Megan Rapinoe Explains How HBO Special Aims to "Make Politics Cool"

Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images

The athlete and activist talked about how her 'Seeing America' interviews will help people see that "politics is engaging with you whether you're engaging with it or not."

U.S. women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe shared details about her HBO Sports special, Seeing America With Megan Rapinoe, during her Tuesday night appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

The Olympian and activist revealed what viewers can expect out of her half-hour interview special, which features guests Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Patriot Act host and comedian Hasan Minhaj, and Nikole Hannah-Jones, the journalist behind The New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project.

"Our lives are political in so many ways," Rapinoe told Fallon. "So [this is] trying to break it down for people and making it a little bit more relatable, and then getting people energized about getting involved in the civic process and getting involved in just being more active in their communities — but also for themselves."

Rapinoe explained that the mission of her special, airing Saturday, Aug. 1, at 10 p.m. on HBO, is to "make politics cool." She said the program would also highlight how issues like politics and voting are not as detached from people's everyday lives or experiences, especially for Black, Black trans and gay Americans, as some think.

"I feel like politics is always … packaged like, 'Oh, this is not this cool thing. It's difficult to get involved in. Just like, kind of stay out of it,'" Rapinoe said. "Then people are like, 'Well, I don't really want to get involved,' but it's like, 'Actually, politics is engaging with you whether you're engaging with it or not — all the time, no matter what.'"

During her visit, Fallon also broached the recent shift in professional athletes protesting during games and events amid the current Black Lives Matter protests. Rapinoe first took a knee in 2016 to support former NFL player and activist Colin Kaepernick and was the first non-NFL athlete to do so. The soccer star says that since then, more people have begun to "connect the dots" between the messages of the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, including those in professional U.S. sports.

"I think we've seen whats happened to Colin over all of these years and how much backlash he's got, but then all of these things coming to fruition — literally what he's talking about being played out for all of us to see in these videos [depicting police brutality]," Rapinoe said.

She also attributed the shift in part to the pandemic, which has "laid bare a lot of the lies that we're told" about health care funding and government budgets, she said. "My hope is that people are starting to connect the dots and realizing that we don't have to live in a world like this." 

Watch the full segment below.