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19 minutes | Oct 21, 2021
How to make boring work feel new again
Last week, I had Ellen Pompeo on the podcast and the theme of making something old feel new again kept popping up. She's been on Grey's Anatomy for 18 seasons, so who could blame her? I came across research from Ed O'Brien, associate professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and figured he was the perfect person to help us figure out how to find new ways of tackling something we think is too familiar or boring.
23 minutes | Oct 14, 2021
Ellen Pompeo is keeping her creativity fresh and intensity in check
Ellen Pompeo has spent 18 seasons playing Dr. Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy—and it's fair to say doing something for that long can either make or break your creativity. For Ellen, it’s been a task of finding new ways to keep Grey’s relevant to audiences, as well as exploring new ventures outside of acting such as her new podcast Tell Me. In our conversation, Ellen explains how she keeps her creativity fresh, her struggles with being a perfectionist, and with maybe being a little bit too outspoken at times.
4 minutes | Oct 7, 2021
How author Soman Chainani gets into a creative flow state
Author Soman Chainani explains his greatest challenge: getting into a creative flow state. Check out this clip cut for time, as well as Soman's full episode from last week!
28 minutes | Sep 30, 2021
Author Soman Chainani's twisted fantasies are revolutionizing YA fiction
Soman Chainani is a bestselling author who’s on a mission to revamp the young adult space. His wildly popular series The School for Good and Evil and his latest novel Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales subvert conventional fairy tales for something darker and more complex. Soman isn’t looking to create the sanitized world of Walt Disney. He wants to bring back the real lessons embedded in Grimm’s fairy tales but with a modern twist. In this episode, Soman explains his alt-Walt vision and why it’s not only good for his creativity, but for the kids he’s writing for.
22 minutes | Sep 23, 2021
Why design is more than you think it is
Fast Company recently released Innovation by Design: Creative Ideas That Transform the Way We Live and Work, a book highlighting the people and companies at the forefront of impactful design. In this episode, Fast Company design editor Suzanne LaBarre shares her top stories from the book and how the events of last year gave this project a sense of urgency.
26 minutes | Sep 9, 2021
Jeff Daniels explains his controlled free fall into creativity
One thing is certain: Jeff Daniels has the range. From cutting his teeth in traditional American theater to a wide spread of film and TV roles including The Purple Rose of Cairo, Speed, Dumb and Dumber, The Newsroom, 101 Dalmatians, and Godless, Daniels has an air of creative fearlessness about him. But it's not about just jumping off the ledge. It’s recognizing your blindspots in your craft, doing the work to improve, and then when the opportunity to stretch yourself comes up, not shying away from it. In this episode, Daniels explains how he applied that strategy to his latest role in Showtime's American Rust. He also discusses his reprisal of Atticus Finch on Broadway in To Kill a Mockingbird and his music career he doesn’t mind you not knowing about.
27 minutes | Aug 26, 2021
Michael Jai White doesn’t let others box in his creativity—and you shouldn’t either
It's easy to categorize Michael Jai White as the ripped martial arts action star of Spawn, Mortal Kombat, and Black Dynamite. But with a career that stretches over 30 years, he's done more than you think—even with the shackles of being typecast and, let's be frank, racism in the entertainment industry. Let Michael tell it, though, and all of that has led him to where he's at now with his own production company Jaigantic Studios where he’s making the projects he's always wanted to make. In this episode, Michael explains how he's learned to exist outside the boxes people want to put him in and why truth and honesty should factor into your creativity.
27 minutes | Aug 12, 2021
Elizabeth Banks and her "quietly revolutionary" creativity
For Elizabeth Banks, acting was her first passion that really clicked—and she’s certainly had success in that regard with roles in 30 Rock, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and The Hunger Games franchise. But over the years, Elizabeth has proven she’s just as talented at creating new opportunities for herself in producing (Shrill), directing (Pitch Perfect 2, Charlie's Angels, Cocaine Bear), entrepreneurship (co-owner of Archer Roose wines), and now podcasting. In this episode, Elizabeth talks about owning her ambition; she gets personal about her new podcast with Audible, My Body, My Podcast; and she explains why her creativity is “quietly revolutionary.”
30 minutes | Jul 29, 2021
Why collaboration really does matter, according to Joseph Gordon-Levitt
One of the longstanding principles of creativity has always been collaboration. We hear it all the time how thinking in groups and getting feedback from others is essential to the creative process. But how many of us actually do it on a regular basis? Actor and director Joseph Gordon-Levitt would like to remind us all that we should be collaborating more often--and he has some ideas on how to do just that. In this episode, Joseph details how the collaborative process brings out his best work, most notably in his latest project Mr. Corman for Apple TV+, and how you can jumpstart your own collaborative process.
10 minutes | Jul 22, 2021
How do you define creativity?
We have a bonus episode for you this week! At the end of every Creative Conversation, our host Kc Ifeanyi asks his guests the same question: "How do you define creativity?" In this episode, we've compiled some our favorite answers from this season. Hopefully, these can give you a quick creative boost. Enjoy!
30 minutes | Jul 15, 2021
Why hearing "no" was exactly what Amber Riley needed
We all first fell in love with Amber Riley as Mercedes Jones on Glee. But before her breakout role, she was actually rejected from American Idol, which almost made her quit singing altogether. With her mirrorball-winning run on Dancing with the Stars; her roles in TV, film, and Broadway; and her own original recorded music, it’s hard to imagine the entertainment industry without a powerhouse like Amber—but it really almost never was. In this episode, Amber explains how she pushed past that initial rejection and how she’s building a brand on more than just her raw talent.
30 minutes | Jul 1, 2021
Danielle Brooks is finding the spotlight as a leading lady
Danielle Brooks got her big break as Taystee, the lovable leader in Netflix's Orange is the New Black. That character was only meant to appear in a few episodes but wound up becoming the anchor for one of the show’s most poignant story arcs. But it shouldn’t be a surprise that Danielle’s talents stretched a bit part into a featured role. She’s always had leading lady potential—and she’s proving just that with her starring role as gospel legend Mahalia Jackson in Lifetime's biopic Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia. In this episode, Danielle explains how she proved her leading lady abilities both in front of and behind the camera, why she almost turned down Orange is the New Black; and why Hollywood fame was never her goal.
29 minutes | Jun 17, 2021
How Danny Elfman is trying to be a less "sh*tty collaborator"
The celebrated film composer and musician has been trying to be a better collaborator—and 37 years later, he's finally there. In this episode, Danny explains his breakthrough in collaboration with his latest solo album Big Mess, the best advice he's ever gotten from none other than Helena Bonham Carter, and he revisits some of his most well-loved film scores of his career.
30 minutes | Jun 3, 2021
Quinta Brunson on finding creativity past viral moments
Quinta Brunson is the perfect example of a creator who was able to turn her 15 minutes of viral fame into a solid career. In 2014, she first gained internet fame with her Instagram skit about a girl who's never been on a nice date. That exposure led to an opportunity to producer content for BuzzFeed. And from there, Quinta has been building her career with even bigger opportunities including HBO's A Black Lady Sketch Show, the upcoming ABC comedy Abbott Elementary that she created and stars in, and her new collection of personal essays She Memes Well. In this episode, Quinta explains how writing her book taught her how to ask for help, why she's rejecting the idea of going viral, and the key to handling rejection.
30 minutes | May 20, 2021
How David Oyelowo personalized his passion project
David Oyelowo’s pedigree of being a classically trained stage actor has largely translated into his career in film with weighty roles in Selma, The Butler, Nightingale, and etc. So when the opportunity to make his directorial debut with the kid-centric fantasy The Water Man came about, his fear was double-fold: stepping behind the camera for his first major film and going left of what people have come to expect from him as a "serious" actor. In this episode, David explains how his extensive acting career was the best kind of film school and how the very personal touches he brought to The Water Man.
30 minutes | May 6, 2021
How Julia Michaels pushes past imposter syndrome
At 19, Julia Michaels entered the music industry as a songwriter for artists including Fifth Harmony, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, and many others. But she didn't dare step into the booth herself until she wrote her 2017 hit "Issues," which she felt was too personal to give to anyone else. Three EPs later (and jumping over hurdles of self-doubt), Julia has finally dropped her debut studio album, Not In Chronological Order. And it seems fitting that Julia, now 27, released her first full-length album when she herself is feeling the most fulfilled. In our conversation, Julia explains how she fights imposter syndrome; how being in a functional relationship shaped her creative approach to this album; and how she pushes past writer's block.
31 minutes | Apr 22, 2021
How author Amy Tan transforms trauma into art
The author of critically acclaimed novels including The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife is known for beautifully unpacking facets of the Chinese immigrant experience, the complexities of family dynamics, and the trauma that often fuels it. In this episode, Amy breaks down her relationship between trauma and creativity, what she learned from being in a rock band, and the challenges of making something personal universal.
43 minutes | Apr 8, 2021
How social media star Zach King builds creative momentum
Zach King has made a name for himself as a digital illusionist, using seamless editing to create mind-bending videos. He gained popularity on Vine and has translated his brand of "magic" to TikTok where he's one of the platform's most followed creators. It's easy to get caught up in the wow factor of Zach's tricks, but what's truly impressive is how he seems to never run out of new ideas, which, apparently is a fear he's been working on overcoming. In our conversation, Zach explains how he keeps his creative momentum going, why limitations are necessary, and why he started revealing some of his digital magic secrets.
35 minutes | Mar 25, 2021
Inside the method of Eric Andre’s madness
No one is doing prank comedy quite like Eric Andre. He got his start in standup but rose to fame/notoriety with Adult Swim's The Eric Andre Show, a psychedelic sendup of late night talk shows where celebrity guests and everyday people on the street are at the mercy of his frenetic whims. It’s hard to tell sometimes, but beneath all the chaos of Andre’s physical comedy and pranks, there’s a craft he’s honed for five seasons of his show and that he’s applied to his Netflix film Bad Trip. In this episode, Andre explains the creative challenges of making a narrative prank comedy film, why he thinks his show has finally hit its stride 5 seasons in, and how Chris Rock talked him off the ledge from the biggest bomb of his career.
53 minutes | Mar 11, 2021
Wayne Brady on giving yourself permission to own your passion
Wayne Brady is arguably one of the hardest working performers in show business. From Broadway to TV and film and everything in between, Wayne has done it all—and often simultaneously. In this episode, Wayne explains how he gave himself permission to pursue all of his passions (and why he refuses to pick just one), how he actually does it all without crashing and burning, and the number one thing to remember in unlocking your creative potential.
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