Donning leopard-print pants, revered journalist Christiane Amanpour approached a stage in a packed South by Southwest room March 10. She wore a button-up shirt with a pair of eyes embroidered on it.
After 35 years reporting from war-torn countries for CNN, Amanpour’s ever-critical eyes and mind are now shifting toward a “real slice of life”: “Sex & Love Around the World.”
That’s the title of her new CNN series.
Almost straight away, with a slight smile on her face, the moderator of the SXSW talk, Recode executive editor Kara Swisher, asked Amanpour if she’s had personal experience in the topic of sex.
“At least once,” Amanpour responded with a laugh. “My son is almost 18-years-old, so at least 18 years ago.”
Amanpour said after a long career of reporting around the world, she was ready for a shift in focus.
“What I thought was, ‘Self, you have done all this extreme living, extreme reporting, extreme experiences, in the most extreme parts of the world under the most extreme circumstances and you’ve watched an reported individuals cope with sniping and shelling and genocide and disease and famine and natural disasters and you’ve told that story,’” Amanpour said.
She said she’s managed to stay sane, “or tried to.”
“What about women and girls? What about how you live, how you maintain your dignity?” Amanpour said. “How you maintain your intimate relations, how do you keep your partnership going, how does a mother keep her daughter safe and not off to some forced marriage? Do they talk about sex between mothers and girls and villages in Afghanistan or wherever it might be?
And how do you do all that in a flimsy tent where everyone and their brother can listen to you and see you and know what your business is?”
Amanpour said she involuntarily got more involved in one particular scene than she would have liked.
In Berlin, known as the sex capital of the world, Amanpour said she was watching on as a group of people started sensually wrapping ropes around each other. Suddenly, someone started gently wrapping ropes around Amanpour.
“When there are awkward situations, I tend to pretend it’s not happening,” she said at the talk Saturday.
“And your reaction?” Swisher asked.
“You’ll see. It’s a tease,” Amanpour said, refraining from spoilers.
Executive produced by Anthony Bourdain, the series will premiere March 17.
When Swisher prompted Amanpour to talk about her personal experience with the #MeToo movement, Amanpour said, “I’m not going to go into specifics about the person –“
“Charlie Rose,” Swisher quickly said before Amanpour could finish her sentence.
“Okay,” Amanpour said. The crowd broke out in laughter at the light-hearted exchange.
Despite Amanpour’s and her colleagues’ encounters with Rose, she said she had many male mentors that helped her get to where she is today: CNN’s chief international correspondent. She said she started as a desk assistant.
“There’s real currency in starting at the bottom of the ladder and moving up to achieve your dreams,” she said.