This hour-long, one-on-one interview program provided a rare and insightful look into the life and career of legendary entertainer Diahann Carroll. Taped live in Washington, D.C. at George Washington University’s Jack Morton Auditorium on Saturday, May 7, 2005, this program was the seventh in The HistoryMakers’ An Evening With... series. Television journalist, moderator and managing editor of Washington Week, Gwen Ifill interviewed actress and singer Diahann Carroll with Discover Financial Services LLC serving as the event’s title sponsor.
Diahann Carroll is a true legend. She is one of America’s major performing talents with a career on the Broadway stage, as a Las Vegas headliner and as an actress in both motion pictures and on television. In the interview, Carroll told her life story, shared her experiences working in the entertainment industry and offered her feelings about being a pioneer and inspiring future minority actresses. She talked about her sitcom Julia, working with Sidney Poitier, her Oscar nomination and her roles on the 1980s prime time soap operas, Dynasty and A Different World.
Born in the Bronx, New York in 1935, singer and actress, Diahann Carroll's beauty earned her modeling roles by the time she was a teenager. She went on to roles in Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess. Carroll developed a relationship with Sidney Poitier on the set of Porgy and Bess, which would continue for the next decade. Carroll’s true breakthrough came with her being cast in the title role of the television series, Julia, garning her the honor of being the first African American to have her own TV series. Carroll continued to appear in films and on stage, both as an actress and singer to rave reviews. She also had a starring role in TV’s Dynasty . In 1995, Carroll achieved another first, becoming the first African American woman to play the role of Norma Desmond in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Sunset Boulevard.
Pioneering journalist Gwen Ifill was born in Queens, New York in 1955. After earning her B.A. degree in Communications from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1977, she was hired by The Boston Herald American in the midst of the city’s notorious busing crisis. After joining the Baltimore Evening Sun, she moved to covering national politics. In 1984, Ifill was hired by The Washington Post; and in 1991, she became the White House correspondent for The New York Times. In 1994, she was named the chief congressional correspondent for NBC, and in 1999, she became the moderator of PBS’ Washington Week in Review, as well as a correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. In October of 2004, Ifill became the first African American woman to moderate a vice presidential debate. Her first book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, was published in 2009.
In 2011, Ifill served as the moderator for the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C. She is the recipient of more than a dozen honorary doctorates and several broadcasting excellence awards, including honors from the National Press Foundation, Ebony magazine, the Radio Television News Directors Association, and American Women in Radio and Television. Ifill also interviewed Diahann Carroll, Quincy Jones, Eartha Kitt and Smokey Robinson for The HistoryMakers annual PBS-TV An Evening With…series.
Ifill passed away in 2016.
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