×
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

  • A still from Leaving Neverland by

    'Leaving Neverland' Director Open to Potential Sequel to Controversial Michael Jackson Doc

    Ahead of its March 3 premiere on HBO, “Leaving Neverland” director Dan Reed tells Variety he is open to creating a follow-up to his controversial four-hour documentary revolving around sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson. If, that is, he would be able make contact with the King of Pop’s earlier high-profile accusers, Jordan Chandler and [...]

  • Roadside Attractions Acquires Drama Pilot 'The

    Roadside Attractions Acquires Drama Pilot 'The Golden Cage'

    Roadside Attractions Television has acquired one-hour drama pilot “The Golden Cage.” Described as a female-driven Wall Street thriller, the project hails from writer Oskar Nordmark. Darryl Taja (pictured) will serve as executive producer through his Epidemic Pictures. Adam Rodin will also exec produce. Nordmark created the series and will serve as co-executive producer. Roadside Attractions’ [...]

  • Hulu Adds Another Interactive Ad: This

    Hulu Adds Another Interactive Ad: This One Lets You Get Offers Via Email

    Hulu lets its subscribers choose the show they want to see. Now the video-streaming service is increasingly letting users choose to respond to certain commercials right away. A commercial from Sleep Number, the manufacturer of the bed with an adjustable mattress, that has run on Hulu for the past several weeks allows viewers to request [...]

  • George Clooney’s ‘Catch-22’ Sells to Asia

    George Clooney’s ‘Catch-22’ Sells to Asia and Australia (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Catch-22” has caught the interest of several big-name global buyers. Chinese streaming platform iQiyi, Australian SVOD service Stan, and HBO Asia are among the latest to acquire the Hulu adaptation of Joseph Heller’s novel, which is produced by and stars George Clooney. Paramount’s TV distribution unit struck the new deals for the series, which will [...]

  • Colin Farrell Dumbo

    Colin Farrell to Star in Andrew Haigh's BBC Thriller 'The North Water'

    Colin Farrell is set to star in “The North Water,” the BBC thriller that will be directed by critically acclaimed filmmaker Andrew Haigh (“Lean on Pete”). Based on Ian McGuire’s novel, the four-part series is being adapted by Haigh and produced by See-Saw Films for BBC Two. Set in the U.K. and in the Arctic [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content