Hearthside Salons
Talks and conversations to feed your creative fire.
Free on Zoom; most Tuesdays, 5pm PT/8pm ET.

The exchange of creative, thought-provoking ideas sparks inspiration. Talks may take the form of a lecture or a Q&A, both with audience questions toward the end. We have a limit of 100 participants per Salon, so please register early. Archived podcasts are available for download below, on Podbean, or by finding “Hearthside Salons” on Apple Podcasts.

Upcoming guests and talks:

  • November 17 (4:30pm PT) – Sarah Moshman – Documentary Filmmaker, Author, Mother: “Empowered Filmmaking”
    Emmy-winning documentarian Sarah Moshman is drawn to stories of women overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. We’ll talk about her three docs: The Empowerment Project: Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things; Losing Sight of Shore, about four women rowing to Australia; and Nevertheless, following seven people grappling with sexual harassment claims in work or school. We’ll also talk about what’s next for her and how her new book, Empowered Filmmaking: How to Make a Documentary on Your Own Terms, can help with what’s next for you. Listen Live: Register Here

Listen to past talks here:

  • March 31 – Liz Hara – Emmy winner and Sesame Street puppeteer, builder & writer: “Pursuing your passion and the necessity of failure.” Podcast Link Here
  • April 7 – Sarah Yeomans – Professor and Archeologist specializing in medicine and healthcare in the ancient world: “What historical pandemics can teach us about our present crisis.” Podcast Link Here
  • April 14 – Silvia Gallini – Visual Artist: “Make Mistakes: A Journey Toward Creative Expression.” Podcast Link Here
  • April 21 – Sarah Yeomans & Rob Latimer – A roundtable chat: How do plagues and collective trauma impact the nature of storytelling? Join Sarah Yeomans (Professor, Archeologist & Research Specialist in Ancient Medicine) and Rob Latimer (Historian & Writer) as they examine how storytelling changed after past pandemics and what might happen after Covid-19. Podcast Link Here
  • April 28 – Valerie Hager – A conversation with Valerie Hager, whose award-winning solo show “Naked In Alaska” (about her childhood and her escape into the world of exotic dancing) unlocked her creative voice. We’ll talk about her journey to becoming a writer, director, and a workshop leader who empowers others to find their own creative voices. Podcast Link Here
  • May 5 – Paul Whitehead – Legendary British Visual Artist: “Playing with Perceptions: The Art of Creating Identity”
    The artist Paul Whitehead came of age in Swinging Sixties Britain and was on the front lines of massive cultural shifts. He’s the founding art director of Time Out London and is known for creating album covers for the band Genesis. Never comfortable being defined as just one thing, Paul developed an alter ego as the artist Tricia Van Cleef, who creates works in a style all her own. Join us as we talk about gender, art, creative spirit, and playing with perceptions. Podcast Link Here
  • May 12 – Molly Sweeney – “The Black Flag of ISIS: Living Within the World’s Best Organized Terrorist State”
    Molly Sweeney is a researcher and author who specializes in the Middle East. Her upcoming non-fiction book, You Must Understand, tells the story of the Islamic State through the eyes of civilians in Iraq and Syria. History and culture sections frame the narratives of the interviews of those most impacted by ISIS. Analyzing the socio-political factors that led to the emergence and proliferation of the Islamic State, Ms. Sweeney invites readers into a nuanced understanding of stories of resilience, courage, and heartbreak. Podcast Link Here
  • May 19 – Heidi Harris – M.A. in Applied Behavioral Science: “The Emotionality of Polarization”
    How do we get through this when we’re all so angry and sure we’re right? What’s coming next? The ability to create understanding between people is crucial for relationships. It’s especially important in today’s heightened environment of polarization. Our emotional reactions can lead to defensiveness, anger, and divisiveness, or to deeper human connectedness, dialogue, and collaboration. The choice is ours. Heidi provides insights and tools for coming out of this with relationships intact. Podcast Link Here
  • May 26 – Rob Latimer – Mental Performance Consultant and Historian:
    “Hunter, Gatherer, Accountant, Nurse: The psychology of Stress and Mental Performance in the Modern World”
    If stress is such a common experience, why does our stress response often prevent us from performing at our best? The short answer is because it’s suited for a very different type of stress than we usually face in the modern world. As we collectively face a global pandemic, many people are experiencing extremely high levels of chronic stress in their lives brought about by uncertainty and change. Rob discusses the historical, biological, and psychological dimensions of the human stress response and provides practical instruction on several different techniques we can use to reduce and manage our anxiety in response. Podcast Link Here
  • June 2 – Michael Mack – Writer, Actor, Director: “Boldly going where no (black) man has gone before: Star Trek, spirituality, creativity”
    Michael was the first black Romulan in (all of) Star Trek history. He was the first writing intern (of ANY hue) to also act on-camera for the Star Trek franchise. Then, the Shakespearean-trained actor left the bright lights to pursue a life in the clergy. Now, he’s a writer putting all his experience to work. Podcast Link Here
  • June 9 – Nagin Cox – Mars Exploration Engineer: “Mars Needs Women”
    Nagin has been exploring since she decided as a teenager that she wanted to work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She was born in Bangalore, India, and grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her experiences as a girl in a multicultural household showed her how easily we separate ourselves based on gender, race, or nationality, and inspired her to do something that brings people together instead of dividing them. Now as a Tactical Mission Lead on the Mars Curiosity Rover, and international and TedTalk speaker, Nagin loves to share the wonders of space with the world. She even has an asteroid named after her! Podcast Link Here
  • June 16 – Durga McBroom – Singer, Songwriter, Actress: “Pandemic, Riots, and Murder Hornets – The Perfect Cradle for Creativity!”
    Durga McBroom has performed backing vocals for Pink Floyd and is a member of the house music band Blue Pearl, best known for their hit single “Naked in the Rain“. She’s also a badass and activist who speaks out against racism around the world. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Durga finds this unrest a good time to be a passionate creative. Podcast Link Here
  • June 23 – Michael Mack – Writer, Actor, Director: “Euripides, Cervantes, Jim Crow”
    Beside breaking boundaries as the first black Romulan in Star Trek history, Michael Mack has led a life of service and craft. From a family with preacher roots, Michael grew up ministering to the less fortunate. When he returned to the DC area, he became renowned for his work with at-risk youth in communities of color. His method was using theater training to allow kids access to speak their truths. He talks about theater from the ancient Greeks onward as social policy and how many historical atrocities were not based in difference but in sameness. He shares how the Man of La Mancha unlocks the central truth: the way forward is not to think of life as it is, but life as it should be. Podcast Link Here
  • June 30 – Monia Ayachi – Actress, Producer, Writer, Singer
    Monia Ayachi understands being between worlds. This Belgian-Tunisian actress, singer, writer grew up in Brussels working in English, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. She moved to LA chasing a dream like so many of us, and landed recurring roles on Days of our Lives and General Hospital. She’s best known as Anais Fontaine in Wolfenstein Youngblood. Her work as a writer/director challenges cultural, religious, gender, and generational stereotypes and invites us to open our eyes. Podcast Link Here
  • July 2 – Paul Goodenough – Emmy-nominated Writer/Producer, Eco Entrepreneur: “Freaks, Heroes, and Future Shift”
    Paul’s life is driven by “projects of worth.” This double Emmy-nominated writer and producer delivers projects for the BBC, Channel 4, Nickelodeon & more with his company Aerian, but he’s also a passionate comic book collector and creator with The Chimeran, featuring a future where humanity’s mass-production needs are served by a purpose-bred race. Now he’s helping save the world with a green new initiative poised for a major shift. Podcast Link Here
  • July 7 – Ellen Gerstein – Writer, Actor: How to say “I’m An Artist” out loud without imploding
    Ellen Gerstein is everyone’s aunt. She’s played supporting characters in many of your favorite things. She startled her family by coming to acting later in life and going against the grain. As a student in 1960s Georgia, she also dealt with anti-semitism and helped form Georgia Students for Human Rights, a Black and white student alliance to address racism there. We’ll talk about creating your life by imagining a more perfect world. Podcast Link Here
  • July 14 – Tricia Nelson – Writer: “Black Films Matter: Essential viewing – the Watchlist and Why”
    Writer Tricia Nelson knows there are more black stories that need to be told than narratives of suffering or criminality. She’s written several pieces offering both classic and current black stories that you may have missed, or should watch again. We’ll talk about the importance of representation, the issue of the Magical Negro, and what makes a worthwhile love story. Podcast Link Here
  • July 21 – Wanjiru Njendu – Writer/Director/2020 Film Academy Inductee: “What do you stand for? Risk and reward in Films”
    Wanjiru Njendu is a story teller by nature and a filmmaker who takes a stand. She grew up in Kenya where her documentary was used to provide evidence against the British Government by the MAU MAU colonial war survivors. Her latest short, BOXED, tells the true story of an enslaved African American who mailed himself to freedom in 1849. And this is just a part of what earned Wanjiru membership in the 2020 class of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We’ll talk about film, race, and responsibility and risk in storytelling. Podcast Link Here
  • July 28 – Josh Greenberg – Writer: “Comedy Beyond Corona”
    Writer Josh Greenberg was always the funniest guy in the room. I know, I was there. He grew up in Northern California, moved to LA, and parlayed his observational skills into a consistent, growing writing career, being staffed on multiple network shows. We’ll talk about what it takes to be a comedy writer and what’s next for Hollywood after quarantine. Podcast Link Here
  • August 25 – No Actor Parking – A conversation with the creators and stars of the new comedy pilot
    Three actors meet waiting tables in Hollywood. You know the story: finding work is hard. Breaking in is hard. So they say they’ll make their own luck. A lot of people say that. But then they actually do it. I talk with the creators of the new pilot No Actor Parking on how they pulled it off and what comes next. Podcast Link Here
  • September 1 – Zaki Rubenstein – Writer, Director, Producer: “Turning Real Life into Screen Gold”
    Zaki Rubenstein is a director in television. Her creativity, knack for story, and no nonsense approach has kept her in steady employment on serious shows for years. Since the pandemic shut down production, she’s turned back to writing and is flexing her comedy chops to look at the absurdity of life, love, and family. We’ll talk about how she got here and what inspires her now. Podcast Link Here
  • September 8 – Peres Owino – Writer, Actor, Director, Producer: “Voices of the African Diaspora”
    Born in Kenya, Peres Owino is a storyteller of two cultures. From a script she co-wrote being produced by Taraji P Henson and being nominated for an NAACP image award, to her International Screenwriting Association Fast Track Fellowship for another script, Peres’ work focuses powerfully on the experience of the African Diaspora. She’s proven she’s an artist with something to say and the means to say it. We’ll talk about what inspires her and what she’s saying next. Podcast Link Here
  • September 15 – Meg Gifford – Writer, Chemistry Professor: “The scientific and creative mind: working with Lew Hunter”
    It’s usual for a writer to have another gig. Writer Meg Gifford is not usual in that her other gig is: chemistry professor. She’s skilled at understanding how things come together and what causes reactions. She worked with legendary UCLA screenwriting teacher Lew Hunter on his new book. We’ll talk about the art and science of screenwriting. Podcast Link Here
  • September 29 (5pm PT) – Lauren Over – Visual Artist: “Taking the Commercial into the Fantastical”
    Visual artist and illustrator Lauren Over has always been interested in synchronicity, connection, and in the Rorschach Test-like effect an image can have on a viewer. Working steadily on movie posters and commercial client work, she’s mixed pen and ink and watercolor to produce an astro-botanical deck of tarot cards that reinterpret traditional symbology with birds, animals, traditional herb use, and historical figures. We will talk about finding a path with art. Podcast Link Here
  • October 6 – Jeff Rona – Composer, Solo Artist: “Storytelling in Music: the Art and Tech of the Film Score”
    Composer Jeff Rona has always been curious about what moves people. His curiosity has served him well. He’s got a list of film, TV, and videogame credits a mile long. He’s scored projects for names like Spielberg, Altman, and Soderbergh. He composed music for the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. Heavily involved in music technology, his innovations have touched your life in ways you don’t know. We’ll talk about the intersection of creativity and technology and how music creates emotion. Podcast Link Here
  • October 13 – Sara Nesson – Oscar-Nominated Writer, Director & Producer
    Filmmaker Sara Nesson knows something about succeeding in a man’s world. Her recent documentary Women Who Score covers 20 female composers in changing Hollywood. Her documentary Poster Girl, about the first female gunner in the Iraq war, garnered her Oscar and Emmy nominations. Her quest to bring the story to the screen as a narrative feature continues to be a roller-coaster. We’ll talk about representation and what it means to be a woman who persists. Podcast Link Coming Soon
  • October 20 (5pm PT) – Rebecca Field – Actor: “A Star Is Made: Just Do the Work”
    When Rebecca Field left her small town in the Berkshires for Hollywood, she knew one thing: she was going to be an actor no matter what. After more than a decade of working steadily in your favorite films and shows, she appeared Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born. NBD. Just another job on the track of a woman focused on her goal. We’ll talk balance, craft, and stardom. Podcast Link Coming Soon
  • October 27 (5pm PT) – Voices of Persistence: Filmmakers Behind Pieces on the American Suffrage Movement
    In 1916 suffragist Inez Milholland went up against President Woodrow Wilson who, like many men of the time, saw the possibility of women voting as a threat. With one of the most important voting days in our lifetime right around the corner, I talk with filmmakers who’ve made both narrative and documentary films about Inez and her fight to make sure every American has the right to vote. Join me, Amy Walker, Jessica Graham, Martha Wheelock, and Jessica Martin. Podcast Link Coming Soon

Be a Featured Guest: If you have an inspiring story you’d like to share, or area of interest on which you’d like to hold forth, contact us!

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