Guests: Episodes with Mariana van Zeller

Mariana van Zeller is a Portuguese-American journalist known for her in-depth reporting and award-winning documentary work. Born on May 7, 1976, in Cascais, Portugal, van Zeller studied international relations at the Universidade Lusíada de Lisboa and began her journalism career at SIC, the first and largest Portuguese private television network.

Van Zeller moved to the United States to pursue a master’s degree at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Despite initial rejections, she persisted and was finally accepted into the program after personally appealing to the dean. Her journalism career in the US was unexpectedly accelerated when she reported on the September 11 attacks for SIC Notícias, broadcasting live from the CBS Building in Midtown Manhattan just hours after the tragedy.

Following her graduation from Columbia, van Zeller relocated to London and studied Arabic at Damascus University in Syria, enhancing her ability to cover stories in the Middle East. Her freelance documentaries from Syria were featured on several prestigious platforms, including PBS’s Frontline/World, the CBC, and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. In 2005, she joined Current TV as a correspondent and producer for the Vanguard documentary series.

She later served as the chief correspondent for Fusion until the channel ceased operations in December 2021. Currently, she is a correspondent for the National Geographic Channel. She is a recipient of the esteemed Peabody Award.

Fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, and French, and with some proficiency in Arabic, van Zeller’s global perspective and linguistic abilities have enabled her to cover a wide range of international stories. Her filmography includes documentaries such as “Vanguard” (2008–2013), “Narco Bling” (2012), “El Chapo: CEO of Crime” (2013), and “Trafficked” (2020–2023).

In her personal life, van Zeller is married to her Columbia classmate, Darren Foster, a series producer and director with the National Geographic Channel. They have a son named Vasco. She became an American citizen on March 17, 2015.