MAKERS@Home with Cindi Leive
DYLLAN MCGEE: Hi, everyone. I'm Dyllan McGee, founder and executive producer of MAKERS. Welcome to MAKERS@HOME. Before we begin, just a quick reminder-- October 27, 8:00 PM on PBS is the premiere of our next MAKERS' documentary "Not Done" that tells the story of the women's movement from the last election to today. So mark your calendars. October 27 at 8:00 PM for the premiere.
So today, we're talking to my friend Cindi Leive. We had some technical difficulties before. So I have said this intro. But for those of you who are just joining us, Cindy is the former editor-in-chief of "Glamour" magazine.
She is an award-winning journalist. She is a mom. She is an entrepreneur, an artist, a poet, a-- you name it, she does it. And her newest venture, "The Meteor," which I would describe as a creative media collective, is-- it hasn't officially launched, but they're giving us a little taste of incredible projects, one of which just launched two days ago called "30 Days Until Tomorrow." And so we're going to talk about that and her new venture. So Cindi, here we go.
CINDI LEIVE: Yes! [LAUGHS] We did it.
DYLLAN MCGEE: I mean, not your fault. This is all on me.
CINDI LEIVE: It might just be a little bit-- a little bit my fault.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Hi.
CINDI LEIVE: Hi. And thank you to everybody who stuck with us and who came out of the live and then back in. We love you. We appreciate you. And we're going to talk extra fast to jam enough content into the rest of our conversation.
DYLLAN MCGEE: [LAUGHS] Yes. So first of all, where are you? And what is that beautiful painting behind you?
CINDI LEIVE: I'm in Brooklyn. And this is a beautiful painting by an artist named Alaina Sullivan. And it has been in various offices of mine over the years, and I really love it. So thank you for-- thank you for noticing.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Yeah. A shocker it's a female artist. That's so unlike you.
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Yeah. And--
CINDI LEIVE: I'm on brand.
DYLLAN MCGEE: --you're on brand. You're in Brooklyn. You also-- we were just talking before. You had an anniversary last week like I did.
CINDI LEIVE: A wedding anniversary. Yes, I did. I did.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Yes. Me, too. We both got married in October. Mine's October 2nd. What's yours?
CINDI LEIVE: Mine was September 27.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Oh, OK.
CINDI LEIVE: I've been married long enough that I now-- like, frequently, my husband and I will be-- it'll be like 11:00 in the morning. And we'll be like, oh, wait, is it our anniversary today? So I am not an anniversary role model, and I hope you did it better than we did.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Well, what-- we did nothing. No.
CINDI LEIVE: Ah, well, there you go. There you go.
DYLLAN MCGEE: But it was like-- our kids were like, what's the date? And I was like, every night is a date night during COVID. [LAUGHS] Right?
CINDI LEIVE: I guess so. I guess so. That's very romantic.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Anyway, I'm, like, digressing because I want to talk about your daughter and how she's doing in Michigan and all the things. But we're going to talk about-- well, first of all, are you excited for the debate tonight?
CINDI LEIVE: I am. I'm very excited for the debate tonight. I can't wait. You know, I'm not sure how nonpartisan were supposed to be keeping it around here, but, you know, I am very eager to see. Kamala Harris really gives people something to root for and, you know, and show leadership because I think that's something that we're all really looking for right now. And I'm also-- I will say as a side note-- really eager to see people-- and by people, I mean the media and your friends and mine who are going to be covering the debate-- try to do it a little bit better than has been done sometimes in the past.
And I think, you know, you and I, Dyllan, are both in the Time's Up family in different ways. You've done events with Time's Up. I'm on the board. And Time's Up released a huge study yesterday showing how the press in general has talked about Kamala Harris versus how they spoke about both Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.
So it's not just a partisan thing. It's a gender and race thing in 2016. And, you know, the findings were troubling in lots of different ways. We can get into that, but I'm just really eager to, you know, to see the candidates, I hope, take on the issues and the media dive into the issues.
DYLLAN MCGEE: And to have it feel like a real debate, right, coming off--
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah.
DYLLAN MCGEE: --of the last one.
CINDI LEIVE: All be it with Plexiglas.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Even-- yeah. How normal can we be with Plexiglas? But--
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. [CHUCKLES]
DYLLAN MCGEE: And that-- and just because I'm glad you brought that up. But the-- fore people who are watching, I think the hashtag for that whole-- is we have-- it's #WeHaveHerBack.
CINDI LEIVE: #WeHaveHerBack.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Yeah.
CINDI LEIVE: #WeHaveHerBack. Yeah.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Yeah. So if you want to learn more, it's an important-- it really is. And you're right, this is a nonpartisan media coverage issue that we've got to deal.
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. AND I'll tell you because this is for anybody listening who, you know, considers themselves, you know, pro woman or a feminist, there were things that I realized I needed to check about my own impulses of how I talk about candidates, 'cause one of the findings in the Time's Up survey was that 61% of the coverage of Kamala Harris' VP announcement, the announcement of her as nominee, referenced her race or gender, whereas only 5% of the coverage of the announcements of Kaine and Pence in 2016 had referenced their race and gender, even though white men do actually have race and gender.
DYLLAN MCGEE: [LAUGHS]
CINDI LEIVE: And one of the things that made me realize is, you know, some of that coverage is positive, right? Like, you know, it is historic to see a Black woman on the presidential, vice presidential ticket. That's exciting.
But in talking exclusively about that, you know, we reinforce this idea that, you know, men, and particularly white men, are the norm, and that anything else is sort of other. And that has, like, deep and serious ramifications for how we see women leaders and women's ability to present themselves as leaders. So it's made me check myself even, you know, even when the point that I think I'm making is a, yeah, this is a historic moment kind of point.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Right. So let's all have each other's backs tonight as we tweet and put-- you know, I do think it's important to acknowledge the historic moment that is about to happen, and that that's good. But then let's really focus in on, you know, the ideas and the issues and-- right?
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things that I've been thinking about, especially because, you know, you mentioned that we're doing this series-- the media is doing a series "30 Days Till Tomorrow." And it's all about voting and voting rights. And I really hope that one of the things that can come out tonight are some truths about voting and voting rights.
And you know, first of all, the idea that you know voter fraud is really, you know, widespread and, you know, particularly that mail-in voting is corrupt it is generally not true. And I mean, certainly, you know, mass claims of voter fraud are not warranted. And you know, I think that's an important thing for people--
DYLLAN MCGEE: Well, it's another false narrative that we get to make sure that we squash.
CINDI LEIVE: Yes, exactly.
DYLLAN MCGEE: And stick to the facts-- what's real in there.
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah.
DYLLAN MCGEE: The broad statements.
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. And also kind of settle in for-- and I'm curious how you're thinking about this and also folks who are commenting. You know, are we ready for the fact that, like, election night is not-- it's not going to be this usual thing where like at 11:00, you know, at 12:00, you can go to bed, and you can-- you know, and you can know.
Like, it's going to be a longer haul. And we all have to be, like, not unnerved by that, you know? We HAVE to say, like, that's OK. And you know, let the system do its job because otherwise there's an opportunity, you know, I think, for folks who want it to be over quickly to jump in and make people feel, like, panicked, you know, as if they just want it to be over no matter what.
DYLLAN MCGEE: It's so funny 'cause we today, we were told that maybe we should have a-- you know, get a bunch of women together and have a pajama party the morning after and just come and-- 'cause we will have been up all night. But then it's like, well, no, it's a pajama week, weeks.
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. Let's have a pajama month.
DYLLAN MCGEE: So we do have to--
CINDI LEIVE: I like it.
DYLLAN MCGEE: So will you join the pajama party?
CINDI LEIVE: I will definitely join. I'm a pajama person. So, yes.
DYLLAN MCGEE: OK, good.
CINDI LEIVE: That sounds--
DYLLAN MCGEE: You always look amazing.
CINDI LEIVE: --that sounds amazing.
DYLLAN MCGEE: I'm like a sweat pants even when I'm dressed up.
CINDI LEIVE: [LAUGHS] I'm definitely wearing a two-part-- like, there's a-- it's like business on the top and, like, you know--
DYLLAN MCGEE: OK, then. Cindi, that makes me--
CINDI LEIVE: 6:00 AM sweat pants on the bottom.
DYLLAN MCGEE: --really happy. Good. OK. So everybody, just reminder at Maker's Women, we're here with Cindi Leive, and we're talking about "The Meteor" and her-- so what-- is "The Meteor--" I called it a creative collective--
CINDI LEIVE: You described it perfectly, Dyllan. We are. We're a creative collective. We're a media collective. We're a group of people who are getting together to make things that we think are great for the world, kind of specifically from the point of view of gender equality, really trying to cast that lens on lots of different platforms.
So we've made so far a-- you know, a podcast, a live show, a video program that you and I had talked about in May called "Night of Solidarity," which was focused on domestic violence tied to some of the headlines that we were all reading about; the rate of domestic violence going up during quarantine. And we've got a group of creative people together both to raise awareness and also raise some funds. And that was a program on YouTube.
And then this fall, we've got a couple of things planned. But the one that is live as of this week is called "30 Days Till Tomorrow." And it's specifically looking at what voting means in the lives of women and girls and non-binary people right now in 2020.
DYLLAN MCGEE: And you've just launched. You did a launch video, sort of your welcome to "30 Day Till Tomorrow." And then you did great-- what was her name, the poet?
CINDI LEIVE: Nikki Giovanni.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Nikki Giovanni, she's fabulous.
CINDI LEIVE: She's amazing. Please, everybody-- everybody--
DYLLAN MCGEE: Please, watch it.
CINDI LEIVE: So go to "The Meteor." And I can give it to you too, Dawn, in case you guys want to post it. Go to "The Meteor's" Instagram. There's a beautiful poem by Nikki Giovanni, who is 77 years old.
For those of you who don't know, she is a poet who is also a leader and a luminary in the civil rights movement, has been for decades. She has-- again, 77 years old. She has a tattoo on her arm that says thug life. [LAUGHS]
DYLLAN MCGEE: This is so good.
CINDI LEIVE: And her poem is specifically about voting and why it is sweet and meaningful to her. So yes, please, please watch it. I can't recite it because I won't be able to do it justice. She's the poet.
DYLLAN MCGEE: But what I love about you, Cindi, is it really is, I mean, a collective of artists that you're doing with "The Meteor." it feels like, you know, there's theater. There's poetry. There's documentary film. You're really just embracing all these different mediums.
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. Thanks.
DYLLAN MCGEE: And that's the vision, right?
CINDI LEIVE: That is the vision. I mean, the word-- one of our founding members-- the writer and podcaster Rebecca Carroll, who's at WNYC, calls it collages. Like, that idea of, like, just bringing in all these different materials and artists and points of view and kind of surrounding an issue that is meaningful-- that is meaningful to people right now.
So you know, we looked at domestic violence that way. We're looking at voting that way. And you know, because the world doesn't stop in November, we're also thinking about other themes for next year.
DYLLAN MCGEE: But in really, it's a new sort of activism because I think one of the things when you look at activism today is-- I mean, obviously art has always been-- had activism within it. But I really feel like you're trying to bring-- you're bringing issues to light in ways that people might not normally not see or have access to.
CINDI LEIVE: Well, that's the idea. I mean, I'm just inspired by, you know, a ton of different kinds of art and formats. And you know, I've always loved that kind of bringing things-- bringing things together. And you know, I also don't think of these things as issues. They're just, like, part of life.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Yeah. That's great.
CINDI LEIVE: So you know, I know when I was a-- you know, when I was at "Glamour," there were a lot of the you know-- there were many sections of what we did that were about fashion and beauty. And then we'd also cover many issues and, you know, what was happening with women around the world and political issues and things like that. And periodically, we would get these questions of, like, can you just stay in your lane?
And you know, like, my reaction would always be, our lane is women's lives. So you know, this our lane. And all of these things-- I mean, I think you and I feel this way. And you know, lot of different people who are watching I'm sure feel this way. Like, our lives are varied. Like, why would she-- why would why should we have to pick one, you know, one piece of it? So I guess that's part of the--
DYLLAN MCGEE: Well--
CINDI LEIVE: Collage experience.
DYLLAN MCGEE: --someone just asked that because we're all so curious. I feel like you keep teasing us. Like, what's coming up? Is there-- you know, what are you most excited about that's coming up next?
CINDI LEIVE: We do-- we have a podcast launching that I am excited about that I've been sworn to secrecy not to say more about. But I think it's going to be a meaningful lens on the world. You know, it's the kind of thing. But I wish was happening right now and available this week 'cause I would want to listen to it. So I will happily share more about that once it's--
DYLLAN MCGEE: Well, then that means everyone has to follow "The Meteor," because that--
CINDI LEIVE: Yes, please.
DYLLAN MCGEE: --would be the first place when you post it so we can all find out immediately. So, everybody, don't forget. Please ask Cindi questions. I want to hear a little bit more about what other things we might see over the next 30 days of content from this collection.
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. I think it's going to be a-- what is exciting to me about it is it's a mix of, you know, people that you've heard of and great names who you trust and are interested in, you know, in different contexts, in conversation, creating films, things like that, and then also, you know, people who you've never heard of. One of the pieces that I'm really excited about-- and I shouldn't say that you've never heard of because she's incredibly well-known and, you know, and renowned in her industry.
But one of the directors who's directing a piece for us is a woman named Jenny Gold, who is the only female wheelchair-using member of the Directors Guild. She's a director. And so she's directing a film that is specifically about what women with disabilities experience, you know, in the voting process.
I think the statistic is around 35% of people with disabilities have had trouble voting in the past. And so if you think about voting rights and voter suppression, like, you know, how do you enable this to be more participatory for, you know, for everybody? And so she's making a film that is--
--you know, funny in some ways.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Sorry. Keep talking, Cindi.
CINDI LEIVE: I'm just glad that's not me. By the way, can I just tell you as the sidebar? I have this, like, bananas cat that meows constantly and tries to jump on me during IG lives. And so I have closed her out of the room. And because this door doesn't lock, I put this enormous pile of, like, 20 books on the door, and she's just pushed open the door, pushed the entire pile of books over. So if you see we're being overtaken by a--
DYLLAN MCGEE: We like cameos.
CINDI LEIVE: --huge gray fur ball. [LAUGHS]
DYLLAN MCGEE: A very smart cat you have.
CINDI LEIVE: [LAUGHS] Right.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Wait, wait, so I-- will you have-- 'cause one of the things I'm trying to wrap my head around is what I'm going to do on election day itself. And you know, maybe there is something I can do to be-- to drive-- I know it's complicated with COVID-- like, people with disabilities. Or you have actions with all these videos that will, you know, relate?
CINDI LEIVE: Yes. There's an action every day. The ones right now are really more around registering because, like, this is the week, as you know, you know, when a lot of states have their deadlines for registration. Although in 20 states, you can register in-person at your polling place on election day.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Day of. Yeah
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. But right now, most of the actions are around things like that. Then it'll-- you know, then there are actions around early voting. There are also some actions that you can take to enable the vote for other people. You know, how do you actually fight voter suppression.
Then as we get closer to the election, the focus will increasingly be on how can I get ready for election day? How can I help my neighbors get ready for election day? And you know, certainly some people are signing up to be poll workers, but there are lots of things that you can do in your community that, even if you haven't signed up for poll worker, their organizations, you know, that are delivering hand sanitizer, food, water in places where they're going to be, you know-- where they're going to be long lines and other ways that you can help in a moment. So yes, we will definitely share those things.
DYLLAN MCGEE: I think we really need to pressure our companies to-- you know, that should be a-- you know, some companies are doing this-- giving people a pay day to go and volunteer. And I really hope that everyone listening--
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah.
DYLLAN MCGEE: --knows how important that is 'cause there are going to be so many things to do. I don't know. Have you-- I know you know so much. Cindi, you know so much about voting and so many things. I'm wondering if there--
CINDI LEIVE: By the way, that it was a setup to a question that I'm definitely not going to know the answer too.
DYLLAN MCGEE: No. No, no, no. It's not. It's just I'm curious. Have you heard a fact that has surprised you?
CINDI LEIVE: I heard- this is definitely a I heard because I have not fact-checked this. I heard that you are more likely to cast the deciding vote in your congressional election, personally cast the deciding vote than you are to win the lottery. Look how many people play the lottery, you know, granted it's fun, but it costs something. Voting is free.
The artist Mona Chalabi, who is in our collective, did a graphic about this that you can find on her Instagram a while back. But you know, voting is free, has impact on so many other people. And in this case, your odds of being that person, that one person, are actually greater.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Greater than winning the lottery?
CINDI LEIVE: Yes.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Cindi, you said you wouldn't have an answer. That's like better than anything I could even imagine.
CINDI LEIVE: There's a big asterisk on it, which is that I'm going to go and fact check on it. And I'll fact check it, and I promise I'll jump onto your page and correct myself if I'm wrong. That's the-- that's the--
DYLLAN MCGEE: But even the sentiment of it feels right.
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. Yeah.
DYLLAN MCGEE: It has an emotional fact check.
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. Yeah. I also want to pass along because I think this is a really hopeful and wonderful thing. Yesterday, I did an IG live with Alicia Garza-- you know, who is one of the founders or one of the founders of super [AUDIO OUT] for majority-- amazing, amazing woman and activist.
She said that she believes this is going to be the largest voter turnout ever in history. And what I love about that is let's all be part of it, right? Like, do you want to miss that? Like, so often, especially right now, we talk about voting, you know, in these, like, negative terms-- what's going to happen to us, what's going to happen to our culture if, you know, if we don't vote? And all that is true. But like, when she said that, I just thought, that's a party I want to go to, right?
DYLLAN MCGEE: Right.
CINDI LEIVE: So how do we make, you know, voting the party will want to go to?
DYLLAN MCGEE: It's like the--
CINDI LEIVE: And I think that's something that--
DYLLAN MCGEE: --Women's' march, right? Like, we just-- weather we-- no matter where we, or if we were in Antarctica, Arctic there were still-- like, so this is the same. We have to create that same momentum.
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Especially with women, right, because we can really play an important role.
CINDI LEIVE: Yes. Yes. No, I really agree. So I just-- I love that, and I've been repeating it all day. So I want to repeat it to all of your viewers as well.
DYLLAN MCGEE: OK. Make it the biggest turnout ever, people.
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. [LAUGHS]
DYLLAN MCGEE: All right, Cindi. We only have two minutes.
CINDI LEIVE: Wait, does that mean I'm not going to be able to interview you about your documentary?
DYLLAN MCGEE: No, it's perfect. It's exactly what I said. I gave it a plug at the beginning. I told people to watch.
CINDI LEIVE: I really wanted to see that.
DYLLAN MCGEE: No. But what is-- so what are you going to leave-- when does "Meteor" officially launch? It's like you've launched, but you haven't launched? What is that--
CINDI LEIVE: We've done-- I mean, we've done a bunch of different projects. We just-- we have a fuller suite of things that are coming. And we'll be here right around the end of the year, beginning of 2021. You know, at the moment, we just all felt like we do want to sit on our hands, right? Like, any-- you know, this is a moment when we all kind of want to be out in the world creating. So that's what we're doing.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Well, let's end on the question that you've been asked for your entire career. And I know you have a little answer in your hip pocket. No, no, no. You are going to have an answer just like the last one. You are. I don't have a good one for this. But every panel you've sat on, every interviewer, they always ask you-- this is-- we're not even talking politics.
CINDI LEIVE: Wait, what is this question that I always get asked?
DYLLAN MCGEE: We're just taking Cindi and her brilliance. OK. What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
CINDI LEIVE: Oh. OK. I have-- I have one answer that's probably not relevant to a lot of people watching 'cause it's parenting advice, but anybody who's going to be a parent. Try to have your second child first 'cause you're super stressed out with the first one. And then by the time, if you choose to have to second one, you know, you're like, really relaxed. But that's impossible advice to take, and it's very specific. So you can cut that out--
DYLLAN MCGEE: But it is a mindset. I'm with you, OK.
CINDI LEIVE: --if you want to. I mean, it's great-- it's a great question. I don't feel like I have the one thing. My mom used to recite-- this is like an incredibly depressing-sounding piece of advice, but I have found it to be true.
It was an old Russian proverb that her mother used to tell her that translates to-- sufficient unto the day is the agony thereof. And basically just means, like, if crappy things are going to happen to you, like, they're going to happen to you-- and they're going to be crappy when they happen-- don't, like, additionally ruin this uncrappy day by worrying about the crappy--
DYLLAN MCGEE: About the next crappy day.
CINDI LEIVE: --things that might happen in the future. Like, deal with the stuff that is on your plate. But so much of, you know-- I think especially for a lot of women-- so much worry and anxiety is about, like, what's, you know, what's ahead? What might happen? What could go wrong when the other shoe drops? And you know, so I personally think of that grim Russian proverb frequently.
DYLLAN MCGEE: [LAUGHS] I think it's actually a perfect. You know, one of the things that I loved about your launch video, for 30 days, everybody, "30 Days Til Tomorrow," was-- I wrote it down-- it was, oh, it was, I know you went through this whole phase of the video where it's, like, I know it's hard. I know there's this I know there's this. And it's like we all do have so much weight. But there is something you can lift some of that weight if you just focus us in on the moment, which I think is--
CINDI LEIVE: Yeah. And I want to fully-- I love that too. And I want to fully credit Yara Travieso, our director, who also wrote that piece of poetry and who speaks it in the film. That was entirely from her brain, and I think a really empathetic way of looking at the world, you know, 'cause it's hard.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Well, it's hard. It is hard, but things like "The Meteor," and your intersectional approach and your creative approach that makes the world a better place. So Cindi, thanks for doing live with me.
CINDI LEIVE: Thank--
DYLLAN MCGEE: Sorry about--
CINDI LEIVE: Thank you.
DYLLAN MCGEE: --how hard it was to get us together, but we did it.
CINDI LEIVE: Thank you, Dyllan. And thank you to everybody who watched, and especially the people who watch twice. [LAUGHS]
DYLLAN MCGEE: Yeah. We love you all. Bye, Cindi.
CINDI LEIVE: Love you. Bye.
DYLLAN MCGEE: Bye.