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Mariana van Zeller

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Mariana van Zeller
Mariana van Zeller

(1976-05-07) May 7, 1976 (age 48)[citation needed]
EducationColumbia University Graduate School of Journalism (MA) and Universidade Lusíada de Lisboa (BA)[1]
OccupationCorrespondent journalist
Years active2000–present
Notable credit(s)National Geographic
SpouseDarren Foster[1]
ChildrenVasco (b. 2010)
AwardsPeabody Award

Mariana van Zeller (born May 7, 1976) is a Portuguese journalist and correspondent for National Geographic Channel. She was the chief correspondent for Fusion (until the channel ceased its operations in December 2021), and is a former correspondent for the Vanguard documentary series on the former Current TV. She's a recipient of the Peabody Award.


Born on May 7, 1976, in Cascais, Portugal, van Zeller studied international relations at the Universidade Lusíada de Lisboa.[1][when?][better source needed] After graduation, she says she spent two years working at SIC, which was at that time the first and largest Portuguese private television network. She began working in the travel and international departments of the main networks channel and later joined SIC Notícias, the network's news channel.[2]

She applied for a master's degree at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism three times: her first application was rejected, and her second was wait-listed. According to van Zeller herself, after her third application, in 2001, she flew to New York City and knocked on the dean's door, explaining her dream of becoming a journalist in the United States.[1] The dean was impressed, according to her, and allowed her to enroll.[2][better source needed]

One month after she moved to New York City, the September 11 attacks took place. She was contacted that morning by a producer from SIC Notícias, where she had previously interned, and was directed to meet a news crew atop the CBS Building in Midtown Manhattan, where she would go live in three hours. Before going on air, she was told, "Prepare yourself. The whole of Portugal is watching you."[3][4]

After receiving her degree from Columbia, van Zeller moved to London to work for a documentary producer, with hopes of covering the Iraq War.[citation needed] With London as her new base, she studied Arabic at Damascus University in Syria in order to better seek out stories in the Middle East.[citation needed] Over the next two years, her freelance documentaries from Syria appeared on PBS's Frontline/World, the CBC, and Channel 4 (United Kingdom).[citation needed] In 2005, she joined Current TV as a correspondent and producer for the Vanguard documentary series.[citation needed]

Van Zeller claims fluency in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, and French. She also speaks some Arabic.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Van Zeller is married to her former Columbia classmate Darren Foster, who is a series producer and director with National Geographic Channel. In July 2010, she gave birth to their child, a son named Vasco.[1]

She became an American citizen on March 17, 2015.[citation needed]


Cerissa Tanner, Benita Sills, Adam Yamaguchi, Joel Hyatt, van Zeller, and Darren Foster at the 69th Annual Peabody Awards for The OxyContin Express
  • Vanguard (2008–2013)
  • Narco Bling (2012)
  • Obama's Army
  • El Chapo: CEO of Crime (2013)
  • Inside: Secret America (2013), also known as Undercover USA
  • Pimp City: A Journey to the Center of the Sex Slave Trade (2014)
  • Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller (2020–2024)
  • Trafficked: Underworlds With Mariana van Zeller (2024)


Year Award Organization Work Category Result
2008 Livingston Award for Young Journalists Mollie Parnis Livingston Foundation Reporting on the Iran–Iraq border Best International Reporting Nominated[5]
2009 Webby Award International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences "Obama's Army" News & Politics: Individual Episodes Won[1][6]
2010 Peabody Award Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication "The OxyContin Express" Won[1][7]
2011 "Greatest Person of the Day" Huffington Post March 23, 2011 Won[8]
Livingston Award for Young Journalists Mollie Parnis Livingston Foundation "Rape on the Reservation" Won[9]

"The OxyContin Express" also received the 2010 Television Academy Honor, a Prism Award and an Emmy nomination.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Público—-interview (in Portuguese)
  2. ^ a b c Rua de Baixo—-interview (in Portuguese)
  3. ^ Goldman, Ari. "What have you learned in school today?". September 11, One Year Later. The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  4. ^ Van Dusen, Matt (June 4, 2002). "Reporting from Ground Zero". The Big Story/UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  5. ^ 13th Annual Webby Awards Archived 2011-08-15 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Webby Awards Winning Speeches". Archived from the original on 2011-08-15. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
  7. ^ "Current TV's Documentary Series 'Vanguard' Receives 69th Annual Peabody Award and 2010 Television Academy Honor" (Press release).
  8. ^ "In Search Of The Underdog's Story". Huffington Post. March 21, 2011.
  9. ^ "Livingston Awards - About". Archived from the original on 2010-08-11. Retrieved 2011-06-13.

External links[edit]