What to Know About Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

She made history with her White House press briefing.

Karine Jean-Pierre made history as the second-ever Black woman to lead a formal White House press briefing, and the first Black woman to do it in more than three decades, CBS News reports. She is currently President Biden's no. 2 press aide, under press secretary Jen Psaki, officially the principal deputy press secretary, and has lead smaller press conferences with the traveling media on Air Force One, but Wednesday, May 26 marked the first time that she took the podium inside the James S. Brady Briefing Room and lead a formal briefing.

Karine Jean-Pierre
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

"It's a real honor to be standing here today. I appreciate the historic nature, I really do. But I believe that being behind this podium, being in this room, being in this building, is not about one person. It's about what we do on behalf of the American people," she said. "Clearly the president believes that representation matters, and I appreciate him giving me this opportunity, and it's another reason why I think we're all so proud that this is the most diverse administration in history."

On Twitter, Psaki called Jean-Pierre a "partner in truth" and noted the historic nature of today's briefing, writing that it was "a big day in the press office and @WhiteHouse."

Jean-Pierre was born on Martinique, a French island territory. Her parents are of Haitian descent and she grew up in New York. She is also openly gay.

Out Magazine wrote that she was also "the first Black person and first out lesbian to hold that position for a vice-presidential nominee."

"As a Black gay immigrant who comes from a working-class family, I know that America hasn't always worked for everyone," Jean-Pierre said. "And I know that America still doesn't work for everyone. The truth of the matter is we have a long way to go. But that's what I'm working toward: mobilizing people around this shared vision of what an America that works for everyone could look like — and then making it happen."

Prior to serving under President Biden, Jean-Pierre was chief of staff to Vice President Kamala Harris during the 2020 campaign. Jean-Pierre also worked with the Obama administration and was a spokesperson for MoveOn.org.

Before Jean-Pierre's landmark briefing, Judy Smith, one of President George H.W. Bush's deputy press secretaries — and the inspiration for Scandals Olivia Pope, according to Entertainment Tonight — was the first Black woman to lead a formal White House press briefing back in 1991.

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