Who is Marianne Williamson? Best-selling author joins 2020 presidential race

Best-selling author, motivational speaker and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson announced Monday her plans to run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

“I want to engage voters in a more meaningful conversation about America -- about our history, about how each of us fit into it and how to create a sustainable future,” Williamson said. “Our national challenges are deep, but our political conversation is shallow.”

Here are some things to know about Williamson:

  • Williamson was born in 1952 in Houston. Her mother was a housewife and her father was an immigration lawyer. She has two siblings.
  • Williamson said she was searching for spiritual understanding in her mid-20s when she read "A Course in Miracles," a 1976 book that she described as "a self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy based on universal spiritual themes." She launched her career lecturing about the book's teachings. "My career has not been a traditional one, but it has been successful," Williamson said on her campaign website. "I have been a teacher of transformational wisdom, a successful business woman and a political activist." She has a number of followers among Hollywood's elite and counts Oprah Winfrey among her personal friends, the Los Angeles Times reported.
  • Williamson has penned 12 books, seven of which became New York Times bestsellers. Her titles include 1992's "A Return to Love" and 1997's "Healing the Soul of America."
  • In 1990, Williamson founded the nonprofit Project Angel Food to help people in California's Los Angeles County. The project initially served meals-on-wheels to people homebound with AIDS, though it has since expanded to serve people affected by any life-threatening illnesses. Project Angel Food delivers more than 500,000 meals free-of-charge each year, according to the foundation.
  • Williamson ran in 2013 for a seat in California's 33rd Congressional District on a campaign that promised to "heal" Washington, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She finished fourth in the race, the entertainment news site reported. She later told Oprah, "(The experience) taught me what I should have already known: To only listen to myself. "With politics, there were some technical things I didn't know. So, I didn't know that I could just ignore them and do what I thought."
  • Williamson has a wide social media presence with over 2.6 million followers on Twitter, 730,000 followers on Facebook, 347,000 followers on Instagram and tens of thousands of followers on YouTube.