Updated: Jul 22, 2022
Justin Baldoni, (of Ugly Betty fame) gets vulnerable for our benefit.
Here is an interview with Forbes where he talks about what it takes to be "Man Enough" and what it means to enact social change.
The last time I interviewed actor, director and changemaker Justin Baldoni was in 2017, right before he delivered his now viral TEDTalk “Why I’m Done Trying to Be Man Enough,” which has been viewed over 8 million times. Since then, his exploration into what it means to be a man today, which began for him as a personal inquiry, has evolved into the Man Enough Movement, founded on the belief that by “undefining traditional roles and traits of masculinity, men will be able to realize their potential as humans and their capacity for connection.” He has written a book, Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity, and co-hosts the popular Man Enough podcast, along with author and journalist Liz Plank and award-winning music producer Jamey Heath. The video podcast features thoughtful, candid conversations with a wide array of celebrities and thought leaders talking about relationships, body image, success, parenthood, mental health and more, investigating “how traditional structures and attitudes toward masculinity oppress and negatively affect men, women and humanity as a whole.”
A former actor who starred in the hit show Jane the Virgin and saw untapped potential in the power of media, Baldoni turned to filmmaking and co-founded Wayfarer Studios aimed at “upending the traditional Hollywood studio model by putting equity and social justice at the forefront.” They achieve this not only by developing projects that can “serve as true agents for social change” but also by “hiring executives, creators and filmmakers who reflect the diverse world we live in—more women and people of color than is typical at most Hollywood companies—and establishing a creator-friendly environment where writers and directors share in the success of the studio.” Baldoni recently directed Clouds, the company’s first feature film, available on Disney+. As he told me, he hopes to “create content that challenges the status quo, asks us to think a little bit differently and forces us to go in and reexamine some areas in our own lives.”
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Baldoni about his journey of challenging traditional masculinity, the overall impacts it has on our society, his mission to enact social change through his media projects, the most important message he wants to instill in his children and more. Here are some highlights from our interview.
Marianne Schnall: You wrote this incredible book, Man Enough, and you now have this amazing podcast where you're exploring these themes even further. Why has challenging traditional masculinity become your main focus, and what are you most hoping to achieve?
Justin Baldoni: Truthfully, it feels like a responsibility, like an obligation–something that, because I am aware of it, I can no longer just continue living with blinders on. I feel an obligation to my children, to my wife, to my friends, to my parents. I'm somebody who always wants to work on myself. I don't believe in complacency. And so much of this work is healing for me also, so it's an obligation to myself. For me, this is a radical act of self-love. Using whatever little platform I have to talk about these issues forces me to learn in real time, forces me to go deeper, forces me to not allow the bar to be so low that I can just crawl over it and get a pat on the back.