They changed the world. So can you. Each week, award-winning journalist Aarti Shahani meets fascinating humans who've done big things. They answer two questions: (1) How does power work in the real world, anyway? (2) How has wielding power changed you?
The movement begins here.
Listen now. Let your volcano erupt.
‘I Was Dimming My Light’: Common On Music, Love And Change From Within
Common is an actor, writer, and hip hop artist who’s won a Grammy, an Emmy and an Oscar, putting him a Tony award away from a rare EGOT.
As he explains on Art of Power, Common is not just a man of contradictions, but a man able to hold contradictions — the dark and the light, hate and love. That’s key to his worldview and his inordinate success.
You may have seen him on screen, in Selma, John Wick 2 or dozens of other films. He’s also got a new album out, A Beautiful Revolution Part 2.
He talks with host Aarti Shahani about his activism against juvenile incarceration, why he was able to forgive his father for kidnapping his mom and him at gunpoint, how it felt to lose Grammys, and how acting class helped him find peace in failed relationships.
Want To Change Careers? A 7 Step Guide With Peloton’s Robin Arzón
Nearly one third of American workers under age 40 are thinking about changing careers, according to a Washington Post poll. I was one of them. I pivoted from grassroots organizer in prisons to NPR’s Silicon Valley correspondent. I then pivoted again, to podcast host/owner and book author.
As a woman who devours career change stories, I can safely say: Robin Arzón has one of the very best.
Arzón is the head instructor at Peloton. An ultramarathoner and a fitness guru with fans across the world, she didn’t even consider herself an athlete just a few years ago. She was a corporate lawyer.
On Art of Power, Arzón explains why she left a very lucrative career — one she enjoyed — to chase something undefined. She wanted more. She traces her journey back to a horrific moment when, at age 20, she was held at gunpoint. I break down her path (and mine and many others) into seven simple steps. Well, simple to say, but maybe not so simple to follow. Arzón and I also discuss how her workouts have changed since giving birth to her first child.
Do Black People Wear Belts? Kemp Powers On Creativity And Tackling Stereotypes At Pixar
When Kemp Powers seized the world’s attention in 2020 with two blockbuster movies — 'One Night In Miami,' which he wrote, and 'Soul,' which he co-wrote and co-directed — he was 47 years old. His envious achievements are the culmination of an un-envious journey, a hard slog filled with tragedy and self-doubt. A recovering journalist, Kemp and Art of Power host Aarti Shahani talk about how the newsroom almost killed his creativity and how he salvaged it one snowy night when he nearly died.
Powers became the first Black director in the history of Pixar, an American cultural institution that is … very white. In the process of writing and directing Soul, Pixar's first feature film with a Black lead character, Powers found himself on the forefront of changing the company culture. He had to educate his white colleagues who believed things like “all black people hate cats” and “black people don’t wear belts.” He says his work at Pixar has taught him the importance of “managing up.”
The Director Who Breaks Silence
Yaël Farber grew up in South Africa during Apartheid, an era when the country’s white minority government racially segregated and brutalized Black South Africans. Farber, a white woman, said the cognitive dissonance she experienced “turned into a clarity and a rage.”
Today, she’s one of the world’s more respected stage directors and playwrights. She’s responsible for a number of acclaimed revivals (including Hamlet and The Crucible) as well as original plays documenting oppression during the Apartheid era. She also wrote and directed a shattering production called Nirbhaya, based on the true story of a violent gang rape in India in 2012.
Farber tells Art of Power host Aarti Shahani about why she chose theater as a way to shine light on injustice. An empath and a truth-teller, Farber understands something a lot of us want to understand: how to get people to care.
A warning: this episode contains an explicit description of rape and is not suitable for younger listeners.
Defund The Police? The Data Scientist Behind Police Reform
For decades, the country has witnessed police shootings of Black people and grappled with a question: Are police racist? Are police departments racist?
Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff and his team are finding answers using cold, hard data, and using it to reform the idea of what a police department is.
Goff is a psychologist, a data scientist and the co-founder and CEO of the Center for Policing Equity. As a professor at Yale University, he’s also the rare academic who loves his job — and sees it having a dramatic impact on the world.
On Art of Power, Goff tells host Aarti Shahani what defunding the police means to him, about his pioneering work in the field of implicit bias — including his regrets — and how he upended an entire police department in a city in New York. Also, he shares how an initially-offensive encounter with a Denver police officer led to a dynamic partnership.
Leigh Bardugo, Author Of ‘Shadow And Bone’
Leigh Bardugo is among the most celebrated young adult novelists of our time. She’s the author of - among many novels - 'Shadow and Bone,' a fantasy series with over 2.5 million books sold. It’s now a Netflix hit that became the most streamed show in the U.S. earlier this year, according to Neilson.
But getting to that promised land was not easy. On Art of Power, Bardugo tells host Aarti Shahani about her many ups and downs: an absent father, an awkward adolescence, the loss of her editor at a pivotal moment, and an abusive relationship with a man that threatened to extinguish her career before it began.