Welcome to the Creator State where we share stories of social innovation and entrepreneurship from movers, shakers, change-makers, and creators. Each episode will celebrate success (and failure!), ingenuity, and the endless pursuit of knowledge.
From education to implementation, join us as we explore everything in between: The Creator State.
Tod Goldberg: "The Low Desert: Gangster Stories"
Crime novelist Tod Goldberg has made a career of writing about bad people behaving badly. A New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books, including the popular “Burn Notice” series, his work has been published in a dozen languages all over the world. In addition to exploring the dark side of glitzy cities in his novels, he serves as director of UC Riverside’s low-residency MFA program where he is a professor of creative writing. He is also co-host of the popular podcast “Literary Disco” with writer Julia Pistell and actor Rider Strong.
Goldberg’s latest book is “The Low Desert: Gangster Stories,” a collection of short stories expanding upon the universe of his acclaimed “Gangsterland” series. Set mostly in Goldberg’s own backyard of the Coachella Valley, his new book explores the noirish underbelly of California’s inland desert.
UCR Magazine Associate Editor Jessica Weber caught up with Goldberg to talk about falling in love with crime fiction, the secret world behind the palm trees and fancy desert resorts of Southern California, and why we sometimes root for the bad guy. Listen in for the lowdown on “The Low Desert.”
Denise Verret: Los Angeles Zoo and Botanic Gardens
Can you name the fastest land mammal in North America? If you guessed pronghorn, you’re right. In the world, they’re second only to the cheetah.
A team from UC Riverside met some friendly and very fast pronghorns along with giraffes, chimpanzees, and okapis while interviewing UCR alumna Denise Verret at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The zoo, according to Denise, represents the best of Los Angeles, a place she loves dearly and has dedicated her life to serving. In 2019, after three decades working for the city of Los Angeles, Denise was named CEO and director of the zoo, becoming the first African American woman to lead a major U.S. zoo.
In this wild episode of The Creator State, Denise shares her love for animals and LA during an interview with UCR Magazine editor Omar Shamout inside The Lair, the reptile and amphibian house at the LA Zoo.
Tom Lutz: Born Slippy
Tom Lutz knows a lot about writing. He writes about travel, he’s written books about crying, nervousness, and even about doing nothing. His works have received numerous accolades, including the American Book Award, and have appeared on New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists.
Tom is the founding editor-in-chief of The Los Angeles Review of Books, known as LARB (“larb”), founder of The LARB Radio Hour, The LARB Quarterly Journal, The LARB/USC Publishing Workshop, and LARB Books. At UC Riverside, Tom is a distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Creative Writing, as well as the director of Writer’s Week, the longest running, free literary event in California.
Tune in to hear Tom talk with UCR Magazine editor Omar Shamout about his fiction debut, “Born Slippy,” and about writing, of course.
Rafael Lopez: Alf Alpha and Super Sonido Sistema - Season 2 Episode 8
Rafael Lopez knows when to press play.
As a DJ, music producer, and artist based in Palm Desert, California, he’s known as Alf Alpha. He creates and performs hip hop and electronic dance music for nightclubs, festivals, TV and film, and parties…sometimes from the inside of one of his 70’s era Volkswagen busses, customized and retrofitted as mobile DJ booths.
Alf Alpha began his career as a DJ while attending the University of California, Riverside, where he played soccer for the Highlanders and was a founding member of the UCR Chapter of the Hip Hop Congress.
Following an album release in 2009 and self-released beat tape the following year, Alf Alpha was invited to perform at the annual Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival in 2011 and has been an artist at the festival every year since his debut.
Alf Alpha is a DJ for the Los Angeles Football Club and brands across the globe, and he is also an educator, sharing his time and talents with high school students during six-week DJ workshops.
Taylor Pollard: Flexin’ In My Complexion - Season 2 Episode 7
After learning her 10-year-old sister was being bullied at school for her dark skin, UCR alumna Taylor Pollard tweeted a photo of her younger sister with the hashtag #flexininmycomplexion. The photo and phrase went viral, with positive messages flooding in from around the world, including support from celebrities Alicia Keys, Lena Waithe, and Lupita Nyong’o.
And just like that: a business was born, launching with a t-shirt line made in their garage that sold out in 10 minutes.
Under the leadership of Taylor and her sister, Kheris Rogers, Flexin’ In My Complexion has evolved from t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase once used by their grandmother to encourage their confidence into a non-profit aimed at empowering youth against bullying.
Taylor now splits time between managing business operations and her younger sister’s exploding fashion career as a model and designer, the youngest to ever show during Fashion Week, as well as speaking engagements, media appearances, and partnerships with LeBron James and Nike.
Join us for a conversation with Taylor Pollard about using social media savvy to launch a business (and a movement), and learn how a major change at UCR aligned perfectly to prepare her for the future she couldn’t even imagine.
Regina Louise: I Am Somebody’s Child - Season 2 Episode 6
Regina Louise never knew a “normal” childhood. Throughout her tumultuous youth, she was shuffled through more than 30 foster homes and psychiatric facilities, all before the age of 18. Compounding the trauma, a racially motivated ruling in 1974 prevented Regina’s counselor from being able to adopt her. And yet…
After aging out of the foster care system, Regina pursued her dream of higher education, built a thriving hair salon business, and became a successful author, motivational speaker, and advocate for foster youth. Following nearly 30 years of separation, Regina reunited with her counselor and was adopted as an adult in the same courthouse where the pair lost the previous legal battle.
For more than 16 years now, Regina has traveled the country telling her story to bring awareness to the systemic failures that continue to affect foster youth today. In April 2019, a film based on Regina’s memoirs premiered on Lifetime alongside PSAs about adoption and foster care, giving voice to the more than 400,000 children currently in the U.S. foster care system.
Join us for this moving conversation with Regina Louise about taking control of your own story no matter the circumstances and using your voice to become your own hope.
I really appreciate how relatable the guests have been. I feel inspired after listening! Can’t wait to hear more.
Fun and Interesting Listen
I really enjoy this podcast and the stories it tells. Very interesting and easy listen. Always looking forward to the next episode.
The business side of creative work
The best parts were hearing about the business side of creative work. Seems both of these guests’ early childhood interests and talents led to a clear career path, which made for cool stories to see how their experiences all tied together, but I’m looking forward to hopefully hearing from entrepreneurs who jumped around or tried different paths instead of a straight line to where they found success. The “in hindsight” lessons at the end of each episode were great takeaways.