Rosie O’Donnell Credits Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 as a Turning Point: ‘Your Life Changed as a Little Girl’

Rosie O’Donnell has had quite an influential and successful career in show business. She’s been a host of multiple talk shows, made people laugh via her standup comedy, and acted in many hit movies.

Every star needs a start in this industry, and O’Donnell is aware of that. She appeared on a podcast recently and talked about how she tries to help younger people. Read on to find out about O’Donnell’s approach to helping others, and what role the famed Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 had to do with it. 

Sports were a big part of Rosie O’Donnell’s youth

Rosie O'Donnell
Rosie O’Donnell | Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

O’Donnell appeared on the Everything Iconic podcast with host Danny Pellegrino. The host asked her how many people helped O’Donnell throughout her career, which transitioned into a discussion of O’Donnell’s desire to help others. Pellegrino added, “I wonder if that was always instinctual for you to pay it forward in a way.”

O’Donnell first touched on her younger days, when she played sports, and how Title IX played a role: 

“I definitely grew up playing sports. And Title IX was a big deal. I’m going to be 60 in March, and I’m right around the age where that just came into fruition and your life changed as a little girl; you were all of a sudden allowed to play baseball, and you were allowed to play those other sports.”

For those unfamiliar with it, the U.S. Department of Education website states that Title IX “promises equal access to education for all students and it protects them against discrimination on the basis of sex.”

Rosie O’Donnell grew up in a drastically different time period 

O’Donnell went onto note that her children have a hard time fathoming how radically different things were for her as a young athlete, stating, “My kids can’t believe that when I was a kid, girls weren’t allowed to play Little League.” It’s hard for them to realize just how different time was and life was for women back then.” 

There’s no doubt that things have changed a lot for women in athletics (and in every other aspect of society) despite the rampant challenges they still face. O’Donnell said that her love of sports – and her ability to play sports afforded to her by Title IX – is what spurred her on to help others in show business.

How O’Donnell’s history with sports led her to help others

Continuing her sports metaphor, O’Donnell talked about her dedication to team sports influenced how she looked at her career. She said, “So, because I grew up playing on teams, I always thought that’s how you do it: you play on a team, you get somebody really great at pitcher, you get someone to catch, and get a couple of hitters.” 

She then referenced some of the more powerful mentors she’s had in her career, noting that, “I always was looking for the women that were supporting other women and was lucky enough to find a lot of them in my life and career, including Nora Ephron and Penny Marshall, both of who are no longer with us. But, um, I think about the both of them an awful lot and was really blessed to be able to work with women who support other women and their growth.” 

It’s great that someone who has achieved O’Donnell’s level of success takes the approach of “paying it forward” as Pellegrino pointed out. Collaborating with giants of the industry like Ephron and Marshall certainly helped that. It’s also interesting how Title IX made such a difference in her early life and then continued to affect how she treated others going forward. 

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