Brad Shreve 00:03
Hello, Yuval David and Mark McDermott.
Mark McDermott 00:05
Yuval David 00:06
Hello. It’s good to be here.
Brad Shreve 00:09
Well, I’m happy to have you here. Welcome to Queer We Are. And I have been so excited to have you on here and I’m going to tell you why. One thing I get the most excitement for hosting the show is when I research people, and I get to know them in almost every case, I like them before I ever speak with them. But I was really jazzed to talk to you two, because I watched the YouTube video of Mark your proposal to Yuval. Let me just say, I love you guys love you. 2 million views and it’s incredible. I cried. I sent it off to friends. They emailed back and said, You made me cry. So we’re gonna have the link to your YouTube page. People need to check that out. We are definitely going to talk about Wonderfully Made LGBTQ+(R) the movie that you produce together. And one thing I’m going to say before the formal introduction, Mark, your proposal to you Yuval was a tremendous act of love. Very clear, but Yuval the big film we’re going to talk about is it seemed to me almost like a love letter to Mark based on why you did it. And we’re gonna talk a little bit about that. But is that fair to say?
Yuval David 01:20
That’s very fair to say.
Brad Shreve 01:22
So we’ll talk about it right up to the intro. I’m Brad Shreve.
Mark McDermott 01:26
I’m Mark McDermott.
Yuval David 01:27
I’m Yuval David,
Brad Shreve 01:29
and queer we are.
Brad Shreve 01:45
Welcome to Queer We Are for stories by LGBTQ celebrities, athletes, activists, politicians, entrepreneurs, and more here entertaining conversations and accounts of queer people’s successes, challenges, and what they learned along the way. My guests are husbands. Yuval David and Mark McDermott. Yuval is a celebrated Emmy Award winning actor, host, director and filmmaker, with a unique approach which we’ll discuss. And Yuval would you say it’s safe to say that you’re most known for Madam Secretary?
Yuval David 02:24
I don’t know what I’m most known for maybe What Would You Do? Maybe Madam Secretary, maybe doing voiceovers for Disney? Or maybe the activism that I do? It really depends on who your audience is and where they’re coming from. I feel that sometimes people know me for completely different things, and then get surprised to find out that I did other things.
Brad Shreve 02:46
You’re all over the place. So that is a fair answer. I will give you that.
Yuval David 02:50
That’s why I married Mark, He is the anchor to my floating ship the string to my balloon?
Brad Shreve 02:57
I can tell you from your videos, I think you need that.
Yuval David 03:00
Thank you. I don’t know if that’s a compliment. But I’ll take it because I love mark. And he’s great. So short is
Brad Shreve 03:05
a compliment because you’re you’re just so damn busy. And Mark, you’re a former Wall Street attorney, you specialized in corporate takeovers for 31 years. And you’ve served on several nonprofit boards for many years. And you’re now an LGBTQ and Israeli activist, and involved in many Catholic Charities, you’re now pretty much a full time philanthropist. And am I correct?
Mark McDermott 03:29
That’s pretty much the case, I actually began to philanthropy many years before I left the practice of law. So this has just been a continuation of all of that. And it has been actually more than full time, especially as we’ve been completing the film.
Yuval David 03:44
Yeah, Mark has been very involved in advocacy from when I first got to know him. And that’s something that Mark and I really bonded on because both of us dedicate a lot of our energy and so much of our own achievements in in the efforts to help others. I think, individually, I don’t know, we’re both on members of multiple boards and advisory councils, collectively, if we have to count them out, I’m sure it’s an impressive and probably too large of a list. But we work really hard to be us. And whenever we are able to achieve our goals and be our best selves. A big part of that is also helping other people achieve their goals and be their own best selves. That’s something we mentioned recently in Israel where we were screening our film wonderfully made which Brad I know we’re going to talk about later, as you mentioned to us in the conversation before, but I joked and said one of the things about independent film is there’s nothing really independent about it, it takes a team, it takes a village. And that’s the same when it comes to a film or an individual. When we have the support system of family and friends and community, then we can be our best selves we can achieve our goals, we can pursue them. And that’s something that Mark and I both do.
Brad Shreve 05:19
And you do a lot of it, how are you able to keep that passion that spark going? When I’m sure you get absolutely exhausted at times.
Yuval David 05:28
It’s easy for me to it depends on which spark you’re talking about. But one of the big Sparks is we’re in our relationship. I’m married a tall, handsome, smart man. And it’s there’s always sparking. So, you know, Hey, girl, hey, and all that I wake up, and there’s my handsome husband. So there’s always a spark there.
Mark McDermott 05:48
And when I wake up, there is my handsome husband. And I may or may not be his anchor, he’s certainly mine. But he is also my balloon, as he talked about earlier, which I very much need. What I do to sometimes reenergize or keep the spark going is I do have to withdrawn to myself from time to time I like writing I like reading. I profess to be writing a book that’s by its very nature a solid,
Yuval David 06:13
Not only professing you are doing,
Mark McDermott 06:14
I guess I’m doing it. And that is by nature, sort of a solitary thing. But it’s also part of how I make sure that the spark is ready to roll after I’ve spent a little time in self imposed confinement, to work on things like that.
Yuval David 06:28
That’s probably one of the things that I have been struggling with. And in this era, where we, we are speaking more and more about mental health and the importance of self care and self love. We just got back from Israel yesterday, I’m my bags are now packed to head up to New York to go to set to film this new television show that I’m acting in. Then I come back next week and have speaking engagements, and then go back to DC next week. And then go back to New York the day after, and it’s Go, go, go, go go. So one of the things that I need to put more focus on is that downtime, and is that relaxation of putting the phone away, putting technology away and truly doing something different.
Brad Shreve 07:16
Well, going back to your moment of mutual appreciation, when it comes to smart and handsome. I think you both did good.
Yuval David 07:27
I mean, I know I did well, marrying this smart, handsome man,
Mark McDermott 07:31
I did very well. Fortunately,
Yuval David 07:33
I on set have hair and makeup. Who can make me look handsome, smart. I guess I did myself.
Brad Shreve 07:40
You don’t look too shabby.
Yuval David 07:43
Well, thank you. I mean, most people are going to be listening to this podcast and don’t see that my hair is all ungapatchka all over the place today. But you know, it is what
Brad Shreve 07:51
they both their pictures on the website, you can go check them out. So for each of you with all you do, what is your definition of success?
Mark McDermott 08:02
My definition of success is making sure that you are grounded in yourself and who you are. Because absent that, it’s very difficult to be your best in dealing with other people. And that ties back a little bit with the answer to my previous question about how do I kind of keep the spark going. And everybody’s got their own way of doing that. But I think that in our crazy busy lives, social media, etc, etc. It’s easy to forget that once in a while you do have to make sure your feet are back on the ground. So I do a lot of spiritual exercises for lack of a better phrase. And for me, that kind of thing is is how I define success. It’s got nothing to do with finances or anything of the sort. And I emphasize that this is not stuff I do just because you know, it’s all for myself. I do it because hopefully make myself better for other people.
Yuval David 09:05
Success is especially in our American society is something that has been defined for people in a way that also can stress people out. I very much believe in the concept of being in it to win it. Being in the game is already winning, stepping into the arena is already winning. But it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of effort. And that’s why I like when there are certain professions that refer to practicing. For example, practicing law or practicing yoga, or practicing, you know, treating the work of filmmaking, acting and directing as a craft. It’s something that requires learning and experience and improvement. Success is not you versus the rest of the world. I don’t think that that’s a good competition to be in you wanting to be number one in the world. To me, that sounds like a pretty horrible place of everyone else beneath and behind you. And you above them and ahead of them, that doesn’t sound like a good place to be their attitude of wanting to be ahead of everyone really needs to go, it’s a game. It’s where you want to compete. It’s competing with self, it’s competing with them, but giving them just as much credit and just as much as respect as you want. I think the best competitors, the most successful people, not just in sports, or entertainment, or politics, or whatever place that we look at where we see people win and lose. I think the best of those people can celebrate other people’s successes and be proud of them, as opposed to jealous of them. People like that need to be around other great people, because life isn’t a race. Life itself is not a competition. Success is being able to be on that journey and enjoy the journey as the destination.
Brad Shreve 11:15
That’s well said, because when I asked some good guests that question, they they’ll stop and they’ll say, I don’t know if I am successful. And I’m like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I said, you’re thinking of money and fame here. Because as you said, it’s thrust upon us. And I said, go to the dictionary, you’ll see successes to achieve a stated goal. And that’s all is that simple. It’s subjective.
Yuval David 11:40
I mean, I know for myself, I keep moving the goalpost. I don’t think I just achieved something, say, Oh, I’ve reached it. And now I’m done. I keep moving. Am I right? I feel like I always move the goalposts.
Mark McDermott 11:53
Well, as you achieve one thing, sure you want to achieve something better, bigger, more, I think that one problem that I see is that some people can’t define the goal. And if you can’t even define the goal, you’re never going to achieve your own definition of success. Hence my answer earlier, I think the only way to get there is to actually spend some time looking inside and thinking out, okay, this is what gives me some sense of purpose and meaning. And it’s got to be defined with clarity, it’s got to be crystal succinct. And then. And it’s also got to be achievable, too. By the way, that doesn’t mean aim low, but it’s got to be in the realm of reality. I’d like to, you know, play forward for the next but I need to be a lot taller, a lot younger, but it’s not going to happen. So to me, defining a goal is is itself one of the problems that I think can present a challenge to a lot of people.
Yuval David 12:56
And when you define your goal, you know, you can define the process that you need to take in order to pursue it and hopefully achieve it. And when you can define the whole process. And I like pronouncing it process instead of the American process. Because pro makes it seem much more positive for me. Within the process, there isn’t losing, there’s only learning. There are no failures, there are only opportunities, there are no problems, there are only solutions, because the failures lead to those successes. If you’re always winning, then you don’t really understand what it means to win, because you don’t value it. Those who struggle and who are challenged. Remember that it’s not about making it. It’s not about winning. It’s about maintaining your ability to stay in that game to stay in that process.
Brad Shreve 13:54
We can have multiple goals and they’re there for multiple successes at one time and they change throughout our life. There’s not always absolute, there’s not always just that one.
Yuval David 14:04
It’s how I became a multi hyphenate I’m an actor, host, filmmaker, advocate, news commentator. I mean, it’s like they’re keeps their keep being more things that that I’m doing and I’d say the same as with my husband Mark. Once you start especially once you start doing activism and advocacy and creating and producing artistic things. I think being a multi hyphenate just organically happens and I think it’s a very healthy thing to be a multi hyphenate and not only do one thing
Brad Shreve 14:39
a friend said to me once and you can probably validate this or or tell me you think it’s crap. Especially you Yuval being the film industry. I had a friend that was a former wife of A network executive that I won’t name. And when I knew her she lived in a middle class home, because they divorced and she met a new husband. And she went from having been surrounded by celebrities and a very wealthy life to. It was a home that most people in this country would love to have. But but it was modest compared to what she was used to. But I asked her one day I said, Why do so many celebrities burnout kill themselves die from drugs, or, and so forth? And she said, in her opinion, it’s because they reach that what we consider pinnacle, and they’re like, is this all there is? Is this as good as it gets? And she felt because there’s, like most many people, they’re searching out there for the answer.
Yuval David 15:48
Absolutely, if you search out there for the answer, you’re never going to find it. I don’t believe that the solution is in a magic pill or a drug or a therapist or winning the lottery and getting a million, you know, billions of dollars or succeeding in becoming a celebrity. If the work isn’t from within, nothing else is going to get you there, the out there must be supported by the end here. No matter what your goal is, whether it’s a health goal, a career goal, a love goal, sport adventure goal, you need to have that that seed defined within you and that seed can change. We are constantly growing beings. I mean, here, for example, we have a garden at our house here in DC. And it’s amazing to see what these plants do, for example, the IV on the fence that is reaching through different rungs of this fence. And it’s so cool to just see what it’s doing. And I’ve played with it sometimes by moving part of the IV and introducing it to a new part of the fence just to see what will happen. And sometimes I feel bad about doing that. Because I want the plant to just do what it does. But I don’t know, there’s something really beautiful in that that’s just like us in life. Sometimes people will move how we extend and reach ourselves and introduce us to something else. And whether we choose to go back the other direction or continuing this new direction. It’s just like us, you know,
Mark McDermott 17:28
what you said that this former wife said, can be true a lot of different things, including my area for many years, the practice of law, a lot of people enter law school with very idealistic notions of things. By their third year, their final year in law school, it’s starting already to feel like this might be a lot different than what they thought. And then once they get out those first two years are hard. I think there’s an illusion that it’s harder in the type of field I went into, which is big law firms and that kind of thing. But I don’t care where you are, the practice of law is tough. And there’s huge burnout. Huge, like huge numbers of people to leave the profession, their reaction is this hit. I came in thinking I was going to handle cases and see the world and that kind of thing. But as this hit and part of why they say is this it is because it is so intense, there are so many hours, it is so unpredictable, there is such a grind to it, that you begin to question whether it’s worth it. And my guess is that with a lot of celebrities, and this is not an area that I know, as well, as Yuval does, it can be the same thing. It’s, it takes a lot to get to that level. And so much too, sometimes by the time you get there. You’re asking yourself, wow, I don’t know that I keep this up. Like there’s constant expectations. And it’s always What have you done for me lately? And that’s just, that’s a lot. And so I can understand why people often say, because I’ve come close to doing it myself. Is this really it?
Brad Shreve 19:03
I think almost everyone I know. In fact, I will say everyone I know that has gone to law school did it to make the world a better place. Initially. Not everybody stayed there. But initially. So Mark, you said one of the ways that you recharge is your spiritual practice, which really is kind of what wonderfully made is all about. We’re going to talk about wonderfully made its LGBTQ plus R R for religion. And right now it’s making the rounds in the film festivals. And I will say it’s getting high praise the GA voice I think it was said it’s a can’t miss and I will say I agree 100% Yuval, as I said earlier, I see it as a love letter to mark and really kind of more of a gift. Explain how Mark inspired you to say let’s make this film.
Yuval David 19:52
I noticed Mark struggling to find art that represented his identity as specific intersection of Have faith and spirituality with his gay identity. How do you connect? He was struggling to connect those two communities, because he’s part of those communities. And as he kept struggling, this was going on for for weeks, actually, or maybe a week, I can’t quite remember. I said, Why don’t you just stop struggling and create it, you married a creative person, you’re creative, everybody’s creative, let’s do this ourselves. Because ultimately, you will come to see that this is not just for you. But there are so many people like you, who could use this as well. And not just the people who are like you. But the people who unlike you don’t have a support system, don’t have a family, don’t have a loving spouse, don’t have loving, supportive friends don’t have colleagues don’t have a company don’t have a team. So more than this being for you, this must also be for them. And that’s how it really started Mark absolutely inspired this entire project.
Brad Shreve 21:08
Well, your blurb on the website for the film says that It criticizes Catholic church teachings. And I’m not going to argue that but I really didn’t see it that way. I saw it as stating fat and showing how people have been hurt by that. Obviously, that’s criticism, but it just didn’t, it felt different than that, to me. That being said, tell the listener what the film is.
Mark McDermott 21:32
So it’s a couple of things. For starters, it’s about the art. And within Catholicism, the religion itself is very visual, it’s very heavy on icons, paintings, and what have you. And that’s in part because of the Divine ultimately, whatever you want to define it is invisible. And that’s hard to relate to. And the core message of at least that faith, and I think a lot of others is, frankly, humanist. It’s all about how we deal with each other and how we find the within to deal with each other. But nonetheless, it’s helpful to have something visual, in within our religion that actually has manifests in a human being the problem is that human being for 1700 years, has been shown exactly one way with few except white
Brad Shreve 22:22
and European just like everybody from the Middle East.
Mark McDermott 22:25
Exactly. blond hair and blue eyes. Now I have seen on occasion and African Jesus been rare. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any Asian Jesus. And I just got to think so how do we how can we connect the dots between or I just really changed this whole I can, it’s all imagery, maintain some connection to tradition, that make it different and relatable to a much broader community. And not just the LGBTQ community, but really all of us if the Divine is in all of us, then let’s make God look like all of us. And so that’s part of the the narrative arc and the backbone of the film, how we made this how it all came to be. The second part of it is just hearing from the people who are in the film, all the all the actors that we chose out of the 500 Plus, who auditioned. And then making sure we had some voices of people who’ve been real leaders and pioneers in this era, and really got out on a limb in a huge way to fight and say this is what the whole message of all religion is supposed to be that we all count, as opposed to anything that’s exclusive. So those are the two threads. Throughout the film.
Yuval David 23:37
This film is not anti religion. It’s not against the church. It reveals facts. And the people I interviewed have differing opinions, and many of them rarely, if ever, are seen on the same panel seen at the same conference scene in the same rooms because they disagree. In addition to of course, the tremendous amount of archival footage that we included within the film of people who actively speak out against the LGBTQ community or against the church. And I think that that’s something that’s really unique. I’m an inclusion activist. And in order to be an inclusion activist who seeks greater tolerance and acceptance, I almost also must tolerate and accept. And that includes the people who differ in their opinions and their beliefs. And it was important to add that element into the film, not only because that’s the way I pursue life, and then because I’m the director, but really because there’s a movement here. The LGBTQ community is more of a movement than a community. The movement to change religion is a movement and it requires activists So, I hope that this film also will inspire people to see themselves as activists. It’s like the democratic process. It requires the people to speak up and to take action to create the change they want to see. Otherwise, all they’re going to do is follow the leadership, it’s very clear to see how the leadership and the hierarchical power structure works within the Catholic Church. It’s built that way. But the Catholic Church is nothing without the congregants. And I hope that this film can empower those congregants who still want more and still need more, and ultimately inspire the same within other faith traditions.
Brad Shreve 25:44
And I will agree with you I think when people see it’s a movie about folks that are LGBTQ, and it’s about the Catholic Church, their assumptions gonna be oh, this is anti religious. And I will say, that is absolutely not true. One of the beautiful things about the movie is the actors that you did choose out of the 500. I’m surprised that auditioned, they were all so passionate. Were they all raised Catholic, or at least Christian.
Yuval David 26:10
I mean, no, not all of them, but many of them. We also had many people who really wanted to be part of this, but had struggles with their schedules, or had another production conflict, it was very hard to narrow down our selections, because there were so many people who responded to the casting breakdowns, who felt seen, who felt heard, who responded saying they’d never seen a casting notice like this. And that’s how we found so many people who really were being heart forward and sharing their vulnerability because this project meant something to them. And they wanted to be part of it, it was very, very, very hard to narrow things down and to narrow down the collection of people. Because this also is an independent production. We don’t have unlimited funds. We didn’t have unlimited filming days or, or photography days. Those limitations also, were something that kind of helped us in the long run to really focus on how we can create a vastly diverse yet completely authentic, genuine representation of the LGBTQIA plus community and those of faith.
Brad Shreve 27:30
How were you able to narrow it down to I’m sorry, I didn’t count I’m gonna say about a dozen people, probably less
Yuval David 27:37
callbacks, having them speak about how this spoke to them. Sharing their own opinions. I didn’t, we didn’t want to just cast models, people who looked good. We needed people of differing body types. We needed people who were somehow within the their own lives, within that narrative structure of the way the life of Jesus is told, right. And that’s something that I was really thinking about, I looked at, because I’m not Catholic, I was looking at Jesus as a character. And as what was his narrative arc? And how can we represent that as their narrative arc. So to find people who really connected to that was important, because then it would make the time on set so much more poignant when somebody already gets it. When I don’t have to really struggle to get something out of them or mold them into something they already are something that we
Mark McDermott 28:36
we had. Like I said, Around 500 people auditioned, we had a top casting director help us and she’d never written a casting call notice like this. And we all struggled with it. And we’re fearful that nobody would show up, let alone 500. And we also asked them all to tell us what this meant. And send us you know that as part of their video audition, and some people spoke for 2,3,4,5 minutes. And we knew we wanted diversity that was obviously key. We also wanted to make sure that the trans and non binary community was not left out, they get they still get left out of the conversation too much. But there were days when you all and I had 40 or 50, Big 8×11 Headshots spread all over the floor, trying to figure out, yeah 8X10. What do we do and this person was really great. And you know, we only had so much so many slots before it gets unmanageable. It was hard. It was a combination of all these all these variables.
Brad Shreve 29:35
I would think that was painful.
Mark McDermott 29:36
Yuval David 29:37
it was absolutely and you know what we do hope to other than this, this photo art that we created and the documentary feature length film that we’re now sharing within the festival circuit. We really produce this ourselves. We do require more help and assistance. So if there are listeners out there who want to connect with us and want to connect with this project and support it because this is a project that must be seen. And I’m not just saying that because we’re the filmmakers and the producers of this art, and we want to share it with people. It’s more than that this is art, to create change. This is art that can save people when you focus on the fact that over 40% of homeless youth internationally, are LGBTQ i A Plus, when you focus on the fact that 1/3 of LGBTQ youth struggle with mental health, depression, suicide, anxiety of all types, we need to make sure that people feel supported, and that they’re not alone. That’s what this project can do. Because when you look, for example, at those, those issues of depression, anxiety and suicide, being LGBTQ does not cause depression, anxiety and suicide. It’s the way society treats LGBTQ people that causes those negative things. So what is the cause? What is the root cause of why society treats the LGBTQ community like this, whether it’s in laws, legislation, beliefs, ideas, if you’re going to bake a cake for somebody, let them into your school, let them teach your children or you know, even give them equal rights. The root cause the root reason comes from religion. So as part of our LGBTQ movement, we must change religion to include us because we are already part of religion, just like our foremothers and forefathers used to say, at the Pride marches. The first ones we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it, get used to it, we’re already here. And that’s why we need the help of all of your listeners and whoever they think needs to see this art and see the film and help share it on. And that’s why we’re active across social media, with this film as well,
Brad Shreve 32:06
And listener, if you want to get a hold of you, Vol. And Mark, the link to the film’s website is in the show notes as well as other ways that you can reach them. And there are even more links if you go the website, there’s a lot of more information there than Yeah, fit the show notes, I suggest you definitely go there. Do you enjoy this show? If so, tell a friend, because the number one way podcasts grow is word of mouth. So pass it on, so others can enjoy Queer We Are.
Brad Shreve 32:46
Regarding the number of homeless kids, until recently, I lived in LA for over 20 years. And for a short period I lived in the Hollywood area itself. And folks, I’m gonna tell you, the streets are not paved with gold, the number of youth that are sleeping under bridges in that Hollywood district, and I’m guessing that LA is just a magnet because of the way LA has done a good job of selling itself for 100 years. It’s just increase in the number that I actually interacted with that were LGBTQ kids. It seemed like every one of them. And maybe that’s just because who I interacted with. It’s painful.
Yuval David 33:28
It is it’s painful. So what are we doing about it? So we created a film, we created art, we treated this creativity as a form of activism to create that change. It’s where our world is. Our world feels like it’s on fire now in every which way? What do we what are we doing about it? And how do we shift from the fire of negativity to the fire of warmth and love and positivity? It requires us it requires a community to take some village as we said before,
Mark McDermott 34:03
well, as I said earlier to I think I believe the Divine is an all of us now, maybe that’s too thick with religion for some people. So you can phrase it different ways. Every person is worthy. Every person is entitled to a measure of dignity. And I don’t understand how some parents can’t seem to see that in their own children, when they drive them out of the house, when they can see it someplace else for some reason. And part of why we try to do this art was to just shake things up because we say we say these things everybody’s entitled to it. But do you really believe it? We still don’t act like it. Maybe if you take an icon and everybody looked at one way for 79 years, you see will timeout a minute What about a black man what a black gay guy
Yuval David 34:54
what about what about trans, female trans male Middle Eastern, non binary Latinx, whatever
Mark McDermott 35:02
it is that you’re just trying to get people to think a little bit differently to be a tool that they’ve never seen portrayed that way. If we’re lucky, even if we save a few kids, the film would have better success. That’s the definition of success for this film right there.
Brad Shreve 35:18
That’s right. One thing I found fascinating is queer people, as a rule, have a difficult time talking about spirituality, religion, connection with God. Yuval, as a director, you are really good able to get these folks to open up and be vulnerable. That’s a gift. How did you do that? Oh, come on, you have to mark you can probably answer better than he can.
Mark McDermott 35:44
So this is Yuval’s, magic, okay. And it’s not just with this film, it is with everything he touches. Every human being he interacts with, he can walk into a room and within you know, a few minutes, he ends up owning it, okay with his smile with his charm with his energy. And that made every interview on this set. A little unusual is from my perspective, I played no role. I didn’t intervene. Okay, the lawyer in me wanted to hijack, but I had to stop and I let him do his own research. And he had this ability to get every single person to just open up everything to them. And I don’t know how to define how and where that comes from. See people have that gift. Most of us do not. But he’s got that Midas touch. When it comes to getting people to say, I trust this guy. And I’m going to talk to him. And I’m going to open up in front of a whole world of film.
Yuval David 36:46
Brad Shreve 36:48
And on that note, on your YouTube page, you said you are a inclusion activist and man, it really shows there. In addition to your resume that you have online, which is your traditional stage, film and television shows. You take great joy in involving nonprofessionals everyday folk in a lot of the things that you film. And some examples are One Actor Short, where you pull passers by to do an on the spot acting job with you. And one of them is What Makes You Beautiful, which you ask people just that. And another one where you ask people that just that is What Have You Done to Make the World a Better Place. And then also Pranks with Kindness, which is, I gotta say, funny and ballsy. The list, the list I just gave really defines that what what explain more what inclusion activism means. I mean, you kind of have but I want to get deeper into that because it fascinates me.
Yuval David 37:49
Inclusion activism requires radical inclusivity. You need to radically include people, even those who disagree with you. And that’s one of the problems that I’m seeing within our LGBTQ movement, we have to remember that we need to radically include people. Yes, we’re key we keep adding letters to the alphabet soup of our community LGBTQ i A plus, we added the plus because it’s the plus of those who don’t yet have a letter, but it’s also the plus of ally ship. That that’s, that’s what inclusion is including the people who we think might not agree with us by showing them who we are. So you mentioned in your previous question, which I’m just really flattered by what Mark said in vulnerabilities. One of my favorite word’s vulnerability is what audiences connect to. Vulnerability is what the best leaders must expose, in order to have followers in order to have people connect with them in order to be able to lead perfection, for me is is disgusting, and frightening and intimidating. So with these different interviewees within the film, how within Wonderfully Made LGBTQ+(R), are, I’d needed these interviewees to not only be these amazing heroes who have done so much with their lives, who are ambassadors to the Vatican, and nuns and priests and the heads of organizations and people who speak around the world and wow, wow, wow, amazing, amazing. They needed to be human beings. So everybody can connect to them to see why they do what they do and not only see them for what they do, but to see them for who they are. That requires radical inclusivity and radical vulnerability.
Brad Shreve 39:55
As we said, this film took a lot of work you went through 500 People That auditioned massive man hours. The production is so beautiful. You obviously had a tremendous crew. I know it took you years to do. Was there a point where you just said, we can’t do it any longer?
Yuval David 40:13
Oh my gosh,
Mark McDermott 40:14
there are times me more than Yuval when it felt a little exhausting. There are actually 160 people involved in this production. All in. There are 390 pieces of archival footage that Yuval And I found, because this was the staff right here, you’re looking at it, and 43 different music cues, which I helped supervise, and COVID really messed us up, we had all these models ready to go. And our photographer is one of the top 10 photographers in the world. And our stylist is one of the top stylists in the world said You know, this is so complicated and unprecedented, we should really do one shoot, or have just one test model, which made a lot of sense in hindsight it or a 19 people on set, and it took 14 hours just with one model. Well, before we could get the band back together, COVID hit, we couldn’t get the band back together for two full years now we were lucky that literally everybody was available still, except for one or two people who had auditioned, but talk about exhausting and frustrating. And gee, is this going to get done the way we want it to be done? Yeah, the thought certainly crossed my mind from time to time,
Yuval David 41:29
it was very hard. But it it truly does take blood, sweat and tears, we had all of that. It independent filmmaking when it’s truly independent, without the support of a studio and additional funding is extremely, extremely difficult. But it’s also an adventure. And we kept trying to do our best and to do better and to do better. And we still are. So when we now get to sit in these theaters and see how the audience’s are reacting, it’s, it’s unbelievable. Mark sits down in a chair somewhere in the theater. And I’m pacing in the back of the theater and not pacing nervously because there’s nothing I can change. But I just have so much energy in me that I can’t sit in a chair, and I’ll speak for myself, one of the things I love is it seems like every time Mark speaks in the film, there’s applause. Oh, proud of that, because of the way that Mark speaks and what he says but encountering how people laugh or cry, or angered or even talk back to the film, you know, within these different moments is so very exciting. So yeah, it took us over three and a half years to create this project, which are there are documentarians, who take many, many more years, the challenges of COVID the challenges of the pandemic, the challenges of this world and strife in which we live all were absolute challenges. But it did not in any which way diminish for us the need to tell this story, the need to create change, and the need to represent those who are bold enough and brave enough and strong enough and vulnerable enough and weak enough and sensitive enough to do something about it. And that’s what this film represents. And you mentioned all of these other projects of mine. And I’m just flattered that, that you watched it please everybody you can check me out at Yuval David just about everywhere across social media. I create not just for myself I create for others. And one of the wonderful things is to not only create for others, but to include others within the creativity. So you see that within this film and you see that within my other productions.
Brad Shreve 44:10
Mark as a person, not just spiritual you were raised in the Catholic Church. Yes. What did you gain from this film? As as a Catholic,
Mark McDermott 44:23
I gained an even deeper appreciation for how important every person really is and how badly too many of them get hit by something that’s actually supposed to be beautiful, and sustain us. I guess I knew that. And I had my own experience with it, which was not nearly as tough as an awful lot of people have it. But just going through this and it’s starting to really internalize how how unfortunate and bad it really is. I think there’s a little bit of a misconception especially in some circles that this whole issue of LGBTQ acceptance is solved or largely have somebody who is focused about this film actually said, Isn’t that all passe? How long have we had gay marriage? Well, wrong. It’s just not that easy. And it’s far worse than an awful lot of other countries. So what I gained was a stronger drive as to help, as a result of really internalizing the unfortunate damage that twisted religion has really done and the consequences to, especially young kids, but also, frankly, people, my generation, older generation, a lot of people didn’t come out to the 65 because of this kind of thing. So that’s what I took away from it. And despite all the, and there was aggravation here, by the way, and literally tears, it was gaining that far greater insight in the need to keep doing more.
Yuval David 45:55
And that’s how organically within wonderfully made, we ended up turning the cameras on the creators of the arts on the creators of the film. Because Mark was so affected by it. And in my directorial mind. Mark was like the Greek chorus, Mark was like, the everyman Mark was like the, the audience, the embodiment of the audience. So to turn the cameras on Mark was a really vulnerable, frightening and exciting thing to do. And that’s not done in many documentaries. Many documentarians don’t turn the cameras and the microphones on themselves. But as part of this project, we were so ingrained in it. And I think that’s also the power of of unification, saying, Hey, everybody, we’re just like you.
Brad Shreve 46:49
So I think a lot of people need to hear this answer. We talked about how hard this was, and everything you do seems difficult, both of you. So it’s not a good. Yeah, because you do it with passion. That doesn’t mean, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. But you you have such passion and everything that I can see that you do for the listener, what do you do when you have a bad day? Who,
Yuval David 47:18
who goes first.
Mark McDermott 47:19
So when I have a bad day, I unfortunately, oftentimes let it be bad. And that can make it worse. I really do have to go back to very purposeful, mindfulness is what I do. And that takes a lot of different forms. i We live one mile from a large area of timber and creeks that I can just vanish into, I oftentimes vanish into spiritual reading. Sometimes it’s just being grateful. You know, there’s a, there’s a wonderful little prayer, I guess, or exercise that the Jesuits do. And one of the Jesuits is in the film, of course, it’s called the daily examination of consciousness. And it’s really an exercise in gratitude, you’ve got to stop for 15 minutes a day, maybe twice a day, and just run through your day, and think really be present. Because we’re oftentimes not. And I’m the one of the worst at that we’re always looking ahead. Never like right here. But think right here and be grateful for what you have in I think I’m probably like a lot of people, you just keep forgetting that. And that’s what leads to a bad day, right there. And then you got to keep reminding yourself. No, it’s not that bad. There’s lots to be grateful for.
Mark McDermott 47:27
And I don’t know about you, I have found that practice needs to be, for lack of better word selfish. And by that I mean, I don’t think it works, at least not for me, if I’m having a bad day, they say, Oh, they’re starving people out there or, you know, people are living in, in, in slums over there. When I look at gratitude, I just have it has to be internal in in look at what I have, unrelated to what others don’t have.
Mark McDermott 49:04
Yeah. And I spent a lot of time talking about gratitude. I have a spiritual director I see every two weeks. And I see a therapist too. And this is this is one of the big topics, and the one is very into spirituality. And the other one is very into, I should say the therapist is bringing into spirituality and the priest is very into therapy so that they’re a great or a great period or they ever met. But you’re right. It’s inherently selfish, although what they would say and this is where you got to think of it. It starts with self care. liking yourself, which is not easy to do. But if you you can’t get past those two, it really kind of one love of thyself. It’s hard to get past the other things. And so yeah, you’re right. You do have to do that. But as I said an earlier answer. Ultimately, it’s not just to sort of make yourself feel good, at least that’s how I think of it. It’s so that you can take that renewed energy and then put it back out in the world.
Yuval David 50:01
Look, I find that I mean, we all have bad days, and we all have many bad days. And the more you do, and the more you’re connected with others, you can have, there can be something bad every single day. But there’s also something good every single day waking up. Having whatever it is that you have whatever is important to you, whether it’s your family, your friends, your spouse, your lovers, your, your food, your fruits and vegetables, your pets, your your home, your clothes, whatever it is that make that gives you some sort of comfort. If you have something, then you can lean on that something that can turn your bad day and add the goodness there. And that’s something does include what comes from within your ability to process thoughts and emotions, your ability to be vulnerable and to be brave. When I have very bad days, I love to cry. And I do say love, I love to cry. It is so cathartic. And I think it’s a shame that there are many cultures around the world that especially towards men make it unmanly to cry. Crying is just, it’s an important release of emotions and of energy. The other things that can help with a bad day. That for me is if something bad is happening, I go into Doer mode, I go into action mode, what can I do to fix this, let me fix it, I’m just going to keep fixing, I’m going to keep doing I’m going to keep going until I do something that can make this better, and not just wait for somebody else to do it. That also can be defined with so many other psychological studies of maybe there’s, you know, doing too much of that. But I think as Mark said, self care, self love. And also understanding that yourself, isn’t only you, yourself, includes your community, your people, and to love them as well and care for them as well. People who have great challenges, find comfort when they can do something for someone else, when you have a purpose. When we are purposeful driven people. We feel better about life, when we don’t have purpose, just like you mentioned about what happens to so many celebrities. What’s their purpose? was their purpose becoming a celebrity? Well, wow, they’ve achieved it. Now what? Well, if your purpose is beyond that, then every bad day can have something good. My grandparents are Holocaust survivors. And I was raised with this thought thinking that I could never complain about anything, because nothing was as bad as what they went through. They never said that to me. They never ever said. But that was in my brain. Anytime. I had major struggles, and I had major struggles. And I had to know that it’s okay to complain about things and it’s okay to be hurt and wounded. But I also must be resilient. The resilience is the strength that allows me to make it through a bad day. And as my grandmother said, Who even after surviving the Holocaust and the experiences that she had losing the vast majority of her family and friends and everybody she cared about. She said in Hebrew, a great call a Nana, Shemesh Zoa, hot behind every cloud, the sun is still shining, it’s still there, and that cloud can pass the sun will come again. And I think that’s the positivity that allows us to make it through a bad day.
Brad Shreve 53:50
Regarding allowing yourself to feel the pain, I think one of the wisest things anyone ever told me is don’t allow other people suffering to rob you of your own.
Yuval David 54:02
True, don’t allow other people’s suffering to rob you of your own, you can still you can still suffer and we don’t have to put everything in perspective of other people’s experiences. But I do believe that we have to put things in perspective of our own experiences. Life includes suffering, life includes anger, life includes sadness, life also includes joy and success, and winning and happiness and, and orgasmic delight and includes all of that. That’s life.
Brad Shreve 54:33
But those things are hard to get if you don’t at least acknowledge the shit that happened.
Yuval David 54:38
Brad Shreve 54:39
Yuval, you practice your faith, and I heard you refer yourself as a Jewish leader. And Mark, I know you’re a believer and you actually attend synagogue with Yuval, I believe, correct?
Mark McDermott 54:49
Brad Shreve 54:51
I’m what I call a reluctant atheist. And what that means is, I don’t believe in God, but the reluctant part is not believing in God. to me means once we’re dead, we’re dead. And that’s it. It’s over. And the reluctant part is I hope I’m wrong. The sad part of all that is if I’m right, I’ll never know it. But still, when I see people practicing their faith, I think it’s a beautiful thing that they can take comfort in that and, and I have such a respect for that yet. I’ve had so many queer people say to me, almost the exact same words, I can’t imagine how a gay person can believe in God. What Can y’all say to that?
Yuval David 55:29
Look, my grandfather back to Referring to the Holocaust, he came from an ultra ultra orthodox family, after seeing what he saw and losing 11 of his 12 siblings losing 11 of his 12 siblings were slaughtered and murdered plus all of their children. And the things that he saw going through the camps from 1938 to 1945. He couldn’t believe in a God that would allow this to happen to the chosen people, right, as Jews are referred to. So thinking about that, and how can LGBTQ people believe in a god? My answer there as a spiritual humanists, philosophical creative, is God is LGBTQ i A plus God is He and She and them, and us and them, and God is everything. God is wind, God is trees, God is water. God is our dogs, and our husbands and our wives and our everything is God God is the is magic, that magic energy. And that’s how we can connect to spirituality, especially when we add our own fluidity within our self identity, and that same fluidity within our understandings of, of religion, and of God,
Mark McDermott 56:58
a lot of people who are gay would say, there’s no God, if you peel that back, what’s driving it is institutions. And Catholic Church’s case, it’s an institution made entirely entirely of men, okay. A lot of whom have had some pretty twisted ideas over history. And I say to people, you can’t let that institution beat you down, you got to help be it down, and not let that drive something away. If that something is in the nature of spirituality that you find helpful to you. And I believe firmly that that the religious impulse is almost embedded in everybody’s DNA, whether they really don’t want to admit it or not, or even aware of it or not. It’s sort of like the word beauty or beauty is nobody can define that. Only the eye of the beholder, it’s all around us. You can’t define the word love. You can’t define the word passion adequately, okay? You can’t really define any notion of the Divine higher power, whatever it is. But you know what, I think everybody has a hint of it. They can they have these moments, and we’ve all had them in life, where you just had the sudden, inexplicable, out of yourself experience of something you can’t explain. And we all yearn for something that we can never explain. I wrote an article about this that appeared on a website that I helped run with Father Martin, who’s in the film, that that inexplicable yearning for something that is inexplicable, that I think everybody has is actually part of the Divine focus on that. Not the bricks and the mortar, and the people and everybody else who do who do stupid, harmful things.
Yuval David 58:41
Spirituality is for everybody. That’s why there are so many different world religion, religions, and so many different denominations, and so many different belief structures. We’re all trying to define what we don’t know define the unexplainable there are people whose religion is, is science. For a long time, I used to say, the science of today is the religion of tomorrow, you know, people were trying to define that, that special magic, and that’s how LGBTQ people can still finds their own faith, and whatever it is that they, they need and want to believe in.
Brad Shreve 59:18
What I have always found fascinating and this actually validates something that Mark said, if you look at societies throughout history, societies that had no connection to each other, South America, North America, Europe, Asia, whatever, almost all had some type of higher power in some shape and form and I’m like, obviously, there’s something inherent in us.
Mark McDermott 59:41
A great book on that topic is, is called The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley. It’s kind of an older book, but it explores that very thing. It talks a lot about the little spark I was referring to at least that dimension of it, and it’s perennial, its annual it’s everywhere. are universal. So yes, I agree with you. And there’s a lot of exploration that’s been done on that topic. And I think it’s true.
Brad Shreve 1:00:10
So before I let you go, I’m going to ask something that I think is very important. What is one thing you believe most people have the ability to do to make the world a better place,
Mark McDermott 1:00:23
they have to see themselves in the face of the people around them. In the face of people who suffer and in the face of people who are really different.
Yuval David 1:00:33
You need to resonate with the world around you, because you are part of the world around you and the world around you, is part of you. So beyond people, it includes animals and trees and the earth and the wind, it includes all of us nature, is God. We are part of nature. And we are just a mere planet within the solar system within this universe, that, from what we know, so far, doesn’t seem to have an end. We don’t know what else there is. But we know that there are greater things than us out there. That doesn’t diminish who we are. If anything, it enhances that magic, beauty, that spiritual connectivity, that we are part of something greater that we do not know. So, what we know is what we know. And that’s why I’m into radical inclusion. That’s why I’m an inclusion activist. Because I must be part of and must be included, just as I must include everything else in, in my life in our lives. If if we really want to define God, we must define ourselves.
Brad Shreve 1:01:51
I want to thank you two, for being my guests. I want to thank you for a beautiful film. And most of all, I want to thank you for all that you do.
Yuval David 1:01:59
Thank you. Thank you for saying that. Thank you for making us feel seen and for including us.
Mark McDermott 1:02:06
Thank you for all you do.
Yuval David 1:02:08
Absolutely. You do great things to create change requires storytellers. And that’s what you do, Brad, you’re a storyteller. That’s how I resonate with you. You’re telling stories in order to affect people in order to pursue a greater good. So when we first started writing on email with you and were first introduced to you immediately, I was super impressed and was already saying like, yeah, I’ve done done my research on you too, Brad. Your you’re a great person and it’s amazing that your Gosh, that you included us within your own journey.
Brad Shreve 1:02:47
Once I learned about you two it was as an easy choice, it was an easy decision. So thank you again.
Yuval David 1:02:53
Thank you and for all your listeners like Brad mentioned, you can find more on the film at wonderfully made film.com Instagram at wonderfully made movie Twitter at wonderfully wonderful made Facebook wonderfully made LGBTQ religion, it’s easy to find the film. It’s easy to find Mark and I on social media because just as we’ve mentioned in our conversations here with Brad, we are not in it for ourselves. We are in it for you. We are in it for the community. Do not hesitate to reach out to us individually. And of course, we also need your help to get this word out to get the film out so I can’t wait to have all of you see it, and comment and share on social media.