I have a treat for you today. I had the chance to chat with a woman I've always looked up to. She's fierce, fabulous and fearless. Who am I fawning over? Lisa Ling of course. This reporter has a new show on National Geographic and told me all about it. Plus, she gave me the scoop on The View, Oprah and who she misses most when she travels!
Q: You've got a new show on National Geographic. Tell us about it.
A: We are exploring a number of aspects of the most widely used illicit substance in the world: marijuana. The pot of today is very different than the pot of ten years ago.
Q: During filming, you had exposure to secret farms and maybe some not-so-secret growing houses. As always you really get up close and personal. Why is this so important to you?
A: There’s no denying the fact that the marijuana business is booming. At a time when economies across the board are in decline, pot is growing at a rapid rate. The debate over legalization has been an ongoing one and both sides are deeply entrenched. But as we face increasingly more trying times, I think that it’s time to visit the issue and figure out ways to make it work for American taxpayers.
Q: One aspect you touch upon is medical marijuana which has always been a fairly controversial topic. Did you go into this project with any pre-conceived notions that changed?
A: I’ve always had notions of pot users being these laid-back hippie types. But, pot users run the gamut and the business that pot has fueled is astronomical. I also spent time with law enforcement and was shocked by how militarized the effort of combat marijuana growth has become. It bears eerie reminders of Columbia ’s drug war and it’s in our backyard.
Q: What makes you so different from your colleagues is that you really get involved. I remember the first time I saw you in a prison I couldn't believe how close you were to some of the most dangerous men in the country. Are you ever scared?
A: I'd be lying if I told you I’m never scared. Certainly there have been times when I have been utterly terrified, but I feel so lucky to be able to get a window into these worlds that are so vivid and real. My shows aren’t reality shows, they’re real stories.
Q: Do you feel an obligation or a need to bring awareness to what's going on in the world like female suicide bombers and child trafficking?
A: I do feel like I have been given the opportunity to be exposed to so many stories and I do in fact, feel a tremendous responsibility to communicate the things that I’ve experienced. I can’t pretend that these stories don’t exist.
Q: What's the hardest part of your job?
A: The absolute hardest part of my job is being away from my husband.
Q: How is it working in a male dominated industry?
A: I love to have another girl around on my shoots, but I am often the only woman on my team. I just have to be one of the guys.
Q: What career advice do you have for women?
A: Never feel inhibited and don’t let opportunity pass you by.
Q: Do you get tired of traveling?
A: I get tired of going through airport security, but I love to travel. And I live out of a suitcase. I especially love long airplane flights when my Blackberry doesn’t work.
Q: How do you keep in touch with people at home?
A: I try to call home as often as I can and I SKYPE when I can. It never ceases to amaze me that my BlackBerry works in so many places- Ragistan , India , Port Harcourt , Nigeria .
Q: How involved are you in planning your trips?
A: It’s totally a team effort.
Q: Do you travel for fun?
A: I stay home as often as I can for fun. Although, I love Greece and am dying to spend time in Turkey and Morocco .
Q: On another note, do you ever pay attention to any of the controversy on The View?
A: Not at all. There certainly were times during the election when I wanted to engage a certain person on the View in discussion, but I never got the chance.
Q: Are you still a correspondent for Oprah?
A: Yes. I love working for The Oprah Show. It has been such an honor.
Don't forget to catch Explorer: Marijuana Nation, hosted by Lisa Ling on December 26, 2008 at 7pm ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel.