Saturday, October 4, 2008

Islandista in the spotlight - Gwen Ifill

Guess what ... the moderator of Thursday night's vice-presidential debate, Gwen Ifill from PBS... is an islandista!

Well, an islandista by descent at least - born to a Barbadian mother and a father who was Panamanian but Barbadian by descent - no doubt one of the many West Indians who went over to Panama to build the Panama Canal or a descendant of one of them.

According to Barbados' Nation newspaper:
Yes - Ifill, who is the well-known host of PBS' Washington Week programme and senior news correspondent on News Hour, is a Bajan. Though born in New York City, Ifill was raised in a Barbadian household, headed by her Barbadian mother Eleanor and her father Urcille Ifill Sr., a Panamanian of Barbadian descent. She was the fifth of six children born to the couple and moved around a lot during her childhood as her father was an African Methodist Episcopal church minister who had to live in several different cities as part of his work. She has credited her parents with piquing her interest in journalism, saying:

"From our parents, we inherited an abiding interest in the world around us. We grew up reading the newspaper every day."

Ifill has previous experience of being in the political hot seat of election debates, having moderated the 2004 vice-presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards. That experience however, has not stopped some critics from questioning her impartiality as she is in the process of writing a book entitled "Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama". The book focuses on a generation of rising African-American politicians and critics charged that because of this, Ifill has a vested interest in Obama winning the presidency.

And Ifill is apparently set to receive the ultimate you've-made-it accolade... a parody on Saturday Night Live! and other news outlets have reported that SNL has booked Queen Latifah to portray Ifill if they do a sketch of the VP debate.


Saturday Night Live has royal plans for a possible vice presidential debate sketch: they've booked Queen Latifah to play moderator Gwen Ifill.



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