Welcome, welcome, welcome to armchair expert I'm Dan Shepard. I'm joined by Veronika Radman or our. How are you feeling?
I'm feeling good. I'm doing well. That's what Delta said.
Once dealt Delta, the five year old on Zoome, one of her friends is like, how you like acting crazy?
And she's like, um, yeah, I'm doing good. I'm feeling well.
Today we have America Ferrera. America Ferrera is an actress, a producer and increasingly a director. She was, of course, on Ugly Betty Superstore, The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants.
And now she has a show called 25, which she directed and is phenomenal. And you should check it out. So please enjoy America Ferrera.
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He's in charge. I'm so glad I get to see your faces because I was so afraid we were just going to be on the phone.
I know we would have really preferred to done it in person because we think some magic dust exchanges from one another.
Yeah, well, that's why we can't be together, because the magic that you're pregnant, right? I am pregnant.
Congratulations. Thank you.
And I have a son who's about to be two, which is fun and a lot of work, as you know. You know, when you're this far along pregnant, it's like their days where it's like I can't even keep my eyes open. Yeah.
You announced in January that you were pregnant, but how far along are you?
I do like sometime in May. So like. Oh ok. OK. Yeah, yeah.
I guess I've been following a little bit like just on Instagram. How are they allowing people like it was just that the women were doing on their own. Right. And the husband was like not allowed in there and yeah.
I mean it's really insane. And look, everybody is dealing with insane upheavals and not normal circumstances. I mean, I can't speak for other women, but for me, like childbirth is scary. And it brings up some, like, really primal, deep seeded, probably warranted fears about, like, everything that could happen.
So, you know, that's true for me, not in a global pandemic, but. Yeah, like, add that to the mix and you kind of don't know what situation you're walking into. And I think every state is kind of doing it differently and different hospitals are doing it differently.
But like there was maybe like a week or so where mothers in New York were birthing alone without any body in the room with them.
Like I mean, I could burst out into tears thinking about that right now. And, you know, I mean, nurses and doctors, I guess, coming in and out, but without their their partners or any family members or any loved ones there with them. And I think that changed rather quickly. But now I think the issue is that post birth, the mothers aren't allowed to have anyone with them. And a lot of hospitals are high, which is terrifying.
Childbirth is no joke.
If you had to rank your overall general anxiety and life zero to 10, where are you? What's your baseline?
I don't think I'm an anxious person. No, I'm not an anxious person. I can get to ten like I can do myself to ten. But, you know, with this, it's so interesting because I'm not in general an anxious person. I am a highly suggestible person. Oh.
So like so like I can't do things like I can't watch horror films, OK, because I get too scared watching horror films.
Yes, I have the same thing. We watched Dateline the other day and I was like scared for two hours after. Yeah.
Like I can't I believe it too much. Yes. So I stopped watching horror films like when I was like ten and I get mad when I'm like watching late night TV and they play a trailer for like the Purge seven or whatever.
And I'm just like, I didn't ask for that. I don't want that. It's eleven, thirty pm. I want to go to sleep. And you just made me watch this horror moment. So if I start to think about something I can get myself there in like a second. But I think on a day to day basis in general, there's this silver lining of perspective of like nothing really matters that much, right?
It's only when the illusion of safety and stability is broken, but there is no safety and stability, even like I think it was maybe like Esther Paral, someone really impressive.
It was like marriage is an illusion of safety. It doesn't come with just safety. You know, you have to daily create that. And there is no permanent homeostasis for stability and safety.
I love Esther Perel. She's just she's the best. She's amazing.
Yeah. I think that at the moment I feel the realization of, like, we don't have any control really ever is actually bringing me like this preternatural kind of calm versus the other way. But I also feel like just like tuning into the news for three minutes could jack me right away like radio really quick.
Is there anything like conventional male female things happening between you and your husband? Because my wife and I are like we went straight to all the cliches. I'm like, it's fucking fine until this house is on fire and everything's fine. You know, I have the everything's fine because I can't fix it.
So I just dismiss it as not a threat. So we're like we just snapped right into these really conventional roles.
Well, in our house, my husband Ryan was. Sounding the alarm like December, like the second he heard that this was happening in China, he was like, this is what we need. I'm going to start stocking up. And, you know, he's a little OCD like for are for right now. And there are times where that is a bummer for me.
And I definitely was like rolling my eyes and just being like, OK, go get a 50 pound sack of beans, you know, without doomsday prepare.
I know. I know. But you know what? I really want this time with his tendency to have to be prepared. He really saw the signs and took it seriously. And I did not I mean, I was a pregnant, so I didn't have that much mental capacity to, like, take it in. And B, I was like working. I worked all the way up until March 13th. They didn't shut down production on my show on Superstore, OK, which, by the way, was a week before I was supposed to wrap the series.
Like the like I said, you're moving on. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I'm leaving the show. And so I had like some cramping myself up for, like, my last episode.
You had already written your cards and everything mean everyone a week of teary goodbyes and also telling people like we're not doing this right now. We'll do this last week. Like, I'm not crying. I'm not, like, saving it all for the last week. And then, you know, we come into work on Friday, a week before we're actually supposed to wrap. And they're they're like, this is your last day.
I assume they just clip the episode off the order. Right. They're not going to try to resume because it'll have expired at the end of the season. It'll be.
Well, I. I think I will have to go back and finish because the storyline isn't really complete for my character. So it's the end of her entire character arc on the show. So the way that it ends right now is with the penultimate episode, which was not intended to be the finale, but is going to be the finale. And then, you know, I guess it's kind of nice. We'll come back next season and start the season with the real bummer of an episode.
I mean, leaving.
OK, so that's the plan is next year we'll see that final episode?
I think so. I think that's the plan. Again, my what our plans these days, you know. Yeah. But I think the chances are good that I'll go back and finish a new storyline.
My wife has just an abundance of lovely feelings about you. Oh well same. But she has you've failed in her like group of super women who are changing the world and she respects love. Are you friends with Polar's? She told me that this morning.
I, Amy Poehler is like the best of all, the best. How'd you guys meet? We met through groups of friends.
And then, you know, it's like if you're lucky enough to know, like, probably the coolest woman ever, then you get to meet other cool women.
You know, we've gotten on all these text chains.
We're like crisis's are happening around the world. And, you know, we all get on text message and try to help each other, like, get through them emotionally. You're like as a mom, I'm like I what do I do?
Or do you have any awareness or gratitude for the fact that you work in an era where, yeah, there's Amy Poehler, there's my wife. But like, if you were on TV in the eighties, you would have bumped into other women on the lot, but they would have all been someone's wife generally.
They wouldn't have been like the lead of the show.
And isn't it kind of cool that you're working in an era where you have all these peers that are like their own and.
Absolutely. And I think this time is unprecedented in a way. Yes. I feel like for a while I've been able to kind of like look out and see amazing women doing amazing things that I wanted to be doing, you know, watching Poehler go from being in front of the camera to producing and directing episodes of her show to directing features and watching my friends like Amber Tamblyn and Eva Longoria do the same, like watching women model. A possibility is life changing.
But something else happened in this era in our industry, which was the Time's Up movement, and that changed so much more for women in our industry, because I think before that, even if you saw women from afar or admired them from afar or went to them at an awards ceremony and said, I love you like thank you, there was still this feeling of like being in silos. You know, we oftentimes as a woman and particularly as a woman of color, you are the only one in the room.
You're the only woman in the cast. You're the only woman producer. You're the only woman in a in a decision making cohort. And that can be really isolating and really lonely. And what happened when Time's Up was born is that those barriers just dissolved. And women. Literally coming together in rooms physically to be with each other in a way that was unprecedented in our industry, in a way where there was proximity and where we would talk about things like why has it taken us this long?
Mm hmm. So often we are not only kept separate, but also pitted against each other as competition, not potential partners and potential collaborators.
Well, there's still a scarcity mentality because there were so few roles that were relevant out there. So I do think there's a scarcity mentality that was quite real just 10 years ago that helps lay the groundwork for that totally.
And it's also like cyclical, because if women are never together and are never collaborators and never talking and never even knowing each other or seeing each other as anything but competition for those paltry roles that are out there, then they can't create together know. And look at what someone like Reese Witherspoon is doing right now. And and everything she makes is like opening doors for five other women to to start produce, to direct. And it doesn't have to be I have to protect my piece of the pie for me.
And that mentality really opened up with this not easy, but very simple act of of proximity, of just like being around each other and the feeling that like even if I didn't know somebody, if I watched a film she directed, I feel like in this day and age I could reach out and say, hey, I really love and admire what you did. Would you be willing to talk to me about about this project that I'm trying to get off the ground?
And from where I sit, there is an openness and a willingness to do that and to lift each other up to, like, mentor each other.
Yeah. And it just feels so different from what it felt like 10 years ago in this industry. As a woman, as a woman of color, there is what it's like for all women. But as a Latina woman, oh, my God, I, I didn't know any other Latinas in this industry. And, you know, you talk about scrambling and competing for a small piece of the pie. You know, there are five Latinas that we're all like competing for.
Oh, the sassy Latina lover or whatever it is. And you only knew each other in that context. And that boundary has started to dissolve. And that feels incredible to know that we can just reject the idea that we are not allowed to create together and that we're not allowed to empower one another and that there isn't space for all of us, because, of course there is. And the more that we are able to collaborate and inspire and connect with one another, the more is possible.
I'm seeing it every day as a producer, as a director, as an actress.
Now, I am curious about time's up. I'm just guessing and projecting here. But I wonder, is there any comfort in the fact that I imagine if I'm young and I'm female and I'm looking at the Reese Witherspoon and Amy Poehler, I am wrongly assuming, well, they're so bold and confident that they couldn't have ever been victimized by this. And then finding out like, no, no, the level of power really makes you impervious to that. Like, as it was there some layer of comfort knowing like, oh, my God, that happened to you.
Absolutely. That's so much of the deal. Right. Is just coming to see each other as humans and and coming to realize how shared our experiences are. Reese gave this beautiful speech at an awards luncheon this past year. You know, she talks about like how dismissed and how no one would take her seriously as anything but like a pretty blonde actress. And you look at the empire she's building for herself. And it's beyond inspiring to be reminded that, like, everybody has this struggle and to different degrees with different elements and aspects, obviously.
But but it isn't easy for anyone. And no one gets to escape the psychology of this industry and also the psychology of being a woman in this industry and how you have to really fight past what you have internalized as a woman about what's possible for you. Like for me. Yeah, I've started directing and I started on my show on Superstore four years ago, and I knew I wanted to do it, but I was terrified. I mean, really, truly like shaking, terrified to ask the question for a show that I was a star on and that I was a producer on from the beginning.
And, you know, it was like, do I just think I'm not capable? Do I think I don't deserve it? Have I not worked hard enough really having to figure out, like, what is this fear?
Yeah. What's the mental block?
And I remember like I was on set and these two actors walked on set, these two male actor. Others who were like somewhat known television stars. I was like, oh, hey, hi, nice to meet you. What are you guys doing here? Like, overshadowing to direct them. Like, of course, you are here on one television show, you know, for a couple episodes.
And you're like, I should do that, which is great not to take anything away from that. But like, such a mirror was held up to me. I'm like I have made over a hundred and fifty hours of television, like, what am I waiting for? Like, I've been working since I was 17 years old. I've been on sets. I've worked with countless directors like I don't know what I'm waiting for to be ready. And so really, I like I texted Amy Poehler and texted Eva Longoria and texted Amber to come in and talk to my friends and said, I'm terrified.
And they're like, you got this. Like, you're going to be scared. You got this, you can do it. And it was like in spite of how scary it was, I had to take that step. But I don't know that I could have or would have without some level of support and modeling from women around me who had done the same thing. And since then, I've directed several episodes of Superstore. I directed two episodes of Identifying, which is my show that premiered on Netflix earlier.
So I was waiting for you to pronounce it first because I felt like that word looks like gentrified to me. But I am dyslexic and I don't know how to find.
So it's a play on gentrified. But Hinter is the word in Spanish for people. So it's a made up word that was actually created by activists inside these gentrifying communities. So it's essentially kind of the act of community changing, but by the people from that community. And it's a very controversial issue because in a town like Boyle Heights here in L.A., it's such a beautiful, beautiful neighborhood, actually shot my very first film I ever did. Real Women Have Curves was completely shot in Boyle Heights.
Oh, no kidding. Yeah. And it's changed so much, hence the gentrification. But the idea of gentrification is that like a lot of young people like myself who are born and raised and of these neighborhoods, go away, go to college, get educated, get access, come home and then open up their art studio or open up their coffee shop where latte cost ten dollars. And and they themselves, like the people of that neighborhood, are part and parcel of the changing of it and also the kind of unsustainability of its historical kind of traditional roots.
And the people who live there kind of making it harder for the people who are from there to survive there. Anyway, identified is it's a comedy. I'm sure it sounds in a way that I explain it, but it's a comedy with drama and it's sort of centered around this family in Boyle Heights. And I'm so proud of it. And as a producer to have gotten to create space for two incredibly talented young Latino voices to come through and tell this story authentically and have their show be on Netflix and watched and loved.
It's such a win. And then, like I said, I got to direct two of the episodes, which was really awesome.
Now, often when we are interviewing someone of color, there is part of me that thinks if I were in this position at times, I would be like, selfishly, I just want to enjoy this fucking ride because I'm black.
I have to now speak on all black issues or or be politically minded or be active in that way. Or if I'm a woman, I have to take on all these women.
Like, what if I'm just a selfish person who wants to fucking get paid and live? Yet there's this kind of Bakhtin expectation, there's that expectation.
Ever feel daunting? It sounds like you run towards that and really enjoy that. But sometimes I just go like, oh, it's kind of not fair.
Then on top of it being harder to get there once you're there, you have this added responsibility that certainly I don't have. You know, I'm free to just fucking make money and buy cars.
Yeah. You shithead. Yeah. Yeah. No, I do this for the money. Is that not bad? Is that more apparent? I'm doing a really bad job of it and I like I believe wholeheartedly in everyone's right to be able to just make money and buy cars if they want to do it's like and I get it. And there are times where I feel that yeah, sure. There are moments where sometimes I feel like this is just for fun or this is just for the love of like doing something silly or whatever it is.
Or can I add an ego thing like an ego thing for me would be I direct and within the question about directing it, when they say it's great, they and then they say as a woman director.
And then I think, why are you putting me in these two boxes? I just I fucking drove. Did this great episode. Let's just leave it at that. That's like where I would get triggered. Yeah, yeah. You know, it's tricky and you're right. And it's like it's also about context, right? It's like who's putting you in that box and why are people putting you in that box? And, you know, since I was 17, when I started my career, it wasn't something that I was ever going to avoid.
I starred in a film called Real Women Have Curves. And as a brown, overweight young woman who didn't fit any of the stereotypes of like what a leading lady in a film should look like or be like, I realized really early on that it wasn't up to me. People were going to cast me as as a role model, as an example. And and at 17, that's incredibly daunting. Oh, yeah, scary. Especially when, like, I was just a kid trying to figure out my own body issues and identity issues.
And part of this is just who I am and my personality. But I really got so inspired and changed by realizing how powerful storytelling was and getting in touch with my own anger and my own desire to see people like me and realizing like, oh yeah, I had grown up my whole life seeing myself in Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts because I had to because I had to watch whatever was available to me and say, yeah, I could be that.
And I never got to see anything that really looked like me. And as a kid, you know, you don't stop to think how that's like deeply impacting you and your view of yourself in the world. But as I got older, more awareness grew around that and then truly more indignation. Right. So I felt so lucky to have so much access to influence what kinds of stories were being told. And also just like how certain characters were being portrayed.
You know, since I was 17, I had to walk onto sets and say, like, I wouldn't say that, you know, that sounds dumb or like I don't connect to that, you know, and learning at such a young age to have to be an advocate not just for yourself, but like for a representation of people like you. So I I guess I'm just power hungry with it. And when the power came on, like, I will do right with this power.
But now, you know, it's obviously about personality. And for me, what felt daunting and scary and like a burden and more than I could handle early on now feels like my purpose. It's like, yes, you know what what else would I be doing with this access that I have gotten for myself if not changing what our stories look like and also getting to be a part of getting millions and millions of millions of people seen. And I know what that means.
I know what it feels like to look out into the culture and feel truly invisible. And I think that the impacts of that go far beyond having a show to talk about at school. It's about feeling like you belong in this society and the impact that has on young people and what they believe about themselves, you know, to go back to myself and like, why did I feel like I didn't belong in the director's chair or I didn't see anybody like myself in the director's chair.
So. Right. Anyway, you know, not to get too self-righteous about it, but it definitely feels like it's it's a part of my personality to lean into it, as you said. Yeah.
When you were first auditioning, did you already have that sort of sense of self or when you were first auditioning, were you like, oh, I just want to go out for the white role or the every person role? And why does it always have to be a Latino role?
Because when I started auditioning, I was like, I'm not doing an Indian accent. I'm not going to do anything with a name like whatever. It's going to be down the hall.
Sure. Yeah. What you doing that Kal Penn had auditioned for. And then I just ran in the complete opposite direction and I was like, I'm not that.
And it sounds like at some point you decided smartly that the best way to do this is to embrace it. But was that from the beginning or did you have to get there? Yeah, it was definitely a journey.
I mean, my very first audition ever, I was 16, maybe 15, maybe 16. And it was for like literally like a late night, like, cable subscription commercial or it was like a bail bonds commercial, I can remember is something done. But it was like my first audition ever, ever, ever, ever, ever. And I like walked in. I was so excited and I went in. I'm from the valley. I went to like thirty bar and bar mitzvahs growing up, like my Spanish is like not that great.
So I walked in, I read the sides, I did a great job. And then the, you know, the casting director lady was like, mm, that's great. Can you do that again. But. And more Latina. Mm hmm. Sure, sure. And I was like, what do you I don't do you want me to do this in Spanish? And she was like, no, no, no. Like, do it in English, but like, just sound more Tedham.
I genuinely was like, I have no fucking idea what you're asking me to do. So I just like did it again the way I speak. And then I went to her and I was like, I am Latina. So yeah.
Is, is this what a Latina sounds like. And she was just like, OK, thank you honey. Bye. You know, and like, you know, never got the role. And I was so young I didn't really understand until later, like, oh, she just wanted me to, like, speak bad English. Yeah. Be a stereotype.
Now, now. Well, I think it's actually expired already, but yeah, for a while there it was like the safe way to say it was to say urban like, oh, could it be more urban. Right.
Right. Meanwhile, like I couldn't be less urban if I try very early on, I realized there's going to be a box here, that they're going to shove me in.
But, you know, it wasn't that I was willing to do things that felt demeaning. And again, this is a personality thing, you know, I mean, I came from a very, very poor family. My mother was a single mom. Parents were immigrants. Like I had no leg to stand on in terms of, like, my art. You going to be like I just had to take whatever opportunity came to me. But I remember, like, auditions coming through where I even at 16, I was like, fuck, no, I'm not going.
And for that, you know, so and then there were other opportunities where things didn't feel perfect, but there felt like enough there that I could then go in and like have a conversation about and talk to someone about, you know, and and I learned how to work with mostly white men or white women and have conversations with them about how to make a better decision for the character that served them in the long run and help them kind of get to, which is like it's a pretty exhausting but useful skill to learn at 16 years old, 17 years old, you know, and then at a certain point, as a thirty six year old woman, you know, twenty years into this career, feeling like I don't want to have to have those conversations if I don't have to, like I know how to have those conversations.
But also I actually just want to see us telling our stories. And I want other people to have to translate. Like if I could see myself in Tom Hanks, then why can't Tom Hanks see himself in me when you did Curves?
I've shortened it to just curves. Curves is a good one. Curves is a good shorties. So when you did curves and you went down to Boyle Heights, being from the Valley, had you spent any time over there or that was that culture shock to you?
Were you like, oh, this whole pocket of the city is much different than the San Fernando Valley?
It was a little bit of culture shock. Yeah. I mean, I remember I go downtown with my mom where I'd see many more Latino people.
Your mom from Honduras? My mom's Honduran. Yeah. Here we go downtown to, like, buy things wholesale or whatever. The thing about Boyle Heights that's amazing is it's a real community with real history and with a lot of pride. Like the people who live there have so much pride in their community and in their culture and know you drive around and there are these stunning murals of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. I might buy Latino artists that sort of a neighborhood where Latino culture was was not just like poor people just trying to get by, but there was expression of art that felt like culture shock to me because I had never seen anything like that before.
And in that way, Boyle Heights is this sort of like magical place. And you understand why the people who are from it defend it fiercely, because we don't have that many spaces that belong to us that where our art is on the walls, where our music like Mariachi Plaza is like the center of Boyle Heights, where, you know, these musicians with the tradition and the culture show up, you know, in full regalia and our celebrating our piece of culture that really matters to that community.
And and there aren't very many places that that exist that are like that. So, yes, it felt like culture shock to me.
The Valley, even when you were a kid, was thirty to forty five percent Latino. Right. There were people that look like you in San Fernando Valley.
Yeah, well, yes and no. So when I was really young, we lived in Canoga Park where that was true. There were many more Latinos and brown faces around. But those were obviously like not the good schools. They weren't well funded. Yeah, they were more violent. And and so naturally, my mom was like, I can't send you guys to these schools. You have to go to the. Better schools, and we were lucky enough to have an aunt who who had money and lived in a nicer part of the neighborhood, so there was like a small period where, yeah, we, like, used her address to go to the better elementary schools, which apparently in this country you can go to jail for seven years for eventually that aunt helped us move into a home in that zip code.
So we were able to go to some of the better funded better programs, public schools, which obviously meant that it was a wider neighborhood because we're the better schools are. And so I was in a wider and predominantly very Jewish neighborhood where I grew up.
Stay tuned for more armchair expert, if you dare.
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So the only person that I'm really close with that has the Latino experience acting is Michael Peña, who I know you did, and to watch with, and Cesar Chavez, his wife, and Cesar Chavez.
Yeah, yeah. There's a potential, I would imagine, to be like in this netherworld of culture. Right. So it's like you go to Boyle Heights, you didn't have that experience.
You can view that experience. And there you might feel like, oh, am I not authentically Latina enough? And then be back in New York, more predominantly white high school and feeling like, oh, I'm not white enough. And I just know that Penya to many interviews we've done together is like, you know, he didn't feel embraced sometimes by the Mexican American community and like he wasn't Mexican enough, and yet he was too Mexican to be white.
And there was just kind of this like, where do I fit in? What is my niche?
Totally. Yeah, it's so you don't belong anywhere and you're not good enough for anyone. Yes, absolutely. That's like my upbringing in a nutshell. But when I did, I edited and compiled this book called American Like Me, which is based on that experience growing up. But what I realized as I grew up or grew older was just like, well, this isn't like a particularly Latino experience. This is certainly experienced by so many first generation children of immigrants, you know, grandchildren of immigrants in this country.
So, you know, I had friends who were like Chinese, American and Filipino American and and Palestinian American. And like we would talk about our upbringings. And we're like, same seems like we're basically all the same. Yeah. So I actually compiled this book and there's thirty four authors in it. And, you know, people from Nigeria to the Dominican to China and Japan like sharing stories about that experience. And the truth is, is my book was focused on mainly people who were children of immigrants or immigrants themselves.
But, you know, this is an experience that is also a socioeconomic experience, too. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
It can never stop if you choose. So, like, I'm from a pretty lower class, blue collar, hillbilly, redneck, high rate of violence, alcoholism. And then as I ascend through the socioeconomic spectrum, yeah, I'm hanging out with much different people. And then I go home and I'm I find myself even code switching as a white dude of like, oh, no, I'm I seem elitist. If I pronounce pop soda, you know, all these little micro things where I find myself doing so.
Yeah, I think there's so many different layers are opportunities for us to have a duality. And it's I guess it's only compounded. Yeah. When you have more visible indicators.
I listen to your interview that you did with T'ai and I felt like so much of what you were talking about in that felt really, really relevant and similar to like the experience that that I had. Kind of there's there's the ethnic piece of it, which is, you know, and I'm not American enough. I'm not white enough. I'm not Latino enough. But then, like you said, is as you start to become successful and gain access, like, what does that then mean for your whole identity that sprung from, like, having nothing like yo, yo, yo, like in your mind, you're like, I have no idea what I am anymore.
Like, I don't know what I'm allowed to claim on paper.
I'm the person I hate. Right. I certainly just like if you were rich, I hated you.
I felt less than around you and I hated you. And then here I am. I, by all accounts, am now rich and my children are growing up very privileged. And I'm like, huh, OK, this is interesting.
How do I make peace with all this?
That's the thing that I feel is so tricky is like my children's life and upbringing is going to be so radically different from the way I grew up.
And yeah, like there are parts of that that I'm super grateful for and then parts of it where I'm like, you know, if I wanted to do something in the summer as a 12 year old kid, I had to learn the bus route and at twelve years old, hop on three buses, three hours each way to get to an acting class. I wanted to take because I'm twenty five male predators. Yeah, exactly.
I mean also it's horrifying. You're like oh my God, who would let their child do that. But it's like things like that where I'm like that's something that we look back and you go like OK, that was questionable whether or not to let your twelve year old daughter do that. But also we didn't have a choice. And it's what I did also like it taught me so much and it gave me grit and it taught me how to work hard for things that I wanted and like.
How do you give your children that experience when you're like, I could buy you a. Ah, oh, yeah, someone said it perfectly, they said the challenge of parenting with money is that instead of being able to say, I want that, oh well, we can't afford that to have to say I could buy that for you.
And I am not going to and I'm not going to. I know. Well, especially when you had nothing as a kid and you're like living vicariously through your children, you know, it's already happening.
My daughter has three off road vehicles. It's shameful. I was like, I can't even fit shit in the garage because she's got everything I wanted as a kid.
Yeah, I know. I know my car. All I wanted was like a massive trampoline in my backyard, like, oh, am I not going to get that for him the second he can jump, you know? So I it is it's a balance and obviously very, very high class problems to have. But but I do think it creates a challenge just identity wise. And, you know, I just like as a parent, it's like I just want to put good people into this world.
And and it's so scary when you're like, I'm not sure how to do that, because my reality as an adult is so different from what my reality as a child was.
Well, and it's evolved at like breakneck pace. My best childhood friend from Michigan, his son is now 13, super good looking kid, tall, beautiful, long hair.
Looks like Robert Plant. I said, are girls starting to like him in school?
And he goes, Yeah, yes, some girls and some guys, too. And I was like, oh, hot dog really?
In Michigan like that, they're in junior high. And the boys are saying they like him too. He's like, Oh yeah. And I'm like, amazing.
That would have not been my prediction from where we came from that that could have happened in thirty years. And here it, it, it's happened.
So it's like whatever you learned and the tricks you and I cobbled together, I don't even know that they apply in so many ways.
All that I heard in that whole story was you saying, oh, hot dog, I know it's hard to get past like you just said. Oh, hot dog.
Hot Diggity Dog is fantastic.
It's you know, if you ever worry that that little DACs left you, he did not have. Oh yeah.
No, the the the Michiganders still in there. That makes me excited. I like that too. Yes. Like really interesting. I'm like, oh great. Our kids are already so much more evolved than like we have a chance at, you know, no matter how much therapy we do. Yeah.
In so many ways. Like what I would have been passing on is like this coat of armor like OK, well here's what you do. When the guy pushes you, you got to punch him.
Right. And you like all this shit that tools that are just useless for my kids. And I have to accept that. OK, I want to walk through some fun highlights of your career.
So seventeen you got curves and how quickly after that did you get Ugly Betty?
So real women have curves came out in 2002. And then the next big thing that I did was the sisterhood of the traveling pants. Oh, sure, sure, sure. I made in 2004 but came out twenty five. So it was like a three year break and I did real women have curves and then went right into college. I went to USC and I studied international relations and I was doing school and then like leaving halfway through the semester to do like an independent film.
And I was doing like all these independent films and a couple of pilots and still being a full time student. And so that was crazy. And, you know, it's like, oh, my God. Like it's been a whole year and I haven't had a job, like, you know, so dumb, but so real. Women was two to sisterhood came out in 2005. And then Ugly Betty was like right after sisterhood.
Your mom was nervous, right? She was like, yeah, acting. That's adorable. But let's let's get something sustainable. I think, like Monica's parents.
Was there some reservation for obvious reasons? Yes, totally.
You know, and also the mom in the family thing, it's like I'm saving that for the memoir. We're not sure where I can say, well, your debt.
Your dad died in 2010, right? My dad died in 2012. And so now I just feel like I have carte blanche to say whatever the hell I want. And then I then feel guilty later with your dad.
Right. But like, yeah, yeah. You know, your mom's so alive.
So, like, well, you know, my mom is abnormally cool, I will say. And I told some story at one point and I said some stuff about my childhood and my mom initially was a little bummed and then I felt really bad and I apologize to her.
And then she called me like three days later and she said, you know what, I want you to forget what I said.
Like your story, your story. It's you have the right to tell your story and don't ever worry about me going.
But that's a very rare, very freedom for a parent to give their kid. Yeah, you have a very special mom. That's very lovely. No, I. I have a complicated relationship with my mom and with my family that I don't talk about often and mixed up with all that. It's like what's mine to tell? You know, it's the courage and bravery when I see people telling parts of their story and elements of their story that involve their family.
It's scary. You know what I was going to say, just like culturally and monic. I don't know. If you went through this, too, but it's like there's the one thing of like no one like us makes it in this industry, the chances are so small. You know, when I was a really good student, it was like, you know, get A's, go become a doctor or a lawyer. Like, just we didn't come to this country for you to be like a starving artist, like, go make some money and you're smart.
So, like, go do that. And the whole time I'm like, OK, I always got the A's. I always went to school. I took it very seriously and I did what I loved. And and so there was the element of people like us don't make it. But then there was the more direct element of people like you don't make it. You're not you're not pretty enough. You're not sexy enough. You don't look like Salma Hayek.
You're not like, you know, so. So there was that doubt on top of it, which was like, well, you could make it if you wanted to turn yourself into that thing. And so for me to say, no, I'm going to do it and I'm going to do it as the person that I am. Yeah. That was confronting to the whole culture.
And to defend your mom for half a second, because I have two kids, it's like I'm assuming what she thought she was doing was preparing you for the reality of the world and did not want to see your heart broken, but then obviously accidentally broke your heart but was preparing and protecting, which, by the way, is real.
And it is the intention behind what a lot of parents do for their to and for their children, but is also an excuse for a lot of fucked up shit parents due to their right or their own fears are clouding what is good, their own fears.
So to your question of like, was this this wasn't like a natural thing for for my mother and for my family to, like, support? No, I think they thought there wasn't a chance in hell that I was going to make it and that like I was going to make it as the person that I am, that I would have to contort myself and become something else if I wanted to be successful. Yeah.
So now that brings up Ugly Betty. My first thought was I saw billboards.
That's how I became aware of the show Angels. And I started seeing all these billboards. And your face was on it and said, Ugly Betty. And I was like. I'm not saying it I'm not I'm not seeing the Ugly Betty part of this and part of me, the cynic in me was like, that's Hollywood. That's ugly. Again, I'm sure that the title of that show met way more than I have a knowledge of.
But I was just like, that's not an ugly. What is that? What does that make any sense? Totally.
Totally. And without any context. Absolutely. That makes sense. I mean, for me and again, this is one of those scenarios where I could look at something and be like this could go a lot of different ways. Sure. Yeah. And and this has the potential to be something really out of touch and really, like, awful. And like you said, Hollywood and bad messages, wrong messages. But I also read it and learned about this character.
Watch the original TV show and saw my perspective, which was like, she doesn't call herself ugly. Ugly Betty is what the world that she's in calls her. And she works at this like crazy fashion magazine. It's like a vogue, right? She works at MIT. And and when you hear the words Ugly Betty or her being called ugly, they're coming from these God awful human beings and characters. And it's all about like what they see when they look at her.
But the heart and the soul of the show was this girl who knew what people thought or the people in this particular area thought of her and saw when they looked at her and in spite of it was herself. And that was obviously something that like I could relate to on the deepest, deepest level and felt like the title to me never was the truth. The title was a perspective and the title was somebody else's perspective. But the strength of this character is what people will understand when they see the show.
And I think most people who did watch the show got it. Like Betty didn't think of herself as Ugly Betty. Betty had a boyfriend. Betty was fucking guys. You know, she thought she loved what she's like. You know, she was working the braces in class and obviously was never ugly. Yeah. Yeah. It was just based on what the expectation of this world. And so for me, it was like like what we were talking about before.
Monica, like, you kind of see what's available to you and your choices are to say, like, nope, not for me, walk away, which I've done before, or you have a choice to look at something and say, hold on, this may even be what the person who wrote this intended. But I see something different and I see the possibility and the potential to like take a title, to take a stereotype and to deepen it.
And if I can do that successfully, what would the power of that be? And, you know, that's hard. It's not easy to do that. But I feel like I have had no choice in my career because as a woman and as a Latina, really, for the majority of my career, the people writing those roles were not people like me. They were people putting on to these characters their perspective of it. And it was up to me to come in and work really, really hard to advocate for that character and create more space for more humanity, more dimension for them.
And that's not to say that that's possible in every role. It's not and not everybody has the power on set to do that. I have been extremely lucky to have the opportunity to be the star of a TV show or the star of a movie and say this doesn't work for me.
Yeah, it's a very evolved and takes a lot of, I think, personal.
Maybe you're not giving yourself enough credit for the amount of, like, personal integrity it takes because in acting all you want is a job.
It's like you're literally cut off your left hand for a job when you get it. It feels like to say anything to them about, well, this is good, but maybe we could do it like this or this doesn't resonate with me or I would never say this.
That is very hard to do.
I think it's amazing that you took that on and were able to say, like, yeah, I'm going to say yes to this, knowing that I'm not going to do it in their way.
Yeah. Yeah. Now, everyone loved Ugly Betty. You on Golden Globe. You won an Emmy, you won. You want it all.
Was that the sweetest spot of the journey? Was that like having dropped out? Nope, nope, nope, nope. It's not that headshake.
Now, I just would imagine, though, if Mom had some doubts and you dropped out of college, which I'm sure even you had some fear about to be on a show that's a hit in that you're winning awards for. Was it did it feel very validating or did you feel vindicated?
Yes. I mean, of course, on one hand first of all, I loved this character, loved this world, loved my cast to have a feeling that like, oh, this character and this story is so needed in the culture right now. I just have. I have a gut instinct that it is going to speak so strongly to so many people, myself included, and then to see that happen, I mean, it's like the best win ever to be like, oh, yes, I followed my gut.
I followed my instincts about a big gaping hole that needed to be filled and great. You know, I loved every minute of being Betty. I really did. It was so much work. It was maybe the hardest work I'll ever do in my life. But I loved it. The hoopla and the whirlwind that happened around it was challenging and exhausting and my whole life changed.
Yeah, but being famous element, is that what you're the being? It wasn't really the being famous. It was the what it did to my personal relationships, what it did to my familial relationships. Know I'm working 20 hours a day on set and then like having to navigate everybody else's projections of what's happening to me and not everyone else like strangers on on Instagram, like my family, like my like my siblings, like, you know, and my husband, who I've now been with for 15 years at the time we've been together one year.
That's it. That's a big ride to take.
We we've been together one year and then, boom, everything changed. So that was crazy. It's like this guy that I really like, but like I don't see him for three days on end and he's working I in like, you know, is this going to survive? This was a partner.
It could trigger a lot of fears. I was with a gal for nine years when I started working. And now in retrospect, there's no playbook for that. So I got pretty self-important, pretty quick eyes. All of a sudden we had been dead equal and now I made all the money. That was a new dynamic. Like there was just a lot of new dynamics that I didn't really have anyone to ask advice from in or couldn't humble myself enough to ask for advice.
But I certainly did a terrible job navigating that totally because it's so hard.
And so when you ask the question like winning these awards, was this like the sweet spot? And it's like, yes, on one hand, it's what an amazing experience that how many people get to live that and who knows if I'll ever get to live it again. But there was so much drama and so many challenging things happening in my personal life. And also I was a kid. I was I was twenty two twenty three years old and. Oh my God.
And still figuring out like what mattered to me and what was important to me. And and also when the thing that you were striving for your whole life happens and you're like, but I still feel scared and I feel not secure and I still feel like a hack and I feel like people are going to learn this about me. I said this in an interview before, so it's not breaking news, but I haven't said it many times. But when I won the Emmy, I can't bring myself to go back and watch that, because the only thing I remember about being on that stage, accepting that Emmy, was the feeling that no one in the room thought I deserved it.
Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh. And that that's a shame.
What was your narrative? What were you thinking? They were thinking like she doesn't really deserve that. What is she really doing in that role? That role is not interesting enough. It's not dark enough. It's not edgy enough. Like, you know, all of the bullshit of like, yeah, it's like, oh, she got it because it's a good story, not because she deserved it or whatever area which, you know, doesn't enter your mind on its own.
It's like there were people in my life sort of perpetuating those narratives and and making me feel like I hadn't earned this moment.
Well, some people in your life are probably getting very scared that you're going to outgrow them totally.
They are subconsciously trying to lower you so you don't leave them. Right. That's a very unhealthy.
Yeah, no response to that. Yes. And so, you know, when I look back at that time, my heart aches for that twenty two year old girl who I didn't get to really enjoy those experiences, you know, and like it in like as a thirty six year old on one hand, maybe those moments would mean less at this point in my life. But on the other hand, keep them in context of like my whole life that I have a full whole life and this is a part of it versus being a twenty two year old where overnight this thing and this character and this journey and this career moment was everything.
Yeah. Noon and night and your whole identity almost. Yeah. And it's too much. There's no perspective. There's no context. There's no grounding in that. And especially when the people around you are acting like children too, like when there is no one around you saying like everything's going to be OK. So it's complicated. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
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So Ugly Betty ended, did you have sophomore musician fear, like did you or did you feel this incredible pressure of like, oh, I got to choose perfectly?
Yes, I had an identity crisis. I started Betty when I was twenty one, like twenty one. You're your child. Oh yeah. You know, it might get worse. Yeah.
And I think I handled it to the best of my ability and I've always been mature, but it's a very weird experience to have to grow up and find yourself in that circumstance. And so, you know, in a way, when I came out of Ugly Betty and Ugly Betty ended, there was all this growing that I needed to do as a human being.
Well, the job is all consuming. You must push pause on your development, right? It's so totally.
Totally. Yeah. That there's no time to, like, make mistakes and learn things.
This is like so shameful. But I think vulnerability can be a powerful thing. And I say this just because, you know, to your point of like what people's perception of of success is versus what it feels like, I actually had the thought and I think I said this out loud to my best friend when Betty ended, I was terrified that my friends wouldn't love me because I wasn't on a show. Wow. Because I was. And like, that is like that was an actual fear that I had that, like, half the show was over and the people that I had made proud, like, wouldn't have a reason to love me anymore.
That's when you get into fucking therapy and you're like when you're like, oh, I need to figure some shit out, you know?
Well, lucky for you, that was your conclusion, because so many actors, that's not it just they hop right back on the hamster wheel and try to you know, I think it's actually unique that someone goes, oh, this is not a desirable outcome.
I shouldn't be feeling this way.
And I need to figure out how to solve it internally as opposed to externally. Totally.
And I was lucky enough to have some really amazing friends around me and wonderful human beings who really helped me through it and helped me see myself. And, you know, some people are lucky enough to have amazing families and amazing family members who are there rock and help them evolve and help them feel safe and secure. And some people aren't. And I and I feel so lucky that I was able to kind of create a support system of friends and people who were so amazing and helped me really find myself in the midst of like an industry in a time that like it's just not set up to do that for you.
You know, Ugly Betty ended ten years ago yesterday. Oh, wow, wow, wow. It's been a decade, which is crazy. And it's funny because ten years later, I'm now saying goodbye to Superstore, which was like the next thing on whatever my career path. And I had five glorious, magnificent, wonderful, fun, fulfilling, amazing years on Superstore. And I feel great about moving on and and the difference between what it feels like to be making a choice about what I want and what I need at this point in my life and and how how untethered and how scared and how insecure I felt ten years ago.
To me, it's like that's the success. Like that's the win that.
Yeah, that's the thing that make you like who you see in the mirror. Yeah. Like could you imagine if ten years later I was as scared today as I was when that ended, like that would be the tragedy. So to me, like regardless of the success in the awards and the reviews and the how successful was that show? When did do people love it and do people still talk about it? It's like, no, my personal success is that I now know my value and I know I'm a bad ass.
And I know regardless of what ends, there will always be more for me because it's coming from inside of me and looking for other people like validate me for me, I'm a greedy little piggy.
Is it hard to walk away from the steady paycheck?
Of course, especially as a kid who grew up with nothing. You know, like there's always that voice. It's like, who do you think you are walking away from money and walking the job?
You almost feel you're going to jinx yourself, don't you? I do. Sometimes if I say no to that money, I'm going to lose everything totally.
And who knows what my next. But that's that scarcity mentality that keeps us small, right? That like it's such a double edged sword. Because to go back to when Betty and did like I stopped having a dog walker, I was like, you know, I keep making money.
I've been making money for four years. I was fine. Like, I could afford to, like, take a year off or not make any money for a year. And literally, like the week after Betty ended, I fired my doctor because there was this like the. For a girl inside who would like scrounge together coins for a McDonald's cheeseburger was like, oh hell no, money's not coming in, nothing's going out. Yeah, but if that doesn't change, like A that scarcity mentality doesn't change to fit the reality, then your choices are small.
To be thinking about my possibilities in the same small, terrified, warranted way that I used to think about them like that would just be doing a disservice to all the everything that I've built for myself. Yeah. Yeah. It'd be dishonouring it some.
Yeah. Now what are you going to do next.
There's a number of things, but like I said, it's like we're in the midst of this global, you know, thing that like nobody knows how it's going to impact the global economy, how it's going to impact our country, how it's going to impact our industry. So, like, sure, I have plans and and I'm on phone calls all day about those plans. But I'm also humble enough in this moment to realize like nobody knows anything. So, yeah, I can say loosely that I love directing, and that is definitely a path that I want to keep pursuing as a director.
Your brain is firing like all day, every day. And and it's great and it's fun and it's exciting. It's very different from showing up roll in wearing UGS and holding a coffee cup and being like, where do I start? You know, very different. But so, so directing, continuing to produce executive produce, develops television shows with other really exciting writers and voices and continuing to act. And so all of those paths are still interesting and exciting to me.
And and like I said, yes, there are things that I'm building, but who knows what's going to happen in the next year or so.
OK, so my last question is, is fleabag the greatest thing of the last decade? I mean. Oh, I love it.
Yeah, I loved it. Inflectional I watched the second season. I literally watched, like, in a hole like I didn't move. I just sat down and watched all six episodes like e one go. Yeah. Inspirational and like upsetting. Yeah.
My ultimate compliment I can give people is like I start hating them halfway through. I'm like, oh I can't compete with this. I don't have this level of talent and any of the departments.
Isn't that so awful that like as an artist we're such narcissists. Yeah. Yeah. I'm just like I went from being like oh my God, I love her. She's so funny. She's so funny. I love her.
I'm like, how old is she is going to make you mad. And I'm like, oh I hate her. Oh yeah.
That's me and Donald Glover. I'm like, awesome, so cool. Your music's perfect. Atlanta's one of the best shows ever and wonderful. Good for you.
Yeah, exactly. So I'm not above petty rivalry with people who don't even know my name. Yeah.
Yeah, I'm with you. Well America, you're so wonderful and joyful to talk to.
I hope we get to do it in person one time. Yeah. I totally I was looking forward to this. I love I love the show and I've listened to so many episodes and and I have to say, like, I don't know that much about, like your body of work, but from the outside, I just wouldn't expect you to be such like a thoughtful, soulful guy from like a really bad not knowing you at all perspective in the world.
And it was like such a pleasure to discover your podcast and be like, oh, my God, I love how deep you are and vulnerable and honest. And Monica, you make him better. Oh, much, much better.
Yeah. I think the podcast answers the question for a lot of women, like, oh I now I kind of understand why Christians with America, we love you.
We hope to talk to you again. And good luck with this new baby. I'm excited for you to have a little Subway sandwich in your bed again. No, thank you.
And now my favorite part of the show, the fact check with my soul mate Monica Padman. America, America, who was wonderful. So much so smart, so cookie, she's so Cookie, I love Cookie. You love cookies so much. Yes, she was great.
I'm so glad we got her. It took took a while. She's a busy, busy, busy, busy. She is. So we had to seize the pandemic if you will.
Yeah. Yeah. Well we've gotten lucky with a few folks. Yes. Pandemic. Yeah. We just got off the phone with somebody that we would have normally probably never been with.
Go party. It's your birthday.
Don't tease. But anyway, so America was lovely and I want to be best friends with her.
I want to talk to her about all kinds of things.
Yeah. She seemed like she would be in you're like aspirational camp people you'd like to be.
She's speaking some truth that I think need to be spoken about, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it.
And maybe this is the first I had no facts, zero zero facts, just like our opinions.
Yeah. I mean, it was a lot of introspective thoughts as opposed to facts. Now, I'm not saying that I didn't miss any there's I'm sure a few that got through the sifting screen.
Yeah, probably because I was so interested in relistening that I may have not done it is fun.
I occasionally have that often when it's like a really dense person. Yeah. And I don't mean dense, like dumb, dense like they were pedantic in their breadth of knowledge.
That while I'm interviewing them I'm like swimming as fast as I can to keep up with them and I can't really enjoy them. And then I'll, I'll listen to them and I can just listen as a listener. Oh that's nice.
Oh my God. A lovelessness person talk. Yeah. When I'm editing I'm listening very intently like I'm listening for ums and yeah.
That sounds, I'm listening for um so it's very rare for me to feel like oh there were ten minutes where I wasn't listening that you're just a fan, not an editor.
Exactly. Yeah. That's the dream though isn't it. Yeah. That's happened. So I'm sorry if I missed facts.
That's how I felt when I was directing Bradley Cooper in certain scenes and hit and run. I would just be watching in the monitor and I'd forget to yell cut because I literally just get sucked in.
I thought I was watching a movie or something real and I'd be like, Oh God, I'm supposed to yell cut.
I think the scene is over. That's very cool. Oh, so there's no fact.
Now, let's talk about sixteen screens. I just said it got through the fifteen screen. OK, what thoughts do you have when you see on TV the way they mine for gold.
Do you have any thoughts.
I have thoughts on most things and I have no thoughts on that.
OK, well I have to imagine it's probably the most tedious job on planet Earth because they're going through like millions of cubic yards of material.
You find like two fucking specks of gold. I guess it's worth it to them.
The gold, when you just think about things that you're, like, predisposed to be good or bad at. Well, I'm the opposite of whatever that is.
I need like an immediate return and gain on any effort put forth. I, I am like tedium is my kryptonite. That's funny.
I was just asking someone with their kryptonite was today. Oh, everyone has at least one piece of kryptonite. Is it in pieces. It can be.
I think kryptonite is actually I'm not a DC historian with my my memory of it is is he's from the planet Krypton.
Superman, huh. And on his planet he didn't have superpowers.
You know that. I didn't I know nothing. It has something to do with our gravitational field and some other aspects that make Mr. Superman super here.
So the kryptonite, the chunk of the planet.
Oh, and when they bring it around him, it neutralizes his superpowers that oh, I once said the US is giving him, but that the earth that we did live in the U.S..
Yes. Oh I see. OK. Oh, there's a really interesting metaphor about that.
If you think about it. I've never thought about it, but we just had this long conversation. I don't know if we retold it on here in an interview. And I don't want to belabor the point, but we were talking about the potential of going to Atlanta for a live show and how that would be hard for you as going to Detroit was hard for me because people I knew in childhood are there seeing me.
And it just brings up all these thoughts of, like, authenticity or who and what elderly.
There's a neat metaphor about one hundred percent.
Where you came from is you're down neutralizing your superheroes because I think people leave their home and they become a new identity and away from their family. And then when they go around their family, they have to reassume their identity. And sometimes there's discomfort in that. And then likewise they leave their town and they be. Something else. Yeah, I guess kryptonite is kind of like what humbles you. Do you think that they knew that was the metaphor? Probably they're smart.
Who's they? The cartoon artist.
That's what I don't think of. Cartoon artist is smart.
Of course, Stan Lee was probably quite bright.
I guess it just seems deep for a comic book. But I guess what do I know about comic books?
This is why comic book people love comic books. That's right. Anyways, what a great metaphor.
Yeah, that is. I always think about the person like in high school who was like a wallflower and then they become fancy and successful.
And then when they go back to that high school reunion, they have all these fantasies right. Where they're going to show everyone that they're this person now. I bet the second they get around them, they feel like the old cause, of course.
Does that happen to you? I've never gone. I think I have responsibly assessed what my motivation to go to my high school reunion would be. Yeah.
And I decided that wasn't a good motivation to go somewhere. Yeah.
So, yes, I was tempted to like, parade through my high school reunion, like look at me and point to every girl I like that didn't like me and say you should have liked me. I was like, that is no reason to go somewhere.
Yeah. The ego is so fucking stupid and fragile.
For my high school 10 year reunion, I literally had the thought of somebody, oh, I can't wait, but I had the thought. I'm not successful enough to go back yet yet.
Uh huh, uh huh. By the way, I at my tenure year I had the same thought. It's so embarrassing.
But now I feel good in that I'm not like, oh, I can go now. Like, I don't feel that.
I don't feel I feel like, oh, that was so dumb. I should have gone, I should have seen my friends and I should have said hi to all those people who I never get to see. Yeah.
And what a waste I have to imagine.
I'm just going to guess at some percentages here. I have to imagine the high school reunion thing only like 30 percent are just thrilled to go there.
And like they said, this great experience and they can't wait to catch up with everyone. I have to mention the other 70 percent is going in.
They're either feeling like they've underperformed or they over perform, which is like why even be put in a situation where you have to evaluate whether you had over delivered, who is big enough to go if they feel like they've underperformed?
If you feel like you've just performed great, I think you'd go and you'd be like, sure, yeah. But if you feel like you have underperformed and that takes a really big person to still show up. And I did feel that at the time.
Yes, I agree. Yeah. People like rent fancy cars to drive to reunions. Yeah, it's sad.
But you know what I really have talked about on here? What I really did want was a junior high reunion.
Yeah. You tried you tried to make one. Yeah.
I was like, yeah, I realized it was whatever that 90th year anniversary of eighth grade, seventh grade. And I was going to and I even went so far as to call the junior high and see how much it costs to rent the place.
So I want to have the party there. And then I just I didn't execute. Yeah, that's really what happened.
I just ran out of momentum. That's all right. And I never pulled it off. But I really would love a junior high reunion. But again, in junior high, I was among the 30 percent that just would love to see everyone.
And I had a great time. I got nothing to prove. I just want to see everyone right, but I don't have that relationship with high school. See, that's what's weird. And even more upsetting is there's so many people that when I go home to Georgia for Christmas that I don't see that I would love to see for an hour at this thing like a mini.
And the fact that I let this idea of success, like, stop me from doing that. Yeah. Is a big bummer.
Well, in my experience, too, like at the 10 year reunion, there were a handful of guys that were quick starters. So like they had left high school, they went to Michigan State. This one asshole in particular, I totally dislike.
He went down to North Carolina or South Carolina. He got some job right where he was like account manager or something.
And I don't know what he made, but let's say it was like a hundred fifty grand a year and everyone in my town knew about it. He was crushing, like, the last thing I want to go to my fucking high school and watch this guy peacocke around. Yeah.
Oh, you could be proud of him. I'm not.
And I turned out to be a piece of shit, but he was a quick starter, looked for a minute like he was crushing.
Yeah, I can captain of this sports team and now he's crushing all that's not very compassionate.
But yeah, I don't I have no compassion for this certain person. Isn't that interesting.
Yeah, it's all my insecurities. Yeah. I will pull over and help anyone deal with a flat tire. Yeah. Have a good track record of this. I'd blow right by him if I saw you on a tire.
Why. What do you just like you. What do you do to you. That was so everything I hated about jock popular culture. It's like a bad toxic masculinity fucking bully. The guy's a piece of shit. Yeah.
And he probably had a lot of reasons for being oh there's probably a bunch of stuff underneath that caused him to be that. You're right. And now he's an adult person. You can have some compassion now.
I think he's rebote soad. Oh, when I heard for the grapevine. Yikes. I still hold on to some grudges.
People might say that about you, but they most certainly do. Isn't that a bummer?
Don't you wish they could it be evolved enough to know that people can change and even help them do that?
There are people that dislike me for a myriad of reasons. Some of them warranted, some of them not me. And I'm fine with that.
I'm not fine with the ones who I, I owe apologies to for sure. But the ones who hated me because I wore ponytails and I put a warhead bands and I had long hair and I dressed as Tinkerbelle in the school play like those people that hated me because I was not afraid to fuck with the gender norms and stuff which there was a good deal of them.
Right. I don't give a shit if those people dislike me or not. Right.
Right. I just mean you're evolved enough to know that people aren't who they were in high school.
So to have a little more compassion for maybe who they've grown into or who they're trying to grow into, maybe I would would be nice.
It would be very evolved of me. I aspire to it. But the row of guys who screamed, You're a fucking faggot to me.
As I ran by in my Tinkerbelle outfit during the play, I'm fine with those guys, not like you, me. I don't need any closure with those guys.
I mean, it just sounds like the opposite of everything you say all the time. Oh yeah. I just told you I aspired to. I have no moral high ground in this. Right. I'm telling you, I'm being very trite.
No, well, you're just holding resentments, which you always say is it was cancerous to you. Yeah. Yeah.
But, you know, in truth, I don't ever think about it. I'm thinking about those guys right now. We're talking about a high school reunion. I'm thinking about the big group of guys who was yelling, you fucking faggot at me. And yes, I don't have any compassion for them in this moment, but I don't ever think about them in bed at night. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
They don't make sense. OK, but kryptonite. Yeah. Tedium, TV, anything, anything tedious.
Yeah. Anything tedious somehow. Like the notion of sifting through ninety nine point nine nine nine nine nine nine nine nine percent of something to find something. Yeah nothing's worth that.
I was. Yeah. Is there anything worth that.
I'm trying to think the only thing I would dig through at that proportion is to get my kids from somewhere. I would, I would look all seven billion humans on planet Earth in the face to find my children, of course. And that's it.
How do you feel about tedium? Ambivalent. No, I don't like it.
I do not like it either. But it just depends on what the reward is.
You know, like if you ever had a were like because I've done this a bunch of times where I've taken on projects that were much bigger than I was anticipating. Yes.
And then you literally have to get into like a Buddhist mindset where you're like one panel at a time. I'm going to paint one panel at a time. I'm not going to think about all the panels that I have to paint.
I've had to have that talk with myself a bit earlier. Well, I mean, this circle back to what we were just talking about with less editing the show and listening to it, it can be incredibly. Tedious process, because I will have spent 10 minutes and I've gone two minutes in the show and it's like, oh my God, like there is no there's no end, it can start to get very overwhelming in your head. Yeah. So you do have to, like, very much compartmentalize, as you say, and just go like literally second to second.
Well, then you and I shared one experience, which was you were in and out, but you were part of a lot of it was I decided I'm going to paint the fence around the new house.
The point is, as I was like, yeah, I'll paint that fucking fence.
I'm not going to hire someone to paint this fence. How long did it take to paint a fence? My goodness. The fence is like I think I figure it out was like three hundred and some feet long and there's a god damn post every four inches.
And there were so many moments where I was like, if I think about a little of a dent I've made in this fence in three days. Yeah.
I'll kill myself. Oh yeah.
Do you remember that? Of course. You remember it very well.
I think about it every time I drive by that fence. It was hard.
It's that specific job because it had a lot of layers, like you first had to go through every single post and clean it, scrub it of scrape it, scrape it.
Yes. And that in itself was horrible. It was maddening then to go back and spray paint.
Well, wipe it off first. The cleaning process, all this wire bristle brush work. Yeah. Yeah.
Then paint it and then layers. I don't remember how much it coats. Yeah. And then maybe there was like a SEAL or maybe I don't remember that part, but it was like, oh, my God. So even once you made it through, once you weren't done, you hadn't even barely started.
That was all. Don't make me do that again. I don't want to do that. You would never know.
And also, I will tell you, even then, I was like, why are we doing this? Like, can't we just hire someone to do this? You have the money to do that. And this is wasting all of our time. Yeah. So I do think unless it's something that I feel that I must do myself or the end result will be worse.
Yeah, I'm happy to like, oh there's no way that we did a better job than a profession. Exactly.
Yeah. Yeah, we, we did a good job and we start. Yeah. And that just goes the identity. Like my identity as someone who does a lot of the shitty work myself for the things I own. Yeah. Because my dad did none of his maintenance I guess is probably what's driving the whole thing. Yeah.
Well I think you should probably just have guilt about having this big house in so you feel like you have to like earn it somehow or something.
Sure, sure. Sure. Well also I, I do unlike you, like I just said, I do.
Every time I drive by the fence I go got in my opinion that you think about it in the attic, the fact that no one was involved, they just tore that wall out and I got it looks like shit, there's fucking cords hanging but I'm like, yeah, I just handled the whole thing.
I didn't get anyone to do.
I get self esteem out of that. Yeah, but for some reason that stuff fills me with pride. Yeah. Everyone has different Horibe factors I guess.
Yeah. There's something I'd turn over to someone else that you would never. Yeah.
Again I think because for me it's things that I feel the result won't be as good.
If it's not for yourself it will get done. Well yeah. Right. Or maybe well and right but not as good. There is a difference. Yeah. Anyway that's, that's really all for America.
OK, well I guess I wish we had said some facts but not really. We had plenty to talk about. Yeah. There's always a high school so I got heated about those guys I still don't like.
Yeah. It's OK that you don't like them. I just, I just don't want you to be holding on to something that's old for no reason.
Yeah. I'm also aware of the fact that, like, I wanted a lot of attention. Uh huh. And that's the price you pay for wanting a lot of attention. I deserved that. That's what you get.
You don't deserve to be called me names. And no, no one deserves that.
Right. But it's like there's a reason people are afraid to live out loud. And this is the reason. So if you choose to live out loud, you can act shocked that that's the result.
I guess that's what I'm saying. It's not like I was doing nothing, keeping my head down in the sand. And then I, you know.
Yeah, I know. But but still, it's that's not an excuse for people to treat others horribly.
Yeah, it's not nice. It's not nice. You guys who aren't very nice. I got tons of the guys that were yelling the F word at me.
Probably don't listen to this podcast.
They might though. You don't know. It's true. People change. All right. I love you. I love you.