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December 8, 2022 61 mins

In honor of Let’s Be Real’s very special 50th episode, Sammy Jaye has a wonderfully candid conversation with Carri Twigg, former special assistant to President Obama and former Director of Public Engagement for then Vice President Biden. Carri has since become an amazing storytelling and co-founder of the purpose driven production company ‘Culture House’! Sammy Jaye and Carri talk about everything from politics, life to entertainment and much more!! You don’t want to miss it!!

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Hey guys, and welcome back to this week's episode of
the lest Bireau Podcast. As always, I am your host,
Sammy Jay, and I hope your week is going well.
I am so glad that you are here because this
is probably one of my favorite episodes we've ever put
out because I got to chat with you one and
only former special assistant to President Obama and also served

(00:22):
as director of public Engagement for then Vice President Biden
carry Twig. She is now also the founder of one
of the most incredible production and company's Culture House, and
we talk about everything from politics to entertainment and everything
in between. I'm gonna let you, guys get right into
this episode, but I hope you love it as much
as I do. Harry, thank you so much for taking

(00:44):
the time to come on my podcast. I look up
to so much, and not just everything you've accomplished and created,
but also the types of stories you're telling and the impact.
It's just so amazing. Thank you. Thank you for having me.
I'm really excited. There's so many things I want to
get into. I want to start with how you got
into polity. Because I grew up in New York, my
mom always listened to the news. So it was just
kind of in my brain. Was it just something that

(01:06):
you came about or was ingrained in your family? It
wasn't ingrained in my family. I have a very My
dad is steadfastly refused to become a citizen. Um he
was born and raised in Barbados. And this whole notion
that when you become a citizen in the US, you
have to say that you forsake any other allegiance to
any other countries, Like I can't do that, um, so's

(01:27):
he's not an American citizen. He does follow politics, he's
aware of it. But I didn't grow up in a
political family. And then my mother's side of the family
is like kind of very waspy, and we don't talk
about money or you know, politics. And so you landed
yourself in a very interesting place. I did. But it's
interesting because my parents are political, even if they're not
like politically active. And so my mom is a social worker.

(01:49):
My dad is a black immigrant. My mom was a
social worker too. I don't think I knew that it's
so helpful when you have anxiety attacks, really helpful. I mean,
my mom such a um. But what actually happened was
when I was about eleven or twelve. I asked my
mom what government is, and she told me it's old
white men sitting in a room deciding how free you are,

(02:11):
which is still the most saying an accurate definition I've
ever heard. And I remember we were just driving down
the street in the car, just so casually. Yeah, and
she was like yeah, she just rattled this off, and like,
what are you saying. It's like life path changed now
in that moment, changed the trajectory of my life, because
at that point I would probably would have been in
like fifth, sixth grade, and everything you had been taught

(02:33):
up to that point was like, this is the freest
country in the world. It is the most equal country.
I have a dream, right, like all these things. And
that just really brought home that the kind of contradiction
that I think so many people understand about America as
they age or as they go into the adult world,
they're like, oh, we're kind of full of it. Um.

(02:56):
But I kind of got introduced to that notion really early,
and and I decided I was going to be one
of those people in that room because no one, no
one's making decisions without me, um. And and that's what
I did. I feel like politics and being politics, it's
a whole other universe. And then you know, you go
into the White House, your special assistant for Obama, and

(03:18):
you want to just want to make sure I get
this right director of Public Engagement for under Biden. That's
a lot of work and I'm so curious, what is
what was like a day in your life? Then you know,
it was really fascinating because the White House is this
incredibly particular place, um and kind of peculiar place in
that it's this tiny campus, Like the White House is

(03:38):
actually very small, and you walk up and you see
the you know, you get off the bus or whatever.
I sometimes I drove. Sometimes I to the bus and
you see the iconic building and you walk up. There's
people protesting outside, or there's there's always action news, you know,
news cameras and correspond there's something happening around the White House.

(04:02):
And then you walk in and you have this hallowed experience.
You go through the gates and then you're still just
at your job and you're just sort of like if
Debbie says, well I'm going to me today, like I'm
just I'm going to flip my desk, you know, but
you you still have the like petty annoyances and daily
job and the White House so many of the you know,
two thousand people that work there are political appointees that

(04:25):
come in and serve at the pleasure of the President.
And we are all people who want to change society,
but also who were type A who love to be
the smartest person in the room, who are very mission driven,
who like think they're the best in the brightest. How
does that work when so many people are also brilliant
in one room, Like how do you get things done?
It's a great question. It's a it's a question worth asking,

(04:48):
you know, and I think it's you know, it can
be both the greatest thing in the world and it
can also be, you know, like many like many things
are best qualities are often sometimes our worst qualities. So
um so that existed, but you know, it was an
extraordinary privilege, and I think for me every time other
I got to bring people into the White House and

(05:11):
see it through their eyes. It was this incredibly kind
of transcendent and magical moment where people who just couldn't
believe the White House would ever be that way, could
ever be filled with you know, young vibrant, just kids
trying to figure it out on their best, all of
these things, and there were people were just so proud
of us, you know, and I think we were all

(05:31):
kind of tired and slowly crawling to an early grave.
But because you're it's just it's rigorous, right, You're just working.
How many hours do you work a day? Twelve to fourteen,
six seven days a week for years, and even when
you are not physically there, it's just alive in your consciousness.

(05:53):
How do you compartmentalize that? I'm sure you don't, you know,
like if I saw a BlackBerry today with like the
blinking red light, my I might start twitching just like response, Well,
you know what, it's so good that BlackBerry doesn't exist anymore.
You know, they discontinued, so you don't have to worry
about that ever again. Yeah, but um, yeah it was.
I mean it was extraordinary. But also it's also a job,

(06:16):
Yeah it is. You know, what was the difference in
the managerial styles between Obama and Biden? Was there a
difference in how they delegated work or how they communicated
with you? This is fascinating. You know, no one's ever
asked me this question. Before I feel like it's a
go to know people. I mean, people ask me about
their personalities, but I want to know about how they're

(06:38):
supposed to run the country. I want to know how
they run in office. I will say this is so,
this is one of those things. I still have a
little bit of Stockholm syndrome from the White House of
like can I talk about it outside of it? But
like no one cares what you know. But I understand
that when it's so involved in it's so much of

(06:59):
your life, for so, how do you compartmentalize to kind
of separated and you get so fiercely loyal to them
that you just don't want to say anything that might
be taken the wrong way or come off other people too.
And I think we need to realize that exactly. So,
my my, I would say that President Obama was far
more of a true executive personality wise, whereas President Biden.

(07:24):
Don't forget President Biden searched for like forty years in
the Senate. Like it's such a legist, he's so such
a decision by committee. He's such a legislator. He wants
everyone's involvement. When he's a collaborator, he is um and
he is much more kind of willing and interested in

(07:45):
kind of thirty people's opinion and synthesizing from that place
and trying to build consensus and find something that works
for as many people as possible, whereas President Obama was
absolutely in the interested in the opinions of experts and
science and his advisors and looking at a problem from
as many potential angles as he could. But I think

(08:07):
he was much more comfortable going alone when he when
he felt that was the right thing to do. And again,
these are like me projecting into your experience. Yeah, I
think I I have a hard time imagining there would
be many people who would disagree with me on that.
I feel like it's a very fair assessment just from

(08:30):
an outside perspective, because there was a lot of decisions
that Obama had to make that we're so so carried
so much weight, and if you have thirty people's opinions
and that, how do you make the decision? That's something
that I don't know how you would have to do. Yeah, Yeah,
but you know, I think we all have our own
unique brain chemistry, and there's other there are we all

(08:50):
have our own unique path to getting to a point
where we're poised and ready to make a decision, and
for some people having a lot of opinions ACT really
makes it more difficult. And for some people having more,
the more opinions they hear, the more they've got checked
their own position. So I don't know. I think it's
six and a half dozen. I don't think one way
is inherently better than the other. I think what's important

(09:13):
is that we, as individuals, whether you're the president or not,
understand your own decision making process and understand what works
best for you and then apply that to as many
situations as you can and how you learn best because
everyone learns so differently, and I feel like that goes
into the whole thing, a whole other topic with the
education system, where we're taught one way, when it's we
all learned so many different ways exactly like standardized tests

(09:36):
come up. Yeah, no, I mean, we're just we're doing
so many things wrong. It's amazing. I know, it's one
of those things. I don't know if you know this,
but like my life passion is to want to fix
the education system because I've grown up with learning disabilities
my entire life, and I am so grateful to having
been able to go to a special at school and
have tutors when that's just not the case for so
many people. And it's just a conversation that's unfortunately not

(09:59):
being had when it affects so one in five kids,
and that's just people that are diagnosed with learning differences.
I mean, that's amazing, and it is one of my
my poor friends. UM have to hear me rant about
kind of a lot, and unfortunately repetitively, but all the time,
I'm just something happens that I am just incensed about

(10:19):
what I learned in school. Like I can write cursive
and I can read analog clocks, but I was thirty
before I could appropriately identify my feelings, let alone communicate them.
And I'm just like, what did you teach me? No?
Like I want to I want to know like how
to balance a check, how to do like basic Like yeah,
there's just just plot missing. Why did no one teach

(10:41):
me like how to make friends or like how to
be a good friend or how do you actually have
a relations like so many things about like being a
human being literally that are really deeply necessary. Um, but no,
it's sorry, I know how to do you know? I
know what the capital of the state. I've never been
to this, so that's cool. It's something that I think
just seeing how much we've how far we've come in

(11:04):
how far we haven't come in our country in the
past seven years, and kind of taking a moment to
reflect was being in the White House? Did that make
you believe more in democracy? Or did it make you
doubt it more? Because I feel like we've been through
a lot in the past couple of years and that's
put in put into question And I want to get
your thoughts on that. You ask a really good questions. Um,

(11:26):
that's that's fascinating. I think that it made Wow, this
is a great question. I think that it, Um, it
made me recognize democracy as being the miracle that it
actually is. It's literally just people sitting in a room
trying their best, and it is a miracle to made

(11:50):
it this far. Yeah. Um, it is hard. It is
a human enterprise and human beings are gonna human one.
I don't know human beings. Humans are gonna human and
it is amazing we have endured as long as we
actually have. And so I think what it made me, uh,

(12:13):
was really compassionate for how hard it is to try
and do the right thing and come up with a solution.
No problem that gets to the White House is easily solvable,
if solvable at all, right, otherwise it would have been
solved way before it makes it to Washington. And the
sheer kind of scale of the world and how complex

(12:37):
that it is, and not even just this country. I mean,
this is the third most populous country in the world.
We have one of the most diverse populations you can
possibly imagine. A regional differences are class differences. I mean,
it's just governing. America is that kind of ungovernable and
the fact that it's been governed so consistently for the

(12:59):
duration of its um of its history is an extraordinary thing.
Do you have hope for the future of our country?
I sort of have to have hope otherwise I can't
get out of bed. That's so fair, you know, Um
I don't. I am. I'm a big believer that America

(13:20):
is going to feel and be very different and should be.
It actually desperately needs to change. This country does not
work in really fundamental ways. It's just broken. Yeah, I
mean the economy does not. It just doesn't work. Um,
So our education system, all of these major markers that

(13:42):
affects so much of our future too, truly, and that
determine the health of a society are not working at
nearly the like there's a massive gap in our like
we're one thing that America really is probably the best
in the world at is perpetuating delusions. So and the
Internet it's just so great for that, you know, it
really helps. And we just love to be delusional about

(14:04):
how good we are at things, Like we're just really
not doing very well on so many key factors. And
it's like where the aunt that says they're fine and
they're doing great, when you know they're just not doing great,
you know, and you're just like, but you're crying, but
like im but I'm looking at you know, you're saying
you're okay. Um. You know, like when you compare experiences

(14:30):
around education and the cost of education, when you when
you and the outcomes of that education, when you experience
like what it is to raise a family, what it
means to have a job, what it means to have benefits,
what it means to have a civic environment that is
responsive and adaptable to the changing needs of a population.
When you look at the way that we are responding
to demographic change. Um, America doesn't like change. Well, the

(14:52):
human beings don't know human change. That's so fair myself,
I mean, despite the fact that we are all the
most inconsistent animals ever. Like I was a different person
yesterday and it's like you catch me, and the breeze
is coming from a different direction, and the moon is
like you know what I mean, like who is she today? Um?

(15:12):
And yet if anyone else changed, and God help us,
so you know, so a long way of saying, I
think I have to have hope. But I mean I
try and be as clear eyed as I possibly can.
And I think this this notion of America as the
city on the hill, as the kind of best freest

(15:35):
country in the world is um is a forest. It
could still be made true, but we would have to
make some pretty substantive and radical and quick decisions. We would.
And I've been feeling great helpless the past couple of years,
like many, and I think something that it's I've been
asking myself is what can I do? What can I
do from home? Because there's so many things to do,
it could be overwhelming to start, so for someone in

(15:57):
college or in high school that wants to start getting
involved and educating themselves and being an activist. Do you
have any advice on how does how to just take
two steps forward and get started on that process? I mean,
first and foremost, like, you can't fix something externally if
it's not fixed internally, right, So when you're that age,
focus on just being who you want to be. The

(16:19):
freer you are, the freer the person next to you is.
And so if you can find a way to do
that without doing it at the expense of someone else,
If you can just be a person who is community oriented,
who is thoughtful and engaged in the world around you,
then that's a phenomenal place to start. I think. Also
I talk, I often compare politics for most people um

(16:42):
to Nascar for me, which is NASCAR is like the
second biggest sport in the countree. I think it's like
a multibillion dollar enterprise. Thousands and thousands of people go
to these rallies or the races. You know, they're on
billboards or magazines, on TV's in the newspaper. It's everywhere,
and I can't tell you anything about it. Like I
get the vague idea like cars driver from what I

(17:05):
understand five hundred times, which how is no one getting dizzy?
I don't understand what's going on? But like, can't name
you a car, can't name you a driver. I know that,
like Indianapolis, like right, And so it's like despite it
being completely surrounded by and I grew up in Ohio,
so like I grew up in some NASCAR like world,

(17:26):
you know, and still managed to avoid having any idea
what it is. And so I think that's how most
people are about politics. Right. You're surrounded by it, and
yet we're able to kind of siphon it out of
our worldview. And this is all my my aversion to
nascars pre algorithms. So I can't even blame that, Like,

(17:47):
I don't know what I was, just ignoring it, right,
And you know, people are often unaware of the fact
that there's five hundred thousand elected officials in this country.
I did not know that they're everywhere. Right, really are
are governing the down to the block where you live. Right,
It's not just congress people, it's not just people on
the federal level. It's not just um your state legislators

(18:09):
and senators. It's it's your county commissioners and yours and
your d A and your sheriff and and so I
think the more you get involved in where and understand
where you actually are and what your place, even if
it's temporary, right, who look up? Who your representatives are? What?
How many hungry kids are there in your neighborhood? Because

(18:31):
I bet there's some right like what is the we've googled?
We can if we can google it, we can do it.
Like what are the rent laws? And your you know,
how are your schools if you're in high school? How
is your school funded? Is your school funded by property taxes? Like? Okay,
what disparity is that creating between your suburb and the
kids who grew up just happened to be born down
the street? Um? Is that fair? Is that okay with you?

(18:55):
If not, what does that mean? Right? And I think
figuring out who who you are and figuring out where
you are is the important first step. And you know
you're doing your podcast, I'm not telling stories. I I
used to work in politics and government. There's like activism
is multifaceted endeavor and people and it is best when

(19:17):
people show up as their authentic selves. And I know
that that's such an overused term. But but it's it's true,
and like do whatever works, bake cupcakes. You know, I
don't love a crowd. She's she's not an extrovert. Okay,
so I don't really go to protests Like that's not
part of my activism journey. That's not for me. That

(19:38):
find that very stressful. I sleep for two days afterwards,
and I'm like, good God, do that again. Um that said,
I will call and harass any elected official. Not harass,
but there's yeah, I'll raise money. I will volunteer on campaigns.
I've volunteered almost sorts of campaigns. I vote religiously. Um,

(20:00):
I will you know, harangue my friends and my family
members to all of them. Like. So there's all sorts
of ways to be involved and to be part of
the struggle. And it's just about finding what works for
you and what is sustainable for you. We have to
take one quick break, but when we come back, I
want to talk about your pivot from politics to entertainment,

(20:21):
the impact you hope to make through storytelling, working with Oprah,
and so much more. We'll be right back and we're back.
I love what you said about we have to be
your best self. You have to find yourself first. When
you were finding yourself, what was what was that process? Like,

(20:43):
how did you go about that? Do you have any advice?
Because I'm on that journey now, and boy, it's a journey.
I you know, I'm still finding myself. I feel like
I'm gona have been several different people over the course
of my life, and I think there's always been a
thread of me that's been consistent in the same. But
it's you know, I talked to friends of mine from
twenty years ago and we tell stories. I'm just like, oh, man,

(21:06):
I forgot I like that, I forgot I was that
way or whatever. Um, which I think is a good thing.
We should all be trying on different personalities and different
trying different I got my nose piers. Look at that
go for you know. I had my nose piers too,
you know. And I think it's all it's about being

(21:29):
open um to the possibility of change and to the
fact that you don't have to ever be the same person.
It is okay to be a different person. It is
okay to see someone or meet someone and say, oh
I like that about you. I'm going to incorporate that
into my personality. We get into this idea that our
personalities are inherent and that they're fixed, and they're not.

(21:51):
They are dress and they are just a response to
some nonsense that happened when we were kids. Like my
older sisters a visual artist. She's incredibly talented and has
always been so. Not only is she just artistically gifted,
but she had plus five years on me motor skill wise.
And I realized that I was competing with her for
like my little drawings and stuff in like second and

(22:13):
third grade, and she was always so much better, and
so I made me feel inadequate as a little kid.
And so I was like, oh, I'm not artistic, I'm
not creative. I'm not doing that. That's my sister's thing.
I'm going to go do something completely different because I
don't want to be compared to my sister and I
don't want to compete with her. I convinced myself at
like seven that I wasn't a creative like who And

(22:35):
then I'm still living that life when I'm twenty eight. Right,
I'm still living that life and thinking of not thinking
of myself as a creative person because of seven year
old moment when I comply tie her shoes because someone
who can't tie her shoes, it's still running my life.
That's that's what. That's ridiculous, um, And yet we all

(22:58):
do that. It's so new ways. And it took me
actually describing myself as not being a creative person in
front of my sister, and my sister calling me out
and be like, what are you talking about? Why don't
you think you're creative? But like my seven year old
self said it, what are you talking about? Just total nonsense?
So you know, I then got to take on this

(23:21):
other personality and this explore this other side of myself,
and I think that that evolution is really important. And
then I think one thing that we don't say enough,
and I certainly feel like I wasn't told enough, is
that pain has a lot of information in it, and
no generation of human beings ever has found a way

(23:42):
to live a pain free life, and no generation ever
will and if they do, it's like the end, right,
because there's nothing then to evolve, And then you don't
appreciate the good if you don't have exactly, And pain
is terrible and it sucks and none of us should
wallow in it. But if you can just sit with

(24:03):
it and try not to avoid it and try to sit,
you know, and try and sit with it for as
long as you need to at least take the time
to ask the question, like what information is here? Anger
has a lot of information in it, And I know,
for me, I didn't let myself be angry for years
and years and years because it was not what I
was conditioned to do right, and I had really bad

(24:23):
temper when I was a kid. My parents were always
trying to moderate it because they're just explode and so
but the my way of doing that, instead of learning
how to feel and process my emotions, was to suppress them.
But anger has a lot of information. That's where you
find out what your boundaries are. And so, you know,
obviously avoid harming yourself or harming anyone else, or making impulsive,

(24:47):
rash decisions, but also try and sit in your feelings
enough to understand what information is there and why your
body is making you feel these things, so that you
can learn how to again be who you are or
figure out how you want to exist in the world
at that particular time, and ask yourself those questions ongoing, Like,
you know, I have this idea that I'm going to
start a new career every ten years. That I could

(25:10):
see you doing that, that manifested girl. Um. And I
think part of that is because I'm someone who needs
external changes in order to ask myself internally. If I'm like,
we'll check up, how are we doing? And the more
I change my external circumstances, the more primed I am

(25:32):
to explore those questions internally. And that's the process that
works for me. But I think it really starts with
being open to the idea that you're a lot more
malleable than you think, and your personality is a lot
more of a choice than than we think. That's so true.
I've been living my life in three months chunks over
the past because I've noticed how much I change in

(25:54):
three months, my interest change. I feel like I've evolved
more and grow and like, if that can happen in
three months, we're just gonna plan in three months, because
if we try a year, we're gonna be so different
from then. And it's worked out so well. I love this.
I know we're coming up our and three months, so
we get to refresh it again. We get to figure
out our new intentions, priorities, So I love it. That's great.

(26:15):
Something that I'm very, very very excited to chat with
you about. Is this pivot in your career that you've
had something I'm learning in school. They're kind of like, Okay,
we're going to teach you this. This is what you
have to do the rest of your life and then
get good at and that's it. But frankly, there are
so many things and I feel like I can I
feel sometimes trapped at school because I feel like, Okay,

(26:37):
this is the one thing I have to do, but
no life can change. And so concuruise and you did that.
You went from politics to storytelling and created this incredible
production company that I have been very fortunate to intern for.
And I love everything you guys are creating because it
it feels like it's bigger than ourselves. And so I

(26:57):
was wondering what that transition was like and what made
you switch to this field. Well, first of all, thank you,
and it's been such a pleasure to have you at
Culture House. So much fun. Yeah, um, if you can't
tell already, it's like, I'm very invested in this idea
that we can all change and we all should change.
That's and that's really good for us. I sort of
you know, I've wanted to work at the White House

(27:18):
since I was thirteen or fourteen, and then I get there.
I'm on my way out of the White House at thirty. Yea,
what do you do when your last two bosses are
the president? You know what I mean? Where do you
go from there? It's true, It's like it's like my
former boss like, my former bosses are the former president
United current president? Like, what do you do from here? No?

(27:40):
Just I'm ruined, Like I can't work. Can you imagine
anyone telling me what to do? Somebody married? It wasn't
going to go well anywhere, and that's why you start
your own company. It wasn't gonna go well anyway. Um My,
one of my former bosses from the White House told
me I'm the worst employee he's ever had because I
kept referring to us as being colleagues. He's like, we
are not colleagues. Do you work for me? But like

(28:03):
we worked together though, but do I It's not reversed
a little bit. Such a nightmare. Um but yeah, So
I left the White House at thirty and realized I
had no other hobbies or interests. What was that like? Oh?
Scary awful it was. I had a total meltdown. I
had a total breakdown at thirty. It was spectacular, truly

(28:27):
one of the best things that ever happened to me.
But like, oh God, wouldn't wish it, wouldn't wish, wish
it on an enemy, and yet would work wish it
on everyone. So I think the short answer is, I
don't know that's actually gonna be that short. But I
think two things were really happening for me at that
moment in time. One was that I was exploring this

(28:48):
idea of myself as a creative person. Two was that
it was really clear that what we so much of
what we were trying to accomplish in the Obama years
were culturally ahead where the country was, and in order
to legislate or build policy around something, the idea for
it really has to exist first in the kind of

(29:09):
collective imagination of the country. Right, we saw what happened
with healthcare, whereas we didn't really have a framework, the
general population did not have a framework for what universal
health care could be, and so it was really easily
to then manipulate that into something that was like about
death panels and like all the other nonsense and Sarah
Palin and her cohort were kind of propagating at that time,

(29:30):
so useful, helpful to the American people, could God. But
now the people have had it for four years or
ten years, or however long it's been. I can't not
time isn't a thing anymore. I don't even worry about it.
But now the people have had it, they are like
religiously defending it. Right. And so whereas or thirty five

(29:52):
percent of the country supported it prior to its enactment,
now six does. And we see the same thing when
it comes to things like marriage or quality. Right, But
marriage equality doesn't happen without will and grace, without Ellen's
de generous, without Rosie o'donald, without the sort of so
many cultural touchstones that helped introduce people and beloved kind

(30:13):
of figures into this world or into the popular consciousness
of the country. And so when I was leaving the
White House, it was really clear that that dynamic was
at play around a range of issues, whether it was
sustainability and climate change, whether it was race relations, whether
it was gender roles, gender norms, gender relations were still

(30:33):
very much operating in a country that believes in a
zero sum game. Right, that for black people to have
rights and dignity has to be taken from white people.
For women to have equality, opportunity, agency, authority has to
be taken from men. It's not like we can all
just coexist, which is which is such an absurd way

(30:54):
of thinking about it, Like as though freedom is a
bicycle that you can just take. I lost, I lost
the tire. I need one now, you know, Like these
are concepts so in the same around wealth, Right, those
were all things that were really clear. We're being affected
by the stories that we were telling in this country,

(31:16):
Like the inevitable, uh, the inevitable end result of John Wayne,
one man goes alone and he's doing it his way
and we're gonna love him for it. Anyway, Like the
inevitable result of that story that we have told over
and over and over and over again is Donald Trump. Yeah,

(31:36):
because he starts running for president, Everyone's like, oh, I
like that guy. But it's because we've been watching him
on TV. Not only just him on TV, but that
particular story he was telling feels familiar. Right, It's the
Top Gun and I watched the hell out of Top
Gun and like nearly wept a Maverick. I don't say
I love that this is a perfect movie. I was

(31:58):
obsessed with that, loved it, But it's the exact same thing,
like one Man on a Mission, right, because like the
inevitable end result of those stories is total dysfunction. Um.
And so we have to tell different stories if we
want different political outcomes. And I think I was starting

(32:19):
to realize that as I was leaving the White House.
And to me, it's not aid. Yeah, And and it's
not a coincidence to me that so many people from
the Obama era, including the Obama's have now gone into storytelling,
because I think we're all sort of making that sort
of understanding that the country needs a cultural scaffold in
order to build meaningful kind of collective policy around um,

(32:43):
some of these other ways of seeing the world. Yeah,
So that's that's why I left. I was also really tired,
how Okay, So I just have to know, like, once
your job ended, how like what was your record of sleep? Like?
Was there like a total like you like a full
to only four hours? Seriously? Has anyone have you read

(33:04):
this book by Tessa mass Fe My Year of Rest
and Relaxation. No, but I need to now well, it's
super morbid, fantastic. She well she's a fantastic fiction writer,
but she's just dark, dark and reverse. But anyway, so
this girl basically just like medicates herself and stays in
bed for a year. So that was me, but without
the drugs. I mentally did it years. I mean from

(33:27):
for the first eight months, I was probably asleep as
much as I was awake, Like I probably slept twelve
up for yeah, for a solid half year. Um, and
I didn't really work. I took um, which I encourage
everyone to do, and no one really seems to take
me up as much as they should um just to

(33:47):
not work. And so I just didn't work for like
eight months. What was that? That nice? It was amazing.
I went to like everything people invited me to, and
it was one of those things was like, do not
invite me to your grandma's house and sis, because I
will show up. I'm looking at plane tickets right now.
I love Grandma's I love sicily like let's roll. It's

(34:08):
like my life motto right now. Funk it? Why not exactly? Yeah? Um,
so I thought, yeah, I had to funk it? Why
not here? And but a sleepy one I was asleep
for a very fort that's okay, yeah, And then moved
up to New York, ended up meeting my business partners,
who the women who then became my business partners, um,

(34:31):
and we start a culture house, and now I'm in
l A and you know, still doing my best. I
want to talk about hairtails for a second, because I
think the messaging of the show is so important, and
I think the casting and the way it's filmed, the
aesthetic of it is just so on point and just

(34:51):
so perfect. And I just have to know what was
it like working with Oprah? It's wild and what was
that like? You know, you've done, You've done the press,
You've done Oprah. What's next? Basically the um I mean
talk about people who are in their pocket, right, and
no one can see my hand gesture, right, there's a

(35:12):
handshure hand gesture that is illustrating what I'm saying. But
you know, and she'll say it. Ms. Winfrey will say,
you know, she's living in her purpose, like she found
her like she found the zone, the portal through which
she makes all of her decisions and all of her
actions are in integrity with her purpose. And that's why

(35:35):
it all works. And it works so extraordinarily well, and
you feel that you feel in the same way that
we all pick up on all sorts of things about
each other. Yeah, there's a real magnetism to her, and
there's a real sense of like, oh, she is in integrity,
Like she does what she says, she says what she means.

(35:56):
She is a consistent and confidently consistent human being, ing
who even in sort of micro moments and micro movements,
is hyper present, like she's showing up beauti fully to
whatever is happening in that moment, which I think in
Tracy is the same way. I mean, Tracy is an

(36:16):
extraordinarily embodied and present person when she is in front
of you, she is in front of you and all
of hers there, and she's not thinking about what she
could be doing instead, or how does she look, or
how does she think the other person thinks she looks.
I mean, all we all have those things. But when
she taps in, she becomes an extraordinarily powerful person. And

(36:39):
not to say that she's not powerful all the time,
but it's really impressive. Like people who have figured out
how to do that are extraordinary to be around. And
I think it is the thing that defines their greatness, right,
It's their ability to step into whatever it is, the
energy or the life force or their own sort of potential,

(37:02):
and it just radiates off them. I just started her
book What I Know for Sure, so I'm excited to
get into it because I am like halfway through her book, Uh,
what Happened to You with Dr Perry Um. So I
feel like I'm just infusing my brain with Oprah right now.
So I feel like I'm in a great place. So totally.
I've read that. I've read What I Know for Sure.
It's extraordinary and it's like she talks about this concept

(37:24):
a lot in her book, and you're sort of like
describes very clearly what it is she's doing, and it's like,
how girl, how can I just say the environment that
you've created for this production company has been so refreshing
I even though it's just been online, I have felt
more inspired, more creative, and more like I want to

(37:47):
make an impact than I have in school in the
past year and a half. Oh, thank you so much.
I think it's so important that there's we're talking about
how much our culture effects society, because it truly does.
From your girl Up series, like you're truly highlighting the good,
the bad, and the ugly, which is I think what
we need help people feel us alone, Like that's if

(38:08):
nothing else, just tell the truth straight up. Let's be real,
you know, if you can give someone nothing else, give
them the truth, give them honesty. It's just it's so basic,
and yet it is so undervalued and enterprised in our
community and in the world and in our society. Um.

(38:30):
And it's just that you cannot be free without the truth.
Are you feeling creatively fulfilled right now? I am? I
think I UM, I think that I am taking a
very um what's the word broad interpretation of creative creativity?
And I try and don't limit yourself, you know what

(38:52):
I mean? I agree, um, And so I am trying
to live a creative life. And I don't mean that
sort of in an art his stick practice sense, although
I do have a writing practice, and I obviously make
a film and TV. But it's also like I went
on and walk on the beach this morning. I go
surfing a lot, I go on hikes. I try. And
I was walking down the street and saw I was

(39:15):
watching the sunset last night, and like a man came
by and gave me a big thumbs up. You know,
I saw this wild looking man in the captain's hat.
That made me just chuckle. Like all these wonderful things
that happen if you're open to them, not even just synchronicities,
but just humans are hilarious. They're so funny, and so

(39:35):
much good stuff is happening on your block right now.
You know, whatever happened to the art of people watching? Honestly,
it's just I will go on campus and I will
just or sometimes if even if I'm at a party,
I'll just sit just to watch what I'm like. It's
just so interesting seeing other humans interact together. Um or
like I like to camp. I'm a big camper, and

(39:57):
so see, I want to go camping. I've never been
before ever, I've never from the city. You're such a city.
I'm such a city. It's so unfortunate. So now I'm like,
I need to go. I need to make up for everything.
And I wasn't able to do a great spot. I mean,
California is such extraordinary camping. So I went on a
big road trip over the summer and did it by myself.

(40:17):
I had not I had not camped by myself before
and so I camped by myself for a couple of weeks.
A couple of weeks by myself. What was that like?
It was awesome? It was so good. So I went
all around the Southwest in California and Arizona, Utah, Nevada,
and so inspired, I went to Paris by myself this summer.

(40:38):
It was really like for me, the summer was really
trying to see how much can we grow and how
much can we evolve? And so I've just been trying
to do more things by myself, whether it's taking myself
on dates or like doing anything like that. And so
like like that's like going camping, Like that's like so
impressive to me that you can do that. That's like
a goal I want to hit one day. Well it
took me thirty six years, Like you're there, but yeah,

(40:59):
but I'm here. Um. And it was one of the
most rewarding things I've ever done for myself. Um. And
I'm a big believer in taking care of carry like
I'd pamper her as best. So how do what is
self care? For you? Self care is entirely and fulsomely
and enthusiastically rejecting the idea of being busy. I am

(41:20):
not busy. I don't ever try to be busy. I
have no aspirations to be busy. I want to move
as slowly as humanly possible. I mean, like ambling just
taken my sweet time. UM. I think it is knowing
what at that moment in time. My five needs for

(41:42):
happiness always are. I'm always kind of checking in on
that list. So I need to be in nature, I
need to have community, I need to write, UM, I
need to be of service, and UM, I need love. Right,
and so if I meeting each of those things, and
those also have a bright a broad term, but if

(42:06):
I'm meeting those things on each given day, I'm going
to have a spectacular day, right if I like, those
are the things that I am prioritizing. UM. Self care
is also for me about embracing mediocrity. Like there's there's
really like three things I need to be good at.
Need to be a good family member, I need to
be a good friend, and I need to keep a
roof over my head. And outside of those three, and

(42:28):
I need to be good to myself. So four things
that I need to be really good at, I don't
have to be good at anything else. Really, and so
I take all the pressure off myself to be good
at anything else. I love making good film and TV.
I love being a good writer. I love being good surfer.
I love being good at tennis. If I'm not good
at any of those things, it doesn't actually matter. When

(42:49):
I'm on my deathbed. I'm not gonna be like man,
you know that recreational game. I played doubles two thousand,
you know two care Um I'll be I'll die happy
if I was good to my sister and good to
my nephews, and good to my parents, and good to

(43:10):
my friends, and good to my partners, and good to
you know, um, the world and my community. And that's
enough for me. Um. And I lived the life that
I really actually wanted to live. And you're doing it
for you, yeah, you know, um. And so so, embracing
mediocrity is a way that I take care of mine.
Like I'm so bad at tennis, it's amazing. Oh. I

(43:32):
joined a tap class this semester. I don't dance. I
don't dance. Um that. And here's the thing I thought, like, Okay,
it's probably a beginner class. No, there's no beginner class.
It's with dance majors who have tapped since they were two,
and I'm like, okay, at least it's doing something uncomfortable. Yeah,
it pushes me out there. Um, and it's an experience totally.

(43:55):
That's amazing. Are you doing any hobbies or wanting to
pursue anything that you're like, oh, I want to into that. Yeah,
so I tango dance. Tango Tango is amazing. Tango is
so sexy, Like it's not salsice. You're not like moving
all this, You're not moving around super fast. Maybe that
should be my next dance I pick. It's like it's

(44:17):
super old, like it's like there, it's like it's pretty
old too. Yeah, but it's it's rad. I don't mean
even as a practice, I just mean like as a community,
like really, yeah, that's so much fun, but it's really great.
It just make you feel good about yourself to the
youngest one there totally. Um. So like tango, tennis, I
play tennis, one ye surfing. I'm a good gardener yeah, um,

(44:45):
like flowers, fruits and vegetables, all sorts of stuff. I
think gardening is extraordinarily important for everyone, Like everyone should
be required to grow something so calming, not even that
it's just like, yes, it is so calming, and it
is is a practice of delayed gratification. In a world
in which you could have a new boyfriend every hour

(45:07):
of the day, and a world in which you can
order something online and reasonably expect that it be within hours,
like you should have to wait for things. Waiting for
things is important for human brains, and it is a
good thing. And so having like waiting for your flower
to bloom, waiting for your flower to grow is a

(45:29):
spectacular practice. That's how I kind of feel with oil
painting because it takes so long to dry yet like okay,
you know, I don't know what I'm it's going to be,
but we're doing it for love, doing it exactly. You know.
It's like we're constantly rushing, and it's we're missing a
lot of things when we rush. I think about how

(45:51):
many sunsets and sunrises like there too, Like we miss
a day that I'm just like I don't even see them.
You're just there and they're so beautiful of a block
from the water, and so sunset is always so spectacular,
and it's like the days that I miss it, I
better have a really good excuse if I was just
in my house like looking like the self loathing on

(46:15):
Twitter exactly. It's just like a horrific, absolutely ridiculous. Um.
I try and go and see it every day that
I'm home at that hour. So what's next for you?
What's next for Culture House? What's keeping you fulfilled? What's
in the works that's making you excited about? You know?
To your point around and it really means so much
for to hear it means so much to me to

(46:36):
hear that your experience at Culture House has been what
we built the company for. I mean, if it doesn't
feel like making art with your friends, why are we
doing it? Um, have been so much. Oh I love that.
I love that. Yeah, you know. It's it's like, if
I want to be stressed out and and make life

(46:58):
or death decisions at work, I'd be a surgeon or
I'd go back to the White House. I'm not. I'm
making television and film and it should feel like it,
right like we do do lay Hill on my podcast,
and he told me something that it's really helped. He
goes at the end of the day, we're just playing
pretend it can be a series, says it is. It
can be as deep. At the end of the day,
we're just playing pretend. I'm like, you know what, I know,

(47:19):
that's so true totally, and losing sight of that is
so WOWD. So when I see people like tie themselves
and nods, I'm sort of just like, you should have
to go work in an e er for a couple
of days and then come back. I didn't appreciate where
you are. I was like, this is getting a little
out of control. Um but and again, and then this
really actually goes back to what I was saying about

(47:40):
how people can start their journey into activism, like, if
it doesn't feel good in the smallest possible circle, if
working at culture House or working with culture House doesn't
feel good, I don't care what the show is. I
don't care. I don't care if the show is good.
It's about the environment that you create, exactly, and if

(48:02):
it didn't feel good, to make it like the ends
does not justify the means for me in basically anything
like it would take a lot to convince me of
of a situation where the ends to justify the means,
and it certainly won't. Just it's certainly un acceptable in
making TV like there's just there's no um and so

(48:24):
you know, I think we take a lot of care
and we take a lot of pride and the fact
that we've built the company on our terms and the
way that we want, with the values that we have,
and hopefully that shows up on screen. We also want
to be really good at it. I mean, he wants
to be like mediocre at their jobs. Like my name
is going to be on it. No one watches me
play tennis. So it's just it's already so good that

(48:46):
I'm like, that's not even like a doubt in my mind.
I just know it's just going to be. And so
I think for me, I'm just culture House is really
exciting because we're just talking about cool stuff that all
has a pulse, that all has a purpose, you know,
and it's really interesting. One of the criteria for what
projects we take on or what projects we decide to

(49:07):
put forward, it's like, do I want to talk about
this for three years? Is this interesting enough to really
want to talk about it for three years? And is
the team going to be people I want to work
with for two years or for three years and talk
to almost every day for that long time. I think
something I've really learned is how much development is like
a baby and you really have to nurture it and

(49:28):
really have to flush it out so much. I feel
like I've just gotten so much from it. I'm so
glad to have worked for be a part of it
any way, because I do think you guys are making
some incredible stuff that can actually really affect the trajectory
of the way we view our society. Thanks man, that's
so nice. Of course, we have to take one more

(49:49):
quick break, but when we come back, I'm going to
talk about where you get your confidence from, both personally
and professionally and much more. We'll be right back and
we're back what advice do for confidence? Because I would
love to exude your confidence that I've decided, Um, so

(50:13):
you know, we pick up personality traits. I just that's
something I want to listen. Put it on like a
sweater girl, and live your life. I mean, but it
actually is a choice. I actually really remember I grew
up and it was sort of was very much outside
of the booty norms of where I grew up. But
I remember and like feeling very unattractive and feeling very ugly,

(50:35):
and I remember when I was thirteen just like having
one of those sort of divine inspiration moments where it's like,
I'm actually not going to believe that about myself. I'm beautiful,
and I'm that's what I'm going to believe. I don't
know where that came from, but it just sort of
had one of those moments, and I've tried. I've held on,
like the death grip to that since I was a kid.

(50:55):
But I think a few things. I think confidence is
not only external of worst, but it's internal. And I
think the internal pieces is the most important because you
are going to look different. You are. There's and everyone
has their own perception of what beauty is. Everyone's hot,
Like literally I could find something hot about anyone absolutely

(51:15):
if you look long enough, if you're open enough, you
can absolutely I mean just smoke shows everywhere. Um and
so so I think the more you appreciate other people's beauty,
the more you'll appreciate your own. The more you take
yourself out of any kind of competition with anyone, the

(51:36):
more the happier you will be. UM. And then on
the internal piece, I think for me it's also like
the world is bullshit, Like no one has any idea
what the funk is going on. I don't know what
the hell is going on. You don't know, like, no
one knows what that trying, you know, And so why
not you? Like, you're the one? Why not you? You're here,

(51:58):
That's what my dad says. He goes, it could be
any one, why not you? Exactly, You're you're the one
doing it. I actually got into a little bit of
an argument with a friend. Um. He and I were
walking around some art galleries and he couldn't really draw
the distinction between something whether or not he liked something,
whether or not a piece of art was his style,

(52:21):
versus whether or not it should have been made. And
I was like, Okay, I don't particularly aesthetically care for
this painting, but you look at the technique, you look
at how you made like the fact that they made it,
you know, is extraordinary. And he's like, I mean I
could have made that. I was like, but you didn't.
You didn't. That is the thing that actually makes the difference.

(52:42):
You can have the best ideas in the world. If
you don't do it, it doesn't matter. People have people.
It's I'll talk no action exactly until you do it.
And so the more you just do ship. That's the
way you learned. The more you build confidence and the
more you're like, I'm the dude, it's me, Why not me? Right?
Because you back your self. We all have to bet
on ourselves at some point, and so I think we're

(53:04):
really trained to bet on other people like oh, well
she's so beautiful, or oh she's so tall, or oh
she has this or that, but like, bet on yourself.
You can't live anyone else's life. You can only live yours.
And so what are you How are you going to
invest in yourself? How are you going to do the thing?
Get over being embarrassed? Life is deeply embarrassing. It's just
a humil if you're doing it right, it is a

(53:26):
humiliating experience, you know, But that's what it's, you know,
it's just part of the deal. Like, get over it,
Just keep moving, keep trying. Got to embrace it. Be
comfortable with the uncomfortable. That's what I've been really trying
to embrace this cemeter. And I think that is a practice.
And I think the more you practice that, the more

(53:47):
confident you get. And I think I am absolutely willing
to be the best. I'm also absolutely willing to be
the worst. I am willing to humiliate myself. I'm willing
to start over. I'm willing to be everything in between.
And I think that willingness is what you pick up
on when you've when you sense confidence in me, I'll

(54:09):
be okay, I'll figured out because even if you fall,
you're going to get back up and exactly like, it'll
be fine. It's just it's the ingraining part is what
I need to work on. Yeah, but I have a
head start on you. I don't know how old. How
old are oh girl, Yeah, I've got sixty. I've got
like the last human being on you all teenager? Yeah,

(54:30):
sixteen years on you. You know, is there are there
any other future people you'd like to work with that
you want to manifest out into existence? No, um, there are, certainly.
I do my best not to project onto people I
don't know, so my perception of what they are could

(54:52):
be wildly inaccurate. So I could be like, oh, I
want to manifest working with this person or that person,
and then that person is garb right, and they're terrible
to work experience right, But they could be terrible to
work with, or they could be um fine but not spectacular.
And then you're let down. So I think it's hard
to and I think we do enough as a society

(55:14):
of projecting onto people in UM that live and live
in the public in a certain way, or that have
public lives in a certain way, in a way that
I think is actually kind of unhealthy, absolutely, yeah, deeply unhealthy.
And so I try not to do that too much.
The people who I'm supposed to be working with, I'll

(55:34):
work with, you know, and we'll meet and it'll have
purpose or won't or whatever. But yeah, I try not
to um, try not to look at people and be like,
oh and invest in them in that way because I
don't know, I don't actually know them. Hey, at least
you can vowed for Oprah. At least you can. That's
a big one. Yeah. Yeah, no, I've done pretty well.

(55:55):
Like what is happening right now? Who let me in
this room? This makes absolutely no sense? But let's do it.
Let's do it, you know, why not? Why not? It's
so funny. My so, my older sister, the brilliant, genius
creative artist. Um, she was the production designer for Hair
Hair Tales, Oh my goodness, and it was her and

(56:17):
she also is just like she's she's even five years
older than me, so if you can imagine my confidence
plus five years. So she we had this one particularly
complicated and it was her first production design job, and
she has one really complicated shoot, and she came up
to me. It was like, listen, so we're at the

(56:37):
end of the road of my confidence. I have no
idea what I'm doing. We're gonna need some help in here.
We are at the end of the road of my confidence.
Carrying meads to the finish line, She's like, Nope, not
gonna make it this time. Um, We're gonna need a ringer,
gonna need some help, gonna need an actual expert, you
know what. The fact that she was able to vocalize

(56:59):
it be like it was exactly before. It's too late,
that that matters. Timing is everything. It all worked out exactly,
Sody cracked me up. I was just like, dude, the
twigs are out here just making ship up left and right.
It's amazing. I love how once you cursed, I then

(57:19):
just went so aggressively and I didn't know if I
could just um, but yeah, so you know, I don't
know why I told that story other than that it's
funny and my sister is amazing. I think it's super interesting.
I'm also super interested in production design as of recent
because it's it just builds the aesthetic. Like I learned
a bunch of other ship in college. Like I didn't

(57:41):
learn any of this stuff. I didn't go to film school.
I didn't like take I don't think I took a single.
What was your major? Um, I triple majored. I'm not
coming to nerd in political science, history and communications, any minor. No,
I don't think you need a minor. Yeah. I was
gonna minor and communications, but then I ended up taking

(58:03):
extra classes and so it became a major. Hey it works,
you know, Um. But I actually have a very bad
self discipline really Yeah. So when I went to college,
I was like, oh, I only have to be here
for like four hours a week. Um. And so I
had terrible grades my first quarters. I was on o

(58:25):
s U used to be on quarters. Absolutely terrible grades.
And so then I went and talked to the guyn's
counselor or whatever they're called in college and convinced them
to let me like triple my course load so that
I would be in class from nine am until three
pm every Monday through Thursday, because I was like, if
you let me step off campus, I am not coming back.

(58:47):
The fact that you know that yourself. So she's just
not here anymore to be seen stumbling home at two
o'clock in the morning like babies out. So I actually needed,
like I need the structure, overwhelmed. I needed to be structured.
Um to this day, I like still date people who
are very uptight and structured and discipline because I just

(59:10):
need it, Like I need structure because leave me alone,
I'm just like what, No, I feel like I'll need
a day an extrovert because I can't be pulling someone
else out where ourselves out of it right right totally? Um.
So yeah, that's like the one through line of all
the people I've ever dated has been that they're like actual,

(59:30):
you know, hardcore, like you get up at eight and
then we do this because otherwise or is it more
of like an intellectual thing? I mean my type would
be I mean smart and funny, um, generous and kind.
I cannot tolerate people who are not um. I have

(59:52):
absolutely zero tolerance for people who are unkind um and
even just courteous, right like people who don't say thank you,
or open doors for people to hind them, or take
up two seats on the bus, and she's like, what's
the matter with you? You share? You share this world
with human transportation? Guy? Yeah, um uh. And then I
really am drawn to people who were very disciplined and

(01:00:15):
very structured, and um that helps me. I love I
love a routine, but I've never successfully kept one independently.
I love the idea of one. I love the idea
of one, but like who knows when she's waking up?
Who knows what order I'm going to do anything? And
like generally I get everything done, but like I brush
my teeth at the three pm yesterday, you know what,

(01:00:37):
at least you're getting it done exactly. And that's as
long as you're doing is. And then I went to
brush my teeth this morning and my toothbrush was downstairs
at the kitchen stink, like just like childish. Like I'll
walk into my house sometimes and just be like, who
did this? And I live alone? So I did it. Well.
Thank you so much for taking the time. This was

(01:00:57):
just made my day and I feel very fired. Thank
you so much. You asked much spectacular questions and I
love your podcast I'm really honored that you even asked
me to recording. I'm honored here on this season, season four.
If it's got it, you've got to deliver. So good
for you. I appreciate you so much, so happy for you.
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