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November 11, 2021 34 mins

In this very special episode of the Let’s Be Real podcast, Sammy sits down with actor, author, director Justin Baldoni to discuss the stigma of male masculinity, the impact of social media on his life, his spiritual journey and so much more!

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
M Hey guys, and welcome back to this week's episode
of a Let's Be a Podcast. This week I got
to chat with the incredibly talented director, author, actor, filmmaker
Justin Baldoni. Now you may know him from Jane the Virgin,
or you may know him from his book Man Enough

(00:20):
or the Man Enough podcast which he hosts, which really
breaks down the stigma of toxic male masculinity. And then
this episode we talk a lot about that. We talk
about the fakeness of social media, being enough as just
who you are, and I go into more of my
mental health struggles and my journey. I hope you guys
enjoyed this episode. Ye. So I just want to start

(00:44):
out by saying this, and I don't say this lately.
Your podcast makes me want to become a better human
um and I know that through creating a podcast, just
when I've done in the past three years. It's a
lot of work, and it's a lot of effort that
people we don't see, and especially when you're doing it
on a platform you don't know who's listening, and it
can sometimes feel like, at least I felt like you're

(01:06):
putting in all this work and not sure if it's
even being acknowledged. But I want you to know that
I think that this podcast man Enough his truly changing
a lot. It's making me want to reflect on how
I can grow as a person. And I think you
are doing the mission you set out to do. Wow,
I mean, ja, that's so kind of you. Thank you

(01:29):
that really that really means a lot. I appreciate that
very much. And you know, the topic of being man
enough and male masculinity is so interesting. We had Kevin
Love on for the season two finale and he talked
about having a panic attack on the basketball court. And
yet these are things that are so common. I've struggled

(01:50):
with anxiety my entire life in O c D. There's
such a stigma with it and mental health. And I've
said this before, but it's just like you're supposed to
work out your body, you're supposed to work out your mind.
And that's one of the great things about talking things out.
Yet there's such a stigma with it. Where do you
think this stigma is rooted in? And by having these conversations,

(02:10):
how do you think we can break it? Well, first
of all, you're an awesome podcast host. Oh my god,
thank you mean it's really hard to ask questions and like,
first of all, yeah, you're just you're just doing you're
doing it, all right. You're better than I am, far
better than I am. Absolutely not all right. So thank

(02:32):
you for talking about your anxiety. I think that it's
wonderful that young people are talking about that. It took
me thirty something years to even realize that I had anxiety.
And I'm thirty seven now and i still feel like
i'm twenty one. But I'm thirty seven though, and I'm

(02:52):
just really getting to the root of it for me.
So it's really important to talk about what is the
root of how this started. I mean a combination of
a lot of things. Self preservation is one of them.
I think that we live in a we live in
a culture where we've all been socialized, especially men, to
believe that any sort of perceived weakness means that we

(03:17):
are not men, that we are not strong. Like it's
like this strange idea, But what do you does that
even mean? It doesn't mean anything. It's all it's all,
you know. I don't think I'm allowed to swear on this,
but it's all crapy. Justin you've got young listeners it's no,
no, no no, no, no, I'm gonna be I'm gonna be good.
You know what. See I broke it, Oh Sammy Jay

(03:40):
with swear with the F bomb. Um. Look, it's it's
just this whole idea of we think that we have
to be a certain way to be considered strong, and
yet the entire definition of strength and bravery, I think,
is backwards. It's all rooted in external things like this
idea that if I'm physically strong, that I'm strong. If

(04:02):
I am physically brave, meaning if I go and take
physical risks, if I risk my life to help somebody else,
then I'm brave. Right, But we completely forget what I
believe the true definition of strength and bravery is, which
is internal. For sure. Absolutely, it's not about taking physical risks,
about taking emotional risks. It's not about physical strength. It's

(04:25):
about emotional strength. You can't have. You can look, you
can be the strongest man in the entire world, but
if you have a panic attack and you don't know
what it is, you are as weak as you could
ever be because you don't have the emotional vocabulary to
first of all, understand what's happening to you, and second
of all, you don't have the emotional strength in the

(04:45):
bravery to ask for help. So what do you do?
These things debilitate us. It's kind of like being super
strong and stubbing your pinky toe. That's the worst, by
the way, it's the worst, right you can be. Like
you see like these uh, these strong young men, like
they can lift cars, they stubb their pinky toe and
they're down down for the count. Well, it's the same thing.

(05:06):
It's so like you could as strong as you want,
but if you're not dealing with your your actual mental health,
your emotional health, your well being, your spiritual health, then
you're just a shell. You're just a suit of armor.
That's so true. And I think one of the things
that I've been in therapy since I was like seven, Um,
I grew up with learning disabilities my entire life, and
I thought I was incapable of learning. I learned that

(05:27):
wasn't true. Been there. But there are so many people
that think that they are incapable of learning, that they
are stupid, and which in turn, specifically like a d
h D for example, looks very different on guys than
it does girls. And I think guys in the classroom
they're being pointed as disruptive and if they feel sad
or discourage, what society has taught us is to channel

(05:51):
anger instead of to actually feel that. Um, there's uh
Anthony Ramos, one of my favorite musicians. He has a
quote in a song about kind of toxic male masculinity
and he says, why am I pushing away with silence
has to say? And I feel like sometimes we need
to embrace that, embrace the feelings we are having and

(06:11):
let ourselves feel that. What is the journey been like
for you to go through that? While you've acted, you've directed,
What is the process of doing that while managing your
career and being a happy person? Wow? The great question.
Let's separate the happy person thing because the idea like

(06:32):
happiness starts with contentment, right, It starts with it starts
with appreciating what you have. It starts with gratitude. And
there's been a lot of times over the last decade
where I haven't been happy and I have no idea why.
I'm just looking around like I have everything? What's wrong?
And nobody talks about that? Oh, absolutely right, because we're

(06:53):
sold this idea of the American dream, right, this capitalistic patriot,
patriarchal society that we live in, that if you just
acquire an off then you'll be good, right, because so
many people don't have. If you can figure out how
to acquire, if you can reach the top of the pyramid,
or even midway up, then you're good. Yeah, it's not.
That's not the case, because it starts with contentment, it
starts with happiness. It starts with the inside. It's not

(07:15):
the x the outside, it's not the external. And were
sold this idea that happiness comes from the external, from
the outside. Look at social media, look at everything that
we're seeing. It's all coming from external forces. But it
will only ever stick if it comes from inside, from
doing the work and looking at the person in the
mirror and figuring out if you actually like what you see,

(07:36):
if you like the person staring back at you. If
you don't, no matter what you do, it's a house
of cards. You don't have a foundation. So for me,
what it looked like is this, As I started doing
this work, as I started truly healing, I was doing
it very much publicly. I'm doing and I'm not even
going to use the past tense. I am doing it

(07:56):
very publicly you would love promo. I am trying to
figure it out in real time, and I did that
on purpose. One is, nobody ever did that for me.
I never saw anybody hell in real time. I never
saw anybody that I looked up to talk about their
broken parts. And that's a massive problem because if you
don't see it, you can't be it. And if you

(08:18):
don't see it, then that means that you feel like
you're the only one. So growing up for me as
a man, I didn't know that I had anxiety until
I was in my thirties. I had no idea that
I had ever really been depressed until I was in
my thirties and I started really looking at Wow, I
feel really sleepy today. I feel really tired, but I
got sleep I don't really want to go out of bed.

(08:40):
I feel tightness in my chest? What is that? Normally
I would just want I would just go through it.
As I'm a man, I'm gonna do. That's what we do.
We pushed through everything. Conqueror, right, That's what we're taught
growing up. We have to be no pay, no gain,
just push push push push. Yeah, like, man up, what
does that even mean? That's it? Man up? Be man enough.

(09:01):
That was my entire life as an athlete. Right, You
get muscles by pushing, pushing, pushing, and then we do
the same thing with everything else in life. Look at sports.
You watch these guys they break their freaking legs and
they think they have to keep playing. What does that do?
And they can't walk when they're older, they're in wheelchairs.
You look at these boxers that beat the crap out
of themselves. Then they can't even put sentences together when

(09:23):
they're in their fifties and sixties. Like football players, it's
all backwards. What for for for the win? What does
that actually mean? So here I am in my thirties,
it's like, oh wow, my heart's my heart's really beating
fast today, but I'm not really doing anything. Huh. I

(09:44):
gotta tickets, I gotta take deep reast. There's something off,
all right, It's okay, I'm fine. And then you stuck
it up and you bury it down, and you don't
allow your body to feel what it is screaming at
you that it needs to feel, which is repressed emotion,
which are repressed feelings, anger, madness, We're more shame, get
whatever it is. It's all we bury it down to

(10:05):
the point where like a like molten lava and eventually
is going to rise to the service and explode like
a volcano. But eventually, no matter what, we're gonna have
to deal with it. I'm now in my thirties being like,
oh shit, I gotta I gotta deal with it. Why well,
I have lives that depend on me. I have a partner,
I have this amazing wife who's doing the exact same

(10:28):
work that I am. And we're looking at each other
and we're saying, we cannot pass this on to our children.
We cannot have our children grow up in homes like
we grew up. And now, granted we grew up okay
my wife. My wife's family had alcoholism and her dad
passed away when she was eighteen. I grew up in
a in a wonderful house. The problem is that we
never talked about the broken pieces. We just swept them

(10:51):
under the rug. My dad was the master at that exactly.
You realize that like this all comes up when you
don't deal with it, and even though what even and
when we deal with it, it comes up even more.
And that's the thing that I think it's important for
people to know you start healing, like it all starts
to come up and you have to address it, and
that's and that's also scary. And then you address it

(11:12):
and you're like, Okay, well, what's at the core of
that panic attack, what's at the core of my shortness
of breath, what's at the core of my depression, what's
at the core of the thing that's keeping me out
of bed? And then you've got to go into it. Oh. Absolutely,
I'm dealing with it in real time. I'm struggling. It's awesome,
and I want to talk about it as much as
I can because these are the things that don't make

(11:34):
us just man enough, and they make us human enough,
all of us. That the things that allow all of
us to connect because we are all struggling, we all
have trauma, and trauma looks different for everybody. It really does.
And I think something that I've learned, I mean, everyone's
journey is so different. But I just went through my
first midterms at college. I justved across the country and
I was really overwhelmed balancing school, the social life and

(11:57):
the podcast. I was terns are hard. I was doing
that thing where I was pushing it down. I was
just getting through the days and then I just took
a day. I took There's one moment and I just
cracked and I just sucking let it out and it
was one of those cries where like I could physically
feel it leaving my body. Oh those are good, which

(12:19):
was so good. But like I've grown up doing UM,
cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavior therapy. Yeah, and I've been
doing exposure therapy, where it's essentially like if you're afraid
of a spider, you start in a room with a spider,
and you lead up to actually holding it. Um, which
is one of the most afraid of spiders. No, but
there's just just an example. I was. I had separation anxiety,

(12:41):
really bad separation anxiety with your parents. Yes it was
no older brother. Um. And then like growing up with
learning disabilities to like the thought of a girl with
processing issues probably wouldn't have a podcast. So everything that
I'm trying to do is to prove to myself that
I can do all of the things that I thought

(13:01):
I could never do. It's awesome, it's really and I'm
so happy you're doing it. The crazy thing is soon
you're going to recognize what, oh ship all my success
is actually a trauma response. Oh absolutely absolutely. The podcast
was created as a distraction because of my anxiety. All
of this is like, wait, so I'm this is all
a responsive from trauma. Doesn't mean it's bad or good, right,

(13:24):
It's taking a shitty situation and creating something good out
of it. You look at that and you're like wow.
So in some ways I have to have a lot
of gratitude for that. Oh absolutely, things I look back on,
Like I've talked about this, I hate my anxiety, but
I'm also very grateful for it because it makes me
who I am and I think something that's I'm currently

(13:45):
struggling with that. I'm sure you can give me advice
on is you have you're balancing a lot. You know,
you have your production company, you have your podcasts, you
have a family. How have you dealt with balancing all
of that? Terribly? I've dealt with it. I doubt This
is where understanding that your drive comes coming from trauma

(14:05):
is really important, because when it comes from a place
of pain and it's disguised as drive, then you never
have an end. So what I tell people, because I'm
on this same journey, is that there's like no matter
how much success I get, it's not going to change anything.

(14:28):
It's not going to heal me. Until you're content with yourself.
I have to I have to heal. And then the
success on top of that, it can be additory if
you will. It's like I can. I can be grateful
for it. But the second that my perceived success in
America and social media and whatever business that I'm in

(14:49):
becomes my identity is the second that I just fall
into like that bottomless pit of despair because it's not
real because eventually that's going to go away, and what
happens when that goes away, I'm just again, I'm prolonging
a panic attack of prolonging depression. You that's why you
see so many people just fighting to stay in front
of the limelight, like just doing everything they can for fame,

(15:12):
because they're so deadly afraid of losing it, because losing
it is death to them, because you don't have an
identity without it, and if that's your identity, exactly expect
and also because it's you're you're trying to heal your
trauma with these external things when in reality, you can
have all of this stuff. You can do your podcast,
you can do all you could. I could do mine,
You could write your book, so long as you know

(15:35):
that it doesn't define me, and if it goes away,
it's okay. Justin we have to take a quick break.
But when we come back, I want to continue talking
about what defines us and the stigma as to why
so many guys don't like to open up and be
vulnerable and much more. We'll be right back and we're back,

(16:00):
So then what does define you? Though? Is the question?
Because that's something that I'm going through, Like if, for example,
the podcast has been my identity, who am I a
girl with a podcast? If I used I just work
for Radio Disney, I was a Radio Disney girl who
like it goes to the question of they think we're
all struggling with, like who are you besides the materialistic things?

(16:20):
I always I always think about, well, what would happen
if a meteor hit Earth and suddenly we lost all
of our technology? Be nice in a way, wouldn't it be?
I think a lot of us would be like, oh
my god, I can breathe again. Can you imagine how
many people would just be able to like take a
full breath for the first time in their life. Wow,

(16:41):
if it all went away, You think about that, all
of us, we are all enough already, but the world
is telling us we're not so. So long as we're
looking to the world and others for cues, were never
going to feel like we're enough. My wife and I
talked about this a lot. What is enough? Content meant?
What is enough? I have my perfect idea of what

(17:03):
my career is. When will I be satisfied? When will
I be happy? In my book, I talk about the
y ladder. If you go into the y ladder, if
you ask yourself why more than once, If you ask
yourself that question, what will make me happy? You'll probably
recognize that you won't find the answer because the answer
doesn't exist out there, it exists here inside. So balance

(17:27):
really comes down to prioritization. It's not balance, it's prioritizing.
It's man, I'm feeling low today. You know what, I'm
not gonna do anything. I'm gonna take care of myself.
I'm not gonna I'm not gonna push myself into a podcast.
You know what, I'm going to cancel though I had,
You know what I had? Justin Biebern, as awesome as
he is, I gotta take care of myself. I would
never cancel and Justin Bieber, though I would choose him

(17:49):
over my mental health. That's between you and your mental health.
And if you give my point, it's like we just
if if all of us would would be able to
breathe deeply and have so much less anxiety of all
of the technology in the world went away, what is
that telling us? It's telling us that all of it

(18:10):
is bullshit. It does good, of course it does good.
You're helping people, Sammy, like I'm helping people, were all helping,
But we have to also ask ourselves like that does
that define us? Does us helping people define us? Or
are we trying to heal something in ourselves by helping others?
And there's a big difference too that I think is

(18:32):
needs a distinction. Something that I'm like I said, I'm
a freshman at college and something that I'm realizing, the
toxic masculinity alone within just guys in college is so
prevalent that I'm witnessing on a day to day that's
kind of shocking, um and you should do, honestly a

(18:52):
podcast episode on it. Because something that I'm realizing is
with the frat culture. Yeah, it's terrible. My like my
guy friends, like they're just starting to open up, but
it's oh, I can't do that. Something that I've realized
with that is just guys are afraid to show their
emotions even to their girlfriends. And I'm and my friends

(19:15):
are trying to be like no, Like crying is a
good thing. It shows strength. It's hot when guys are
freaking honest and open and not just focusing on getting
this because it's cool, And I feel like that should
be talked about more. The social pressures are so much
more than I think anybody realizes. Yeah, boys and men

(19:38):
just want to be liked and accepted by their boys
and men. We think that we're doing it for women.
We think we're doing it for girls, but in reality,
like if we were to listen to the women and
the girls in our lives, we wouldn't be doing half
the ship that we're doing. And in college, it's just
I want to fit in. You want to be a
part of a club. You want to be a part
of a team. You want to have your bros. You

(19:58):
want to be a part of that. And fat culture
is extremely toxic. It's terrible. Um, but honestly, so a
sorority culture. Absolutely, it's all toxic. It's taking social media
and you're just putting it in the real world and
you're saying like, am I enough? Judge me, Please tell
me If I'm enough, let me into your group. That
is toxic and it breaks my heart. I just read

(20:20):
an article like young women are developing ticks, like like
little ticks, and they're thinking that it's because of TikTok we.
This is the largest experiment in the history of the universe,
what we're doing to young people in their brains right now.
We've never had this much comparison or this much beauty
standards and ship shoved in our faces. And us men,

(20:41):
God like, it's already so hard for us to just
except who we are is enough. We don't have the
language of the vocabulary to go in to figure out
what we're feeling, because we've never been asked what we're
like feeling none, none of us have. The whole idea
of masculinity is that we have to have people under
us in order for us to feel powerful. That's the

(21:02):
that's the fraternity structure that is so true. And I
feel like it's one of those things where I'm so
glad that you are talking about this, and there are
so many other issues. I know in your book you
were so open about, like body image, because that's with guys.
I wish that was discussed more, because I feel like,
in turn, if we all discuss it and we would

(21:24):
all feel less alone. You know, No, it's not just girls,
it's not just this. Um. You've talked about your struggle
with body dysmorphia, and especially you're a lot of your
characters were these shirtless jack dudes. And how did that
affect the way you looked at your own body, because
people probably from TV were like, man, I wish like
I wish I looked like you. Yeah, I read about it.

(21:45):
I talked about how it was hard to be on
TV while I was suffering from a problem that I
was also helping to perpetuate. Ah um and uh, you know,
they would write my abs into a scene. And here
I was like newly married with a kid on the way,
not able to work out every day, like struggling and

(22:06):
trying to figure out how do I how do I
keep my body so that I can you know, keep
my job and so you can support your family, And
and it was really, really, really tricky because when I
would try to talk to people about how I was
suffering and my insecurities, they would look at me like,
oh please, I wish I looked like you. So it's
shamed me in many ways into silence where I wasn't

(22:27):
able to talk about my insecurities. Yeah, and it's and look,
I understand I have a lot of privilege here, right,
I have able bodied privilege, I have genetic privilege. I'm
a man, I you know, But at the same time,
I'm a human. You know. We are all afraid. All
of us have insecurities, but we just project this confidence.

(22:47):
And what happens when we just project confidence is it
makes everybody else feel like there's something wrong with them
if they don't have that same confidence, or like that's
the gold standard, or like we have to get to
that when in reality, like what if we were all
just okay being who we are. Some of us would
have more confidence in some areas than others, some would
have some would be more insecure, but we wouldn't shame anybody.

(23:08):
There wouldn't be there'd be a spectrum of enoughness, if
you will. There wouldn't be a definition because we would
have undefined it. All of us would be allowed to
be who we are, and there would be space for it.
If we could teach our young boys specifically to have empathy,
to have compassion for each other, then there would be
no shame, because why would you ever want to bully
somebody who's already suffering. Why would you ever want to

(23:31):
pick on a kid who's struggling in class, or who's
dyslexic and who doesn't know the answer who or who's overweight.
Obviously they're dealing with something at home, so you would
have empathy for that person. That's where we gotta get to.
We gotta see each other as human beings. I'm so
glad you said that, because that's something that's come out
of this podcast that was not planned. But I've realized

(23:54):
through the many conversations we've had, is how the media
takes the human out of the person. Right. Oh yeah,
of course. For example, we had Cash on the podcast
season one. I was so excited, but I did not
know what to expect because the way the media portray
these people, you forget that they're just a human being
like you. And when I sat down with her, I'm like, man,

(24:14):
I really want this to be a mission for people
to realize that we shouldn't be putting people on the
pedestal because it gives them unexpected um standards and it
gives us that as well, and we shouldn't have that.
Pedestals are broken. I mean, that's why the whole idea
of pedestal I mean, it's forget about cancel culture. The
pedestal culture. That's what we do. Can we talk about

(24:36):
that more? That should be a thing. Pedestal culture. Well,
that's what it is. That's what social media it is
because it's like pedestal culture. Suddenly you have millions of followers,
so you're different than somebody else, Like what what does
that actually mean? Followers mean absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing, but
people make it their entire lives. So we we love

(24:58):
putting people up on pedest soles, but you know what
we love more bringing them down. Why the Internet tears
you up to bring you down, because we all are
hurting when I when I look out in the world,
when I did I deleted Twitter for my from my
phone recently, and I'll probably slowly start to leaving all
of the apps um and asking friends and people to

(25:19):
post for me because it's just not I don't feel good,
Like I don't like the feeling of being stuck on
a scroll or looking at all everybody else's lives and
what they're you know, it just it doesn't make me
feel good. And the more we start to honor those
parts of ourselves where we say, like, that doesn't make
me feel good, so I'm gonna stop doing it, the
healthier we're going to become. Again. If the world if

(25:40):
the meteor hit and the satellites all went out and
there was no social media, no podcasts, know any of
this stuff, you would just all be people. And how
would we create hierarchies. I'm sure we would because we
did it before, But it also be about like compassion
and empathy and who I want to be around, and
who I want to spend my time with, and who
makes me feel good and who's of service, who's exuding

(26:01):
love and all the qualities that I want to be with.
It would had nothing to do with how somebody looks
or there. There would be no followers. Okay, we have
to take one more quick break, but when we come back,
let's talk about how to stay true to ourselves, especially
with the fakeness of social media. Your spiritual journey and
the balance of working on yourself while helping others. We'll
be right back, and we're back, and it just goes

(26:30):
to show like it's so important to just stay true
to yourself because, especially in a world with social media,
when we're throwing a fake reality, there's only one you,
and you were only created you for a reason exactly.
And when people talk about, oh, I want to change
this about me, he change out be like, but they
didn't make you a copy and paste version of another

(26:51):
person for a reason. We should have just all embrace that.
And that's really hard. Um. And I know something that
you talk a lot about being in higher name nature,
which is our souls, and I'm I would say, I'm
more so starting a spiritual journey, just asking more questions
and exploring covering topics I've never really thought of. Um,
can you explain that what do you believe? I believe?

(27:15):
I believe, I don't know what I believe? Great, that's awesome.
Is there anything that gives you hope? Is there any
foundational belief that you have in your life that that
makes you feel better about existing in this world? Honestly,
my grandma, because she has this just this ability to

(27:36):
always take the high road and be the bigger person
in situations where what does that look like? Situations where
she could easily and I would easily want to just
call something out or just go for what you want
to do in the moment, But she has this ability
to rise above it. And that's how I want to

(27:58):
be as a person and now I want to grow.
So that's why do you think? Why do you think
she can do that? Because she's an angel. I love her.
She's a walking angel, literally, But I don't know. I
think it's the way she was raised, and I think
just I think if we all gave each other a
chance and listened, I think that would make a big difference,

(28:20):
because there's a lot of talking but not a lot
of listening. Yeah. As a quote in the by Writings
which is My Faith, that says it is impossible to
talk and listen at the same time, m H, which
I love. Okay. I think this world can be a
very very scary and dark place if you don't have
a belief system, and so I encourage everybody to look

(28:41):
for a belief system of some sort. I mean, look,
we've been doing that forever in the time we were
created or showed up on this planet, or you know,
as we transitioned from monkeys to humans, whatever you believe,
We've always been searching for a meaning, a bigger why
as to why we're here. I look at life this

(29:01):
We are here for a very short time, and regardless
of what you believe, we have to spend our time
in service, both to ourselves, which we forget, but also
to others, because that is the thing that if you
that's the only thing you can accumulate at the end
of your life. That means anything. We think about the
life that we want, like, well, let's think about our

(29:23):
death for a second. I encourage people to think about
their mortality. If you meditate on your mortality, it will
influence the way that you live. And my belief is
that the only thing that we can take with us
is the good that we do, is the service, is
the you know, that's the kindness that we are. If
you will, that's the stuff that will matter in the end.

(29:45):
And that's so beautiful. And you've done so many documentaries,
uh and like for example, clouds On, you've worked with
people going through terminal illnesses. Has that clouds was inspired
by Zach Zack the documentary. Has that mindset helped you
in your filmmaking for sure? I mean it influenced to
how the projects that I've taken on. I mean I

(30:06):
spent seven years making documentaries about folks dying, as you said,
and then my last two movies were inspired by real
people that we're friends of mine who passed away. But
I think for me, the thing that it did the
most is one is it give me some PTSD Because
I had to deal with a lot of people that
I love dying and I would willingly show up and

(30:27):
become very close to them, knowing that we're going to die,
and it's very hard. It's an emotional toll. For sure.
I took a big toll, um And on the other
end of it, I recognized just how important everything else is.
All the things that we don't make important that aren't
rewarded in our culture right now because they don't have
some tangible meaning. How important moments of stillness and nothing,

(30:50):
or how how important moments where there's no phone or
no social media posts are. How important is to just
be with family, how important not working actually is. Um.
It influenced everything in my life, But I wanted to
make movies that help people realize that, like, there's so
much more to life than what what we think right now.
And then we have one life, we have to actually
live it. I love that live it. We're coming out

(31:14):
of a pandemic. We truly, that's what I'm realizing. I
can't just let my anxiety when I really have to
go out and live my life. Are you working on
any other documentaries or any other projects? Well, right now,
my I mean, my studio is making a bunch of movies.
So we're, um, we're currently shooting two movies. One movie
started today. Um, we're shooting moving in Texas called The Senior,

(31:35):
which is a really cool football movie about a fifty
nine year old guy who was kicked off his football
team senior year and he decided to go back and
try out again and he makes the team. And it's
about never giving up on your dreams. It's about healing
and all kinds of stuff. And then we're making a
movie in uh, Upstate New York right now called Empire Waste,

(31:58):
which is a movie about body positivity, which is really exciting.
It takes place in a high school and um, we
address fat phobia and all kinds of things. Um, and
it's this really inspiring story that I'm so proud that
we can that we can help tell. In fact, I
cast one of the roles off TikTok. The director Claire

(32:22):
there's a brilliant writer director, Sheia. She wanted to cast
and put out a casting call on TikTok and so
I posted about it and we found one of our
leads who had never really acted before, and she's gonna
be a huge star. We had two thousand submissions. That's amazing. See,
that's a good thing with social media. That is one
of the good things with social media. Um. You know
that the part of communitee Again, it's like everything is

(32:44):
good and bad. It's what we do with it. And
then I'm getting ready to make my next movie, which
I'll probably make it uh March April next year, which
is a sci fi love story that I'll be directing.
You're doing so much and I just want to thank
you for coming on my podcast because you were truly
I think doing something doble work with just telling your
story and telling other people's stories, which is what I

(33:05):
want to do, and you're doing it, and you're doing it.
Just remember no matter how successful. You are. You were
enough before and you'll be enough after. Thank you, thanks
so much for coming on the podcast. All right, bye,
bye bye. Thank you guys so much for listening to
this week's episode of the Let's Be Real Podcast. Please

(33:28):
know that you are enough and you're so great, just
as you are justin. Thank you so much for coming
on my podcast. I am truly inspired by this conversation.
And if you haven't already followed Justin on Instagram, follow
the Man Enough podcast, read his book, and if you want,
follow me on Instagram at it Sammy J. That's I
T S S A M M, Y J A y E.

(33:48):
And subscribe to the Let's Be Real Podcast if you
haven't already. New episodes are out every Thursday. Trust me,
the season's only getting started. All right, guys, I'll see
you next week. Bye to the cant of the Land
of Candor.
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