First Person Singular

(Matthew Girard)
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

I WANTED TO BE AN ACTOR. I had been doing some voice-over work and some commercials. So I went in and auditioned; I acted like I was a newsperson and got the job. To me it was not journalism; it was a hundred bucks a week. I did this for about nine months, and suddenly I had a head full of information. I was dating an older guy at the time. He was a lawyer, and he would take me out and treated me sort of like arm candy. I was kind of quiet, and I remember these guys were talking about the OPEC oil crisis. I wasn't an expert, but I had been reading this story day in and day out; I just knew it. Whatever they were talking about was wrong. I remember saying, "That's not why they're doing it." I corrected them and refreshened my drink. The look they gave me was like, "The blonde speaks?" And I saw that they treated me with this new respect.

One time, they were coming out with the Wonderbra, and they took out full-page ads: "The Wonderbra will give you cleavage!" The day before they were going to unveil the Wonderbra, I stood up in the newsroom, and I started yelling: "Can you believe this? Cleavage? After all we've been through as women, we still have to have cleavage? This is unbelievably sexist!" So [the producers] called me in the next morning and said, "We liked your passion yesterday. You're gonna do the story on the Wonderbra."

So I go out to Tysons Corner to Lord and Taylor, and there's women hanging out of buses with cleavage, and women are coming down the escalator with tank tops and cleavage. Beforehand, I had gone over to the National Organization for Women, and I'd gotten all the right feminists tsk-tsking this. And then we head to Tysons, and there's all this cleavage. The place was swamped with women wanting this bra. Oh, I felt completely betrayed by my sisters.

I didn't know how to write the story -- but I had fun with it; I let the women speak. We were still writing it and retracking it five minutes to air. I put it on the air, and then I just kind of stumbled out of the station exhausted. The next day, everyone was like, "Oh, my God, that was the best!" And the next thing you know, I'm sitting at the Emmy dinner, and they call my name! People were getting Emmys for uncovering corruption, and I get an Emmy for the Wonderbra. Eventually, I got one for [my] Vietnam story. I was like, "Thank you! I don't have to talk about that damn Wonderbra anymore. Thank you, Vietnam!"

Interview by Robin Rose Parker


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