Profession: Journalist; Anchor and executive editor, Global National News
Notable achievements: Launched her journalism career in 1985 at a newspaper in Portage la Prairie before working at radio and TV stations in Brandon, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg; worked in Toronto at CTV as a national correspondent, anchor and back-up host for Canada AM; foreign correspondent and anchor for NBC, based in London, for 11 years; won an Emmy award for her part in NBC's coverage of U.S President Barack Obama's election campaign;
Upcoming: Co-hosting Global's live coverage special: Wills & Kate: The Royal Wedding on Friday, April 29, from 5 to 10 a.m. EDT; hosting the 14th annual Canadian Journalism Foundation Annual Awards Gala on June 7.
She has covered major international news stories from the war in Afghanistan to the fall of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia.
After leaving her post as foreign correspondent and anchor for NBC, Dawna Friesen is back in Canada as the face of Global National news. The award-winning journalist is gutsy and isn't afraid to take the path less travelled - even when it comes to her car. Friesen just bought a 2011 Kia Soul.
Why did you buy a Kia Soul?
I'm not much of a car person. It doesn't consume me.
So when I moved back to Vancouver I had to rent a car. By chance, [it was]a Kia Soul and I really liked it. …
I did a bit of research online and discovered it had a good safety rating, which is important to me because I have a six-year-old son who will be in it a lot.
I like the look of it. I like the size of it. It's a relatively small car, but it's well designed so it's got a lot of room. It's something a bit different - it's not run-of-the-mill.
It's not the most peppy engine in the whole wide world. It could use a bit more oomph. It's a 2-litre engine, which is pretty good, but it doesn't have the greatest powertrain in it. But that's okay. I use it mostly for city driving. I'm not looking to race in it.
Did you cross shop with a Mini Cooper or a Toyota Scion?
I didn't look at the Scion because I don't like the look of them. I think they're a little boxy and not very interesting.
I did look at a Honda CR-V and a Honda Fit. I had a Honda in London, which I really liked, but Honda doesn't make the same models here. They're a bit different. They didn't have what I wanted.
People were saying to me, 'Oh you got to get a Lexus SUV.' Oh, I don't think I do. I need something a lot smaller than that.
I'm a bit of an anti-SUV person. I can't bring myself to drive an SUV after years of living in Europe where people drive small, fuel-efficient cars. The price of petrol is about twice the price here so there's much more awareness about how much you spend.
I couldn't bring myself to get some huge, honking car and there are a lot of them here, my Lord. And frankly, how many people actually need an SUV to buy their groceries?"
What does a Kia Soul say about you?
My favourite car that I owned is a Mini. I had one in London when the new Mini first came out. I loved that car and I don't know what that would say about me. It was cute and fun to drive. When they came out they were a bit unconventional. Now, they're everywhere, of course.
Maybe that's the same thing with the Kia Soul. It's practical and I'm very practical, but it's also kind of fun, unusual and a bit distinctive.
Is it an automatic or standard transmission?
I ended up going with an automatic. I used to only drive a standard transmission. But they had one on the lot that was red and automatic and I thought I could take it right now so I did.
What was your first car?
A 1979 Dodge Omni. After I bought it, I discovered it was the worst car of the year.
I didn't have the Internet back then so I couldn't do a Google search. I should have checked the Lemon-Aid book, but I wasn't that smart.
It was a cute serviceable little car, but I had to get a valve job done within three months of buying it. I drove it into the ground and ended up selling it for $500.
The second car I owned was a 1986 Nissan 200SX - 1986 was the year of the talking car.
I loved that car - it was a female voice. I felt I was with someone in the car and she would tell me, "Your door is open," "Your keys are in the ignition" - all these little reminders.
I totally relied on her. Even though there was a fuel gauge, I never looked at it because she would always tell me, "Your fuel level is low." One day she just stopped talking so I ran out of gas because she didn't tell me!
What do you prefer buying, new or used?
Until this one, I've never bought a new car.
I have this thing about not buying new cars because you drive them off the lot and they immediately devalue so I would always buy used ones. My parents told me it was wise.
If I could bring you the keys to any vehicle what would it be?
I would love to drive anything like a Ferrari or Lamborghini - the latest model and just go somewhere on the highway where no one is going to stop me. … But my fear is I'd get into one of those and I'd never want to drive anything else.
What's your best and worst driving memory?
I started driving when I was six - just on the farm in Manitoba, not on the road.
My dad put blocks on the pedals. I couldn't even see over the dashboard. I could see between the steering wheel and the dashboard.
You couldn't see anyone sitting in there and one time when my parents had friends over I was driving in the yard and the friend yelled out, "My God - your car is rolling down the driveway!" And my dad said, "Oh no, that's just Dawna."
When I went into Baghdad when Saddam Hussein was still in power you had to drive from Amman, Jordan, to Baghdad through the desert. I wasn't driving myself because we had drivers. It's a 12-hour drive and you have to go straight through with no stopping along the way. I love the desert and the area. Same thing with being in Afghanistan, I love driving in those places that are just so vast. For a Canadian, it's just so foreign.
I've had some hairy vacations driving through Italy - I think that's probably the worst place I've driven in terms of fearing for my life.
The interview has been edited and condensed.