×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Whoopi Goldberg Champions Girls Charity Figure Skating in Harlem

Whoopi Goldberg is one of Variety’s Power of Women New York honorees. For more profiles on the honorees, click here.

As a 7-year-old girl living in the New York City projects, Whoopi Goldberg loved to go ice skating in Central Park with her brother. “I always wanted to be in the Ice Capades,” says Goldberg, who hosts “The View” and runs her own production company. “I was a great skater. I was a speed skater.” But she never remembers seeing any black ice skaters on TV.

Billy Kidd for Variety

Goldberg is now an honorary chair of Figure Skating in Harlem, a nonprofit that helps young girls learn leadership and academic skills through the sport. Roughly 250 girls between the ages of 6 and 18 are annually enrolled in after-school and summer programs. “Every day, they skate, have life skills classes and tutoring,” says Sharon Cohen, the founder and executive director, who oversees the 63 coaches, counselors and tutors on staff. “We’re the first and only organization anywhere to use figure skating as a tool to help our girls achieve success in the classroom and in life.”

Figure Skating in Harlem’s leaders note that the one-of-a-kind program, which launched in 1997, has a proven track record for ensuring that its young women carve out bright futures for themselves. In order to stay an active member, each girl must retain a B-plus average in school. Last year, 100% of graduating seniors from the program went on to college. Before lacing up for the rink, the girls are required to enroll in reading, writing and math classes provided by the instructors. “We really work with them to find their own voice, to be good writers and public speakers,” Cohen says.

Goldberg admits she hasn’t hit the ice herself in years, but she likes to help young people follow their dreams. “Anytime someone is passionate about something, I feel like you have to encourage that,” Goldberg says.

“If it turns out to be your passion, great,” Goldberg adds. “If it’s not, enjoy it. Now’s the time.”

Billy Kidd for Variety

More TV

  • CBS Studios Exterior

    CBS Credit Union Manager Pleads Guilty to $40 Million Fraud

    The manager of a credit union for CBS employees pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court on Monday to a $40 million embezzlement scheme. Edward Rostohar, 62, was arrested in March after the scheme began to unravel. According to prosecutors, he admitted to stealing money from the bank for the last 20 years. Rostohar is [...]

  • EP_6_0036.ARW

    TV Review: 'Good Omens'

    Like Starz’s “American Gods” before it, Amazon’s newest limited series attempts to adapt the philosophically lofty, theologically-infused work of British novelist Neil Gaiman. In his 1990 novel “Good Omens” (co-written with Terry Pratchett), an odd-couple angel and demon attempt to avert the apocalypse in order to continue enjoying their unusual partnership. Onscreen, this pairing — [...]

  • Emmys: Second Annual FYC Independents Screenings

    Emmys: 'All American,' 'Atypical,' 'Vida' Actors Among Lineup for Second Annual FYC Independents Screenings (EXCLUSIVE)

    The FYC Independents Screenings will take place Friday, May 31 in Van Nuys, Calif, Variety has learned exclusively. Formerly the FYC U.S. Independents, this evening of screenings and schmoozing with talent from series such as the CW’s “All American,” Netflix’s “Atypical” and Starz’ “Vida” is thrown by actress and producer Meredith Thomas to increase visibility [...]

  • School of American Ballet, The Nutcracker

    Imagine Documentaries Teams With School of American Ballet, DCTV for 'On Pointe' Series

    Imagine Documentaries has partnered with DCTV and School of American Ballet for “On Pointe,” a docu series offering an inside look at the rigorous training program at the nation’s foremost school for ballet professionals. The deal calls for Imagine to work with DCTV and the School of American Ballet on a series chronicling the pursuit [...]

  • Lester Holt

    Chris Berend Tapped to Oversee NBC News' Digital Efforts

    Chris Berend, an executive who has been overseeing digital video for CNN and helped launch Great Big Story, a streaming-video site aimed at younger audiences, will jump to NBC News to lead its digital efforts. Berend will replace Nick Ascheim, who will move into a new role that is described as “improving digital and product [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content