Lauren Sánchez on going to space, philanthropy and trying to bring light to the world


For four years, Lauren Sanchez has been quietly working behind the scenes to help Amazon founder Jeff Bezos strategically give away his vast wealth to a variety of causes.

In their first interview as a couple at their sprawling Washington, DC home, Sanchez got candid about her philanthropic projects, space travel and what makes her relationship with Bezos work so seamlessly.

Last week, the couple awarded country music legend Dolly Parton as the third recipient of the Bezos Courage & Civility Award, a $100 million grant to a person they believe is trying to make the world a better place.

“The work we’re doing with the Bezos Prize for Courage and Civility I think needs to have a voice,” Sanchez said. “And the people that we’ve chosen so far, Van Jones, Jose Andres, Dolly Parton, they all have these stories to tell. I’m just honored to be a part of what they’re doing for this world.”

Sanchez, 52, a former Emmy Award-winning journalist who was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, cites her humble beginnings as why she wants to give back. The mother of three said she donated $1 million to This Is About Humanity, which helped build educational learning spaces for migrant children on the US-Mexico border, and said she visited migrant families on a recent trip to the border.

Lauren Sanchez visits the US-Mexico border.

Sanchez also serves as vice president of the Bezos Earth Fund and traveled to Colombia and the West African nation of Gabon as the couple fulfills their $10 billion pledge to help Africa’s restoration movement, fight climate change and preserve nature

Sanchez’s passion for giving back, whether through her efforts to create tuition-free Montessori-inspired preschools for underprivileged children with the Bezos Academy, or by writing a check to Parton, comes at a time when Americans they are divided on many issues.

Sanchez and Bezos said they wanted to bring “some light” to people who use unity instead of conflict to solve problems. “We wanted to amplify their voices because voices that are really negative seem to be amplified in this world,” she said.

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Courtesy of Lauren Sanchez

Bezos, who founded aerospace manufacturer and space flight services company Blue Origin, has said he is creating a path to space and believes everyone who wants to go there will do so in their lifetime.

“I do [believe space travel will be attainable for everyone]. Let me give you an example. The Wright brothers flew this small plane, only a few hundred meters. And if you told the Wright brothers a hundred years from now, there will be a 787 carrying 400 people, they would laugh,” Bezos said.

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Courtesy of Lauren Sanchez

Sanchez said she, too, intends to go into space in 2023. When asked who she plans to take with her, she said with a smile, “It’s going to be a great group of women.”

During the interview, admiration for the normally private couple was on full display, with Bezos at one point saying, “Lauren is the most generous, biggest-hearted person you’ll ever meet. So she’s an inspiration to that way. She never misses a birthday. The network of people she gives birthday presents to is gigantic. And that’s just a small example.”

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Yui Mok/PA Images/Getty Images

The duo also joked that their typical Saturday night is… well, pretty typical.

“We can be a little boring,” Sanchez laughed. “I’d say normal. We have dinner with the kids. That’s always fun and great conversation. There’s seven of us, so there’s a lot of discussion. And then we watch a movie … on commission. It takes a lot of time to find this movie.”

“We probably spend more time choosing the movie than we need to,” Bezos smiled.

When they’re not working on their charitable initiatives, Sanchez says, they love to take to the skies closer to earth. A licensed pilot, Sanchez founded Black Ops Aviation in 2016, the first female-owned and operated aerial film and production company with a focus on television and film.

“I’ve also learned to fly the helicopter,” Bezos said, laughing. “And she’s a horrible backseat rider. She’s terrible!”

“I’ve noticed that when I’m in the back of the helicopter when he’s flying, I just have to look out the window and enjoy the scenery,” laughed Sanchez. “I’m like, ‘No, no. Lift up. well OK, slow down. But it’s very good.”

As for what makes your relationship work?

“We’re really great teammates and we also have a lot of fun together,” Sanchez said. “And we love each other… We always look out for each other and we’re the team.”

Bezos added: “It’s easy. We bring each other energy, we respect each other. So it’s fun to work together.”

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