What I do know of Maria Shriver inspires me. From her dedication to family, her continuing career as a journalist, her former role as the most charismatic First Lady of California and her dedication to doing good, is nothing short of amazing. Add all this to the beauty of her positive can-do energy, her renown as a great girlfriend and let’s not overlook that leontyne head of hair and what you’ve got is unlimited potential for a fascinating profile. We asked her questions and she answered them all. In turn, she ask that we all join WAM and her vow to fight the good fight against Alzheimers, an overwhelmingly female disease. Join here.
Name, age, where do you live?
Maria Shriver, 63, Los Angeles.
Give us an overview of your career.
In addition to being a mother of four (my most important job), I’m also a journalist and have been throughout my entire career.
I got my start in TV news at local stations in Philadelphia and Baltimore. I then worked my way up to reporter and co-anchor of the CBS Morning News in the ‘80s. I joined NBC News in 1986 and have been working there as a correspondent and anchor ever since. These days, I produce and host several segments per month for The Today Show, including stories about brain health, Alzheimer’s, women’s issues and notable changemakers who are moving humanity forward.
I’ve always been curious about the world and I have been fortunate to interview some of the biggest names of our time. I’ve always believed in the importance of journalism, and I believe that the media can—and should—be used as a force for good in the world.
Tell us about what you are doing now.
In addition to my work as an NBC News Special Anchor, I also run my own media company, Shriver Media. We publish the popular email newsletter “The Sunday Paper” and produce a podcast called “Meaningful Conversations.” I’ve also written two books within the past year “I’ve Been Thinking…” and I’ve Been Thinking…The Journal and I executive-produced the Netflix documentary “Take Your Pills” with my daughter, Christina Schwarzenegger. When I’m not writing or reporting, I’m advocating on behalf of women and Alzheimer’s through my nonprofit The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement (WAM).
You’ve always used your influence to shine lights on issues that need attention, most recently championing Alzheimer’s awareness with your foundation, the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. Why is Alzheimer’s a woman’s problem?
Every 65 seconds, a new brain develops Alzheimer’s in America and two-thirds of those brains belong to women. No one knows why that is. That’s unacceptable to me, and the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement is working to find answers. We raise awareness of women’s increased risk for the disease, work to educate the public about caring for their brain health, and raise money to fund critical women-based research at leading scientific institutions. I believe that if we study the population with the most cases—women— then we can get closer to uncovering the mysteries surrounding this mind-blowing disease and hopefully get closer to a cure.
What do you think every woman should know about Alzheimer’s? What can we do to help?
I always call this the “ultimate women’s empowerment issue” because women have fought so hard to be recognized for their minds and now we’re at risk of losing them. I hope any woman who loves her brain will be fired up by this and consider joining WAM in our movement. I hope men who the love the women in their lives will also consider joining us. Together, we are a community of game changers, changemakers and groundbreakers who are working to change the future for all minds. Visit our website at www.thewomensalzheimersmovement.org and get informed. Reading our brain health guide, sign up for our email newsletter and consider donating to help us fund research and educate more people.
Your most recent book, I’ve Been Thinking: Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life, has you asking some big questions as you search for meaning. Why this topic? And how did you start writing it?
I’ve Been Thinking… was inspired by the weekly essay that I write for my email newsletter “The Sunday Paper.” Writing has always been therapeutic for me. It’s a way for me to get quiet, organize my thoughts and reflect on the world. Many people who read “The Sunday Paper” asked me to put my essays into a book, so I’ve Been Thinking… is a place where people can enjoy them in one place.
I believe that we all want to live a meaningful life and I hope my book will offer inspiration and guidance to those who are seeking meaning in their own lives. In early 2019, I also published a companion to the book called I’ve Been Thinking…The Journal. It is meant to give readers the space to reflect on their own journeys and write their stories.
What was it like growing up in one of the most famous families in the world?
I’m very grateful to have such a large, loving family. I say thank you to God for that every day. Growing up, there were times when I felt like I was only seen as someone with a famous last name, so I’ve worked hard to develop my own career and identity. I’m proud of where I am today. I’m also incredibly proud to have my beautiful children, my wonderful brothers and my lovely extended family as life-long friends and supporters by my side on this journey through life.
You’ve had such a huge career – writing books, award-winning journalist, former First Lady of California. Is there anything you haven’t done and still really want to do?
I like to try and stay focused on what’s in front of me right now, which is my mission to find a treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s. There are lots of things I still want to do—and I won’t be slowing down any time soon—but wiping out this disease is my No. 1 goal and I won’t rest until we’ve done it.
Culturally, aging is viewed as this sad thing. In reality, I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t feel bad or sad. I feel better than ever. What’s the key to changing the conversation about aging?
I think we can, and should, do a much better job in our society of revering our older generations. I think we have to stop thinking of aging as a bad thing and start thinking about all the wisdom these individuals have to offer us. How we treat our elders says a lot about who we are as a society, and I think we can all agree that we have a long way to go toward making it better.
What’s the best thing you’ve read lately?
Joan Chittister’s “The Time Is Now: A Call to Courage.”
Do you have any family traditions?
I love to gather the people I love around my kitchen table on Sundays for Sunday dinners. This is sacred time when we all get to come together, reflect on our weeks and catch up about what’s going on in the world. Every week, I invite someone new to join us at the table. I love that. I want to encourage everyone to invite people together around their table for a meal and enjoy the power of shared conversation and community.
Do you have any seasonal traditions? Summer? Holidays?
The past couple of years, I have used August as a time to take what I call a “spiritual break.” It’s a time for me to disconnect from my phone, travel less, and get centered again. It’s my opportunity to slow down and breathe.
What’s your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate it?
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I celebrate it by trying to gather as many people that I love in one place! I would have Thanksgiving every day if I could!
Check out Maria’s Sunday Paper for lots of inspiration and love here.