Tuesday, 11 October 2022

Archetypes: Meghan's Moving Conversations with Constance Wu and Deepika Padukone & Sussexes to Receive Kennedy Award

For today's episode of Archetypes, Meghan was joined by Deepika Padukone, Jenny Slate and Constance Wu in an episode titled 'The Decoding of Crazy'. At the end of last week's episode, Meghan didn't specify the names of guests, and I suspect this may be because there has been a little shuffling going on with episodes and perhaps she wanted this one to coincide with World Mental Health Day. The 55 minute discussion focuses on the many insidious ways the word 'crazy' is used against women. The episode also features comedian Aparna Nancherla and the former Surgeon General of California, Dr Nadine Burke-Harris who first reached out to Meghan with a thoughtful (and quite funny) Christmas gift.

Meghan opened the show by saying:

'Hi, there. Before we get started, I wanted to let you know that this episode

gets into some sensitive conversations. If you or someone you know is struggling, or in need of assistance, we have some resources in our show notes. And, by the way, if you find that this is too heavy for you to carry today, just tune out. It’s okay. I’ll still be here next week.'

I predicted Constance Wu would be a guest on Archetypes due to the ferocity of her experience with social media. Constance was very well known for her role in Fresh Off the Boat before landing career-changing roles in Hustlers and Crazy Rich Asians. Her star was very much on the rise when, in 2019, Constance said she wrote "careless tweets" about the renewal of her show. It ignited "outrage and internet shaming". I remember this period very well, as I had just seen Crazy Rich Asians and the buzz surrounding Constance was everywhere...until it turned in another direction. It was an incredibly intense hatred which grew fierce momentum.

The human cost of this was devastating.

"I felt awful about what I said, and when a few DMs from a fellow Asian actress told me I’d become a blight on the Asian American community, I started feeling like I didn’t even deserve to live anymore. That I was a disgrace to AsAms, and they’d be better off without me. Looking back, it’s surreal that a few DMs convinced me to end my own life, but that’s what happened. Luckily, a friend found me and rushed me to the ER."

I've long felt the scale of the abuse was rooted in something much, much deeper than some of those causing the outcry claimed. It felt cruel and personally vindictive in a way one should never feel about someone they don't even know personally. It was a brutal cancellation over a few regrettable tweets. There were undercurrents of "putting her in her place" with all the dog-whistles and tropes I've sadly come to recognize since starting this blog. Constance details her experiences in her new memoir Making a Scene. I've been looking forward to this one, and hearing her conversation with Meghan. Whilst their journeys are not the same, there are familiar threads in both stories and the vitriol both faced is a shared experience no one would want.

Of her experiences, Constance told Meghan:

'Three years ago, my TV show was renewed and I had a - a pretty careless moment where I was alone and frustrated and feeling emotional after having repressed a lot of feelings for like six years on that show. Because even though I loved being on that

show and I loved almost everybody on it, I mean, people don't know that the first year I was going through sexual harassment by one of the producers and intimidation and I think part of the reason my outburst on Twitter three years ago over the show's renewal was so - was so seemingly out of character is because it was the buildup of several years of repressing a type of abuse that I had encountered at the hands of a producer.Literally at the hands of a producer in my first year where I was, you know, I had never done network television. I hadn't even done, like, a guest star on network television. When I got – I hadn't even done a pilot when I got this show.

So I was so scared that any wrong move I did, I'd get fired. And this producer was like, I'm protecting you, so you have to do everything through me. And if and if you f**k up, you don't know what could happen. So you have - don't talk to your

agents, don't talk to your lawyers. Everything goes through me and I sort of thought, okay, because I didn't know what else to think. This was before the MeToo movement, right? So I didn't really have any platform to feel, like, comfortable talking about it. And also, the show was such a shining beacon for Asian-American representation, I didn't want to tarnish the one beacon that we had available to us  In mainstream media, right. I thought, you know what? I took care of it. I, I figured it out how to work around it really well and keep my job. Like I said before, repression. It doesn't just disappear because you will it to– it goes somewhere. And so when I tweeted all this stuff without context, it made me seem really ungrateful and petty, and bratty.'

The Duchess also spoke to Bollywood star Deepika Padukone who shared her own experiences with depression and ultimately becoming a major mental health advocate in India and indeed globally: "I woke up one morning and everything was going well. My films were a success. Personally, beautiful relationships, supportive family. Like it just sort of came out of the blue. I woke up, I fell. I -- you know -- my blood pressure dropped. And then the next thing I know, my life just felt meaningless. I didn't want to live any more, you know, I just...I didn't want to get out of bed. And I struggled with this for...for many, many months. I would just break down at the drop of a hat."

Deepika continued: "Like I'd be talking to someone or be, you know, be at an event or be engaging with someone, but like, my mind's somewhere else. And I'd...I'd never felt like that before. So just, all of it just felt like so disorienting. And my parents were visiting me and the day they were ready to leave I was sitting and watching them pack and I started crying again. And my mom was like, what's wrong? Is it your relationship? Has someone said something to you? I said, I don't know. I've been feeling like this for many, many months -- I just keep crying. I don't know why. It's a feeling of hopelessness. You just feel hopeless. You feel like there's no point in living."

Meghan shared more on her own journey:

I think at my worst point, being finally connected to someone that, you know, my husband had found a referral for me to call. And I called this woman. She didn't know I was even calling her. And she was checking out at the grocery store. I could hear the little beep, beep and I was like “hi” and I’m introducing myself and that you can literally you're going, wait, sorry. I'm just.

Who is this? Um and saying I need help. And she could hear the dire state that I was in. But I think it's for all of us to be really honest about what it is that you need and to not be afraid to make peace with that, to ask for it. And for you, I think what's the most illuminating is that you're willing to talk about it.

Meghan closed with 'Breathe' by Becky Hemsley which a friend sent to her -- which has remained her "North Star" for the show. She read it on the first launch call with the Archetypes team and ended today's episode with it.

She sat at the back and they said she was shy,

She led from the front and they hated her pride,

They asked her advice and then questioned her guidance,

They branded her loud, then were shocked by her silence,

When she shared no ambition they said it was sad,

So she told them her dreams and they said she was mad,

They told her they’d listen, then covered their ears,

And gave her a hug while they laughed at her fears,

And she listened to all of it thinking she should,

Be the girl they told her to be best as she could,

But one day she asked what was best for herself,

Instead of trying to please everyone else,

So she walked to the forest and stood with the trees,

She heard the wind whisper and dance with the leaves,

She spoke to the willow, the elm and the pine,

And she told them what she’d been told time after time,

She told them she felt she was never enough,

She was either too little or far far too much,

Too loud or too quiet, too fierce or too weak,

Too wise or too foolish, too bold or too meek,

Then she found a small clearing surrounded by firs,

And she stopped…and she heard what the trees said to her,

And she sat there for hours not wanting to leave,

For the forest said nothing, it just let her breathe.

 It's an episode I highly recommend listening to.

************

Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has just confirmed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are this year's Ripple of Hope recipients in recognition of their work on "racial justice, mental health and many social impact initiatives through the Archewell Foundation". The annual Ripple of Hope Gala will take place in 6 December in New York.

Previous winners of the Ripple of Hope Award include Stacey Abrams, former Vice President Joe Biden, Bono, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, George Clooney, Tim Cook, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Amanda Gorman, Vice President Kamala Harris, Dolores Huerta, Colin Kaepernick, late Congressman John Lewis, former President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Desmond Tutu.

Kerry Kennedy added: "When The Duke and Duchess accepted our award laureate invitation back in March, we were thrilled. The couple has always stood out for their willingness to speak up and change the narrative on racial justice and mental health around the world. They embody the type of moral courage that my father once called the ‘one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change".

More from the press release:

'Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights today announced that Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have been named this year’s Ripple of Hope Award laureates in recognition of their work on racial justice, mental health, and other social impact initiatives through their Archewell Foundation. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be honored alongside previously announced laureates Frank Baker, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Siris, and Brian Moynihan, Chair of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award has honored exemplary leaders across government, business, advocacy, and entertainment who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to social change and worked to protect and advance equity, justice, and human rights'.

Click here to read more. 

18 comments:

  1. In a strategy of extraordinary perspicacity and a delivery of exemplary perspicuity, Meghan controls the narrative of her experiences and her existence to the chagrin of her haters. The daily smear campaign only plays in the head of buffoons, the racists, and those who think they should have been consulted about her pending marriage to Harry so that they could have prevented the royal family from being tarnished with intelligence, and a work ethic of meaningful accomplishments. It is a LOL-moment when the RR know that they together cannot match Meghan as a podcaster and an interviewer to offer the public something thought provoking. Academia tasks are made easier just by asking students to listen to the podcasts and to elaborate on selected topics -You can't beat Doria's guidance and nurturing - do your little part to make society better.

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    1. Kudos to the author of the above paragraph (which reads like an excerpt of a larger piece.) I love the perfect, pointed and humorous barbs at the buffoons, the racists and the RR. It missed only the people revered solely for their accident of birth.

      R

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    2. "It missed only the people revered solely for their accident of birth." -- brilliant, R!

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    3. I agree that we shouldn't revere people only for their accident of birth, but of course that includes Harry as well as his family. Meghan is obviously a very sensitive person and has been really hurt by her horrendous treatment by the news media and other critics. Marrying into the Royal family was a terrible mistake and I think she had to leave for her own wellbeing. She and Harry should now embrace the opportunity to live a more private life away from the spotlight so they can bring up their children in peace. It did occur to me that maybe we are part of this unhealthy focus on them and everything they do. Food for thought perhaps?

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  2. The best of the best

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  3. Meghan is a good example of you can't put a good woman down , cos she will always rise above the storm

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  4. That peom need to be place on the wall in every humanbeing room

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  5. I noticed when I first "saw" Meghan that she is an extremely intelligent woman. Her ideas are amazing. This podcast series is so much more than merely entertaining. The combination of her brain and Harry's heart is unbeatable.

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  6. Allison, entertaining is the least from my own point of view......educating, community dialogue, engaging etc

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    1. Anon 22:22 Agree completely. I find it hard to say how significant these gems of podcasts are.

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  7. Wow. For those of us over 60, the Kennedy family were our royalty. They remain one of our foremost philanthropic and civic-minded families. When I read the list of past honorees, I was stunned by what an honor it is for the Sussexes. Well done you, Harry and Meghan.

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    1. Yes, the Kennedys were our royalty, rightly or wrongly. I appreciated that Ted Kennedy was the Lion of the Senate. This is an amazing honor for H&M, just amazing.

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  8. That peom need to be place on the wall in every human being room the podcast was sincere and hard to listen but being with the duchess of Sussex light the mood

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    1. To hang on our walls but above all to hang in our hearts

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  9. Cannot wait to listen to the next podcast.

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  10. Each time after reading an article here, I tell myself that it's the best but in reality, there is always an appointment with an article that will surprise you magnificently with its content and its various themes...
    Beautiful and poignant this article again! Cheer !

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  11. Sheryl from BC Canada12 October 2022 at 21:03

    Intense, hard hitting and very much thought provoking. Leaving us wanting more at the end of each podcast. Meghans podcasts are fast becoming my tuesday morning "sit down and take some quiet moments to really listen" times. What on earth are we going to do when the 12 episodes are done?!!! My admiration for this couple, with all of their philanthropic works and dedication just keeps on growing. Kudos on the Ripple of Hope award. Very deserving.

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  12. *Loved* this episode & loving this podcast! -op

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Welcome to Mad About Meghan! We do so look forward to reading your thoughts. Constructive, fair debate is always encouraged. Hateful, derogatory terms and insults are not welcome here. This space focuses on Harry and Meghan, not any other member of the Royal family. It's not the place to discuss politics either. Thank you for reading, we look forward to your comments :)