Straight White Guy Listening is a five part mini-documentary and podcast series that follows a straight white man as he listens to people from different walks of life.
These earnest and conversational interviews explore contemporary topics with an emphasis on empathy. The host refrains from defensive commentary and, instead, actively listens, creating a space for the guests to explain their point of view without reproach. The show’s goal is to both create a platform for disenfranchised voices and to explore the act of listening.
Shortly after the tumultuous 2016 US Presidential Election, Graham High (SWGL host/producer) attended a community event calling for unity and healing. The town hall-style meeting was attended by people of color and members of the LGBTQ and disabled communities. And yet just a small group of white men hijacked the conversation, talking only to one another, and sometimes even over one another.
Eventually one of these men stood up defiantly and announced his exit, saying he was sick of meetings with all talk and no action.
That night, Graham told his friend and producing partner, Rebecca Breithaupt (SWGL producer), what he had witnessed. Rebecca was less than surprised that men would unknowingly take up all the conversational space in the room. At first, the two joked that they should create a show where white men “just shut up and listen.” The more the two discussed it, the more they realized it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Thus, Straight White Guy Listening was born.
Without a budget, Rebecca and Graham self-funded the SWGL series. They called in favors from friends, family and colleagues and were thrilled to find people were eager to volunteer their time to the experimental project. The diverse, all-female crew traveled from coast-to-coast to interview intersectional guests on gender identity, immigration, comedy, the black experience, and white activism.
Graham works at Altimeter Films with Director Matt Tyrnauer and Producer Corey Reeser on documentaries such as Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, Scotty: The Secret History of Hollywood, Studio 54: Beyond the Velvet Rope, and Jean Nouvel: Reflections. Previous projects include Herzog & Company/CNN’s Emmy-nominated The Sixties, The Seventies, in addition to Lady Valor: The Kristen Beck Story. The son of a deaf man, Graham thinks listening is a gift that shouldn't be taken for granted.
Rebecca was raised in the Midwest and is drawn to capturing the unique stories of salt of the earth people through creative nonfiction. Rebecca’s first documentary feature, My Amityville Horror, opened to favorable reviews both domestically and internationally, and her second feature, Dark Side of the Mountain, is currently in post-production. In addition to her film work, Rebecca is a Producer at Ayzenberg Group, creating online content for all things Microsoft including Windows Mixed Reality, HoloLens, Surface, Education, and Edge among others.
Jenn is a storyteller with journalistic roots. Eager to tell people’s stories through different mediums, Jenn has made it her mission to make sure that life is never too busy to stop and hear someone. Through the art of photography, Jenn is capturing the light within people to help them recognize it is their story that can be the voice to make change.
Morgan considers her vocation as Editor to be a practice of empathy. Through editing, she strives to draw people into different worlds, to step inside other people's stories. She has been editing film, television and marketing content for the past 10 years. Her credits include the documentary This is Alzheimer’s, as well as the highly rated CNN Decades documentary series; The Sixties, executive produced by Tom Hanks, was nominated for Emmy and IDA awards. Morgan lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two cats. She is also a painter.
Alexis was born and raised in the Midwest and is drawn to the struggles and achievements of the average man. She recently worked as an Associate Producer on Aisha Tyler's first directorial feature film Axis, in select theaters now. When she's not producing she works as an Assistant Director focusing mainly in television.
Sunanda is a comedian, actress and producer who is best known as the producer of Broad City's finale webisode, I Heart NY, which catapulted them to having a show on Comedy Central. She has also produced an indie feature film, How to Follow Strangers, starring Ilana Gazer along with a multitude of short films, web videos and music videos. Sunanda has a complex answer to "where are you from?" as she is Indian, raised in Bangkok, lived in New York and Los Angeles and speaks with an American accent occasionally using British words. Sunanda got her masters degree in Media Studies from The New School University where she focused on documentary filmmaking and a bachelor’s in Economics from Barnard College, Columbia University.
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Brittany is a writer, social media manager, on-camera personality, artist, singer, podcaster, and Child Life volunteer at CHLA. She was raised in the south, went to college in the midwest, and now lives in Los Angeles.