INTERNATIONAL RJF GRANTEE
Monica Villamizar is a freelance on-air reporter and producer who was awarded two Emmy Awards (2017 and 2018) for Best Investigative Documentary. She was nominated for the prestigious One World Media "Journalist of the Year 2015" Award, which honors the best journalists in the world in all forms of media.
She produced a Showtime documentary series on immigration, directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Matthew Heineman. Her clients include PBS NewsHour, Al Jazeera English, VICE, Univision, Telemundo, and The Weather Channel. Previously, she was the London correspondent for CBS News.
Villamizar has traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Mali, Mexico, El Salvador, and Haiti, at times filming directly on the front lines. She has covered the war on drugs in Colombia and Mexico, gaining exclusive access to cocaine cartels in Medellin and Michoacan. She covered the Arab spring, the war against ISIS, the Iraqi Kurdistan, and the advance of jihadism in West Africa.
In her attempts to tell truthful, hard-hitting stories, Villamizar was targeted by the Egyptian military, which raided her office in Cairo and arrested her colleagues, and the Venezuelan government, which labeled her a spy and issued an arrest warrant for her.
In the case in Venezuela, the editorial board of The New York Times backed her as a reporter, denouncing the Maduro government. This ignited her interest and active involvement in "Freedom of the Press" campaigns. She has been a board member of the Frontline Freelance Register, which protects and promotes the integrity of Freelance conflict reporters all over the world. She does multiple speaking engagements at American universities and has hosted a Q&A with film director Ethan Coen.
Villamizar was born in Austin, Texas. Her father, Rodrigo Villamizar, was an expert in the oil and energy industry, which led to her deep curiosity for investigative journalism and environmental issues. Her interest soon grew to include conflict zones because of the growing war on drugs in her parents' homeland of Colombia.
Graduating both with a master's degree in political science from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques and a philosophy degree from The American University of Paris, Villamizar then went on to work at the UNESCO before beginning her professional career in journalism. Besides her native Spanish, she speaks French, English, and Japanese.
She's filmed in some of the most beautiful places in the world, including Angel Falls, the Sahara desert, the Egyptian pyramids, Alaska, and the Hindu Kush mountains. When the Chilean mine collapse occurred, Villamizar was the only reporter who managed to send a small video camera to the miners and gain exclusive footage before their rescue. She also covered hurricanes Maria and Harvey, the 2008 presidential elections through the inauguration, the Haiti earthquake, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the BP oil spill, and the London Olympics.
Villamizar has interviewed the Dalai Lama, Condoleezza Rice, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bill Clinton, and the presidents of Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia, and Uruguay. She has also interviewed Nicolas Sierra, leader of Viagras Mexican Cartel, while he was in hiding, Bilal Ag Acherif, leader of Malian separatist movement MNLA, and FARC guerrilla female commander Yuheni Izquierdo.