Giselle Fernandez-Farrand '83 (Journalism)
Broadcaster Giselle Fernandez-Farrand ’83 (Journalism) may have competed on “Dancing with the Stars,” but she is anything but star-struck.
“Our celebrity obsessed culture and media have to get a grip,” says Fernandez-Farrand, who appeared on the second season of the ABC talent show. “People have to return to basics (in news).”
Although she has interviewed everyone from Sean Connery to Barbra Streisand on her former Latin talk show “Café Olé” on Los Angeles-based SiTV, you won’t hear her dropping any names. Rather, she is more likely to cite California’s child poverty rates or speak about women’s healthcare.
“I think when we cover Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton more than we cover the war in Iraq, we live in dangerous times,” she says.
That core journalistic ethic is something the five-time Emmy Award winner says she mastered at Sac State under the tutelage of government and journalism professor Bill Dorman.
“He taught me a real sense of respect for journalism,” she says, “and how privileged we are to have both the First Amendment and the Freedom of Information Act as the cornerstones of our democracy.”
Soon after graduating, Fernandez-Farrand focused on covering international affairs including interviewing Fidel Castro about Cuba’s economic crisis and its U.S. relations. Her stories have appeared on CBS “Sunday Morning,” “Face the Nation” and ”48 Hours.” She has anchored and co-hosted a range of national television news programs from NBC’s Sunday edition of the “Nightly News” and “Today” weekend edition, to the A&E/History Channel’s “This Week in History” and KTLA’s “Morning News.” She has also substituted for NBC “Nightly News’” and CBS “Evening News’” anchors. Fernandez-Farrand and her husband John Farrand (former president and CEO of Panavision Inc.) recently started Skinny Hippo Productions and F-Squared Productions, two English and Spanish film and television ventures.
The television journalist, producer and filmmaker sits on the boards of the Latin Grammies, Latina Magazine, the inner-city literacy program Wonder of Reading, and the Smithsonian’s National Board for Latino Initiatives. In May of 2006, the California Latino Legislative Caucus awarded her its annual Latino Spirit Award.
As for appearing on “Dancing with the Stars,” she discovered a new talent at the age of 44.
“I have never felt more empowered (physically),” says Fernandez-Farrand, who danced the waltz, rumba and tango.
That sense of empowerment will no doubt carry over into her work—with or without fame.
“I have never left the important issues,” she says of poverty, literacy and healthcare. “I always have used my celebrity—whatever tiny celebrity it is—to bring up and highlight these issues.”
This article was originally published in the Fall 2006 edition of Sac State Magazine.