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Hey, it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV – the place to be to create a business and life you love. And I have to say, today you are in for such a treat because my guest is truly a creative genius.
Sarah Jones is a Tony and Obie award winning playwright and performer, best known for her multi character, one-woman shows. Called a “master of the genre” by the New York Times, Sarah’s work is celebrated for its humanitarian approach to character and story through the lens of multiculturalism.
The daughter of two physicians and the product of a multiracial, multi-ethnic family and community, she was interested from an early age in both the welfare and cultural backgrounds of her diverse relatives, neighbors, and friends. She’s a regular guest on public radio and has appeared on Charlie Rose, the Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, and Sesame Street, as well as in her own special, the Sarah Jones Show on Bravo. Her three multi-character TED talks have received millions of views and she’s currently developing new multimedia projects based on her characters.
Sarah, I’m so excited to have you here!
I can’t take it. I know we were just talking off camera, this is like the most exciting thing. I’ve admired you for so long. I told everyone like you are about to witness a creative genius and I am just thrilled that you took the time to be here with us today.
I’m so happy to be here, and the feeling is mutual. The admiration is mutually long. It’s good. I’m so happy to be here.
So let’s take it back to the cornerstone of your work, which is really – a piece of it is about being culturally inquisitive. And through your wide array of characters you morph across gender and age and ethnic barriers. Can you share how this all began?
Well, it’s funny. I sort of had no choice in the matter. I was born to a multicultural family. And, you know, on my father’s side they’re African American, a mix of people from the south, there’s some Caribbean roots back there. And then on my mom’s side, my grandmother is Irish American and German American. And we have both Christians and Jews on that side of the family. Yes, we like to say it’s a long story filled with intrigue and interfaith guilt.
And then we had more relatives from the Caribbean from my grandfather. So it’s just this sort of – my Thanksgiving table growing up looked like, you know, the delegates dining room at the United Nations. It was just – in fact, I brought one of the inspiration for my characters is, you know, they’re loosely based on people I really know. But I do change the names to protect the innocent and especially the guilty. But so, you know, picture little me.
And here I would be. Hi, sweetheart. Marie, wonderful to meet you and your friends. Hi, there. And Sarah puts me in her shows, what she calls her one-woman shows. And you know what that means. That means she takes the credit and makes us come out and do all the work. I know you wouldn’t approve of that.
Anyway, so I know you know these relatives of mine, I was sort of marinating in this stew pot of different cultures. And for me it was very normal to identify with somebody who didn’t look anything like me. You know, it could be my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, West Indian relatives who talk like this and they’re all literally sitting around the same table. So one is saying, “Can you pass the Gefilte? You know, what’s wrong with Thanksgiving Gefilte fish? People are looking at me.”
And the other one, “I don’t have a problem with white people in principle, but your food, it is so bland. You’re killing me right now. You’re actually attacking my mouth with this food.” So, you know, it was like this … I don’t know. I just was born into like a dialect, you know, palooza. And, again, because for me the family members getting along sort of ran counter to the story I was seeing outside my home. On the news it was race riots and, you know, these people don’t get along with these people and they’re others and we’re different. And my experience was the opposite. I mean, we were literally all, you know, had the same blood. So I think I wanted to bridge that gap for myself.
Did you always know that you – like, did you perform as a kid?
You know, I really didn’t in a formal way. And I was actually a shy kid. I had a pretty – I’ll call my childhood colorful. It’s a little double meaning there. Bad joke. You know, we had the multi-culti colorful thing on the one side but it was also … both my parents were doctors. They were very young when they met. And so it was sort of like being raised by two kids, like kids in lab coats. And we had babysitters, but I had this experience of feeling like I had to be an adult too. Like they weren’t home a lot and so I think the characters became sort of like my babysitters. They were a way for me to entertain my sisters at the time.
And I was actually just talking about this with Lily Tomlin, who we both love. She’s a hero of mine and she’s on my new podcast, which we’ll get to talk about later. But we both came by our character performance very similarly, as little kids watching the people around us and wanting to have a place to entertain ourselves. And the characters kind of made me feel safe.
Did you always have such an ability and a skill around the voices? I mean, when I watch you it is miraculous what you’re able to do.
Thank you for that question. I feel like with anyone, you know, you’ve practiced your craft, the ways that you’re able to think about, you know, kind of life and business and, you know, connect dots. For me I guess my brain was firing on the sound of my relatives all my life, so my ear was being trained. I’ve heard that it’s akin to music. So it’s sort of like if you grew up in a musical family and you’re always hearing a tune and you know how to carry one in perfect pitch. But for me it was always being able to hear the melodies of these different voices, always having the awareness that no matter what the outside world said, we did belong together.
Because I got a lot of, you know, this was before Obama. This was a time of, you know, people seeing me and my mom and they would assume who is this weird white lady with this little black kid? Is she adopted? What’s going on? So my mom jokes that we should write a book called “We’re Together.” Like, because people would always say, “Are you together? Are you together? Are you together?” Like they couldn’t put us together. And so I think growing up with that desire to connect, that’s what really fueled the training – the unwitting training. It was like I was unwittingly sitting in, you know, hours and hours of repetition of hearing other people’s accents, hearing their stories, and the cultural specificity. And for me, I was just soaking in it and, you know, kind of on record all the time without realizing it.
Yeah. And so what was the first time for you that you did like a public performance with – and how many characters happened to…?
There were just a few. We may not have space on the couches between you and me. We’re gonna be like a 50 person panel with two chairs.
I love it.
It’s gonna be fine. But I would say the very first one I did in public, like I was doing the thing where I would tell my sisters stories at night and I would be English, I’d play the witch and, “What do you think my pretty? I’ll tell you.” And they were like, “Wow. This is really intense. We’re just trying to go to bed.” You know.
But then later on in terms of actual public performance, the first time I kind of branched out I was doing something that felt safe. I was doing like a spoken word hip-hop. You know, you talk like this at the mic so that your words have a certain rhythm. You know, like that type of thing. And that was popular in the 90’s.
And then I realized I had these other voices that really wanted to come forth. And I was I afraid. I thought I would look crazy. Again, you know, race stuff is tricky and people would be like, “Why are you talking like a white girl or what’s wrong with you? You’re not Latina. Are you Latina?” And I was like, “Well I’m everything.”
And so I decided to let it be okay to take the risk and experiment with these characters. And the first one I did was a woman who was homeless. Actually, I had seen her, I was going back and forth on the subway, I saw this woman, and I thought, “what would I hear if she could actually share something about herself instead of being this, you know, ignored … this ‘thing’ on the side that nobody was paying attention to?” And so I remember kind of watching her and studying her.
And I was doing a performance one night and this, I said, “I’m gonna do this. I’m just gonna see what happens.” She didn’t have no teeth on the top and her face all messed up. And the vain part of me, I said, “what if you wanna date somebody who is in this audience? You never gonna get a date again looking like this.” But that’s when I realized if I want to embody these people I have to forget myself and try to give them some space. And that means I might not look pretty for a minute, but I wanted to just imagine what would it look like if she had some time to share who she is?
So that’s what I did. And I imagined she would probably yell at people and say, you know, “you ignore me and I belong here too.” And that’s – I started building this character who gets the ear of a well heeled theater audience who would normally walk past her, you know, as though she’s just a piece of debris on the sidewalk. What would she say to them if she could?
And so that character, and then did you start to just like – was it this creative process of almost seeing someone either out in real life or almost hearing them from within? Or a combination.
Both. You know, Marie, and I think when I talk to people about the process, I love being able to feel that they get it. Even if you don’t do this yourself, like we’re all creative. Right? Everybody watching, you, me, we’re all born with this innate creativity. And in my case it does happen to come out in the form of feeling into people’s energy.
I remember my sister was dating a guy – we’re from Queens. So, you know. And when I do – sometimes I’m English. You know, like there’s a character in my – I have a show called “Sell By Date” and this character is the lead. I’m the star. Even though as an English person you’re not really meant to admit that you’re the center of attention. You’re supposed to shrink. But I am the star.
But the thought about that is that, you know, English people, wherever we’re from, whatever our background, I joke that, you know, I do speak the Queen’s English because I’m from Queens, New York. But we had – I had relatives who talk like this. You know, and like you had to have your nails done, you had your hair – big hair meant something not this, but like something else. And, anyway. And so, you know, Sa. They would call me Sa. “Sa, what are you doing? What’s happening?” And my sister was dating this guy who was an electrician who is, you know, kind of a Queens guy, gotta spread my legs out like this. And eventually I start, you know, I would just cobble together like these different guys, these different people.
Sounds like somebody I dated, actually.
You know what? I wasn’t there. So but these guys, you know, it’s easy to stereotype them or to think you know who they are, but I thought these are really multidimensional people and they’re not always the ones who are the stars of our films or who we focus on in the culture. And so I liked the idea of bringing the marginalized voices more to the center and not just as caricatures. We all know “hey, hey, that guy. Yeah, my cousin Vinny.” Nothing wrong with that movie, but the point is, you know, this guy my sister was dating, he was a fully fleshed out human being with thoughts and dreams. And I just thought, especially for me as an obviously “black from a distance” appearing woman, what could be more of an interesting exploration than to take his life and see if I could step into his shoes and, you know, maybe paint a more complex portrait of him?
Did you ever in your own experience thinking like, “what am I going to be when I grow up?” Let’s say in that period in our early 20’s when we’re all trying to figure out who we are and like how we’re going to take care of ourselves and where are we going to live? Did you ever struggle inside going like, “Oh, my goodness. I have these incredible gifts. They’re amazing. I don’t really fully understand like how the hell am I gonna make a living doing this?”
Well, I think more than that, I didn’t trust them yet. So I sort of skipped around. But, you know, my parents sent me to the UN school, so on top of that multicultural family environment I had teachers from everywhere. And I was joking recently, but when you have a math teacher who is from Delhi you might be a geometry genius, but you might never figure it out because you can’t understand the accident of the teacher.
But the reality was I had been, like I said, sort of soaking up all of this energy in all these different cultures. I felt an affinity for everybody from everywhere, but I didn’t know what to do with that. What do you do with that? And so I thought I was going to be a lawyer. I thought like international policy. I was always interested in social justice and, you know, women’s rights. I was a feminist early, all that, but I definitely didn’t think – I thought it was “my silly voices.” You know what I mean? And my friends were like, “Hey, leave the outgoing thing on my answering machine. Be the Chinese lady.”
“Marie is not available. If you want to call her back you can do that another time. But if not, you can leave your message and tell her Pauline Ling send you.” Whatever. And so it was like taking my friends’ parents, you know, and like saying “can I sit with you and talk with you?” And like absorbing their accent and practicing. But I didn’t see this as a career path until I really started to follow that – you hear … I think it’s Joseph Campbell, follow your bliss or whatever those expressions are for hearing that still, small voice that says “I know you’re thinking about the LSAT but that makes you feel like you just want to get in bed and put the covers over your head. It’s not really your passion. You don’t really want to do it.”
And what actually sparks that sense of excitement in you when you think about doing it? And whenever I went and saw other people perform I would think, “That’s awesome.” And I would also think, “I think I can do that.” So I was afraid, but eventually I started performing at these open mics that I was talking about. And hip hop was really popular and there was this sort of hybrid poetry hip hop thing that I was doing. And, in fact, I ended up getting some national attention and the career kind of found me. I don’t know if I so much made the choice as I just kept following that guidance.
That’s incredible. I love it. So let’s talk a little bit more about the creative process itself. Like if you’re sitting there, and especially now if we kind of fast forward a bit. Do your next projects, like do you literally sit and look at a blank page, screen, or is it something else? Like I know for me, you know, in the beginning, very much like you, it was following that still, small voice.
But as I’ve gotten older and as we’ve built a team and things have come to life, then there’s like all these different parts of your brain and you have to deal with like well, the logic and what is the wise thing to do next? So coming to your creative process in perhaps more recent years, do you still follow those intuitive hits where there’s like you’ve heard a story or you’ve met someone? Or is it like I know I want to talk about this subject because it’s fired you up, it’s pissed you off, it’s got you inspired?
That’s definitely happened with … like the first play I wrote was called “Bridge and Tunnel” and it was about, like I’ve been saying here, people from all walks of life. Immigrants. And in a way the point of the play is we’re all immigrants. I mean, unless you’re a Native American, somebody came over here on some kind of vessel from some other country. And I really wanted that message to hit home, so …
And also my goal is not to start from the place of a message and come hit you over the head for an hour and a half. My goal is for you to have fun and recognize people you know and feel connected. And then realize at the end, “Huh, my last name is Scharfenberger. I never thought about it. I’m American, but I’m also an immigrant. Maybe 10th generation, but I’m still an immigrant.”
So that’s my goal is to create work that is fun and, you know, interesting. But I do find that there are things that piss me off. And my newest show, “Sell By Date,” is about women. It’s about women’s empowerment. It’s about sex and sexuality and how we commodify sex. Is it “sex work” and a culture that’s kind of we sort of want more empower … as women I think we’re reaching for more empowerment than ever. And a lot of times it’s confusing because that empowerment can look like Miley Cyrus twerking on a pole and we’re kinda like, wait a minute. Which one’s the empowering thing? Are both empowering? So I really wanted to explore all of those questions, and that motivated me.
I love that and I love that conversation particularly because I’ve had that conversation in my own mind. We’ve had it on the set. I had it with friends.
I had it this morning getting dressed.
How tight are my jeans and why? For whom? What’s going on? I really want to kind of as women, we get to explore all of this now. Yeah.
Yeah, that’s really – that’s incredible. Do you have like a way to capture your ideas? Because I would imagine that at times they can come fast and furious. And you’re like, “Okay, little baby. We need to put you over here right now.”
Oh, my God. I definitely need a naughty step. But I will say, so I brought along a couple of friends. Like, my name is Bella and I just wanted to say hi to you, Marie. I’m like super stoked to be here right now.
Hi. So like what you do is like so amazing because you speak to like a range of women. Like women my age and like women who are like older, just like helping them, I don’t know, like feel more empowered and like … and men too, and like trans people. We have to be woke and like super intersectional about everything. But like Sarah Jones, I think her whole goal is let the character speak. So I’ll have my phone, which I must really love you because I don’t have my phone in my hand at this moment. That’s obviously like a sign.
Yeah, believe me. But I will just like talk into her like voice memos on her iPhone, and so that’s how she’ll write a whole like – if we go have to go perform somewhere. I gotta go do this thing like at the UN, which is like amazing. Yeah. And like Sarah Jones became a Goodwill Ambassador, but like I get to go talk. And I was like oh, I just, you know, you imagine like I’m at the UN. What would you say? Hi delegate I can’t pronounce that. But I respect you. No, I didn’t actually do that.
But yeah, that’s what we do. We like work out scenarios. Like I show up and then Sarah Jones just let’s me like record myself. So I let them write, which is probably – they should probably be on my taxes. I don’t know. I should talk to you about that.
We should. I was just thinking like, oh wait. Maybe we can get a lot of Social Security. You know what I mean? We can build up a whole 401K. We can have a whole corporation. I love this. We’re gonna plan it.
No, that’s awesome. I know a lot of people ask that question a lot. They’re like, “Oh, my God,” when they’re creative. They’re like, “I have so many ideas and how do I not pursue them all at the same time?” I love that you just use whatever’s around you, the characters come speak, and they…
They prioritize themselves. I think there’s a lot of life that for me is self-organizing. And I resisted that for years because I was like, “I have to do this.” I would give myself my own to do list, my own priority list. But really my instinct, whatever you want to call that, your higher self, I think we all have that voice, that still small voice, or just the voice that’s kind of your GPS, you know, like your greater positioning system that’s helping you find, “okay. Somebody is pulling me in this direction, but actually I can really feel what I want to do is over here.”
And even if it’s not like the sexy choice all the time or the one that’s gonna make me look good, I find that the more I am worried about my self image and not focusing on my true self, I get lost. And a lot of the decision that I’ve made in my career where like, “Ooh. I’m gonna stay at the Chateau Marmont.” That’s not a good enough reason to sell a TV pilot that you don’t really believe in. So I’ve had to learn those lessons the hard way. But I would say in some ways it’s all worth it.
100%. And people, I get this question a lot, they’re like “why are you not pitching a show on network? Or why are you not doing this?” And similarly my intuition has guided my entire life, still does to this day. And if you … it’s so magical. It’ll often lead you in places that you wouldn’t expect.
Everyone else is just like, “Are you crazy? Why are you doing?” And I’m like, “I have to do it. I have to follow it.”
So you’ve said this and it’s so beautiful I need to read it word for word: “Laughter is a deceptively powerful tool. If you can make people laugh, really laugh, then you have done something. Because when that mouth is open and laughing, an open mind can’t be far behind.”
Thank you for lifting that out to me.
It is gorgeous and I would only imagine that the letters and the response that you receive to your work, because it’s true. When we’re laughing and we’re looking at some of these tricky subjects. When we’re looking at race, when we’re looking at sexism, when we’re looking at the injustices that surround us, to be able to have people laugh about it. Anything you want to share on that?
Yeah. I think our humanity is dependent on having – like the survival of our species is going to depend on how much of a sense of humor and connectivity we have around that humor. When I laugh – I love comedians. I’m actually sort of announcing this on your show, but I’m starting to veer towards just experimenting some more with stand up comedy. Because what I love to do with my characters is very improv based. I love connecting with an audience. And I think, you know, you don’t have to be the same background as that comedian to really find the humor in what they’re saying, to see what’s absurd, to identify. And when we do that, it’s a lot easier to hate people, to think that they’re other and that you should fear them and that they’re a threat to you.
When you remember, “wait a minute, we’re laughing about the same things,” you know, it’s a real truth serum. I think kind of comedy brings people to a truer, deeper place in themselves, again, in a surprising way. You would think it’s just, “Two drink minimum. What’s the big deal?” But if you’re sitting there and somebody gets you to feel into like, “Oh, wow. I am that insecure. I do pretend that there’s nothing wrong with me. But really I’m in the mirror like, “oh my God. Are we okay? I have enough. I have enough. I do enough.”
You know, like you need to get at those truths that we all kind of hide. Everybody’s on Instagram. Everybody’s photo-tuning and curating their life so it looks perfect, but I think comedy and laughing at ourselves is the quickest route to avoiding the kind of insecurity that frankly I think is running Washington right now. Right?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Ain’t nobody got a sense of humor up in there.
No. Not a lot of them.
And I just want to say, I’m telling you right now, consider my full support for you. Like stand up comedy, whatever.
You gonna be at my first show? You gonna be front row?
Are you kidding me, I’ll be rolling on the ground, cheering, laughing. Yes, please.
I can’t wait.
That is a yes, please. You’ve also said this, another genius statement. “Hurt people hurt people, but guess what? Free people free people.” Let’s talk about how we can take care of ourselves in this current socio-political climate. Because there’s a lot going around.
There’s a lot going on. And I want to be clear, because I like to give credit where it’s due. So I actually heard “hurt people hurt” people elsewhere, and then heard “free people free people.” And I was like yes. And so the moment we’re in, Marie, I mean, none of us … you know, we all have wonderful friends who have been activists and in the public eye for years. Gloria Steinem is a friend. And when this election, you know, first happened I remember going to her and asking for guidance, help, hope. And she said, “Well, I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime. And so we don’t get to pretend that we’re just going to have a perfect solution to what’s going on now. But I think we get to get very present, we get to connect in a deeper way than we ever have. It’s amazing to me how different marginalized groups have galvanized into a larger movement. The women’s march was amazing. More women of color and, you know, white women and trans women, men, like people are coming together across issues like we never would have if we didn’t have the I think the sort of – I want to be careful about calling it, you know, “doomsday scenario,” because that’s not what it is. But this is a real threat if you are – I’m thinking about I actually have a character. I’ll let her join us briefly.
I don’t know why it has to be brief. My name is Habibur. She wants to get rid of me too fast. But the joke … I am coming from the Middle East and nowadays I do want to be quick because I don’t want to get deported. I have to keep moving around.
But, you know, it’s like I want to remind myself that this is a difficult political moment, rather, for a lot of us. It’s actually a life threatening moment for a lot of people. It is destroying families. There are immigrants who, you know, they don’t know whether they’re going to come home and find their entire family intact.
So at a time like this I want to take it very seriously. AND being depressed does not help the movement. So we don’t pathologize ourselves for the fact that we’re upset, that we’re scared, that we’re anxious, that we’re stressed. But we do get to reach for support, for solutions. I know that I can’t do this alone. I lean on my friends like never before. Most people don’t use the phone anymore. I am on that phone. “I’m so depressed. Did you see? Oh, my God.” And just hearing that other person’s voice and reminding ourselves, “okay. What can we do? What’s a practical thing we can do?” Our friends who have a lot of money, please donate to the right candidates so we can do what we need to do in 2018 when it’s time to vote. How can we hold our officials accountable? How can we run? I’d love to see you run for office.
Oh, my goodness.
And just saying. I mean, if you agree please, you know, do whatever is the equivalent of retweet. Write her. Tell her. But my point is, these are real shifts that change in a – you know, we can create substantive change in our culture that, frankly, we’ve needed a long time. And I love Hilary. There is a part of me that wonders if she had come in, would we see just how deep and awful some of the, you know, kind of systemic injustice in our society really is? And so while I’m devastated by what happened, that I don’t think was a real show of our democracy, I am seeing where we can focus on the positives and expand upon them together. And by, you know, following each other, nobody’s – there’s no guru here. I think we all get to keep learning from each other as much as we can and stay connected.
And stay connected. I love that word. And I feel like that is such a … just a huge piece of everything you do is this connectivity. The characters are all connected. I mean, you’re the thread, but when I watch all of the amazing characters come through, my heart goes out and I go, “Yes. I love you. Yes. I love you. Yes, I love you.” And they’re just … and I think the humor pieces also, it’s huge. Because if we can laugh, amidst things that are really disturbing, and absolutely wrong, our creativity opens up.
That’s it. We maintain contact with our humanity. It’s key. It’s really important.
And for ideas in terms of solutions. That creative channel stays open where we might be able to see a new possibility that we haven’t ever seen before or been open to.
Okay. Let’s talk about some of your latest projects. So we mentioned “Sell By Date” coming up 2018 in LA. We talked about the premise. Anything else you want to say about that?
You know, I’m excited to share “Sell By Date” with people not only in LA, but I’m also planning on creating a film version of it.
Ooh! So that’s coming up. We’re talking to folks about, you know, where that would make sense, how it makes sense to do that. And it’s because there’s so many women and young girls out there who, I’m certainly no expert or authority on anything, but I know I as a young woman, I was confused. You know, “like am I a ho because I’m wearing the shorts? But they told me to buy the shorts.” I mean, it’s mixed messages.
I know. I had my little – I mean, at a certain time in the 2000’s, little thongs were hanging out. It was cute.
It was cute!
It was real cute.
It was cute. I mean, if they’re selling a shirt it says Porn Star and I buy it, what does that…?
I love this.
So I think having that conversation and making sure that we do feel empowered, so I can’t wait to share that with people. And they can follow me on my website. They can find me at Sarah Jones Online.
We’re gonna put it all, just so y’all know, you’ll see it right on the bottom. And sorry, sound. I know I’m like slapping my thigh.
I’m clicking. We’re like a one – two woman band.
And can we just talk about – we need to talk about jewelry for a moment.
Oh, my God. Can I talk about jewelry?
Yes. Please talk about who is this designer?
So this is Rebecca Nadler, who I lurve. And what I love so much about her work, she’s an independent artist. I love supporting a female entrepreneur. And her work is as diverse … I feel like her work is as diverse as my characters. Like you look at one ring, you’re like “that’s one designer. That’s one idea. This is a completely different feeling.” And yet it all goes together, sort of grounds me. So definitely look for her stuff. She’s fantastic.
Perfect. Okay, now. I want to hear more about “The Foundation.”
Yes. So I had this amazing experience early in my career of getting support outside Hollywood. There were roles that just felt so stereotypical and I was like “do I really have to move my,” you know. Like I needed a chiropractor to fix what I was supposed to do as this character on this show. So I realized, okay. Maybe I have to create my own roles if I don’t only want to play like one. And I found that whether it was the Ford Foundation and a great women’s rights group called Equality Now. Which, by the way, they introduced me to Meryl Streep. It’s like I avoided the Hollywood stereotypes because it didn’t feel good in my soul, even though everybody was like, “What are you doing? You’re going to ruin your career. You’re never work in this town again.” I walked away from a TV show, I walked straight into like Meryl Streep’s arms because I was following what I cared about. Right?
Yes. That’s a big lesson, people.
That’s a big one. I need to hear it. Because even now it’s like the check and the … This is your kinda higher financial advisor right in here. But foundations like the Ford Foundation and the Novo Foundation, which supported “Sell By Date,” they do incredible work on women and girls. And actually, Warren Buffett, through his son Peter Buffett.
I love them.
Aren’t they amazing? Jennifer Buffett.
They’re incredible people. And Pamela Shifman actually is the executive director there. She saw in me this potential to create a piece that was about a difficult topic, but where I was committed to entertaining people and having them feel hopeful rather than deflated about it. So that was great with “Sell By Date.” And most recently the Hewlett Foundation. So these foundations, philanthropy, supporting the arts. By the way, people. Just so you know, we have an NEA, National Endowment for the Arts, that if we’re not careful we’re going to lose it.
So I want to really talk up how much foundations have been a huge supporter of my work. And the Hewlett Foundation is commissioning works of art. They’re based out in the Bay Area and, you know, they really understand that in times like these we need art. This is not a time to say, “Oh, well, you know, we have to strip down to bare bones. And so, you know, makes sure everybody has a sandwich. That’s it.”
You know, that’s actually the opposite of how it works. When you take away what nourishes our souls, it doesn’t matter if you feed our bodies. You cannot, you know, starve our souls and expect us to thrive. Whether we’re coal miners, I know that’s a big argument. “Well, people are laborers and they don’t care about art.” That is not true. If you want to know how much coal miners and laborers care about art, listen to the beautiful folk music. You know, the banjo picking from people who would come out of the mines and then feed their souls at the end of the day.
So for me, there’s no separating the human being from the art and the creativity. And the Hewlett Foundation commissioned a piece that I wrote called “The Foundation,” which I’m now taking around especially to companies, especially to businesses who want to do good, and I perform it. Usually it’s a – it might be a private audience, it might be a public audience where I get to talk about how philanthropy is helping people hold on to our democratic values at a time when they’re under threat. We get to talk about the environment. Basically it’s lots of different characters.
You’ll actually get to meet me. I am Somali. I am very excited to be on your TV show, and I am from Minneapolis. I know you can tell from my accent, it sounds very Minneapolis, but actually it’s true Somalia. But I’m very excited because we’re different people from all around the world come to the United States because this is a place that represents the freedom. And if you take away that freedom with the government, what will we do? So we have to protect that. So I have all these different voices talking about how we can take care of ourselves as a country until we have a government that knows how to help us.
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Oh, my God. This is bringing me to tears. Finally, love that you launched a podcast. Playdate with Sarah Jones. So I listened to the first one with India.Arie. Loved it. What inspired you to start a podcast?
You know, I’ve always done these characters, as you now know. We’ve met a million of them. And I always had fun playing around with identity because if you can’t see me, well then if I turn into this person right now, you have no idea that I am actually still the same person who I’m about to be right now. Marie, I just want to say.
My name is Hank. I’m so glad that you remember me and I’m glad that I’m getting a chance here on your program to say hello. I just want to say, Sarah Jones, she may not understand a man like me, man my age. I am a Trump supporter. She doesn’t appreciate that. But I did sit down with India.Arie and she’s a very nice young woman. We don’t agree about everything but, you know, on the podcast we all get to have our say and come together. And I always like to mention to Sarah Jones one final philosophical point to the guests, which is that we won. No, he’s terrible.
But I do appreciate Hank.
I appreciate him too.
He’s new. Well, he’s actually old. So Hank has come back to us but that’s a sign of, you know, kind of people can learn more about that if they check out the podcast.
Sarah Jones, you are just a miracle. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here today. And I know everyone is going to be really excited to tune into your podcast. And, of course, we’ll share your website and all the places they can see your magic in the interwebs and in real life too.
Thank you so much. We have been thrilled to be here with you.
Now Sarah and I would love to hear from you. From everything we’ve discussed today, what’s the one idea or concept that you want to take and put to practice in your life or your work starting today? Leave a comment below and let us know.
As always, the best conversations happen over at MarieForleo.com, so head on over there and leave a comment now. And once you’re there, be sure to subscribe to our email list and become an MF Insider. You’ll get instant access to an audio I created called “How To Get Anything You Want.” Plus you’ll get exclusive content, special giveaways, and updates from me that I just don’t share anywhere else.
Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams, because the world needs that special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll catch you next time on MarieTV.
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You’re gonna be gorgeous and I’m gonna be gorgeous. We’re just gonna be like this.
And that’s the show.
Thank you for joining us.