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27. Alexis Wilkinson: Let Me Work It Out by Elaine Sheldon

Alexis Wilkinson went from being the first black woman President of Harvard’s acclaimed humor publication, The Lampoon, to writing for HBO’s hit comedy series, “Veep.” She’s become an outspoken public figure and writer--with work featured in Slate, Opening Ceremony and TIME--but as we know, big victories such as these don’t come without a lot of work, a few disruptions and some twists and turns in the road. In this episode, Alexis recalls her experiences of “comping” or trying out for The Lampoon multiple times, finding her place in the middle of an elitist institution, losing her best friend and working to create media that represents this diverse world as it actually is. Her response to naysayers? Laughter. And this is why she chose comedy. Music in this episode is by Chargaux.

The best thing you can do when the unexpected happens is to laugh at it. That’s the best outcome. You either get angry or you laugh at it.
— Alexis Wilkinson
 

Name: Alexis Wilkinson

Current City: Los Angeles, California

What are you listening to now? "I Wanna Boi" by PWR BTTM

What film/book/show/piece of media changed you? I've gotten really into the director Alexander Payne lately. "Citizen Ruth" is a great movie. I've been thinking a lot about smart satire and treating "unlikable" characters with compassion and that film does an amazing job of both.

Who is your career role model? Shonda Rhimes

What is a tool you can't live without? My foundation primer by BECCA! My skin is oily like an empty bag of chips without it. I also have a Mophie phone charging case that has changed my life.

How do you drink your coffee/tea? Milk and sugar if I'm relaxed. Black if I'm getting down to business.

What's your spirit animal? House cat: attractive, inflated sense of importance, adaptable, rude

Updates? We're finishing up shooting the last episodes of Veep, which everyone should check out! The new season premieres the 24th of April. I've got a couple projects in both film and TV that are moving forward, but it's a bit too soon to tell. Fingers crossed!

CREDITS:

  • Produced by Sarah Ginsburg & Elaine Sheldon
  • Sound design by Billy Wirasnik
  • Illustration by Christine Cover

 

MUSIC in this episode is by Charly & Margaux of CHARGAUX. Visit their website, purchase their music on iTunes and check out their MusicMaker episode Wednesday, February 17th. 

Songs you heard: Lullaby (feat. Soft Glas), Tell William, I'm So Pretty from the album Broke & Baroque // All The Parties, Lone Ranger, Great Expectations from the album The Gallerina Suites


21. Ann Friedman: Successful, Whatever That Means by Elaine Sheldon

Ann Friedman is a freelance journalist who lives in Los Angeles. She writes a weekly column about politics, culture and gender for New York Magazine. She also contributes to the Columbia Journalism Review, ELLE, The Guardian, Los Angeles Magazine, The Gentlewoman, among other publications. She’s the co-host of popular podcast Call Your Girlfriend and reviews books for New Republic and Bookforum. Ann understands the importance of developing your own voice. She understands how our shifting landscape has changed the way people consume media, and how having a personal connection and point of view as an author, allows readers an entry point to trust your voice. Those who trust Ann’s voice look forward to her beloved newsletter, The Ann Friedman Weekly, where she sums up everything she’s written, read, listened to and watched that week. Ann has a broad view of how to tell a story, embracing all sorts of methods from longform, to GIFS, to pie chart, to DIY publishing, she's inventive and knows how to turn it into a paycheck.

In this episode, we talk about the changing role of journalism, getting fired, the importance of building your future network, the perils of aging in the media world, and the importance of self-driven projects. If you’re a freelancer, don’t miss this episode.

If you’re good you never stop building a network. It’s not a thing you do until you are ‘successful’ whatever that means. It’s a thing you do your whole career.
— Ann Friedman

Name: Ann Friedman

Current City: Los Angeles

What are you listening to now? This is going to make me sound so pretentious, but I have been listening to a lot of Ethiopian jazz lately. It's good working music.

What film/book/show/piece of media changed you? I read Susan Sontag's journals (the first collection) when I was in a state of both personal and professional transition, and something about reading her unedited thoughts was really inspiring to me. 

Who is your career role model? It's so hard to pick just one! I am a big fan of Rebecca Traister. She is a fantastic writer and original thinker who takes a long view and backs up her opinions with reporting-- without losing her voice. Also, she's kind to both her sources and to other journalists. It's hard to imagine her becoming embroiled in a petty Twitter fight, which is how you know she's really smart.

What is a tool you can't live without? This is so boring, but my iPhone. Of course.

How do you drink your coffee/tea? Coffee. Usually black.

What's your spirit animal? When I'm tired or hung over, I most identify with a baby giraffe that is still learning to walk.


MUSIC BY:

Our musicmaker is HINDS! Find them on Soundcloud, Bandcamp & Facebook.

Photo by  Aarón Serrano    

Photo by Aarón Serrano

 

CREDITS:

  • Produced by Sarah Ginsburg & Elaine Sheldon
  • Sound design by Billy Wirasnik
  • Illustration by Christine Cover
  • Production Assistance by Alijah Case

CLIPS used in show:

17. Pamela Ribon: Finding Your Own Fun by Elaine Sheldon

Pamela Ribon is a television writer, screenwriter, best-selling novelist and all around hilarious human. She’s been a writer in comedy rooms for both network and cable television and is the author of four novels. NPR called her new memoir, Notes to Boys, “brain-breakingly funny.” Pamela has developed original series and features for ABC, ABC Family, Warner Bros., Disney Channel and 20th Century Fox Productions. She recently finished working on a feature for Walt Disney Animation Studios and she’s currently writing for Sony Pictures Animation on an upcoming feature. Pamela started writing on the web in 1998, before most people even knew what a blog was. She has been building her audience ever since, breaking the internet with “Barbie F*cks It Up Again,” among other posts. We talk about standup comedy, how to make your work go viral, and why it’s important to mind your our beeswax and find your own fun.

Wanting what other people have will never get you what you want, because you’re not spending time finding your own fun. It’s not fun to be jealous of people and it’s such a waste of time, because nobody has the same story. You can take the craziest route if you just follow what’s interesting to you.
— Pamela Ribon

RELATED LINKS:

Name: Pamela Ribon

Current City: Los Angeles

What are you listening to now? Podcasts: Scriptnotes, The Dinner Party Download, Pop Culture Happy Hour, Extra Hot Great

What film piece of media changed you? The Family Ties episode "A, My Name is Alex." It was an hour-long "very special" episode about Alex going to therapy after the sudden death of a close friend. Shot like a play, Alex moved in and out of the set, talking to an unseen therapist while playing out scenes with his family and friends. Seeing a sitcom tackle something so serious, mixing comedy with drama, letting Michael J Fox "act" so hard, completely blew my young mind. Comedy could help? Comedy could get serious? A sitcom could make me cry? I still remember jokes from it, so it also made me laugh. Because this episode is such a long ago memory, I originally assumed this epiphany happened only to me, but I've met more than one writer who also named this episode as an important moment in their young lives. Wikipedia says it won a shit-ton of awards, so I guess it wasn't just us kids knowing it was a good. 

Who is your career role model? Tina Fey, John Waters, Penn Jillette, Peggy Olson, Bjork, Leslie Knope.

What is a tool you can't live without? Spotify

How do you drink your coffee/tea? Black

What's your spirit animal? Hello Kitty. It used to be Batz Maru. I am evolving.

Any updates since we interviewed you? I'm currently writing a feature for Sony Animation and a comedy pilot for the Disney Channel. Everything else is under various NDAs.


MUSIC FEATURED IN SHOW:

Music this week is by Springtime Carnivore

Listen to Episode 17.5 with Greta Morgan of Springtime Carnivore!

TRACKS: Karen Bird’s Themes, Talk To Me Slow, Last One To Know, Foxtrot Freak, Collectors, Western Pink, Name on a Matchbook, Low Clouds, Two Scars

 

CREDITS:

Produced by Elaine Sheldon & Sarah Ginsburg

Sound design by Billy Wirasnik

Illustration by Christine Cover

Production Assistance by Alijah Case

CLIPS FEATURED IN SHOW:

Good Morning America Barbie Segment 1 & 2

Barbie Commercial "Cut & Style Barbie"