Last night, two of my fav girlfriends and I attended the Benenson Lecture at the 92Y, on the topic of “Can Women Have it All?” It featured Katie Couric in conversation with Dr. Gail Salz—who better to discuss such a question?
Knowing only the basics of Couric’s career, I was interested to find out what she was really about. The conversation addressed all aspects of her public persona: how and why she chose her career path; receiving criticism from the media; the role of women within the industry; as well as her personal struggles with balancing a family with a high profile career, including the death of her husband and her resulting campaign for colon cancer awareness—which she made clear that she wanted to leave as her legacy, if anything at all.
For a society accustomed to looking to older white males for guidance and information, you tend to expect from a woman who proves herself an equal in this crowd, the straightforward, emotionless personality that is necessary, in many ways, to compete with the big boys. Couric has long proven this not the case, and in the intimate 92Y theater she sat on stage allowing the limited audience a glimpse, and chance to connect with, the deep emotions that run through her body as a female, mother and public figure.
As Salz asked her longtime friend about her husband’s death, a solemn look flashed across her face that she made no attempt to hide. And as Couric decided her approach for answering the inquiry, she abruptly stopped to share with us what caused this moment of sadness.
She didn’t hold back: divulging gratitude and appreciation for the friend sitting across from her and disclosing the flashback she had just experienced of the day she lost her husband and the significant role Salz, who was also a neighbor, played within her family. Not that the two superwomen had to announce their close friendship for the audience of women to recognize the bond.
As she continued on to share a brief story about her husband’s illness, you could hear the tears caught behind her eyes. “I’m getting all choked up,” she laughed at the audience. And I wondered how many interviews, broadcasts and paparazzi videos did this woman have to hold back tears for. Losing her husband and sister within a couple years of each other, how many times did she smile and crack a clever joke when all she wanted to do was curl up and cry? It was this thought that kind of made me fall in love with her—as a public figure of course.
I think that even if I had been watching her on TV for years, I would not have felt the connection I felt with her as a woman from this event. Genuineness, something often faked in modern-day society not to mention in this industry, oozed from her skin. It was extremely inspiring.
So inspiring, she almost makes me want to pursue news journalism for the chance to meet her. If not, maybe she could introduce me to her neighbor, Liam Neeson.