All Episodes

June 3, 2020 37 mins

Nina Lorez Collins has created an online space where women over 40 can share everything from their deepest secrets and fears to their favorite reads, bras, and investment tips. In this episode, we discuss how the powerful sisterhood within TheWoolfer.com became the basis of her book, What Would Virginia Woolf Do? and her latest surprising success. #Woolfer #RagingGracefully #AgeWithoutApology #Roadie

Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mark as Played
Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:08):
I'm sure you feel the same way. That there are
a lot of ways unlike my mother, and I think
it's been um it's been helpful for them to have
more context, and now that my mother is kind of
well known, I think it probably just adds a whole
other dimension to understanding their own mother. Thanks for joining

(00:32):
us on the road to somewhere where we talk about exploration, adventure,
major life change and transformation. It's about not necessarily knowing
where we're going, but having faith that the journey will
be worthwhile. I'm Lisa Oz and I'm Jill Herzig, and
we came across our guest today. I came across our
guest today in in a way that I can't even

(00:55):
completely recall, which is that at some point, when it
was years ago, when I would get into a really
great conversation with a female friend and we were really
hitting on something that was personal and important, you know,
the kind of pay dirt conversations that it can take

(01:16):
half a bottle of wine to get to. Time after time,
I kept hearing, you know, what, if we need answers,
we should go to what would Virginia wolf do? And
I would say we should go to what and half
a bottle in it. It took me a while to
actually go to what would Virginia wolf Do? But it
was it was an interesting thing where it felt like

(01:38):
the universe was telling me there is a place you
need to go to sort out the tough stuff. I
gotta say I had not had those conversations. I never
heard of what would Virginia wolf Do? But our guest
today has started this website, this community called the wolfla
dot com, and she has a book called what would

(01:58):
Virginia wolf Do? Which I thought was something literary, but
it's it's also and other questions I asked myself as
I attempt to age without apology, And I have to
say this. I'm just gonna admit, Nina Laura's cons thank
you for being here. But I have to admit I'm
so girl crushing on you right now because I read
your book and one sitting and I was like, this
girl has to be my friend. You're so sweet, And

(02:21):
then I realized there's this whole community, the Wolford dot
com of women I now want to be my friends.
Actually killed when you were describing, um, you know, one
of those kind of conversations. Literally, I thought in my head, Oh,
I have those conversations all day long, every day. That's
that's actually your life, and in a weird way it
I think it might take a special constitution to be

(02:41):
able to handle that, right, Yeah, maybe I have to say.
It's been a funny journey. And there have been moments.
I always tell this. I mean, the audience doesn't know
our whole story. But there was this one moment after
I published my book, when our group on Facebook was
growing really rapidly, and one of our mentor moderators called me.
I was in the Dallas Airport, rushing to go somewhere
for a book appearance, and she called crying, and she

(03:04):
was like, I hate all women. Like we had reached
this moment where we were. There were moments where we
were so inundated by everyone's conversation and thoughts that we
weren't sure we could keep up. Alright, So now things
are calm for everybody to understand, we should back it
up and you should tell us how you started this
Facebook group okay, called what would Virginia Wolf Do? Yeah,
and then I'll also tell Lisa about the name and

(03:25):
everyone about the name. So I'm fifty now and when
I was forty six, uh so almost five years ago. I, UM,
my period had been getting a little spotty. UM, I
was in like a not great second marriage, my kids
were all kind of starting to leave the house, and um,
I suddenly stopped sleeping well. And I had been a
great sleeper my whole life, like even through four kids

(03:46):
and everything. And suddenly I was like waking up at
four am, straight, bolt awake, like not even anxious, just
could not go back to sleep. I don't know if
this has happened to either of you, but it's very common.
And um, I googled it. I was kind of worried,
and I googled and realized that I was paramenopause. And
I didn't really know what paramenopause was. Um, and I
found this really funny website that listed thirty three symptoms

(04:07):
and one of them was impending sense of doom. That
was really funny and kind of awful. And so at
the time, I was like a big Facebook user, and
so I posted on my Facebook page something, you know, witty, like,
did you know that impending sense of doom is a
documented symptom of paramenopause? And all my smart girlfriends kind
of chimed in and we had this funny conversation in

(04:28):
which we said, maybe we should have our own place
to talk about this kind of stuff. Um. And we
joked there and my friend Margaret Lee throughout the name
what would Virginia Wolf Do? So the name is basically
because most of my friends are really smart feminists and
a lot of big readers and writers. Um. And at
the time, I was in a graduate program at Columbia
and something called narrative Medicine, and I was reading a
lot of Virginia Wolf. And the joke is that Virginia Wolf,

(04:50):
of course killed herself in her fifties. Um, we're not
trying to make light of suicide. It was just us
being kind of witty and goofy. And at the time
I thought that was like the funniest thing I'd ever
heard heard. And so about two weeks ago, two weeks later,
I was in a motel room in Minnesota. I was
at my son's hockey tournament, and my two of my
daughters were with me and they were being kind of
probably not mean to me, but ignoring me. And we've

(05:12):
been shopping that day and yeah, that doesn't even qualify,
you know, we were all like I remember, we were
all the same size more or less, and we were
shopping and everything of course looked so different on them.
I was just feeling old and pathetic. And it was
literally like midnight in a like a motel six in Minnesota,
and I created this group. I was like, what the hell,
I'll just invite my friends so we can talk about
the way we feel. Until we called it what would

(05:34):
Virginia Wolf do um? And then it just grew really unexpectedly.
And you and I know a million. Jill and I
know a lot of people in common because we're both
in Brooklyn, so it doesn't surprise me. It came up,
and it was very funny for a while, like it
was just a folly, but I would like go to
cocktail parties or people would whisper and be like, oh,
I'm in the group too, and it became like this
really funny girl secret place for us to talk about.

(05:56):
And it was quickly kind of health relationship, sex, books,
feminism and basically it really took over my life. I'm
an entrepreneur, I've had two businesses, um, but I've never
had kind of an organic experience like this in my life.
I was not setting out to start a business. Um
and I very reluctantly, like a year in to kind
of justify spending all my time on Facebook, I wrote

(06:19):
a book proposal, almost as a resort to kind of
not start a website or an event business or something else,
because I thought, this isn't really a business, but it's
so compelling I can't stop doing it. Um And because
I come from book publishing, I kind of thought, well,
if I can write a book proposal and sell it,
then that will like give me something to do while
I'm spending all my time on Facebook. UM. So I

(06:39):
sold the book when we had around twelve hundred women,
and then kind of the opposite of what I expected happened.
It just grew and grew the Trump election pant suit nation.
We've got a lot of people coming in during that period.
I added moderators. We started adding things organically, like events
like a bunch of us went to baby Land and
bud vibrators, or we'd invite an author and come of

(07:00):
a reading. We got Sandra sang Loo to come to
New York and do it for us. She was so great. Um.
We started doing a podcast called Reaging Gracefully because we
thought it would be fun, like it really was very organic.
But then suddenly suddenly we had thirty two women. Suddenly
it was like three or four years later and we
had all these women all over the world, and we
had thirty seven I think groups on Facebook because we

(07:23):
kind of like in the beginning, you could post and
be like, I'm going to Paris with my boyfriend. Where
should I stay? But then once the group got really big,
those posts started to clog up the feed. So we
created Wolf for Travel, and we created Wolf for money matters,
and Wolf for New York and Wolf for l A.
And Facebook is like is a flat landscape, so we
would have to go in and out of all these groups.

(07:44):
I mean, by the end, it really became a little
bit of an of a monster, like in a fun way.
But we had fifteen volunteer moderators um running the main group,
and then we had like seventy volunteer moderators running all
the sub groups. Like it became the whole thing, but
we didn't. But the thing, the thing grew like the

(08:05):
blob because something very profound was happening. And even though
the name, you know, what would Virginia wolf do is
kind of tongue in cheek. What my time in the
group kind of showed me was that there was a
reality to the thinking that if Virginia Wolf had had
a place like this, she wouldn't necessarily have left us. Yes, exactly, exactly, yeah,

(08:31):
or you know sometimes because one gets discussed. Yes, there's
some travel, and there's some there's some you know, help
me with this, and I've got a skin problem. But
there's also really um deep painful stuff that is being
excavated and the impending, a lot of mental health, a

(08:51):
lot of a lot of relationships, sex relationship, relationship with children,
relationship with aging parents, relationship ships with our friends. We
have an anonymous feature which one of my daughters taught
me how to make UM early on UM so that women,
because increasingly as the community grew, some women will know
a lot of people in there. There are kind of

(09:12):
two types, so the women started organically calling themselves Wolfers,
which is why we're now called the wolfer Um. When
we left Facebook last fall, we changed our name and um.
But there are two types of women who women who
join and invite all their friends, and women who join
and don't invite anyone because they really wanted to be
like their private space, like a confessional where they can

(09:34):
be online and where they can get Really the women
the one of the we're very egalitarian. We want all
sorts of women in there. It is primarily a liberal
leading group, but we really want all sorts of women.
But the common denominators. The women are really quite smart.
Like we just did a geographical i mean a demographic
study and I think over half have master's degrees or above,

(09:57):
which is really cool. So you're getting really good advice
from women with a lot of experience all over the country,
coming from all different perspectives. Um. And you have to
really you know, we say what happens in the group
stays in the group, and you know, we were very
serious about that. There have been occasional infractions where we
remove people because they have you know, talked in you

(10:17):
know whatever about people's private stories. UM. So yeah, it
definitely clearly hit on a nerve and um. And it's
a moment in general and our culture where people are
talking more about menopause and more honestly about menopause. And
you even have Gwyneth Paltrow talking about menopause. So um,
it's a good moment. In that way. We started almost

(10:38):
five years ago, and it does feel like there's a
bit of a trend right now. Um, but I think
we're the only place essentially what we're kind of we
So we left Facebook last fault because we couldn't really
figure out how to successfully monetize it on Facebook, and
it had become really a full time job. I hired
an assistant. We kind of felt like we were working
for Zuckerberg essentially, So we decided to build our own app,

(11:00):
leave Facebook, turn it into a subscription model. So it's
thirty five dollars a year, um, and we have a
website and a weekly newsletter and by the way, thirty
five dollars a year for therapy. No, it's not so bad. No,
it's pretty great. And I know what I was about
to say. So there are a lot of women now
in this space, this kind of midlife space, which is amazing,
and I know a lot of them obviously, and I'm
interested in you know, the podcasts and event groups and

(11:22):
you know a lot of content. Um, But I'm pretty
sure we're the only we are kind of looking at
ourselves now. Is like the Facebook for a certain kind
of women over forty that if we can grow this.
It's um, you do have to. It's not right for everyone.
Some women will come in and it's like way too candid,
or some women sometimes say that they feel a little
intimidated by like the candor or the level of discourse.

(11:45):
Not that we're very high low. We talked about lipstick
and we talk about schizophrenia. I mean, we're not snobs
in that way. Um, but it does take a certain
kind of woman who's willing to kind of jump into
the conversation. We also have a lot of lurkers, people
who just read um the number and I'm sorry, feel
like I'm dominating the conversation. One super interesting thing I find,

(12:06):
and it's really the reason I've stuck with it, is
like I traveled across country last year and I met
Wolfers all across the country. Every time I meet someone
from the community A, I almost always instantly connect. It's interesting.
It's like we have an instant sense of intimacy and
I really like them, um but be They always tell
me that the group makes them feel normal, it makes
them feel not alone, and it's it's really amazing how

(12:28):
true that seems to be. And like all different kinds
of women. You know, I meet women in their seventies
and women in their forties, and people find something there
that UM is very reassuring, which is great. We come back,
I want to dig a little deeper into what women
are going to find there. Before the break, we were

(12:55):
chatting with Nina Laura's Collins about her website, the wolfer
dot com and the community of men UM and I
want to just just to ask you a little bit
about the specific kinds of conversations and and your book
as well. What would written your wolf do. It's so
intimate and so um personal the stories that you share,
so I want to just ask you how was there

(13:19):
some conversation that you had either online or um through
interviewing people for the books, they actually changed the way
you saw yourself as a woman over forty UM. I
think I think the biggest change I've experienced for myself
is I've learned. I've learned so much from these women,
So I think it is definitely when I started the community,

(13:41):
I was feeling kind of depressed, kind of wondering if
I'd ever really work again or have a career sex
sex success again. UM. I was worried about irrelevance. The
group has made me feel much more powerful because the
women are so impressive and so great and so wise
even when we're not right, even when we're horribly depressed
and miserable. Like I've like, we have a daily exercise thread,

(14:05):
we have a food and fitness subgroup, and there are
a few women who post every single day, and and
you know, so like, we don't want to kind of
glorify dieting and complaining about our bodies, but we also
want a space where women can and look at these
these women who don't they share so much right of
themselves and of their frustrations and of their successes, and
it really has inspired me. So I don't think i've

(14:28):
in terms of the candor in the group. I've always
been someone who's really comfortable with candor, and I think
that that is part of the success of the community,
that I've established this tone of there's nothing to be
ashamed of. We really can share, and in sharing will
be stronger. And I think I also have a masters
and narrative medicine I referred to before, which is kind

(14:50):
of about the about the way we talk about death
and dying and loss and transition. So I'm a big
believer in expressing ourselves to heal and kind of get
through things. So the writing that people actually do in
the community I think is really valuable. Um So, on
that front, I wouldn't say I've learned more. I've more
kind of proven it to myself that it really is true. Um,

(15:11):
but I definitely have. I mean, I've gained a huge
amount from the women in terms of like really seeing
how strong and capable and funny and um, you know,
resilient and resourceful we all are, and some of us
aren't as resilient and that's a problem, I do think resilience.
It's made me realize how essential resilience is. Yeah, there's

(15:32):
this whole strain of aging talk that women engage in
that I think is sort of self abnegating and funny
but really leans on negativity and um kind of almost

(15:52):
almost playing on your irrelevance as if it's a joke.
And it's such a different tone. I think that wolf
first take. But how would you describe, Like, what is
that different? I mean, I think it's a it's an
interesting point in a very fine line because I've sometimes
gotten criticized, you know, Ashton apple White who wrote um uh,
she's written a very successful book about aging. I can't

(16:15):
remember what it's called. I'm sorry, but she once was
in the community and criticized me for making fun of
these issues. And I really feel like there's a lot
of value in being able to laugh at yourself. Um,
and I don't like the whole kind of you go girl,
we're all fabulous. Everything is so great, you know, we're
sixty five and life couldn't be better. Like sometimes that's true,

(16:36):
but sometimes it's not true, Like there are real realities.
I have a friend right now who's in the hospital
and um, very very sick. It's a man, but he's
like seventy eight and he's had a very hard health
road and he and I have had really frank conversations
about his impending death, like he's probably gonna die soon ish,
and that sucks. It's like not like not everything is cheerful. Um,

(16:56):
So I I think we straddle that. It's the thing
I love about the communities that we really value the
funny and the kind of clever and the women who
who have great voices because you do. It's kind of
like when you're dealing with difficult teenagers like one of
the best things you can have when you're dealing with
difficult teenagers is a sense of humor. Right, you know

(17:17):
that it's mostly hopefully going to pass. A lot of
it is really really hard, but it is kind of funny,
like in the way that little babies are all the
same and little you know, sixteen year olds can be
all the same, and so so we believe in the
power of humor. But we also, really, most fundamentally, I think,
believe in the power of just being honest. I don't
know if that answers your question, but I don't think

(17:38):
there's another way of dealing with hitting middle ages woman
then with humor, because otherwise you just wallow in the
because you're not twenty anymore, and you can either be
in denial or you can be depressed. That's your third
option is to laugh about it, because become invisible. We've
talked about this before, right, if you can't make fun
of chin hair and like the fact that you have
to plug every day practically or back that. I mean,

(18:01):
there's so many things in continents not something I suffer
from yet, I mean, there are so many things. Husband
hijacked my magnifying mirror and put it in the shower
and I was like, what the hell is my magnifying
mirror doing stuck up in the shower and he said, well,
I'm using it for shaving. And I was like, you
know what, get your magnified get you know what, Dwayne

(18:22):
mead it's around the corner. Oh my god, mine is
that one of those big ones from Costco? And then
I travel it's a crisis because I can't bring it
with me, Like those things are great, But at some
point I think I don't want the magnifying mirror because
the best thing is to not have my context and
because I can't see all the goals. I'm on Zoom
meetings all the time, and I just this morning was

(18:44):
told that there is a feature that can make you
look younger no way on Zoom. Yes, and of course
I filter. It's a Zoom filter. And I work with
all these people who are in their twenties and thirties,
and those assholes never told me the person needs the thing.
I actually don't use filters on photos, and I don't

(19:05):
even know how I need to get I don't know
how to teach me that, but I just learned how
to do it on zoon and I'm going to anyway.
I digressed it, but that's the same. I think that's
part of being a woman over forties, that you're not
the same person that you were five and you gotta
like make it work. Yeah, And also there are a
lot of great things about getting older. There really truly
are like we are. I mean, I'm much happier than

(19:27):
I've ever been in my life. I think a lot
of women our age are having better sex. For example,
they really know what they want, they know how to
ask for it. I think the whole like we are
just wiser and that feels good. Like things don't throw
me as much as they used to. I'm much better
able to manage my moods and my stresses and um.
And so it's kind of like looking at the whole

(19:49):
picture and being able to manage the anxiety of getting
older with a sadness, with the nostalgia, the fear, illness, irrelevance,
works stuff like it's it's complicated, right, it's a big
it's a big bundle. And I think what's happened in
our community is that the women we kind of Um,
I'm not like much of a marketing person, but I

(20:11):
think of the now that we've moved off Facebook. It's
very different, right. Facebook is super addictive. Our app is
really good and it's developing and we really like it.
But it's I'm using it more intentionally. Actually, I really
kind of reclaimed my life in a lot of ways
since we left Facebook, which is great. But I really
think of it as like a girlfriend in my pocket,
Like I pull it out and go to the app
when I want to ask a question, when I want

(20:32):
to see what books people are recommending, when I want
to kind of hear other people's stories, when I want
to share my own, Like it's very much a I
do feel like I'm walking around with this community always
with me if I need them, and um, you know,
it's funny because I hear you about being intentional. But
one thing I really like about it is that people
aren't trying that hard. And it's a new mantra of mine.

(20:55):
Don't try so hard, try so hard. We're noticing is that, frankly,
people are nice, sir when they're paying, even when they're
paying a very small amount, which is good and bad.
I mean, you know, drama encourages engagement, and it's good
for engagement, but and I think as our numbers grow,
we'll probably have more of that and we'll have to
deal with it with moderating UM. Although that might that

(21:16):
might just be a little bit native to Facebook. It
maybe I don't know. I mean, we really didn't know
what it would feel like when we left, and we
certainly had a lot of people super disappointed we were
leaving UM and it's very hard to go from something
free to something charged, so it was it was traumatic
for everyone. But I've been really surprised how much happier
I am, like actually just in my life happier, Like
I just feel it's made me realize, like I'm not

(21:39):
going on Facebook. I go on for five minutes a daily,
and I have an assistant who manages our public account
and I'll check mine. But it's great. It really is great.
I think as we keep improving our tech and as
we keep you know, figuring out how to grow and
bringing more women into the wolf for it's it's exciting.
So if there's a listener out there who's twenty five
and you talked about the wisdom that comes with age,
what would you share with her that you've gotten from

(22:01):
this community that would help her navigate the next twenty
years that she's getting there. Yeah, it's a great question.
And actually it came up just this morning someone posted
and said, why aren't we creating a like Wolf for
PEPs group or a group your women. We think about
from time to time and how to do it, and
so I don't know if we'll do that one day,
but I would say so many things like you. I

(22:22):
have three daughters also over in their twenties, and I
would say it's not usually about you. Is one really
important thing. I would say, try if you can to
work for yourself as you get older, because I think
for women with children and just our lives. If you
if you have that kind of personality and you can
do it, it's probably a better way to to live.
I would say, try and make sure you have your

(22:42):
own money, um, and think about you know, not getting
into debt and ideally buying a first piece of real
estate young. If you can really practical things, um, you know,
I really think about how you want to be treated.
I mean, I think it's really hard for women to say,
like to to have boundaries, Like my boundaries are much
better now that I'm older than when I was younger.

(23:05):
You know, I was talking to my daughter last night
about just kind of always trying to live in some
like your own integrity, Like just know what's right for
you and what isn't right for you is a hard
thing for women of any age, of any age, you know,
to know what you want and what's okay and what's
not okay and just be able to say it without
it being some big thing. We came back, we're going
to talk about big things. Okay, So before the break

(23:39):
we hinted at talking about big things, and one of
the we're chatting with Nina Laura's Collins, and one of
the big things, Um, we just talked about googling. We
when we google you or your mom comes up. Um,
your mom, Kathleen Collins is a pioneer and the film
and media world. And one of the things I noticed,

(24:02):
I just sort of ironically, was that she was around
forty six when she passed away, and you were forty
six when you started. You're what would Virginia Wolf do? Community?
And I you never really saw your mother's example of
how she transitioned into a woman of a certain age,
and so maybe the community is a way for you

(24:24):
to get that modeling I don't know very it's very
You're right, it's very smart of you. I actually didn't
really notice it myself until I was on my book
tour and was answering a lot of questions and I
had this kind of aha moment where I realized that
I had. I had started the group. Is you know
for many when you've lost a parent. My mother died
when I was nineteen, and I think it's really common

(24:44):
for people who have lost a parent to kind of
spend all their life up and up until the age
their parents died, kind of dreading that age. Um. But
I also always kind of had her in my mind
until she was forty six, so as I was moving
along atto I kind of which her life was like.
And then I hit forty six, and I it was
actually very liberating. UM. Scary to get there, but once

(25:06):
I got there, it was very liberating because I in
a way it enabled me to say, like, now the
rest is unknown territory, and I'm going to figure it
out on my own. I don't have this model anymore. Um.
But I also didn't have any guides, and I do
think that that's I do think that played a part
and why I started the group. I certainly have tons

(25:28):
of advisors, and I love the older women in the community. UM.
We have some women in their eighties, which is amazing. UM.
So I don't think I think it was one of
those like cosmic not accidents, which is interesting. Talk a
little bit about her. So, my mom was um a
black UM filmmaker and writer. She um I was born

(25:50):
in New Jersey and was involved with Snick Student Non
Violent Coordinating Committee in the Civil rights movement. She went
to Skidmore. She was the first black woman to graduate
from Skidmore in sixty three, and she was a big
student activist. And then she went to Paris to get
a master's in UM film at the Sorbone. And when
she came back she started a career in film editing
and UH and teaching. She ended up as a professor

(26:13):
at City College. And she made two films, a short
shorter film, a fifty minute film called The Cruise Brothers
and Miss Malloy in one when I was twelve nine
eight UM and then Losing Ground in two UM and
Losing Ground is that really one of the first features
by a black woman in America. And she wrote and

(26:34):
directed it and unlike the Cruise Brothers. She just adapted.
So Losing Ground is the film she's known for. And um,
it's the story of a black female philosophy professor and
the summer in the in her life when her marriage
to an artist is kind of um under a lot
of stress. And it's kind of a dramatic comedy. Um,

(26:55):
a little bit in the vein of UM. I mean,
I kind of I don't know, why would he Allen
is in my head. It's not really that there's a
French filmmaker who she was very inspired by, whose name
is also escaping me at the moment. But it's kind
of a dramatic comedy, intellectual, quite sexy. And so the
film was made in eighty two and it was never
released because at the time no one was interested. I

(27:16):
always say it was kind of before the Cosby Show,
certainly before Barack Obama. UM. And I remember those years,
like Vanessa Williams was the first black Miss America, I
think in eighty five, so um, no one wanted to
distribute it. And then she got breast cancer, which actually
she had shed had breast cancer through most of my childhood,
which she kept a secret. UM. And she died in

(27:37):
a few weeks after I turned nineteen. It was very
difficult for me. I have a younger brother I had
to take care of. It was very very traumatic. She
was my only real parent. UM. Many years later, in
my thirties, UM, I got a call from the lab
where Losing Ground had been mixed d Art, which is
actually near here in fifty six Street, and they were
closing shop and basically say, do we have all these

(27:59):
canisters of your mother's film and you need to take them?
And I didn't know what to do with them. I
ended up realizing I should have it remastered and making
for me at the time was kind of a big
decision because no one was really interested in her work,
no one knew who she was, and I ended up
spending dollars to have both films remastered, really thinking I
was just preserving that a big investment for you. Um.

(28:21):
It wasn't honestly a huge investment, but it was painful.
I had to go for like three weeks to do
art and watch the film. And basically, my mother's death
had really been very much the defining trauma of my
life and I was very much not over it. It
had caused me to be I was very angry. I
was very angry at my father. I had taken on

(28:42):
a lot of responsibility that I didn't want, and there
was no money, and they were all sorts of it was.
It was just very difficult. So deciding to do the film,
UM just brought all that back. Had you seen it before?
I had seen it quite a bit. And she was
also a playwright, so she was somewhat known in her
lifetime as a playwright. Actually, he had a UM musical
called Almost Music Workshop at the Public Theater with Joe

(29:04):
pap and she had a play called The Brothers, which
is really excellent. I had a couple of productions at
the Women's Project, which is a theater that no longer exists. UM.
And she had written six or seven plays and six
or seven screenplays. So like I grew up knowing she
was an artist and knowing she was really talented UM
and I was represented a real deep dive into her work. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

(29:25):
And I had seen the film when I was a child,
and I had an old VHS copy of it that
I would occasionally watch. UM. So I made the decision
to have the film's remastered. I spent three or four
weeks in the editing labs doing it. I spent the money.
I UM found a distributor. I called a company called
Milestone Films. I got the name of two distributors from
friends UM, and Milestone said that they would take it on.

(29:45):
They're kind of known for discovering lost works and UM.
And then I thought my job was done. They kind
of said, you know, we'll try and get it shown somewhere.
But I come from book publishing and thought, no one's
going to carry as a long dead black woman. UM.
But we ended up getting it into a film festival
at Lincoln Center, and then a few days before the
premier at Lincoln Center, the New Yorker reviewed it, and

(30:07):
I woke up to this insane review. They said that
had she lived, UM, she would have changed film history.
And they called her a genius and it was a
master work and UM. So it kind of went on
from there. The film ended up being very successful, and
I then sold two collections of writing that UM. The
first is the thing I'm most proud of. It's a

(30:28):
collection called Whatever Happened Interracial Love? And it's a correct
collection of short stories that she had written and stuck
in a drawer. And I had been carrying around for
many years, and this trunk of all of her unpublished work,
and I really loved these stories, and um, when Losing
Ground was successful, I thought, maybe someone will publish them,
and I got Echo to publish them, and they're truly amazing,

(30:48):
and she's now really kind of part of the African
American canon. UM. And then I published last year a
second book called Notes from a Black Woman's Diary, which
I edited, and it's kind of a sampling of her
collect did work. So it's two plays to screenplays, some
diary entries, some letters. UM, So can I ask you,
I mean, she this is an extraordinary thing that you've

(31:12):
assured her into the cannon where she always belonged. But
for you personally, what has this done to to really
marinate and steep yourself in your mother's creative. It's been
really good for me, but it took a long time,
so I think now it's I don't know what I think.
This whole process has been going on for seven or

(31:35):
eight or nine years. And in that time I also
wrote a draft of a memoir about my mother's so
I really felt, which I have not sold, very immersed
in her work in life and I have to say
now I feel very um I don't know over it
is an overstatement, but but healed. Yeah, I really don't

(31:57):
feel um like the story of my mother's death dominates
my life anymore. I mean, it's obviously a big part
of who I am. I think I also, having had
the success of bringing back her career, I feel really
proud of myself and I feel like I've done this
amazing thing for her. So it just feels really good.
Was it weird for you to be reading your mom's

(32:19):
diary so hard and still so hard? I mean I
I actually um sold the whole archive to the Schoenberg
a couple of years ago, which was a good moment
for me. I really kind of wanted to say, like,
I'm going to focus on my own life now and
I'm gonna put this someplace safe. If I get hit
by a bus, you know, it'll be my kids don't
have to worry about it. But I did keep copies

(32:40):
of a lot of stuff, so I have this huge
blue binder that I take out. And I'm still active,
you know, I managed her estate so like I sold
an option, for example, to screenplay to say, which I'm
working on so it's not like it's over. It's an
ongoing thing. Um. But whenever I take out that binder,
if I'm looking for something, I'm having a little bit
of a um, a copyright infringement issue right now with

(33:03):
someone about her work. And so I've had to look
at her work. And it's still you know, it'll still
make me cry, it's still hard. It's like I'm still
learning from it. You know, I'll always wonder why she
kept her illness a secret, which was which was a
decision that had a hard impact on me. And and

(33:24):
she was a complicated woman. She was a black single mother, UM,
very much an artist, quite depressed. She came from kind
of a middle class, kind of bougie background, UM where
she was really expected to become a teacher or um,
you know, probably just a teacher really um. And she
was she was wild. She was like a very unusual person.

(33:44):
So it's like a gift to have been raised by
someone like that. But it was also you know, let me,
let me ask you to put on your wolf for
hot for a second. UM. So I have a friend
who who recently lost her mom, and her mom had
a form of dementia for the last years of her
life and before that also was just a very um,

(34:05):
quite a held in person, and she's going through this
really difficult thing of recognizing that she never got close
enough to her mother to feel that she really truly
knew her or wishes she had gotten closer, And UM,
I don't know. I'm just curious what you would say
to sort of the world of daughters out there about

(34:26):
knowing their moms while they're here. Yeah, I mean, the
first thing that comes to mind with your friend also
is it might be she may over time think about
interviewing people close to her mom and she'll probably get
all sorts of insight that might be helpful. That sounds
really painful. Um, I feel the thing that will really
make me cries when I think about my own relationship

(34:48):
with my children and how grateful I feel every day
that I'm still here for them, um my daughters. I
have a son also who's nineteen, and my daughters are
twenty six, and one of them called me last night
crying us in California and she's anxious about the coronavirus
and to be able to spend an hour on the
phone with her, talking to her and really know that

(35:08):
I'm supporting her in a way that I never had
is such a gift, um, And I always think about
you know, I just hope I'm here long enough to
kind of keep apologizing to them for things I did
wrong and for them to keep understanding me in whatever
way they have to write, because it's such a process
understanding your parents and forgiving your parents. UM. So, you know,

(35:30):
we get a lot of women in the community who
right in about estrangement situations, who really don't want to
deal with their mother or their father or whoever. And
I understand those two. I'm estranged for my father and
for me. I think that's been the right decision. But
I guess my advice is, you know that we just
have to always be thinking about these things and talking
them through and kind of looking at them and being

(35:52):
open to reevaluating them. And it's hard. These relationships can
be hard. Well, thank you for providing us with a
space where we and talk about them and share them
on the Wolferte. No, I love it, And thanks for
being with us here today. No, this is a really
fun conversation. Thank you for having me so listener. Nina's
book is what would Virginia Wolf Do? And other questions

(36:13):
I asked myself as I attempt to age without apology. UM.
You can join the community at the Wolfer dot com
and Nina's podcast is raging gracefully. Yeah that's me. Names
thank you for having me. The Road to Somewhere is
recorded in New York City. Make sure you share, subscribe, rate,

(36:34):
and review us and let us hear from you. Where
are you on your journey? Connect with us on Instagram
and Twitter at pod to Somewhere. Email us at Road
to Somewhere at iHeartMedia dot com. Special thanks to our producer,
Alicia Haywood. Thanks for joining us on the Road to Somewhere.
Available on the I Heart Radio app, on Apple Podcasts,

(36:54):
or wherever you get your podcasts. Mats the y

Road to Somewhere News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On

Hosts And Creators

Lisa Oz

Lisa Oz

Jill Herzig

Jill Herzig

Show Links

AboutRSS

Popular Podcasts

Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

Every week comedian and infamous roaster Nikki Glaser provides a fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest look into current pop-culture and her own personal life.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

Connect

© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.