Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Anderson Cooper talks war, being gay and Real Housewives at UT-Arlington
Attendees got a behind-the-camera glimpse of the celebrity journalist.
ARLINGTON Most see Anderson Cooper during his serious moments, behind a desk or in the fields of war and disaster. But Monday night, a crowd of several thousand at the University of Texas at Arlington’s College Park Center witnessed the CNN anchor’s convivial side.
Cooper journeyed to Arlington as part of the university’s (rescheduled) Maverick Speaker Series and engaged in a live interview with Krys Boyd, host and managing editor of KERA’s program Think. Amid stories about familial loss, Cooper peppered his hour-long show with jokes and smiles.
This is where his personality truly shined, giving attendees a behind-the-camera glimpse of the celebrity journalist.
Cooper’s early life wasn’t easy, he explained. At 10 years old, he lost his father during a heart surgery. During his senior year at Yale University, his brother committed suicide. It was this pain that spawned his interest in journalism.
“I wanted to be around other people suffering … where life and death was very much hanging in the balance,” Cooper said.
So he packed a video camera and shipped himself to dangerous places like Burma and Somalia, where he would ask kids high on amphetamines and packing AK-47s to film him as he spoke to the camera. In what he suggested was an ironic turn of events, this approach gradually landed him in the national spotlight. He was an untrained journalist being vetted for jobs at ABC network.
When ABC called to recruit him, Cooper said, “I thought it was one of my buddies pretending to be ABC. I hung up on them.”
Cooper spoke openly about his sexuality during the lecture, diving into the subject with a joke about designer jeans. His mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, was one of the pioneers of this fad, and Cooper reminisced about the days he saw her name on women’s rears around town.
“I think my brother was looking at the rears. I, of course, was looking at the fabric,” Cooper laughed.
Cooper revealed he was gay in the summer of 2012, though, as he explained Monday, he had been open about his sexuality since high school. The anchor said he didn’t want this fact to interfere with his stories, but he made the decision to come out publicly to show he had nothing to hide.
“Being born gay is one of the great blessings of my life,” Cooper said, adding the revelation has not deterred some “very determined women.”
While much of Cooper’s interview came across as Reporting 101, the lecture provided a unique opportunity for fans (and there were many, as evidence by an audience Q-and-A) to experience the real Anderson Cooper.
One of Cooper’s more candid moments came near the end of the interview when moderator Boyd asked him about his pop culture guilty pleasures. His reality TV favorite? Real Housewives of Atlanta.