What is Soledad O’Brien’s ‘Next Big Story?’

By Chris Ariens 

“This is not a boxing documentary,” says CNN’s Soledad O’Brien about her latest “Latino in America” doc set to air Sunday night at 8pmET/PT. Rather, O’Brien says, it’s a story of one Mexican-American family’s fight to help their daughter reach the pinnacle of her sport: which happens to be boxing.

TVNewser attended a screening Tuesday of “In Her Corner.” In it, O’Brien traces the U.S. Olympic dreams of female flyweight fighter Marlen Esparza. Women’s boxing will appear for the first time at next summer’s London games. This story shows how Esparza — and other young women, mostly of color, from blue collar backgrounds — punch and jab their way to the top.

After the screening, we asked Esparza what she thought of CNN’s months-long look at her life. “I was worried at first,” said Esparza as cameras captured both the private and public fights she endures. “I think, overall, I’m happy with the outcome,” says the petite brunette and 5-time national champion.

O’Brien continues to work on her “In America” documentaries, including a third “Latino in America,” this time with a political focus, set for 2012. “We’re profiling the Castro brothers,” O’Brien tells us. Joaquin, a Texas state representative, and his twin, Julián, who is the mayor of San Antonio.

And while O’Brien continues criss-crossing the country shooting documentaries, there are the reports she may return to anchoring CNN mornings. Without confirming our report last week, O’Brien says she is committed to her “In America” reporting while admitting mornings are “great real estate” for an anchor. It’s been a busy 2011 for O’Brien: from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, to her documentaries on Blair Mountain, the Women of 9/11, and “In America.” After her latest “Black in America” installment in November, O’Brien, author of “The Next Big Story,” will try to take a few weeks off. After that we may be seeing even more of the CNN stalwart as her story continues to be written.