Rachel Maddow was born on 1st April 1973 in Castro, California, USA. Her father Robert B. Maddow is a former United States Air Force Captain who now works as a Attorney, and her mother Elaine Maddow nee Gosse is a School Programme Administrator. Her family are quite strict Catholics, and she grew up in a very conservative community.
When a youngster, Ms Maddow showed a keen interest in current affairs and would read the newspapers from the age of seven, then ask many relevant questions to whomever she could find.
Ms Maddow attended Castro Valley High School where she was a keen athlete, but a shoulder injury forced her to give up the swimming, volleyball and basketball teams for which she was a member. Her time was filled with volunteer work for a local AIDS clinic, but she did not let her parents know the type of volunteer work she was doing at this time.
After graduating Ms Maddow entered Stanford University to do a degree in Public Policy. Whilst at Stanford, she was outed as a lesbian in an interview with her college paper as a freshman, unfortunately before she had been able to talk with her parents who are conservative Catholics.
On graduating in 1994 Ms Maddow was awarded the John Gardner Fellowship for public service. She worked for a year after graduating with the AIDS Legal Referral Panel in San Francisco, and in 1995 became the first recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship to be openly gay. With this scholarship, Ms Maddow moved to Lincoln College, Oxford University, England, and 2001 became a Doctor of Philosophy. She had met her long-term partner Susan Mikula in 1999 whilst researching for her doctorate, when Ms Mikula hired her to do some gardening for her. They now split their time between homes in Manahattan and western Massachussetts.
Ms Maddow broke into broadcast journalism shortly after graduating Oxford University by winning a contest to find a new on-air personality. Ms Maddow then went on to work on a variety of panel shows, to host in fill-in spots for absent anchors and to co-anchor slots for radio and television. In 2005 Air America appointmed Ms Maddow co-host of a breakfast-time show but this was cancelled after only one year. Ms Maddow was then offered her own eponymous radio slot on Air America and despite frequent movement around the schedules she built up a loyal following.
By 2006 Ms Maddow had made the move to television, guesting frequently on The Situation with Tucker Carlson and The Paula Zahn Show. In September 2008 Ms Maddow was given her own eponymous hour-long show at 9 pm on MSNBC. Her show was partnered with the Keith Olberman show, and together and separately both have received widespread appreciation for their analysis of politics in the US.
Ms Maddow analyses political issues rather than political candidates and refuses to be drawn as to whom she gives her support during elections. She is identified as being politically liberal, and has defined her politics as: “I am a liberal. I'm not a partisan, not a Democratic Party hack. I'm not trying to advance anybody's agenda” (Washington Post article in 2008). She has frequently addressed equality issues in her programme. As a person who comments on the political issues of the day, it is important to maintain a sense of independence, and Ms Maddow is able to do this.
Ms Maddow has also taken up documentary production and her documentary “The Assassination of Dr Tiller”, about the Doctor and abortion provider who was assassinated by anti-choice activists, won the Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award in 2010 and the Gracie Award in 2011.
A selection of other awards received by Ms Maddow include:
· 2008 – Top 10 Political Newcomers by politico.com
· 2008 – Breakout star by Washington Post
· 2009 - Nomination for "Outstanding Achievement in News and Information" by the Television Critics Association, the only cable news program accorded the honour
· 2009 - Gracie Award by the American Women in Radio, Television
· 2009 - Proclamation of Honour from the California State Senate
Adapted from an article written by me and published in the “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” Facebook Group.
Blog by Tina Price-Johnson