Answers are always hard to come by. The challenge is which answers are we looking for and who can we enlist to collaborate to find those answers.
We have to go through the process of defining:
- What do you want to change
- What is your purpose
- What do you value
- How Do You Navigate uncertainties
- What is your role in creating commerce and culture
- How can we ask big questions that lead to progress and challenging each other
The first interview in this section was hosted by Brian Grazer, a producer and Academy Award and Golden Globe winner for his work, including his high profile show Empire. He sat down with actress Taraji P. Henson, star of Empire.
Grazer spoke about how important it is to encourage people at an early age. He could not read until he was in the 6th grade, but his grandmother encouraged him to use his curiosity. He learned to look people in the eyes and reach into their heart. His book, “Face to Face: Art of Human Connection” examines many of these issues.
Despite his accolades, he says that the words have to be interpreted by the character and the actor. He says Henson created one of the most iconic characters of the decade by showing her desire for justice.
Henson talked about her career and her feeling that she was done with TV after her role on “Person of Interest”. She felt that the show was too corporate, had too many opinions and she wanted to be more of an artist.
She went to perform at a Pasadena playhouse and says that her agent made her read the script. She was hesitant about taking on the role of “Cookie” because she felt she had been pidgeon-holed into edgy characters and that she had more depth. She didn’t want to play another edgy character and yet taking on the role of Cookie was just that because Cookie was coming back into the world after a 17 year sentence for selling crack. She said she loves when her characters make her nervous. She tries to humanize her characters and connect with their flaws.
Mental health is very important to Henson. She stands strongly against the concept of perfection by telling people that “Perfection is the perfect lie.” She looks at the fact that mental health is a very under-discussed issue, especially in the African American community. She started a mental health foundation named after her father and needed to find a culturally competent therapist to help.
Ultimately, her key is that people need to listen more. Not just listen in one ear as they are busy tweeting, texting or watching TV. Don’t just ask someone how they are, and then just keep walking.
Liz Phair then got on the stage and spoke about art as a vehicle for the truth. She gave credit to her mother who was a docent at the Art Institute.
In her memoire “Horror Stories” she talks about the urgency created by the last few years and how during the last election cycle, she became that old crabby man who yells at the TV. She wasn’t seeing values reflected in our countries leadership and that the madness was taking hold.