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Interview With Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard; Olympic Games Begin. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired July 23, 2021 - 13:00   ET




Here's what's coming up.


GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Let the Games begin.

I talk to legendary U.S. goalkeeper and two-time Olympic gold medalist Briana Scurry about how athletes will manage this very different Olympics.


JULIA GILLARD, FORMER AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not.

Famous for this fiery speech in Parliament, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard joins us with a call to focus on the pandemic's

devastating impact on education, especially for young girls.


QUESTION: Are you guys going to get the vaccine?


QUESTION: How come?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just don't trust the government.

GOLODRYGA: COVID cases spike again in the U.S., an on-the-ground report from Western Arkansas.


POORNA JAGANNATHAN, ACTRESS: The more specific you are in telling the story, somehow, it becomes more universal.

GOLODRYGA: Actress Poorna Jagannathan, star of Mindy Kaling's Netflix show "Never Have I Ever, " explains the importance of diversity in the writers



GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, who will be back next week.

It was an Olympic Opening Ceremony like you have never seen before, athletes in masks marching in a mostly empty stadium, excited to be there,

but also cautious. COVID cases are rising in the host country of Japan, whose population remains largely unvaccinated.

The Olympic hosts hope that today's focus shifts to the competition and creating great sporting moments for the history books. But will that be the


Let's go now to Tokyo and to correspondent Selina Wang.

Selina, you have been gearing up for these opening ceremonies and these Games for months now. As mentioned, it is an Olympics like we have never

seen before.

What have you been seeing on the ground there? What has the reaction been from residents and from athletes coming in from abroad?

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianna, it's so hard to believe that, after so many years of preparation, more than $15 billion

spent on this, these Games are finally here, even with questions leading up to the final moments as to whether or not Japan could actually pull this


Here on the ground, though, there is still major opposition to the Olympics. In fact, there were protesters chanting throughout the Olympic

Opening Ceremony for these Games to be canceled. And I have been attending these anti-Olympic protests for several months now. And they have a strong

feeling that these Games are being held at the expense of people's health and their lives.

Many people here are frustrated that the Games are being held as their lives are being restricted, with Tokyo under a state of emergency, COVID-19

cases still surging in the host city, and just about 20 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

But I spoke to several bystanders today who are outside of the National Stadium observing everything that was happening around them. And they had

some mixed feelings. Take a listen to what they had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They might need to control the corona better first, and then think about it. Yes, that's what I feel like.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had 20 tickets to the Games. All my sisters were supposed to come to Japan to experience it with me. And so it's kind of

bittersweet that I can't do it anymore.

Up until two weeks ago, I still thought I was going to go to the Games, and they canceled all of it. So I'm trying to get as close as possible as I

can, because I love the Olympics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we are worried. But I think it's just once in a lifetime. So we're here to support it.


WANG: But, Bianna, these Games are not at all what Japan had hoped for. They wanted the economic boost from tourists. They wanted to be able to

have spectators and fans and be able to show the country's culture and hospitality to people from all around the world.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, it had been planned for 2020, right? And now here we are, a year later, and still so much controversy surrounding these Games.

I was watching you earlier on our air. And it is surreal to see that stadium, which can hold nearly 80,000 people, hosts maybe 900 or so to

those Opening Ceremonies. And the ceremony was beautiful. I thought that the drones -- I think, what was it, 1, 800 drones that made up a globe --

was just quite a marvelous presentation.

But it does look different. And it must feel that way for athletes too.


WANG: Exactly.

And, for athletes, it's an incredibly stressful time, of course, excited to finally have a chance to compete, many of these athletes saying they're

grateful to have this opportunity, but also growing stories of heartbreak too.

Now at least 20 athletes are not able to compete because of COVID-19, devastating stories of athletes saying that they missed their one chance,

one even saying that her career is now over now, after just one mistake. Well, she doesn't even know where she got COVID, now out of the Games.

But, as you say, this opening ceremony absolutely surreal, nearly empty stands, athletes with masks on, a more somber tone. There was also a moment

of silence to remember all of those who had died during the pandemic, a much subdued event.

But from outside the National Stadium, we did see those stunning fireworks. We did see that drone light show you mentioned, 1, 800 forming a globe.

And, in fact, in the days preceding this, we have also been in the similar live position. We saw lots of rehearsals, so I'm sure there will be other

drone light displays to come on, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: And the hometown hero there, obviously, Naomi Osaka, lighting the Olympic cauldron was quite an image to see and an emotional one for her

as well.

She had posted: "Undoubtedly, the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life." After taking that time off for personal

healing, she will be participating in these Games and playing for Japan.

WANG: That was certainly one of the most memorable moments of the Opening Ceremonies, seeing Naomi Osaka light that Olympic cauldron.

It is a major deal that she is going to be participating. She is going to see a huge draw of support. She's such an important figure here in Japan.

In fact, just walking around the streets of Tokyo, you see her face everywhere. She's on lots of ads in subway stations, in the bus stops.

So, it's going to be a major watcher for people here tuning in to see her on television.

GOLODRYGA: Quite a comeback moment for her too in her home country.

Selina Wang, thank you so much. Of course, we will be following your reporting in the days ahead.

So, how will athletes handle these unprecedented Olympics?

With me now, an Olympic legend herself. Briana Scurry is a two-time gold medalist for the U.S. women's soccer team. She played goalkeeper for both

the 1996 and 2004 teams.

Briana, welcome. You are coming to us from Washington. You have got a big smile on your face. These are always wonderful days, the Opening Ceremony.

A bit bittersweet that these players and athletes can't have their family and friends there cheering them on, but I'm wondering your impression from

what you have seen thus far. Should these Games even be happening?


I mean, the people of Japan are so amazing. And I have been there in the past. And this Olympic Games would have been such a spectacle, and

everything would have been packed if the people could come. And it's really sad in that regard.

But, on the flip side, on the athletes' point of view, I'm very happy that they're actually able to compete right now .I know it's going to be odd and

surreal with no fans and no family in attendance. But the truth is, these athletes are going to be able to show themselves. They're going to be able

to express themselves and compete.

And, at the end of the day, I think that's the most important thing from the athletes' point of view.

GOLODRYGA: And, as we mentioned, you won a gold medal in 1996 in Atlanta. You were again in Athens in 2004.

Just mentally, take a pandemic away for the moment. How much psychological pressure is there on athletes coming up to the most -- the pinnacle of

their careers? You were fortunate to be there for more than one. Most athletes as you know, aren't.

SCURRY: Right. Yes, absolutely.

I mean, it's a dream come true, really. I wanted to be an Olympian since I was 8 years old. And so being able to compete in the '96 Games in soccer

for my country and to win was an absolute dream come true.

But it is a lot of work. It's a time that is so surreal, in the sense that you're actually living your dream at that moment. You don't want to lose

your head in the actual event, but you want to be able to compete at the highest level and win, of course.

And, for me, it's been an amazing achievement. It was an amazing experience to have not once, but twice. It's a very exciting time. It truly is

something to behold. And it goes by in literally a blink of an eye. It's only, like, roughly two-and-a-half weeks' long.

So it's a lot of effort and a lot of work. And now is the time to shine. And I wish the best for all the athletes that are competing.

GOLODRYGA: This isn't the first Olympics to be mired in controversy, perhaps not to such a degree as a global pandemic, but we have seen Zika,

right, really hang over the Olympics in Brazil. And there had been doping controversies in Olympics of the past.

What is your advice to the athletes, and have you given and offered advice to athletes that are there now, as to what they should really be focusing

on in trying to tune out all of the other noise? Because I can imagine it's stressful when they keep hearing of yet more and more cases of positive



SCURRY: Yes, it's so true, especially the athletes that are in the Olympic Village right now.

I mean, there's a lot going on. And what I always say is, focus on what you can control. So you can control your own attitude, you can control your own

effort, you can control the fundamentals that you need to produce for your sport, but you really can't control all these other things.

You can't control the protocols and all these different hoops that the athletes have to hop through right now, especially the ones in the Olympic

Village. And so just try to focus on what you're there for, which is to compete.

And once you get to the either the pitch or the field of the court or whatever it is, there's where you feel the most yourself. And those are the

times that you have to really put forward your best effort and try to minimize all these other distractions that are really not something that

you can control. Just continue to be focused on what it is that you are there to do, which is compete your best and to try to win Olympic gold for

you and your country.

GOLODRYGA: Briana, you're such an inspiration for women around the world, but women of color, female soccer players, and just society in general,

with your story.

I loved reading that you initially played soccer with the boys, and your coach put you in the position of goalie to keep you safe. And look at where

you are now. You sat on the couch with your parents watching Olympics, and, again, you won gold in two of them.

And yet you have had your own personal strife as well. And you have suffered with health issues and concussions, right, that ultimately led you

to retire from the game.

We showcase athletes when it's their moment to shine. And, unfortunately, in society, we stop talking about them when there aren't big games like the


Psychologically, how much does that weigh on athletes like yourself?

SCURRY: Well, it's interesting.

What I did learn through my experience with my traumatic brain injury is that you can really take something that seems so difficult and hard to go

through and turn it into something that's a blessing.

And so what's interesting about my situation is, I did -- I was able to achieve such amazing accolades and Olympic gold medals and World Cup

championships. So I was actually fortunate to be able to do that first before my brain injury came along.

And I have turned that brain injury into a stage of advocacy. Now I'm a huge advocate for TBI and able to talk to doctors and athletes all over the

country and all over the world. And so it really is a whole idea of making lemonade out of lemons. I mean, that saying is so old and cliche, but it's


And the other thing is that folks need to understand that all of us Olympic athletes, we are human beings. We have things that have -- that go well for

us, but we also have things that don't go well. And just like everyone else, we are human. And so, sometimes, you need to just stand up after

something difficult happens to you.

And, for me, fortunately, I have been able to have a fantastic life on the pitch and off the pitch. And now I'm just very grateful to be where I'm at

right now in my life and thankful that I had the experiences that I had, including the Olympic Games.

GOLODRYGA: Is it true that you actually have pledged to donate your brain for further research, given all of the medical challenges that you have

experienced following your concussions and injuries?

SCURRY: Yes, that's absolutely the correct answer. True.

I have donated my brain. And, also, it's going to be hopefully a very interesting contribution that I make, not only that I have a traumatic

brain injury, but also I have Alzheimer's in my family line. My mother had Alzheimer's and my grandmother had dementia. So it'll be very interesting

to be able to see what can be learned from my brain.

And I'm happy to be able to continue to contribute, even after I pass away.

GOLODRYGA: Well, what a contribution you are making, because, as we mentioned, there's still a lot more research yet to be done. And the focus

has been mostly on American football players, right, and men, and to hear women talking about going through similar experiences.

You mentioned your mother. And your mother's battle with Alzheimer's came at the same time while you were battling with your own mental challenges

and financial woes. You actually had to pawn off your gold medals that, thankfully, you got back later in life.

But you had thoughts of taking your own life at some of your low points. I'm not sitting here and bringing all of this up just to sort of dampen the

tone of the conversation. I would like to inspire viewers by talking about how you were able to go from such a low point to where you are today.

SCURRY: Thank you so much for bringing that up.

Absolutely. I totally understand. I mean, I speak about these things every time. Currently, I do a lot of public speaking for corporations and

colleges, and I talk about all the high points of winning Olympic gold and World Cups


But I also do talk about the times where I was suicidal after my head injury and the difficulties I have had financially in the past, and truly

being able to rise above all those things.

And so I think it's very important that people understand that you can have amazing athletic accolades and win Olympic gold medals, but things can

still be very difficult for you. And either way, you can just move forward. And I would like to continue to be an inspiration off the pitch as much as

I was on the pitch.

And so I am very open. And so I appreciate that you mentioned those times that I had, because it's important that people see the full picture of a

human being and of an athlete. And that's truly something that I am not necessarily -- I'm not ashamed of it. I'm not ashamed of it.

And that's why I talk about it, because it's what happened, it's the truth, and I want people to understand that, you know what, sometimes it gets

really bad for you, but you can rise above it and move on and still have it be a great example of the human condition of a person who rises up and

continues forward.

GOLODRYGA: And it also makes the accomplishments that you have achieved in the aftermath all that much more inspiring, the first black woman inducted

into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. You helped found the Women's United Soccer Association, the first women's soccer league in which all players

are paid as professionals.

And yet here we are, and there's still so much more room to grow, because the parity issue and the pay gap issue among the best team in the world,

that is U.S. soccer, which you helped pave the way with the team there getting its rise to fame around the world.

We're still not there.

SCURRY: Right.

GOLODRYGA: And is that disappointing to you? And what is it going to take? Because, once you're at number one, what else do you need to prove?


SCURRY: That's such a great, great question.

And the thing is about something like a movement like this, like this movement, for parity, for equality for our women's soccer team, these

things take a long time. And I think that's the lesson that I have learned, is that you got to keep pushing forward. Things like this take a long time.

We're talking about paradigm-shifting, which is usually something that can take decades. And so we're continuing the fight. I -- even though I'm

retired from the game, I'm still continuing to speak about it, like I am right now with you, and just showing that the women's team deserves


I mean, you're right. There really are very few things left to win. I mean, we have won everything there is to win more than once. And so it's

interesting, because U.S. soccer had always had the idea and the opinion that the reason that the women didn't deserve parity is because their

revenues weren't the same as the men.

Well, this recent budget discussion showed that the women made as much money for U.S. soccer as the men did. And so I think it's a -- we're at a

point now where women's soccer deserves the accolades that it's earned, and deserves to see that in their paychecks as well.

GOLODRYGA: So, was that just a one-off, the loss this week to Sweden, 3-0? Can we hope that that was just an anomaly and we won't see a repeat here

for Team USA? '

SCURRY: Whew. I hope so.


SCURRY: I mean--

GOLODRYGA: Fingers crossed.

SCURRY: I woke up at 4:30 that morning. I woke up at 4:30 to watch that game. And I was shocked and appalled at how it went.

But you know what? It's interesting. And this is a great example of what hopefully I will see tomorrow, which is the team completely rebound from a

very destructive and very surprising loss, and come back with a vengeance and go into that next game and the games in the future with their heads

high and get the job done.

And we will see. We will see what this team is made of right now.


Well, Briana Scurry, it's been a pleasure talking to you. I have to tell you that I went back and watched I don't know how many times that amazing

block in the penalty kicks there in the 1999 championships against China.

And your reaction, I have been mirroring it ever since. You were just so excited and so thrilled. And you changed that game and the trajectory of


Thank you so much for joining us. I'm so happy with where you are in life right now, so well-deserved. Thank you.

SCURRY: Thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure talking to you.

GOLODRYGA: Take care.

SCURRY: Take care.

GOLODRYGA: Well, almost half of the Olympic athletes are women, more than ever in the history of the Games, some inspiration for young girls all over

the world in a year that has seen millions fall out of education due to the pandemic.

Experts warn that many may never return. Next week, the United Kingdom and Kenya are hosting a high-level global education summit to call for action.

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will be taking part in that summit as the chair of the Global Partnership for Education.

And Julia is joining us now.

Welcome to the program.


As you just heard in my conversation with Briana, women have come so far in sports and in other areas around the world, including politics. And yet

here we have seen a real fallback for women in particular, and girls, due to the pandemic; 1.6 billion children were cut off from education.

Can you just give us an overview of what that means for children around the world, the impact from that?

GILLARD: I'm very happy to do that.

And I think it is important for everyone to understand that school closures happened right around the world and in our own nations, whether that's the

U.S. or Australia or anywhere else. We were able to find some ways to maintain educational continuity. It's been hard. Homeschooling is hard.

But we have got the technology you and I are using now. In so many parts of the world, in developing countries, this isn't available. And maintaining

educational continuity is therefore far more difficult. And we know from earlier health crises like the Ebola epidemic that, when schools close, the

impact on children can be profound in a lot of ways. For many, school is a place of safety. It provides a nutritious meal.

And we also know, for girls, that they're at risk that, when schools close, they never make it back, that they end up subject to early marriage or

going into child labor.

So, the Global Partnership for Education has been hard at work with developing countries to try to not go through that cycle. But we need to do

more, which is why we are gathering in London, obviously, virtually and some in person, but gathering next week to try and raise $5 billion U.S.

dollars to invest in this task of education.

GOLODRYGA: Over 20 million girls may never return to school. Why is that number so stark, in relation to boys?

GILLARD: I think the number is stark for a few reasons.

I mean, we are talking about families in very impoverished circumstances. Many of them make very difficult choices about how to keep the family up

and running and everybody fed and those sorts of things. And in those situations, there can be a priority put on the education of boys.

There can be pressures for adolescent girls in particular to be married off, and married off very young, or there can be pressures for girls to

stay at home, to perhaps through the domestic labor or perhaps some subsistence agriculture, and thereby free up another family member to go

and do something that's income-earning for the household.

So the pressures are poverty. They're cultural. There are many things that are going into that. And you can't say that the pressures in every

individual family are the same, which is why, through the Global Partnership for Education, we're very conscious that change has to be

community-led, nation-led. There's not a one-size-fits-all change model here.

But it does take resources and it takes global attention. And that's what we want to galvanize next week.

GOLODRYGA: Obviously, from a humanitarian standpoint, and it's just the right thing to do, focusing on getting girls on parity with boys and

bringing them back to school is one thing, but you stress the economic impact, and for future generations, that this could have, if we make sure -

- that we don't focus on girls the way the way we should be right now.

I have been covering education during COVID in the U.S. over the past year, and we have been focusing on the impact of these school closures on the

overall economy. Can you talk about what impact girls not attending schools in particular would have on the global economy?

GILLARD: Yes, I can.

The evidence shows very clearly that, if you educate a girl, she goes on to become a woman who is likely to choose to marry later in life. She's likely

to choose to have fewer children. She will be able to be an economic participant, a labor market participant, to earn money.

She will direct that money to the support of her family, her community. And she's likely to go on to become a mother who is much more likely to have

her children survive infanthood, have her children go to school, have her children be vaccinated.

So, changing a girl's life actually gets you on this upward cycle towards peace and prosperity, where a generation of women can then enjoy their own

futures, as they shape them, but also make a difference for the next generation and the generation after that and the generation after that.

Conversely, if we miss that moment, and we don't educate that girl, then all of the benefits that I have outlined will be lost, and we will be in a

poorer global community, and one that is more likely to see conflict, because we know, as education levels rise, as women are more included in

the political participation of their nation, you tend to get better ways of mediating conflict than the resort to violence.


GOLODRYGA: And one country where this is really front and center right now is obviously Afghanistan, because Afghanistan, as you know, had been really

a success model for young girls over the last few years.

There have been few cases of success there. But that had been one, and getting girls back into school and investing in their futures. Now that the

U.S. is withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, we have spent a lot of time focusing on what this means in particular for women and young girls.

And I have to say, quite honestly, it does appear to be bleak. From your perspective, as a former world leader and somebody who's now focusing on

educating young children around the world, what is your view on the future of Afghanistan for schoolchildren, in particular girls?

GILLARD: Well, like you and so many others around the world, I am deeply, deeply concerned.

We have seen progress in Afghanistan. The Global Partnership for Education is at work there. Afghanistan is one of our member countries. And we have

been able to make progress, particularly on girls education, doing things like training female teachers, so girls could go to school taught by women,

which might mean that it was far more likely that families would have their girls go.

What I would say is, we have got to stay deeply engaged in the work in Afghanistan, the outreach to Afghanistan, so that the progress made isn't

lost. There's no simple solution here. I wish I could, in a sentence, say, if we did X, everything would be all right. But it's obviously not as easy

as that.

What we have got to continue to do is the patient work of assisting the Afghan community to build for the future, including building through the

education of every child.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, it is heartbreaking, especially when you have seen the strides that they have made in the past few years.

Are you concerned at all about the Delta variant now impacting whether schools can, in fact, reopen again in the fall, given that children,

especially those 12 and under, are now going to be among the most vulnerable since they can't be vaccinated?

GILLARD: Yes, I think nations around the world are facing a set of complex choices, as we see the Delta variant and the continuation of the pandemic.

It's not my place to give health advice about what's safe or not safe in terms of school return. Nations will make decisions depending on their own

circumstances. But the message from the Global Partnership for Education really is, if schools are there, then we want to make sure that they're

quality, inclusive schools for every child.

If, for health reasons, they have to be closed, then we need to see educational continuity, as well as the community outreach, which means

that, beyond the health crisis, when schools reopen, children come back. So that's the work that we will be focused on.

GOLODRYGA: One of your policies that I most admire is that now, as a former prime minister, you don't want to mire yourself in current politics

in Australia, and I appreciate that.

But I do want to ask you, as an Australian yourself, the country, which had received such high marks early on in the pandemic, is now entering its

third lockdown; 13 million people will be affected. And only 14 percent of the population is vaccinated there, one of the worst among the OECD


I know you are hoping to get back home by Christmas. And I don't know if that's going to be possible for you, now that they have limited those who

can return to the country.

What do you think happened?

GILLARD: You know, I mean, I'm a very, very proud Australian, a very passionate Australian.

And so, when I look at and see the lockdowns around the country, of course, it really breaks my heart. My own family is the subject of lockdowns,

including dealing with homeschooling and all of that, so that I know it's such a tough time in many parts of my nation for so many people.

Obviously, the focus now of the parliamentarians, state and federal, is to maximize the vaccine rollout and to maximize the number of Australians who

line up for those shots. So, my message to all would be a, please get out and get the vaccine.

And I don't want to be involved in the political debate about vaccine supplies. The friends that I have in politics back home will be doing all

of that.


But, as we know, around the world, ultimately, the way out of the pandemic for the whole global community is vaccination. So, I want to see that for

my own country. I want to see that for everywhere in the world.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. Look, it is a problem here in the U.S., getting people vaccinated as well. But you do have a lot to celebrate as an Australian as

well. The Brisbane Olympics, right, 2032? Just around the corner. Thank you.

GILLARD: 2032, a bit of a way away but certainly worth celebrating.

GOLODRYGA: It's a win nonetheless.

GILLARD: Yes, it is.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you so much for joining us and best of luck next week and the days ahead.

GILLARD: Thank you so much.

GOLODRYGA: Well, education is the anecdote to misinformation. And it is even more critical now during this pandemic. Cases of COVID-19 are rising

all over the U.S. and almost nowhere is the infection rate more alarming than in Arkansas. So, what is it like to be a nurse there watching your

patients die from the disease while your neighbors tell you that it is not real or that it is no worse than the flu?

Correspondent Ellie Reed (ph) traveled to Arkansas, home to one of the lowest vaccination rates in America to find out.


SUNNY, ARKANSAS NURSE: It was extremely difficult to watch so many people die and then have people tell you, you know, on Facebook or in Walmart that

you are a liar.

ELLIE REED (voiceover): Sonny worked on a COVID floor of a hospital in the height of a pandemic. Being a nurse was hard but what made it surreal was

living in Western Arkansas where many people, even some in her own family, said COVID was overblown. Just the flu.

SUNNY: Nurses were really the symbol for this whole pandemic. And almost all of the hate has centralized around us. Nurses have PTSD. A lot of us

are suffering from it from last year and now, we're having people come in and look us in the face and they're like, no, I didn't get the vaccine and

now, I'm sick.

REED (voiceover): Arkansas has the third lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the country. Just 36 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Like

many places with low vaccination rates, it is now seeing a spike in cases.

REED (on camera): Are you going to get the vaccine?

MIKE CLARK, ARKANSAS RESIDENT: I have not. And I will not. I'm not a guinea pig. There's no chance.

REED: You got COVID?

RONNIE ROGERS, BARBER: I did. That's reason why I'm getting it. But then after I got over the COVID, I had a heart attack for that.

REED: So, why would you not get the vaccine?

ROGERS: I might have bad reaction to it.

REED: I see.

CLARK: That's good. That's better. You know, I believe that it is a freedom issue. And I've worn a mask probably a maximum of one hour in the

entire whole thing since this COVID came out. It was so communicable. Why am I still standing?

SUNNY: We had people accuse of us giving their loved ones something else so that they would die and we could report it as COVID. We heard it more

than once that we were just fudging the numbers or we were killing people on purpose to make COVID look like it was worse than it was or to make it

look real when it wasn't.

For the first majority we wore the same N95 for like more than two weeks at a time.

REED: Tell me about what you think about healthcare heroes?

SUNNY: I think it sucks.

REED: Why?

SUNNY: So, they dubbed us healthcare heroes. It just -- it gave the public this really wrong impression that we were sacrificial lambs and willing to

die for them. We want to help people. You know, I want to save lives. I want people to get better but not, you know, at the expense of my families

lives either.

Then you have the public going, well, you signed up for this. No, I didn't. When I was 17, I enlisted in the army. I knew that I might die for my

country. When I was 22 and went to nursing school, that wasn't the agenda. You know, like I didn't volunteer to die for everybody. And even with the

vaccine now, it is still a highly politicized thing for no good reason.

REED (voiceover): Last year, Sonny started venting on TikTok.

SUNNY: You are just trying to spread fear. If that's what it takes to get you to listen to me, sure.

I had avoided posting about COVID for a long time because of the negative reactions I got. Like it hurts my feelings. But just a couple weeks ago, I

had people in my inbox threatening to kill me. Calling me a murderer, saying I helped kill those people. I get called a crisis actor all the

time. It's my thing now to respond to hate comments with -- for just 10 dollars in my Venmo account, I'll tell you the truth ab COVID-19 and crisis

acting. I've made about $100.

REED (voiceover): Wait. Really?


REED: Wait. And like people like send you $10, and you're like, yes, I'm not a crisis actor.

SUNNY: Hello. I'm just like crisis acting and (INAUDIBLE) COVID is real. So, surprise. So, to tell you the truth, not the truth you wanted to hear

but -- you know.

REED (voiceover): Sonny says dark jokes bring some relief from a darker reality like that her own health is at risk. Her fellow Nurse Hazel Bailey

got COVID last August and was on a ventilator for 42 days.


HAZEL BAILEY, FORMER NURSE WHO GOT COVID-19: It is real. COVID's real. I nearly died from it. And will probably have issues from it for the rest of

my life. I have family that they believe that it is real but they are not concerned with taking the vaccine. They understand some people get it and

it is not bad. But I got it and it was bad. And now, we're seeing this new variant hit. And it's really hitting Arkansas. Sorry. My sister doesn't

have the vaccine.

REED (voiceover): Sonny says that recently COVID patients have been telling her they got it at church. This week, Arkansas had its biggest

spike in cases since February and it has the worst-case rate in the country. The state is offering vaccination incentives like free lottery

tickets. It hasn't convinced many.

REED (on camera): Did anyone you know get COVID?


REED: How old is he?

STARR: Eight.

REED: Wow. So, that's quite pretty rare for like a young kid. What was that like?

STARR: He was sick a lot. He's been sick a lot for a while and he's still stick. So, want to go get him looked at and see if there's further damage.

I don't know. I mean, he got real stick. Fever every day for weeks.

REED: Are you guys going to get the vaccine?

STARR: No. No vaccine.

REED: How come?

STARR: I just don't trust the government.

REED: Are you going to get the vaccine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not. Our kids are not going to get it. None of us.

REED: How come?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I figure I'll just let the world work its natural ways.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will be taking no vaccine ever. So --

REED: Yes. Are you able to get like religious exemption at schools for your kids? Is that how --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I mean, we have taken steps if we have to.

REED: So, what do you mean when you say you don't usually do vaccine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't do the big flu thing or whatever that was. We didn't do any of the (INAUDIBLE). It is something that I don't believe. You

know, I mean, I haven't never. It seems that it only comes about every presidency and it's seems like it is either crowd control or whatever you

want to call it. But I want my family have nothing to do with it. We've always been healthy and just seems to work better that way.

REED (voiceover): Not everyone around here feels this way.

TERRY, ARKANSAS RESIDENT: I think you need to get it because it is not on helping you, you can help your whole family. Everybody around you. It's

better take a chance on the shot than it is to take a chance on the COVID. Cowboy up and go in there get a shot and come out like a grown-up. You


SUNNY: One of our biggest fears is like this new wave of COVID. We're seeing a lot of nurses with compassion fatigue. And I am really scared how

that is going to play out because a lot of cases that we're seeing are non- vaccinated individuals. If I had a patient come in that wasn't vaccinated with COVID, like I have, like I'm obviously still going to treat them to

the best of my ability but I do know some nurses had to quit because they just don't have it in them to do that.

A lot of Arkansans, you know, would give you the shirt off their back to help you out for a stranger like, you know. I think a lot of people being

anti-COVID and anti-vaccine is just a product of the way that we were raised here. But they are not bad people.


GOLODRYGA: Important reporting and insight there on the ground from Correspondent Ellie Reed (ph).

Well, earlier in the show, we spoke to Julia Gillard about elevating education for girls. And now, we want to turn to the importance of female

representation in film and television. A recent study by UCLA shows that minority women make up just one quarter of film writers and one fifth of

directors. Here is actress, Poorna Jagannathan, talking to Aarti Shahani about her role as a tiger mom and the hit Netflix show by Mindy Kaling,

"Never Have I Ever." And why diversity is so important in this golden era of streaming.


AARTI SHAHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Bianna. And, Poorna Jagannathan, it is so wonderful to have you with us today. Thank


POORNA JAGANNATHAN, ACTRESS, "NEVER HAVE I EVER": I'm so excited about this. Thank you for having me.

SHAHANI: I loved watching the second season of "Never I Have Ever." And I am clearly not the only one. The show is a global phenomenon. A huge hit in

the U.S. and sweeping the world as number one on Netflix, and India, South Africa, Peru, Germany, France, Brazil. Many more countries. Why do you

think, Poorna, the show resonates so strongly with audiences around the world?

JAGANNATHAN: I mean, you know, you hear it a lot, and it's so true. The more specific you are in telling the story, somehow it becomes more

universal. And this is -- it resonates because there is so much diversity, not only from the camera into the actors you see and, you know, who they

are, but a diversity in storytelling. So, in season 2 you see, you know, a baby tackle horniness.


JAGANNATHAN: You kissing? Your father's actions are (INAUDIBLE) because they drift off to sea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just got overcome with emotion.

JAGANNATHAN: What are you going to do at my funeral, just have sex on top of my grave?



JAGANNATHAN: And you see how she battles with mental health. You see her friends tackling sexuality and there's -- you know, in our home, there is

intergenerational conversations happening. And there is, you know, these different shades of feminism that come up within small households.

So, just again, like the breadth of people and topics. You're -- and not in any way diluted. Like fully actualized, wonderful three-dimensional

characters, you know, conveying these story lines so beautifully. I think you just -- being a child or being an adult, you just find yourself somehow

within the storytelling.

SHAHANI: Your character on the screen, Nalini, what struck me is how much she actually evolves in season two. In season 1, I would say she's more of

a stereotype. You know, tiger mom who wants her daughter to have straight A's and go to Ivy League School. And in season 2, as I see it, she

transforms into more of a full woman with needs who is aching to belong, right? Can you talk a little bit about that? That -- the way your character


JAGANNATHAN: When I was in the process of accepting a job. It was -- obviously, it was from Netflix. But one day, when the papers came through,

I saw YA next to it. And I don't watch the genre. I didn't even know what like (INAUDIBLE) stand for. And it stands for young adult. And I stopped in

my tracks for a second. And had to have a conversation with Mindy and Wang because I was not in that part of my career where I wanted to portray a

Disney mother.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How could you move on so quickly?

JAGANNATHAN: I haven't moved on at all. I miss your father so much that it physically hurts. I guess I just wanted a break from that pain.


JAGANNATHAN: And I had too many important stories of immigration that weren't told. So, I had a conversation about them and they were like, you

know, Mindy and Wang, just, you know, so assured me and they said, it is such a deeper storyline, we don't even know how to write like that. This

woman, you know, has a full character arc, you know, which was wonderful.

So, even in season 1 you do see these unbelievable breaks in her tiger mom parenting, right? These unbelievable like fractures where the grief will

come through. And there was -- by episode 2, she has a mis character which that kind of stuff was not shown for our community, a loss and grief and

what women struggle with and what being a mom means, it's not shown. So, it was a huge breakthrough.

SHAHANI: And that's interesting, that point of being so three dimensional. Your character also develops a romance with a fellow doctor. He is played

by the rapper and actor, Common. Let's have a look at that for a moment.


JAGANNATHAN: I am so mortified. That must have been the worst date of your entire life.

COMMON: No. I once got stuck in a rotating restaurant that kept speeding up.

JAGANNATHAN: Chris, I do not think this is going to work out.

COMMON: Because of your daughter?

JAGANNATHAN: And honestly, with me too. I think it might be a little too soon. I think I will be ready in a few years, but you will probably be

snatched up by then.

COMMON: Oh, I don't know. Some people don't like me when they first meet me. Maybe I'll see you in the elevator.

JAGANNATHAN: I look forward to that.


SHAHANI: An Indian widow longing.

JAGANNATHAN: You know, this -- what I love about season 2, what I love about the show, it is a very complex anatomy of grief actually. Like as I

was going through episodes and especially the scene where she says, I'm not ready, and then coming back to that previous scene where, where she gets

caught by her daughter and gets ratted out, is just, you know, the difference between when you lose someone, it's -- probably is the

difference between what does moving forward versus moving on really look like.

You know, and she's just trying to move forward. Maybe she's trying to move forward. And there's a couple of steps back that they have to take and it

is not moving on. It is, you know, far from moving. I don't even think it's been a year since her husband died and it is a very delicate, very

intricate nuance portrayal of grief for me.


SHAHANI: Another aspect of the scene, it is not just this exploration, as you say, of a woman who is grieving and trying to figure out how to be seen

and piece life together. There is also a really interesting racial subtext going on in the scene. Common is African-American. And you and I well know

that racism, colorism runs deep in the South Asian community. And I wonder if watching that, the choice of casting him, making him your love interest.

Did Mindy Kaling and other show creators intentionally set out to take this on, to challenge, you know, South Asians in the era of Black Lives Matter?

JAGANNATHAN: So, there is a couple of things that are happening. I think this show normalizes a lot. And I -- yes. I mean, like, a black, brown love

shown on screen without like people killing themselves is like -- that's a whole new thing.

SHAHANI: Well, we see White House in the form of the vice president. But in pop culture, less so.

JAGANNATHAN: This is -- it is not normalized. And I love to talk about that. There is so much in here that doesn't have subtitles and doesn't have

an explanation. My use of (INAUDIBLE). My -- you know, the stuff that we do. There is no addendum to any of the things that we do. You know, Devi's

personality and her loneliness and her -- anything doesn't have a bibliography attached somehow. There is also no characters translating what

-- like if I speak something (INAUDIBLE), no one is translating it into English.

And I think this was another thing of normalizing a black/brown relationship without any explanation and any of the drama at all. However,

Common was a huge fan of the show. And I know Mindy and Wang heard of it. And so, when they were thinking of a love interest, I think they kind of

thought of him first.

SHAHANI: When you say that the show normalized without over discussing the fact of normalizing, do you believe that the crew, the creators went into

it aware of the colorism and the South Asian community and kind of knowing, we're going to be challenging a bit here? Was that ever a conversation.

JAGANNATHAN: No, I think they do it all the time. I don't think it is anything is -- they are way too smart for anything to be a coincidence.

They're really -- it is the most diverse writer's room that I have ever been, you know, in a show. I think more than 50 percent are people of color

and there's different sexualities and I think there are four South Asians in the room.

It is -- I think everything in there is deliberate. You know, I think -- and I think the goal is to move conversations forward to normalize, to

mirror and to portray new ways of being.

SHAHANI: There is a real power in that. Well, let's talk about the writer's room, the diversity of it. People of color in addition to Mindy

Kaling. How does that diversity impact the scripts that you get and the role that you end up playing?

JAGANNATHAN: It is such a great question because it's been on my mind a lot. For diversity in front of the camera to work, it actually needs an

ecosystem of diversity behind it. And I think Mindy and Wang have created just that. So, the producers, the show runners, the team of -- in Netflix,

you know, we have a broadcast, we have (INAUDIBLE) and we have, you know, stripping down to a writer's room that is radically diverse. And each one

will tell you they have never been in a more diverse room before.

And how -- you know, when you are the only brown girl in a room and you present a storyline, you present an idea, there is no one to back you up or

no one to add kind of those tributaries, like those additional stories that can flesh it out. So, there is, you know -- so, I kind of remember Mindy

saying that it was a very cathartic thing to be in the writer's room because all these young girls were saying, that happened to me too and that

happened to me too.

And I think the power of this show is the actors feel like they can grab this material and they can own it. But what happens to the audience member,

is they look at him, like, OK, how do they know that? How -- that detail, how did they know that happened to me? So, there's -- it's so personal

because it is coming from real lived in experience, which is not the case in other shows, which is mindboggling to me.


SHAHANI: Poorna, let's talk about Hollywood as an industry. According a UCLA, study women make up one quarter of film writers, one fifth of

directors. Minorities, one quarter of writers and directors. And they are - - or I should say, we are working with less money. White film directors are more than device as likely to have a film budget of $100 million or more.

These are astounding figures. These are disappointing figures.

Do you see on the ground, from your vantage point, people of color, (INAUDIBLE) of color gaining traction, like true traction or do you see the

surge in diverse content more as kind of a blip on the map, a reaction to MeToo and Black Lives Matter but not really a sea change?

JAGANNATHAN: No, I really don't. I mean, I think there are more places to tell your story now, you know, Netflix and the Hulu and the Amazon. And

therefore, more stories are being told. And I think more people are given chances. So, like "Ramy," the budgets aren't huge or even our show, the

budgets are really not huge.

SHAHANI: You start in "Ramy" as well.

JAGANNATHAN: Yes, yes. And the -- so, I do think shows like ours and "Ramy" and movies like "Crazy Rich Asians" and "The Farewell," they all

start -- you know, when you string them together, you start seeing a bigger story being told, which is diversity works.

And like the show, it works bringing a global audience, one that is really -- it is very desirable for a streaming platform or, you know, any service.

And as you start connecting the dots -- and these are -- these movies and shows just happen. Like, we were in a very -- you know, it's like four

years maybe. So, it's a very recent tale. But they are -- they resonate and they are profitable. And maybe --

SHAHANI: You see, because I'm quite optimistic about it. And do you feel like, you know, there is the representation you see on the screen like, oh,

look, South Asians get to play doctors and engineers. Is that the shift that we are seeing or do you actually think we're breaking away from that


JAGANNATHAN: I think it is people like us who are breaking the narrative. Because as -- you know, Mindy Kaling or "Ramy," they -- it's them telling

their stories, right? So, it is not a Caucasian person or someone who is coming in and saying, let's diversify. Let's get you out of that -- you

know, that modern minority thing. I mean, I think if Hollywood had its way, we'd still be doing a lot more doctors and a lot more scientists. But I

think it's people -- it is an inside job.

They are telling their own stories and using different ways to tell it. And their stories is -- you know, they are messy human beings and, you know,

they are deeply flawed. And that's the part that, I think, as a -- as an actor, the other parts I was playing just -- you know, I often say that the

problem with the minority, that the problem is share types (ph) is not that they are untrue but, you know, they are incomplete.

So, it's basically the same (ph). And I felt in my other roles, I'd show up and I could never be my full self on a set. Not even a sliver of who I am.

And some (INAUDIBLE) set like "Ramy" or "Never I Have Ever" and I can bring everything.

SHAHANI: Poorna Jagannathan, I want to thank you for speaking with me.

JAGANNATHAN: Oh, this was so lovely. Thank you for having me.


GOLODRYGA: The undeniable power of authentic storytelling.

And finally, traditional outfits smile, even under the masks, waves of the crowd, albeit a much smaller one this year. Their pictures from the Olympic

Games opening ceremony where small and large nations alike hoist their flags and represent their countries with pride.

Despite the pandemic and a troubled lead out, there is a lot to be excited about these Olympic Games. This is, after all, the greatest show on earth.

One that transcends politics, partisanship and conflict and showcases the pinnacle of athletic performance.

Here is to the Olympians who have sacrificed everything and made it to the games at the most traumatic of times. Good luck to all of you in Japan.

We're rooting for you all. Thank you for all of your hard work.


And that is it for now. You can always catch us online and on our podcasts and across social media. Christiane will be back on Monday. Thanks for

watching and goodbye from New York.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. Good to have you with us live from CNN London. I'm Cyril Vanier in for Hala Gorani.