April 27, 2018 I had an exclusive invite to cover the 2018 Creative Coalition’s Right to Bear Arts gala held at the Mayflower hotel in Washington D.C. This was during the White House correspondent party season where all the top journalists and communication aids are seen schmoozing with a fine wine and gourmand chicken kebab.
What I particularly love about this gala is the mission behind it. The Creative Coalition works tirelessly to work with national leaders on Capitol Hill on protecting federal funding for the arts across small and undervalued communities across the United States. This issue transcends party lines and brings value back to our communities in that the arts cultivates creative thinking skills in children, independent thinking, modes of expression and higher self esteem. Peer pressure and cyber bullying is at an all time high in schools, and the arts can instill confidence, and solidify individuality among-st kids from various backgrounds. The arts empower artists, creatives, and free thinkers to do what they love.
In recent news: funding was briefly threatened around May/ June of this year but the Creative Coalition is pleased to announce that the House of Representatives as of July 2018 stood behind the Right to Bear Arts (#RightToBearArts) in properly funding the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). Now, it’s up to the Senate to fully pass this bill. The house passed the Fiscal year 2019 Interior Appropriations Bill and approved $155 million for the NEA. House members voted down the amendment by a vote of 114-297.
For this gala, I wore a White House Black Market black dress and a Kay Unger intricately designed velvet blazer. FYI, I don’t think I would ever sell this Kay Unger blazer because Victoria Justice (From Nickelodeon’s “Victorious”) and Tim Daly (President of the Creative Coalition) liked it a lot!
I drove straight from work and fought monstrous traffic to get to this event on the dot. Street parking was scarce so I shelled massive bucks on garage parking a block away from the hotel. I was nervous about this event in particular because my favorite actress as a young teen was going to be featured at this red carpet event.
I will admit, I was obsessed with the WB’s Roswell in the early 90’s and Liz Parker played by Shiri Appleby is my favorite. The first time I met Appleby was at the Roswell 15 year anniversary showcased by the ATX Television Festival in Austin Texas. Not only was I right in front of Snooki when she gushed her love of Roswell at the panel but when I first saw Shiri Appleby outside the panel, I dont know why but I cried so much. Because of her character, I also kept a diary and that ended up helping me become a more creative writer. She was so sweet and gave me a big hug!
So yeah, it’s a big deal seeing Appleby again and I hoped not to cry again as an older adult.
So when I saw Appleby again as an older adult, I asked her if she remembered a young woman who cried when she first saw her at the 15 year Roswell anniversary and her eyes teared up and she not only gave me a huge hug, but took me aside and ensured I have a one on one interview with her for Sharing the Details. I had to admit, getting VIP treatment from one of my favorite actresses was a personal highlight for me.
I not only had an exclusive interview with Shiri Appleby (UnReal, Roswell, Life Unexpected) but I also had exclusive interviews with Victoria Justice (Victorious), Tim Daly (Madam Secretary), Sara Rue (Popular, A Series of Unfortunate Events), Steve Howey (Reba, Shameless), and Nicholas Gonzalez (The Good Doctor).
Exclusive Interview with Shiri Appleby (UnReal)
Before my interview with Shiri, she was joking around with popular character actor, Richard Kind (he’s that guy you see in every 90’s movie).
SD: Tell us more about your production company?
SA: We sold our first show and that will be announced soon. We’re very excited and it’s just been such an empowering experience. I have been going on at for almost two years. I am starting to figure out how that works. And I feel that I have the opportunity to build a company and with giving other women opportunities. I have been sitting at meetings with other women and they are doing the talking and selling themselves. And they are getting the opportunity. It makes me feel like it’s the greatest thing in the entire world. Like, we (women) need to keep going forward.
SD: So how do you empower women to get into leadership roles?
SA: It’s all about having the confidence. I work on it every day too. It’s all about having the confidence to speak up.
SD: What were the challenges as an actress and director for the recent season of Unreal?
SA: The hardest part was that we shot in Vancouver and my family was in Los Angelas.
SD: What are your thoughts on the Roswell Reboot?
SA: I am like: Ahhhhhh! I am so excited! I want to Reboot ours.
SD: And I have heard you are working on a Roswell reunion?
SA: I am working on it.. I am working on it. We’ll see..
Exclusive Interview with Sara Rue (Series of Unfortunate Events)
SD: Would you ever do Idiocracy 2?
SR: In a heartbeat but I actually think we are living it… so I probably don’t need to do it.. But if they (creators of Idiocracy) ask me to do it than I will.
SD: Can you tell me more about your new series A Series of Unfortunate Events?
SR: The show is based on the Lemony Snickets book series. I feel so lucky to be a part of this production. One thing that is so brilliant about it is so beloved by kids 5 years old to 70 years old. The range of fans that come up to say they binge watched the series. Literally, a 4 and a half year old at my daughter’s daycare to someone just about to become a grandfather is really exciting to me. I also love to play the character I play. She’s a librarian who turns into a real bad ass. I was real proud to play her.
SD: What are your hopes in congress passing funding for NEA (National Endowment of the Arts)?
SR: Our hopes is for them to increase the funding. There are so many kids that feel that they don’t belong. This is why I am here. So many kids are bullied and feel they don’t belong and they cant find their community until they step foot into a theater, or in an art class. These kids need a teacher who can really inspire them with a music class. The arts can really make a person blossom into who they are going to be.
Exclusive Interview with Nicholas Gonzalez (The Good Doctor)
SD: So what your thoughts on Congress passing more funding for the arts?
NG: Before coming in, I thought this was going to be more difficult. That maybe our argument was going to fall on deaf ears but we have a lot of support with the Republican legislatures who said this kinda the way it goes each year. That each year they fight to keep funding and slowly get it all back in together. It ultimately it was something I felt comfortable walking away from.
SD: How do the arts strengthen the economy and build the community?
NG: In just the numbers you hear banded together. Every dollar that is put towards the arts you get seven dollars back into the local economy. When you invest in your community, you are investing in their welfare. The arts are responsible for a lot of that.
Exclusive Interview with Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
(TD:Your jacket is really nice. What is it? SD: It’s velvet..)
SD: How do the arts strengthen the economy and communities at large?
TD: It’s a fact that the arts strengthen the economy and communities. There has been data collected for decades about this. That the economic impact of the arts can be assessed that for every dollar invested by the NEA that seven dollars goes back to the economy. It’s a winning investment. I used to think that was enough of an argument to stop there. I would take those odds to Vegas just like that. However not everyone believes in that and I am not sure why. Could it be a fear in the arts that it’s hard to quantify in other ways? Certainly, the arts are the second largest export from the United States. The arts are a huge strength to our economy.
I am here with the Creative Coalition and I am the president of this organization and we’re a bunch of people who are successful actors. A lot of us are known in television and in film and it’s important to me that people understand that I am here to advocate for artists and I am not here advocating for Hollywood or for Broadway. We have no stake in this game and we have nothing to gain. What we are advocating for is the NEA which gives grants to every congressional district in the United States of America. These small towns who would other wise have no access to arts are who we are fighting for. Not for places like LA, NY or Miami or Chicago. Those cities are fine. Little towns, especially children, need to be exposed to the arts.
Exclusive Interview with Steve Howey (Shameless)
SD: Tell us about your new show?
SH: This new show is based on a movie I did called Game Over Man. The show is doing well, it was fun. I am also on a show called Shameless that’s on Showtime and we go back in a few weeks for our ninth season.
SD: In your opinion, how do the arts strengthen the economy and build communities?
SH: As you know, for every dollar you donate to the arts the community gives back seven dollars. There’s also a ridiculous amount, like seven billion dollars comes out of the artistic community back into the states. That’s why, it’s a great investment. And the budget that we are going for is only a $150 billion dollars and we’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in return. But the more macro answer to it all is that the arts are so important because we are talking about the development of the human spirit.
Exclusive Interview with Victoria Justice (Victorious)
SD: Tell us more about your “Girl Up” Non-profit?
VJ: Girl Up is an amazing organization. This organization empowers girls across the globe and helps provides girls with clean drinking water, school supplies, education and to provide a safe space and community for these girls who wouldn’t have that otherwise. You know that I am all about girl power and it’s something that’s super important to me. I actually wrote a song for them a couple years ago and I went on tour and played the song during the show. We had little girl booths so people can donate and get involved with the organization. The song kinda became the Girl Up theme song. So yeah, it’s a great cause.
SD: Do you keep in touch with the cast of Victorious?
VJ: Yup, we all do keep in touch, occasionally. Not as much as I like to. I guess everyone is in different places and living their own lives. Being an adult. It’s just a different time now for each of us. We definitely do try to support each other whenever we can which is really cool. Yeah, we do still keep in touch.
Feel free to donate to the Creative Coalition right here.
About Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition was formed for the charitable and educational purposes of bringing together artists and entertainers to learn about pressing issues so they can better inform and influence the community and nation. The Creative Coalition:Sponsors forums for the discussion of central issues such as education policy, violence in America, the role of the media, campaign finance reform and other topics of broad concern. These events ensure a balanced approach that always includes concerned and informed members of the creative professions.Tackles issues of direct importance to the arts and entertainment community, including First Amendment rights, public funding for the arts, and arts education in the public schools.