believe her.

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