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Brianna Keilar


Fact of the Matter

By Leslie Paxton

Photography by Greg Powers


Brianna Keilar’s no-nonsense style has made her a must-watch national news source.

If you want to meet one of America’s most interesting people of the past year, say hello to former O.C. local Brianna Keilar. CNN’s senior Washington correspondent unflinchingly covered the 2016 election, earning kudos from Politico as one of the year’s breakout media stars and Time magazine for one of the 10 TV Moments That Mattered (more on that later).

In October, Keilar aired an emotional video describing the unexpected loss of her mother during the campaign. (Miriam Keilar, a teacher from Mission Viejo, often offered gentle critiques by text: “Can I critique you in an I’m-your-biggest-fan manner? Can you say yes instead of yeah when Wolf [Blitzer] asks you a question?”) The piece further endeared Keilar to viewers. And the day before New Year’s Eve, she married Fernando Lujan, who works at the National Security Council. Quite a year for Mission Viejo High School’s 1997 homecoming queen.

Keilar launched her career in Yakima, Wash., and a steady rise through the ranks brought her to CNN 11 years ago. Her viral moment came in August: She questioned Donald Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, about a leadership shake-up and downturn in the campaign. “Says who?” Cohen challenged.

“Polls,” she answered. “Most of them. All of them.”

Five seconds of awkward silence ensued before Cohen asked again, “Says who?”

“Polls,” she replied. “I just told you.”

You’d have to give Keilar’s mom some credit for that exchange: “My mom was very no-nonsense... and she imparted to me a low tolerance for it.”

Husband Fernando, The Crown on Netflix, Tribe by Sebastian Junger, dry needling for muscle knots, balayage

Culottes, airplane seats that don’t recline, online trolling, decaf coffee 

Brianna Keilar portrait shot on location at The Watergate Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Originally published in the March issue of Modern Luxury Orange County