Barbara Walters, One of My Foremost Heroes and Model, Dead At 93

By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju

I grew up without models and mentors. I knew only characters and historical figures from the books I read. Then I got to the United States and saw her on television. Who was she? She was Barbara Walters; the BEST female journalist in television history with ground breaking career. She came on, when a woman couldn’t have it all. When we could not have a career, be married and have children. She broke barriers for women on TV. She is the most relentless yet persuasive interviewer with excellent bedside manners, ever. She has interviewed Menachem Begin, Fidel Castro, Anwar Sadat, Yasser Arafat, Katherine Hepburn, Margaret Thatcher, Barbara Streisand, Michael Jackson and any noteworthy figure of her time and our time. I recall her asking Monica Lewinsky, Why did you keep that blue dress? Barbara brought the valiant General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led the Iraq War to tears on National Television. Her interview with the Menendez brothers showed how money, greed and indulgent parenting can precipitate monumental tragedy. Her interviewing skills is simply unmatched. 

As a young adult looking unto future leadership, I researched this woman and watched her program 20/20 as if I was studying it for an exam. She was full of grit, remarkably competitive, yet genteel with an astonishing sense of style. There is a lot I can write about this woman. She created “the View” which has spawned so many imitations across the world, including Nigeria. Barbara left television at age 84 for a quiet life in Manhattan. In the age of internet and social media, there will never be another Barbara Walters. Adieu mama, you beat the path for women and we are better for it.

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