Series 02: For The Love Of Moxie | Episode 01
Authenticity in a Branded World with Luvvie Ajayi
Kicking off the new “For the Love of Moxie” series is Luvvie Ajayi, a hilarious writer and blogger who epitomizes what “moxie” is all about. Fierce and funny, Luvvie’s blog, awesomelyluvvie.com, has a massive following, and her new book I’m Judging You: The Do Better Manual, is a New York Times bestseller and has been picked up by producer extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal). for the creation of a new TV show. In the book, she covers a host of topics, serious and funny, including our “bad behavior” on social media (we discuss that you can still “poke” people on Facebook. Why?) and a host of other things going on in pop culture, TV, movies, activism and life. Luvvie shares how she was the world’s longest overnight success, and that building a brand doesn’t mean having to lose yourself.
Narrator: Welcome to the “For the Love Podcast” with bestselling author Jen Hatmaker. Come on in, and join us for a chat with Jen and friends about all the things we love. Now, here’s Jen.
Jen: Welcome to the show everybody! It’s Jen Hatmaker. Big, big thank you to all of our new listeners! We’re super glad you’ve come along with us for this this adventure into podcast land. It’s been so much fun I’m having the best time with my guests and with you been super, super humble that the “For the Love” podcast has kind of been up at the top of the podcast with our first series on girlfriends; and that’s because of you. That’s because you have subscribed, and you are listening, and downloading, and reviewing, and you’re basically the actual best.
Thanks for letting us know how much that topic meant to you, and resonated with you and how many times you shared the podcast with your own girlfriends. It’s so special to me and my team, so what we’re hoping to do is to keep bringing you guests, and ideas, and conversations, that are going to inspire you, and motivate, and encourage you; hopefully even entertain and just make you laugh.
So, I’m excited to talk about this next series that we’re kicking off today with an amazing first guest. I’m thrilled about it. I just wrote a book called Of Mess and Moxie, and it just hit the shelves. It was a joy and a delight to write for you, and so many of you are reading it, and talking back right now about how it’s mattering to you, and the things that you’re resonating with.
So, we’ve got this book with us now, Of Mess and Moxie, so we decided to do a series, a podcast series, around that theme. We have invited women that you’re just going to freak out over. Women that we think have incredible moxie; who epitomize the word. We came up with this list of guests who just absolutely define the spirit and determination of moxie; this kind of ability to overcome, to be resilient, to rise back up. They manage to do this all with style, and with grit, and with courage. We’re watching them going, “listen, these girls have moxie.”
They are amazing in their careers, they have overcome suffering. They have all kinds of really phenomenal pieces in their stories. You already know and love almost all of them. So I think you’re going to love getting to hear from them firsthand on what has brought them this far, and where they think their moxie comes from. My very first guest is so perfect for this series. If you don’t already follow her, you’re going to just enjoy her so much. She’s funny. She is smart. She is interesting. She’s got moxie in spades. I’m super excited for you to enjoy this series and definitely enjoy this first guest.
Guys, one of the very first guests that came to my mind when we were brainstorming this series on Moxie, like, “who epitomizes “moxie,” is my friend on the podcast today. So, I’m like pretty much beside myself that she agreed to pop on. So, she’s the voice behind Awesomely Luvvie, which is the most hilarious, smart, wild, funny and important blog. It just covers everything. You’re so funny, actually, that I’m mad at you. I am so mad.
Luvvie’s blog, it is everything. It’s pop culture, TV, movies, technology, travel, race, activism–just life. She’s also a speaker who’s just kind of slaying right now on all sorts of topics related to blogging, and branding, and marketing, and nonprofit communications, activism, humor. Gosh, you’ve presented everywhere–so many important and amazing places like the White House, for example. She’s been here at South by South by Southwest in Austin, TX and TedX in Chicago. Just so many other things; it goes on and on and on–the list is so long. Honestly, you do some of the best TV recaps on your blog. They’re better and more fun than the shows. I skip the show and read what you say about it and I die. Luvvie also runs awesomelytechie.com, this is a kind of a resource site for writers, and small business owners, and just regular people looking to use technology in a meaningful way in their life.
There’s so much else we’re going to find out about her in our interview today, but I just want to also add that Luvvie is also an author and her book came out in September of 2016, and the title is called I’m Judging You: The Do Better Manual. You came up with that right?
Luvvie: I did. I did.
Jen: It’s the best title I’ve heard. It went straight to the New York Times bestsellers list, because it should be, it’s hilarious. It’s sharp. It’s important. You have this really great way of dipping in and out of funny, and serious, important, absurd. I just I love it.
So anyway, it pokes fun at some of our worst social media behaviors—we’re gonna talk about that in a little bit, but a lot of really serious stuff too. So listen. Oprah loves her. Shonda Rhimes love her. I LOVE HER. You are going to love her so. Welcome to the show, Luvvie Ajayi.
Luvvie: Oh my god. That is the best intro I may have ever gotten in life.
Jen: That’s me clapping. I’m so into you. I’m serious. You are so fun to read and to watch and grow. And girl, your star is just rising right now and I’m so excited for you. The things that are happening in your life in these last couple of years are just absurd. Just crazy.
Luvvie: They are. They feel absurd. I feel like I’m watching a really cool movie unfold, and I’m like, “that’s a really nice movie.”
Jen: Isn’t that nice? And you’re the star. You’ve you’ve accomplished so much, you’ve gotten to do so many important, impactful things–and fun things too. Umm…hi, you got to do Oscar red carpet coverage.
Luvvie: Yes indeed.
Jen: That’s not all. This did not happen overnight for you. This is kind of where I want to start with you. Just tell the listeners a little bit about sort of where you’ve come from, how you got started in the blogging world, and the point that you sort of knew you were meant to do work in this space, in this medium.
Luvvie: So I called myself a 14-year overnight success, because you know people are seeing all the cool things happening now, and they’re like, “oh my god, it happened so quick,” and I’m like, “oh, actually no it didn’t.” It took a long time to get here. So, I started blogging when I was in college in 2003 because my friends were like, “hey, you should start a web blog and I was like, “OK.” Back when it was called “web blogging,”
Jen: I mean that was the front edge of blogging back then. The absolute front edge.
Luvvie: Exactly–like no expectations, no type of couth. So, we were just writing freely, and I never stopped– so when I graduated from college in 2006 I deleted my college blog, and started what is now AwesomelyLuvvie.com.
I just was just doing it as a hobby, because I thought, “I like to write—it’s cute.” I didn’t think it was a career, I didn’t think it was an option. I didn’t have any grand ideas of what could happen from it.
Jen: Totally. I mean that was back when you’d just sit down with a glass of wine at night just bang out some idea you’re having for fun.
Jen: Kind of low low risk. You know you have nothing to lose at that point. It’s a kind of a great place to get started, actually. So you’ve written about basically everything from like, the clear and present danger of Unicorn Frappuccinos. I can’t. I can’t. Fix it, Lord.
Luvvie: Ahh, why do they exist?
Jen: What are we doing? Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer—I’m going to miss her!
Luvvie: I LOVE Melissa, I love her. When I actually went to the Oscars in 2012, and did press coverage, I got to interview her, and she is just as amazing as everything you would imagine. She’s everything.
Jen: She’s my comedy hero.
Jen: When Spicey went down in a blaze of glory, I’m like, “you know what? What are we going to do without Melissa now?” No more Spicer on SNL—this is so bad. So sad.
Tell us what are some of your favorite blogs– the ones you’ve written.
Luvvie: Oh man.
Jen: And some of the ones that your readers have responded to the most. Before you answer that the first time I ever read your writing, one of our mutual friends is Kristen Howerton, and she was like, “if you’re not reading Luvvie, you need to get your life together.” And I read, I and I was crying. I had tears pouring down my face–howling with laughter. You are so naturally funny that I just cannot believe your talent for humor.
Luvvie: You know what? I should remember. So, one day, it was a couple of years ago, and it was one of those debates that was happening, right? I remember that night, because all of a sudden, I had 3000 new Facebook fans, and I was like, “where is all this coming from?” It turns out you had shared my piece. It was a piece that I wrote on councilwoman Edith.
Jen: It was Edith.
Luvvie: It was Edith.
Jen: I could almost quote that blog from memory I read it so many times. I cried when you asked something like, you know, you call her Miss Edith.
Luvvie: Yes, there’s a Miss.
Jen: That is a Miss, you are not her agemate.
Luvvie: Miss Edith, yes!
Jen: I can’t even. So I sent all my people to you because you’re hilarious.
Luvvie: That day I was like, oh my, because I’ve been reading your stuff and I was like, “what?” Somebody was like “Jen Hatmaker shared your stuff on her page,” and I was like, “that’s where all these people are coming from.” It was awesome. It was awesome.
Jen: We still talk about you all the time. So talk about some of your, kind of, greatest hits on the blog and in whatever category they fit.
Luvvie: Honestly, the Miss Edith post is one of my greatest hits. I’m actually on it right now…51,000 shares on Facebook.
Jen: Yeah. It was bananas.
Luvvie: I like to find the humor in just some very serious occurrences. So whenever I watch any type of political event, I’m the person who’s there who you don’t want to follow if you want hard-hitting commentary. I’m really there to make fun of people’s clothes, and make fun of like the ridiculousness of the politicians themselves. So, I live tweet some of these things and to just be like you know what, people need a different perspective from what’s happening. If you want the serious analysis, you can get that from 1800 people. Let’s talk about the real important things like why the person over there is wearing a mullet, or the tie choices. It makes these things more digestible, and for me, I’m over here like, “OK, if I have to sit here watching this, I need to entertained in some way.”
Jen: Thank you. Thank you.
Luvvie: These people are boring and they take themselves way too serious, so I am the person who’s there to poke fun at them.
Jen: You’re so funny. Your observational humor is just so precise that I can’t even deal. You say what all of us are thinking, because you don’t even care. You just put it all out there.
Luvvie: Another one that actually people love, is the one from when George W. Bush went to a memorial service for a fallen soldier and decided to sway his way through the Battle Hymn.
I will tell you I watched the video at least 15 times now. Y’all, if you put this on mute and had no type of context, you would think George W. Bush was at a kindergarten graduation.
Jen: Oh gosh. I’ve got tears. So funny. You know you talk about a lot of really important things too, and I love it. You’re a real leader and a teacher for me in so many ways.
I read so much of what you write about just racism and activism. You’re just all in, and those have had a lot of traction too.
Luvvie: Oh, yeah.
Jen: You’re not just funny, you’re smart, and you’re engaged, and you’re a really good leader, and you have your finger on the real pulse of a lot of stuff going on right now in our world. So, in those spaces, what do you find has gotten a lot of traction?
Luvvie: So, you know, my writing; I am a humor writer first but I think it’s important to use the tools that we have to basically try to make the world better than we found it. So for me, humor is kind of the great equalizer, and it allows people to pull their defenses down. So a lot of people will find me because of funny posts, and then the next post I write might be about police brutality. You know what, while you’re here to get this content, I also want you to hear some things that matter. You know, again with all my content, I try to approach it in a way where I don’t want people to feel like I’m lecturing. I want you basically to feel like you’re listening to your best friend at brunch talk about whatever is on her mind today. It might be racism, it might be politics, it might be randomness.
So one of the ones that has gotten the most traction on that one is: I wrote a piece called “The Stages of What Happens When There Is Injustice Against Black People.” I go through 10 stages of exactly the cycle that we we see whenever somebody gets killed. It always ends up in the same place, and that one is is one that still gets shared today because it’s pretty evergreen. I wrote it two and a half years ago and every single time people share it, I’m like, “OK, something must have happened in the world today.”
Jen: I love that post too; I’ve read that and shared that, and it’s tender. It’s vulnerable. You can’t read it and not just have something deeply stirred inside your heart. You’re good at that. You really are good at that; you are able to sort of reach down to the heart of the matter, and make it accessible, and you pull it to the forefronts of our minds.
Let me ask you this. One of your superpowers is giving the side eye. It’s like right there on the cover in all its glory. Tell us; who’s getting the side eye from you these days?
Luvvie: Oh my god. The entire Trump administration is getting the side eye, and I’m just like what? Who knew that the White House was a temp agency? I didn’t know. People are getting 1099’s, not W-2s. What is happening? The whole thing is a cluster. It is just foolery. So they are forever getting my side eye.
Jen: You can’t even get a couple of them on the SNL sketch; they came and went too fast.
Luvvie: Totally, SNL is like, “OK, doggone, throw that sketch out. We don’t even need it anymore.”
Jen: Totally. Who else is getting it?
Luvvie: Who else. I am side-eyeing–you know I’m always smiling celebrities, just in general, because some of them just don’t know how to act. There’s actually a big thing happening this week too; I’m side-eyeing The Breakfast Club for the comments that they made about trans women especially, Janet Mock in all her amazing glory– was just on there a week ago. So that’s one thing too.
Jen: Yes. You’ll send that out to them. They’ll feel your wrath.
Luvvie: Oh man. They are ridiculous.
Jen: They don’t even know. So here, your blog at this point, Absolutely Luvvie, it’s over 500,000—you have a billion readers. Because of just all this amazing momentum around it, you’ve gotten to work with some pretty major brands, and events, and some really incredible people. So tell us, this is probably going to be hard for you to pick, maybe the top three most interesting people that you’ve met in the last year or so, and what they were like.
Luvvie: Top three most interesting I’ve met in the last year. Let’s see.
I met Oprah a year and a half ago, because she picked me to be on her SuperSoul 100 list, which is a list of 100 people who she thinks are elevating humanity, Which, oh my god. I was like I can’t, I can’t believe it–what is life?
Jen: You could just be done right there.
Luvvie: Oh man. I was just like what? It’s really cool, because being on that list with such epic people. I was like, wow. Then a couple of months later I actually got to interview her.
Jen: I know. What did you think about her in person?
Luvvie: She, first of all hugging her is like hugging clouds. I’m just like, “I could just lay in your bosom all day.” She’s so cuddly. She has this calming thing about her. You think you’re going to meet Oprah and be all fan girl. No. When you meet her she’s very calming. I didn’t feel the need to be like, “oh my god, I love you so much.” I was just like, “hey, I’m Luvvie,” because she has this very calming spirit.
Jen: She like forces you to keep your chill…
Luvvie: Yes! That’s it. That’s it.
Jen: …with her aura.
Luvvie: Yes. Yes. I was like oh my gosh, she’s a unicorn.
Jen: So you’ve got Oprah. Who else?
Luvvie: You know it’s funny. I finally met Glennon Doyle this year. Last year we were speaking at a conference together. We’re mutual fans of each other we sat there, we were both at built at a book signing sitting next to each other and we both “fan-girled” on each other for like five minutes. All the people standing in line for both of us looking were looking at us like, “what is wrong with you?” Like amused by us being like, “oh my god, I love you—oh my god I love you too!” So, she’s amazing.
Jen: She is amazing. She also pulls you into her vortex of affection.
Luvvie: Yes. She’s another unicorn. All of these amazing people, let’s see I’ve met some really cool–oh it’s too much, see it’s too much–too many choices to make.
Jen: I know. Because you run the gamut between celebrities, and authors, and activists. You have so many interesting people in your bucket, I feel like every time I see a picture of you, it’s with somebody cool.
Luvvie: Honestly it’s so weird I’m just like, “how did I end up in these rooms with these amazing people?”
Jen: So how, about let’s switch gears here, because this is one of your best lanes, is your TV recaps. I like that you’re here for nonsense. I do. I love how you’re leading us in important work, important topics. And I also like that you are leading us through shenanigans and.
Luvvie: I love shenanigans. like I am a shenanigans connoisseur.
Jen: You are. What are you watching right now? What are you watching, what are you really loving? What do you hate that you love, because it’s embarrassing?
Luvvie: I am loving Insecure, of course, I am obsessed with it. I actually convinced HBO to let me recap it officially.
Jen: Oh, you did?
Luvvie: So, I actually did. I’m the official recapper of Insecure. So, I get the perk of watching it before everybody else watches it, and then I post right after it airs, so I of course love it. Issa Rae and I, we’ve known each other for like five six years and just seen her journey from Misadventures of An Awkward Black Girlto an HBO show, that’s phenomenal. I am so proud.
Jen: I love her. I was in Barnes and Noble a couple of years ago and just started chatting with another person there buying books. That’s how I found her. She was like, “you’ve got to buy this book.” Just like that, I’m going to, I discovered her book. She is really gifted.
So that’s what you’re watching.
Luvvie: Also watching Game of Thrones; obsessed. I am just a Game of Thrones junkie.
Jen: Give us just a little like what’s your current Game of Thrones situation. Like who do you hate? What do you predict? What’s happening? What’s going on?
Luvvie: So Cersei: her downfall is going to be beautiful to watch. She’s one of those people who you can’t hate all the way, because she’s so freaking smart. I want to hate her all the time, but sometimes I find myself being like, “I kind of admire you.”
Jen: She’s fierce.
Luvvie: She is so fierce. She is like, “I’m going to get what I want no matter what.”Her tactics are ridiculous because she’s basically Voldemort. right. Of course, Olenna Tyrell is my bae. That is boo right there. I call her the “Sophia Petrillo of Westeros.”
Jen: That feels right.
Luvvie: It’s so right because she’s just amazing. That woman, she doesn’t throw shade, she throws like, “eclipse.”
Jen: She does. What about John Snow?
Luvvie: That is my bae. I love him and his hair. Where does he get these outfits from? They’re so fierce and fabulous.
Jen: They are, they are. And his little man pony—it just all works.
Luvvie: It just works and just like no strand of hair is out of place. The way he pouts, no one pouts as sexy as Jon Snow. That dude has perfected the sexy pout.
Jen: I know. That’s awesome. My assessment of Game of Thrones is that eventually everyone’s going to be dead. So, we’ll just keep watching it until they all die.
Luvvie: Of course! How they’re going to die is going to be it. So the White Walkers are coming, and I think Sam Tarley is going to save the day more times than one. I think he is the key to everybody not dying.
Jen: You do?
Luvvie: Yes, I do. I think all the things that he’s learning right now, are going to come in handy to defeat the White Walkers.
Jen: OK well I trust your assessment of this show because nobody watches it with more precision or care than you do. The Twitter feed alone is worth the price of admission.
Luvvie: Listen, I need to start using my powers for good and solve world peace as opposed to finding out exactly what happens in TV shows by the color of what they’re wearing. I am that person.
Jen: OK, so let’s talk about your book for a minute because it came out last year. You sent it to me, and I read it in one sitting.
Luvvie: Are you serious?
Jen: I read the first page and I did not even move off my couch until I closed the last page. It’s just kind of the best of, in all the ways and all the things that you do, all the things that you care about, all the things that you talk about. I felt like it was the greatest hits.
Can you talk about it a little bit; about about your book? I mean everybody loved it…Amy Poehler… everybody loved your stuff. So, tell my people who haven’t read it yet, a little bit about it. What was it like to write it, by the way? Because writing a book and writing blog is not the same at all.
Luvvie: Not at all. First of all, I love the fact that you called it the “best of me”, because that’s exactly what my intention was. I wanted people who know my work, to read my book, and be like “she put; this is the best version of herself.” So ultimately, I’m Judging You: The Do Better Manualcame along, because I got the idea when I got plagiarized by a “journalist” (put this in quotation marks) who took like three paragraphs of my work and dropped it in his, and didn’t give me credit.
Luvvie: I actually tweeted “is there not a limited edition handbook on how we’re not how not to be terrible human beings?” I literally had a light bulb moment like, if I was a cartoon, a light bulb would have showed up on my head at that moment. I was like, “that is the book I need to write. That’s the book I need to write,” and that’s how I’m Judging You came to be, and I wrote that book in five months.
Jen: Did you really.
Luvvie: I did. I wrote that book in five months in 80,000 words and it was all new words; it wasn’t all half blog posts. I wasn’t going to be that blogger who wrote a book that was like “oh, half blog posts”– no. For me it was very important for my audience to feel like I’m serving up the best of me in new words.
Jen: Yeah you did. They were expanded, and they were developed, and deeper, and it was really good. If you had told me that was your first book, I would have never believed that. It was so comprehensive, and so well-done, and so cohesive. I was really proud of you when I read it and loved it. I passed it around everywhere and sent it everywhere. It was amazing. So your book hilariously, in parts of it, addresses exactly what you just said; bad behavior, like, “do better.” So let’s talk about social media. We suck the internet is a dumpster fire sometimes, right?
Luvvie: Yes it is.
Jen: I love how you like say, “stop it with the over use of hashtags.” Thank you for saying that. What what are some of the things we need to do better at on social media right now? Train us. Teach us. Correct us. Rebuke us.
Luvvie: You know I’m also judging myself about these things, but a lot of stuff that happens on social media, I feel like people behave on social media in ways; they basically behave like they have no home training and no brought-upsy. I always tell people, because I do a lot of workshops for teenagers. I always say “do not post something on social media that you would not want it to end up in a giant billboard in Times Square.”
Luvvie: If you behave in that way, it might change some of the content people put up. From the overshare stuff, to the hateful stuff. If you don’t want your name next to this thing in 105 point font in the middle of New York City, do not throw it up on social media.
Jen: That does not need to just go to students. That needs to go to every grown up person with a Twitter account like that is the truth. Absolutely. What else what else what are you some of your like social media like this is the deal this should be the banner over all of us.
Luvvie: Oh my gosh, first of all why do people still poke you on Facebook? Why is the poke function still allowed?
Jen: I don’t even, are you serious?
Jen: That’s not right.
Luvvie: You can still poke people on Facebook today.
Jen: Who would poke you, in the first place?
Luvvie: That’s what I’m saying!
Jen: Like, weirdo?
Luvvie: They’ve gotten rid of all these features, but that’s the one they’ve decided to keep?
Jen: Do better, Facebook!
Luvvie: Do better, Facebook, and do do better the people who decide, “you know what, I should poke a random stranger.” That’s so weird.
Jen: No. If I get poked, you’re blocked.
Luvvie: Fact. I should do that.
Jen: Yes. That’s an auto-block.
Luvvie: It’s so weird. Also, I kind of want people to stop filtering everything about their lives. That’s the thing. I kind of forgot what some people look like, because they always place filters on everything.
Jen: So true. I’m guilty of it sometimes. Sometimes I just see a picture of me, and I look so broke down, I’m like, “what can I do?” Sometimes not even putting it in a black and white will fix it. So you know, I will occasionally put three different filters on a picture, where I don’t even recognize my own face.
Luvvie: See, I’m the dark-circle queen. I feel like I want to make sure people see me when I look bad, to lower their expectations. I can’t be the person that you see in full makeup all the time. No, because you expect me to look that good all the time, and I’m not that person. So I feel like sometimes people need to see a selfie with me with dark circles looking like bustedness. Yes, it would keep me humble. It keeps me humble and keeps everybody realizing; you know what? She’s not the person who you’ll see put together all the time. Sometimes you see me looking an utter mess with my hair not brushed.
Jen: So just this very week, my youngest daughter Remy’s going to karate camp during the day. I got to have her there at 8:00 in the morning, and I work from home, so I’m sorry, but I’m going to roll out of bed and get in the car. That’s what’s happening.
Jen: So I was taking her every single day in the morning with my glasses on, like smeared mascara, some sort of a bed hair. A couple of days ago, I picked her up in the afternoon after having showered. I had a thing I had to get dressed for, and fix my hair—it was down. I had makeup on, and the camp director didn’t even recognize me. “Who are here for?” I was like, “Remy! She’s been here for three weeks.” She was like “oh!” It was painful. That’s how hard I swing from one end to the other—she didn’t even know who I was.
Luvvie: Seriously. I feel like we gotta stay versatile, like there’s so much pressure now. There’s so much pressure, you know of people being like, “I can’t leave the house in make up.” No. I feel like it’s really important for us to know that we’re more than that. Please accept me in my sweat pants and you will deal.
Jen: Thank you. Thank you. So you also you’ve been involved with a lot of great things that I love–some really amazing causes and you started the coolest organization called The Red Pump Project. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Luvvie: So Red Pump is a national nonprofit that I started in 2009, that raises awareness about HIV and AIDS in women and girls. What made me start it was; I met somebody who ended up becoming a friend of mine, and she had 20 cousins who were living with her grandmother in Malawi, because their parents had died from AIDS-related complications. For me, I was kind of like, “wait.’ AIDS is still a thing? Like, this is back?”—this was like 10 years ago, I didn’t realize it was a problem, because we hadn’t heard much about it in a long time.
Luvvie: So, me being the shoe head that I am (‘cause I’m addicted to shoes), I was like, “you know what? I’d love to do something around HIV and AIDS and red shoes, because I feel like that would capture people’s attention, because we have to talk about this epidemic.”
So I co-founded it; me and my friend Karen. We were like, “you know what, it’s National Women and Girls HIV AIDS Awareness Day is coming up; we should like get our blogger friends to talk about this issue.” So, that was March 10th, 2009.
135 bloggers joined us to dedicate their platforms to this issue on this one day, and we were like, “hey, put on a pair of red shoes. Tell us why this thing matters to you, and help us bring attention to this epidemic.” People joined us, and since then, we’ve been running this national nonprofit and we do workshops around the country. We still do our “Rock the Red Pump” campaign. So every March 10th, people are still putting on red shoes and throwing up pictures on social media. So yeah, that’s the other work that I’m passionate about.
Jen: How can people get involved with that, or find out more about that? Because that’s going to that’s going to hit a heart string of a lot of my listeners, for sure.
Luvvie: So, our website is RedPump.org. We have campaigns throughout the year, we have events around the country, so we post them on our wall, so of course we have you on social because we are those people. Of course, get a pair of red shoes ready, because on March 10th, we paint the world red in some red kicks. They can be some red Chucks…yeah. Whatever it is, it’s just a really good way to bring attention to this thing, because a lot of us know people who are affected by HIV and there’s so much stigma attached to it. Our whole point is; if you can talk about it on social media, you can talk about it to your partner and to your friends.
Jen: That’s really great. That’s really great. Both here and internationally, you know, we do a lot of work in sort of Eastern Africa too, [and the stigma there is so… that people will die as opposed to going to get their meds.
Jen: There’s something really powerful about just talking about it out loud, and removing some of the the cloud of shame and mystery over it, in general, and that actually saves lives. I’m so for you on that. I’m proud of you. Thank you for doing that really good work. Isn’t that amazing how far and wide that has gone from that little seed of an idea back then?
Luvvie: It’s crazy. We actually got to–the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince, Haiti found us on Facebook–and they had us come for a week to do workshops. So we ended up teaching 900 young adults and gave out like a thousand safe sex kits. So it was amazing, just seeing that happen.
Jen: That is amazing.
Jen: I didn’t know that—that’s such good work. So here’s another fun, and outstanding, and crazy, and bananas thing that is going on in your life. Your book is being developed into a show by Queen Shonda Rhimes.
Jen: She’s the queen of the world. She’s the queen of the world.
Luvvie: She is.
Jen: I cannot believe this good thing is happening to you. Can you talk about this? Like how did this happen, and what is going on with it? Where’s it at right now? Who’s going to be cast? Maybe you can’t even say any of that. But just tell us what you can tell us about it.
Luvvie: So, it happened because Shonda found me through my Scandal recaps a couple of years ago, and she started reading my recaps, and she started loving my tweets, and I met her in 2015 in person. She like fan-girled over me which is crazy. She was like, “oh my god, you’re my favorite person on Twitter,” and I was like, “what is life? What is air?”
Luvvie: So since then, it’s kind of been like this mentor in my head. Now, it’s no longer in my head, ‘cause when my book came out, I sent her an advance copy, and she loved it.
She ended up blurbing it and calling it a “truth riot.” So I was getting a lot of TV things thrown at me. So I literally was just like, “hey, I just want to get your advice.” I go in to meet with her, and she tells me, “hey, we want to turn your book into a TV show now. “I was like literally, “okay, I can die now.”
When Shonda Rhimes, says she wants your book, you give Shonda Rhimes your book.
Jen: You hand it over lock, stock, and barrel.
Luvvie: I say, “you can have it, ma’am.” So yeah, where we are is–one of the first things she asked me was– she’s like, “we love this voice and this character is very clear. Do you want to play her?” I was like “No,” I said, “acting is not my ministry, so that can be played by somebody else.”
Jen: That is not your portion.
Luvvie: That is not my portion–I know my lane. So, I will be a writer for the show. Where we are is; we’re basically in development stage, and me creating this world, and what it looks like, and what this character is like, and what her adventures are.
Jen: I don’t even know how to handle it. Thank you. Is it too soon to tell us who you’d love to see in that role? Is that a secret under wraps?
Luvvie: It’s under wraps. Yes. I have one person in mind in particular, but another person—look. Goals, OK, goals. So I’ve met both people. So I’m crossing my fingers. I think people can probably guess though, because whoever it is, is going to kind of look like me.
Jen: Oh my gosh, I’m so excited. So you’re going to be a writer on the show? Of course you should be, of course you will be–that is going to be a whole new adventure. I mean, this is a completely different genre.
Luvvie: It kind of scares me.
Jen: Does it?
Luvvie: It’s scary ‘cause this is like new territory.
Jen: Yeah, ‘cause just like writing a book is different than writing a blog, writing a script is different than writing a blog.
Jen: It’s your voice, but it’s also for screen, which is completely different. You’re gonna flex some new muscles. I think you’re going to love it, don’t you?
Luvvie: I think so too.
Jen: So we’re going to be watching for that. I mean if Shonda puts her hand to it, it’s going to rise. So I’ll be on the front row with my popcorn cheering you on. I’m so excited about that. Listen, let’s wrap this up. So we normally ask three questions of every guest on the podcast, but this series is on “moxie,” which you have in spades sister, you epitomize moxie. I wrote an essay in Of Mess and Moxie called “Unbranded”– it’s the opening essay. I think about you, when I think about this, because there’s this idea that once you are one thing; once you have signed your name in this space, that you’re stuck with it forever, or that you are unable to develop, or you’re unable to grow. Then you are beholden to everybody who wants you to stay in that space, and who doesn’t want to see you change, or grow, or shift or thrive. And yet, I’m watching you, and what I respect about you so much, is that you somehow stay really true to yourself, to what you care about, to your convictions, to what you’re learning, to where you’re moving. I mean even in the midst of working with these major brands, you’re building your own space, and you are you’re running your own race –you’re setting your own course. I respect it so much. Let me ask you this: can you tell our listeners what helps keep you really grounded and authentic to who you are and what you care about; what helps you stay the course?
Luvvie: My faith is a big part of of who I am, and staying grounded comes in the realization that. I do work hard. I work really hard and I am talented. However, a lot of really cool things are happening for me, and I’m being elevated in a way that makes me realize that it’s not just of my own doing. I’m not the only person out there who works really hard. I’m not the only person out there who’s talented. I really believe that a Higher Power has a hand in my elevation. Knowing that means I can’t take full credit for all the things that are happening. That does help me keep my feet on the ground and t gives me perspective of knowing that like, “Listen, you are blessed. You have to understand that you are a product of God’s grace. So yes, all these good things are happening, but don’t take it for granted, and also make sure good things happen for the people around you too.”
Jen: That’s good, Luvvie, I actually love that.
OK. So we’ve all had messy moments, where life is a mess, or we are going to suffer, we’re struggling. We’ve had loss, or failure, disappointment–you know–fill in the blank. Something has gone a mess. So can you tell us, what’s a mass moment you’ve had in your life that you got through, that you overcame, and what did it teach you?
Luvvie: For me I’ve had moments of being this person who’s very loud. I’ve had moments of backlash against my words. What it teaches me is, one, my words are heard by more people now more than ever. Two, to always make sure I say things with the intention that I mean them. Three, to always still stay true to myself even through mistakes.
So a lot of things as writers; as just people in general, we tend to doubt ourselves too much, and when we allow doubt to sit and fester, it can become bigger than it should be. So, we should always know who we are, remember our core values, and that’s what I always kind of carry with me. To know that above all, I can always trust myself.
Jen: That’s good. There’s something about sort of anchoring down with who you are, and your core. What you care about the most: your character, because that will hold. You know, when a lot of winds blow, they wanna blow you this way or that. Hanging on to those things that matter the most, really can keep your feet on the ground.
One more question. I mentioned at he top of the interview we think you have a lot of moxie. So this may be hard to sort of pick from a lot of moments, but can you recall a certain time, like one specific situation maybe, where you felt that you embodied moxie? Just either like sheer determination, and will, and grit just helped you conquer or accomplish something.
Luvvie: That’s a good question. Where sheer will made me accomplish something. Honestly, I would say my my writing journey has been that piece. When I started blogging, and my blog’s started getting bigger and bigger, I still wasn’t looking at it as a career or as an option. I still had a full time job. Then in 2010, I got laid off that job. It was kind of like the universe was pushing me to take the leap of faith I wasn’t going to take. There were times when I was just like, “why do I do this –like why do I do this writing thing? It’s not bringing me money. What is the point?” Every single time I would want to quit, something would stop me from quitting. The times when it made no sense, whereas “it’s not bringing you money, but it’s taking up all your energy. Why are you doing this?” At times, I felt like the class clown of the blogosphere. I saw my peers doing these things that that would have made sense for me to be doing. No one was looking my way. I just kept on writing because something in me compelled me to. It was the sheer love of this thing where I couldn’t quit.
It really was when I kind of pushed past that wall—that really cool things started happening. When I kind of understood that writing was less of a hobby and more of a purpose. That’s really when the doors kind of swung open, and it was like, “Oh right, now that you accept it, I got you.”
Jen: That’s powerful because you could have walked. You, of course now, we’re just watching you–you’re everywhere. Just everything you’re doing is so successful and so exciting. But I hope what people heard you just say; there was a moment, where it wouldn’t pay you a penny and all it was doing was costing you, and you stuck. You stuck for the love of it, for the love of the work, for the love of the space. That’s moxie, like at its core definition. That’s amazing. You’re you’re the best. You’re so gifted, and fun, and funny, and smart, and you just matter to our generation so much. So tell all my listeners; how can how can people find you? What are you working on right now? Talk about your website. Where can they get all things “Luvvie?”
Luvvie: So all things “Luvvie—“ I am actually @luvvie on every social network. L-U-V-V-I-E. So I am super findable. AwesomelyLuvvie.com is my website, and funny enough, if you type in just “luvvie.com” it lands you there too, because I want to make it easy on people. This fall, I’m really excited, because I’m actually doing a ten city tour with Glennon Doyle and Anne B. Wombat called the Together Tour, and you’re gonna be at the Austin stop. Yeah!
Jen: Yeah, woo woo woo. Austin is right up the road from me, so I can’t wait to see you and share the stage with you for a night.
Luvvie: Yeah, so I’m hoping I get to meet some really good people on this tour. I’d love to see folks there. We were going to be in really cool cities No New York and L.A., because New York and L.A. typically get the coolest events. So it was a very conscious effort. We’re like, “no, we will actually go elsewhere this time.”
Jen: Can they find information on Together on your website?
Jen: That’s right. TogetherLive.com.
Luvvie: Yep yep yep.
Jen: Hey thanks for being on today.
Luvvie: Well thank you for having me. When you invited me, I was absolutely like, “Put me on it. Yes!”
Jen: I’m such a fan. I’m cheering you on. I can’t wait to see you this fall. Thanks for your time. Thanks for being awesome. Guys. Luvvie, everybody.
Luvvie: Thank you so much.Jen: Isn’t Luvvie great? Man, I love that girl. Smart, interesting, hard-hitting; she pulls exactly no punches. So, if you need some punches pulled, you’re barking up the wrong tree with this one. I respect her. I’m excited for her. Love to just watch her star rise. So, so glad to have Luvvie on the podcast today. I hope you loved it.
As we sort of talk about mess and moxie during this series. I just want to remind you that the book I wrote around those very ideas is out.
So you can get them however you want to get them. We’ll be talking about some of the themes in Of Mess And Moxie over the course of this entire podcast series. So, you all just wait and see who we have coming up. This is such an all-star series that I can hardly sleep at night, so I hope you loved Luvvie like I do, and I can’t wait to have you on the next show.
Narrator: Thanks for joining us today on the “For the Love Podcast.” Tune in next week, when we sit down again with Jen and friends to chat about all the things we love.
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