Rosie O'Donnell Is Moving 'Onward' at 61 with a 'Third Chapter' of Her Life — and a New Podcast

O'Donnell tells PEOPLE she's aiming to offer "more of a conversation than an interview" with her new iHeartPodcasts show featuring friends and newsmakers Dylan Mulvaney, Ricki Lake and Kathy Griffin

Rosie O'Donnell, Onward Podcast Announcement
Photo: Gene Reed/iHeart Media

After a storied career as an entertainer whose interviewers were seen by untold fans, Rosie O'Donnell is now focusing on a more "intimate conversation" format with her just-launched Onward podcast.

O'Donnell — who is marking her 61st birthday on Tuesday, the same day as Onward's launch on iHeartPodcasts' Outspoken Podcast Network — tells PEOPLE she's embarking upon a "third chapter" of her life these days.

"When I turned 60, I felt as though life is like a three chapter book, zero to 30, 30 to 60, 60 onward," she shares. "I'm in the third chapter of the book. So let's put all the past in the past, and let's just focus on being where we are right now, and onward to another day. And that's kind of the place that I'm at in my life and careers. And that's the place that we arrive at the podcast."

So far, O'Donnell has lined up guests including Sharon Gless, Jenifer Lewis, Natasha Lyonne, Margaret Cho, Lisa Ann Walter, Camryn Manheim, Ricki Lake, Kathy Griffin, Rory Kennedy and "a woman who has early onset dementia who I met on TikTok."

Rosie O'Donnell, Onward Podcast Announcement
Gene Reed

Another upcoming guest is Dylan Mulvaney, the transgender woman who's been sharing her journey through the first 365 "Days of Girlhood" and beyond. "We're going to be talking about that, about trans rights, about non-binary, about how to understand it and how to have conversations about it," O'Donnell says.

She adds, "We're going to be talking about the horrors of women's rights and the anti-abortion folk, and what that's doing to our country and national standing in the world, and what it does to women's lives, and how horrible this swing to the right really is."

Episodes that touch on hot-button issues won't be "political, necessarily," she says. Though she does leave the door open: "It's not like we're going to have politicians on, although we might. So you never know."

The variety of voices and scale of stories O'Donnell plans to share all add up to her greater goal — to curate a podcast that isn't strictly about amplifying to A-listers and their latest projects.

"There's a wide variety of topics that interest me — and guests," she says. "It won't be a purely celebrity-driven podcast. The celebrity part was almost the least interesting part of it to me. Getting to talk to people that are my friends and have a conversation without necessarily promoting something that they're doing, just to have a real honest conversation with people that I have been lucky enough to get to know, and love, and admire."

Rosie O'Donnell Rollout
Chloe Aftel

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Episode 1 of Onward, featuring Gless, is now available to stream on all major podcast platforms.

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