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A documentary airing Friday on PBS that honors 15 women who have "created and defined contemporary culture" includes three women who hail from the Chicago area.
United Airlines pilot Nia Wordlaw, who has lived in Bellwood and Willowbrook, joins Chicago native Shonda Rhimes, Glen Ellyn native Laurie Anderson, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, actress Edie Falco and others in "American Masters: The Women's List." The documentary airs at 9 p.m. on PBS.
"I know what they're thinking. They're happy. They're happy to see me because they don't see someone that looks like me flying an airplane like the one I fly," Wordlaw, 39, says in the documentary's trailer.
In a 2006 Ebony magazine interview, Wordlaw said she knew she wanted to be a pilot after attending space camp but she had never seen a black female pilot until she met a United Airlines pilot at the local funeral for Janet Harmon Bragg, the first black woman in the country to earn a full commercial pilot's license. Bragg died in Blue Island in 1993.
Wordlaw also credited the Young Eagles children's aviation program at the former Meigs Field for growing her interest in flying in a 2001 interview with the Tribune. She now lives in Pearland, Tex.
Rhimes, who attended school in Chicago Heights, is the brains behind TV shows "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away with Murder."
Anderson, a performance artist who attended Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn, is scheduled to have her documentary "Heart of a Dog" screened at the Chicago International Film Festival next month.
"American Masters" is in its 29th season on PBS.