Sophia Skiles on Shakespeare VI: Asian American Artists, Making American Theatre

Play Episode

If you can’t see the players above, click here to listen

Subscribe with just one click! New episodes are released every Friday 

sophia.jpg

Sophia Skiles is a theater performer and theater educator. She has performed in work directed by many including Anne Bogart, Richard Foreman, Mary Zimmerman with strong ties to Ma-Yi Theater and National Asian American Theater Company.

With over 20 years of experience in acting and teaching, Sophia taught in public schools through out NYC, pre-college students at Northwestern.

“Shakespeare as a dramatist is someone who invites radical remaking of power. He gives language to women, who were considered less than powerful. And gives them a go at power. And sometimes they fail, but you get these moments on stage, where they had claimed the power.” - Sophia Skiles

I met Sophia through a mutual friend, John Haggerty, who has appeared twice on Feisworld Podcast. Sophia and John performed in a groundbreaking production of Shakespeare called Henry VI, which was made possible by the NAATCO (National Asian American Theater Company)

Henry VI has an all Asian cast, a first of its kind. The show went on between August 11 and September 8 in New York City, after weeks of rehearsal among the cast members. The cast members rehearsed 3.5 hours each night including weekdays and weekends. Sophia has two children. The commute to and from New York City would have been tough enough.

 

“This country has always been a wonderful place and experience for some people. But it’s also, at the same time, an awful place for those who have been left out of that promise. But it’s an incredible promise, liberty and justice for all.”

 

It’s not easy to be an artist, and especially challenging if you are Asian American. Hollywood’s hiring freeze: Female, Black and Asian directors rarely worked in 2017 films” - according to this article. Asian actors are often an after-thought with very few roles to consider.

Learn more about Henry VI: http://www.naatco.org/

Recommended reading: "The Bigger Theatres Still Don't Think About It," Says Asian Theatre Company Founder on Diverse Casting

 

But just as theatergoers become acclimated to the artificial verse of Shakespeare's characters, NAATCO's audience quickly adjusts to the unconventional casting. Katigbak shows confidence in an audience's ability to accept the reality of the stage world. NAATCO's shows often have elements of abstract staging, underplaying the realism even in a script like Chekhov's Seagull. "If we continue to give the audience something to chew on, something really good to experience — I can't say I want them to forget that we're Asian, but it's no longer a factor." BY AARON GRUNFELD, JUL 11, 2015

 

Show Notes:

  • [05:00] Who is the perfect audience for the show?

  • [07:00] What is the play about and how did you manage to get that all-Asian cast?

  • [09:00] How long have you been an artist? Can you share a bit of your background and story behind theatre?

  • [11:00] You’ve been pursuing theater since high-school. What’s your role as a teacher?

  • [13:00] What intrigued you to write about the casting process?

  • [17:00] What’s your take about Asians being underrepresented in theater plays and movies?

  • [20:00] The show is a lot about humanity and vulnerability. Is that on purpose? What’s your take about that?

  • [23:00] Being an Asian artists or producer is tough in the US. It’s hard to get hired and to stand out. What has been your experience in that regard?

  • [28:00] Can you summarize the plot of the play?

  • [32:00] The show is provoking us to think about the current role/identity of the Asian culture within America and social differences. What are your thoughts on that?

  • [35:00] America is also a land of opportunities, food, stories and people. Networking. What has been your experience and how can we make sure we make the most out of that?

  • [36:00] How are the rehearsals and how do you do to actually remember so much text? How’s the support from other artists?

  • [38:00] How is the dynamic with the rest of the cast?

  • [40:00] How do you prepare for uncertainty and things you cannot control during the play?

  • [47:00] How do you manage to have family/children and also rehearse and perform?

Favorite Quotes:

[09:00] It’s really unlike any other creative space, as an Asian-American artist, to be making American theatre, in that way.

[14:00] The whole premise of art is about transformation, is about change, it’s about bringing questions to things.

[24:00] You want to feel like the world is familiar and strange at the same time. And that’s what great art should do. I think this piece really aspires to that.

[27:00] For me, Shakespeare as a dramatist is someone who invites radical remaking of power. He gives language to women, who were considered less than powerful. And gives them a go at power. And sometimes they fail, but you get these moments on stage, where they had claimed the power.

[33:00] This country has always been a wonderful place and experience for some people. But it’s also, at the same time, an awful place for those who have been left out of that promise. But it’s an incredible promise, liberty and justice for all.

Photo Credit: William P. Steele

 

Transcript of Interview with Sophia Skiles.

Could you share with us what Shakespeare’s “Henry VI” is about?  

Fei Wu [5:32] I am so intrigued by what you're doing. I must admit, I really didn't know much about Shakespeare.

Sophia [5:46] You're the perfect audience! I think that is the responsibility of the show to assume nothing but a sense of openness, not necessarily a sense of expertise, although that's kind of exciting and there're certainly rewards for people who have familiarity with Shakespeare. But to be the piece, that is the kind of the first encounter, is such a gift, at least on the part of the actors and the people who are putting on the production, to teach, in a way. And every good show really does teach, at least in the first few moments, we're teaching the audience about the world they're going to be spending the rest of the evening in or the afternoon in. And if the show is clear in storytelling, it really is a sense of an invitation, and that the process of the show unfolds in learning.

I’ve always been a big believer in terms of Shakespeare being something that should be accessible to the masses. It's magic.

Fei Wu [6:59] Yeah, let's talk about the project. It's going on right now, in New York City. And you've been part of this very special crew, which is the very first Asian cast for Shakespeare’s “Henry VI”.

Sophia [7:19] Yes. The play itself lives in three parts, and each of those three parts is a piece on their own. In fact, I think there must be a regional production somewhere in the states where they're doing simply “Henry VI, Part one”, and that is a full experience unto itself. And what the director of this project is done, is he's adapted it so that it can be in two parts because it's condensed. So it's part one and part two, but each of those parts is three hours long.

Although it is a first all Asian cast, the company, National Asian-American Theatre Company, this is their bread and butter. That's how they operate. And they've been operating in this way for over 25 years, holding down the line, and creating opportunities not only for Asian American Pacific Islander actors on stage, but also, in some ways as vitally, the folks backstage, the gatekeepers, in terms of the producers, creating opportunities for a person who is Asian-American, you know, handling money and developing, you know, decisions around programming, as well as directors and designers of color. And as an actor being in those spaces, it's really unlike any other creative space.

 

How long have you been an actress? What’s your background?

Sophia [9:04] Good question. I think like a lot of young people in the States, I did some in high school. It was a strong enough interest, and it was kind of that thing that I did. And I was I felt good doing it, I seemed to be good at it, and it was something that I ended up pursuing in college. I sort of studied it in a pre-professional way, it wasn't a professional school, but it had a pretty rigorous training program, at the Northwestern University of Chicago. But alongside that, there was a discipline called “performance studies”, which really captivated me, crystallized questions I had about theater, but brought in my love of the non-dramatic literature, and also the questions I had about culture and representation. And the theater as a cultural field didn't really have critical analysis for me on its own, I needed this other field “performance studies”.

College was the first place that I experienced history plays, and after that, I spent a fair amount of time doing professional and experimental theatre work in Chicago. And then I decided that I want to be someone who has made a lifetime commitment to developing professional skills, vocal skills, all of it. So I did end up going to graduate school for acting in New York City at Columbia.

Fei Wu [10:47] Is it fair to say that since high school and college, this has always been the route that you've pursued? I know you're a teacher as well.

Sophia [10:57] Yes. And you know, all of those worlds overlap in a really beautiful way. For me, I like to think that had I had a chemistry teacher, or a literature teacher, who made me fall in love with the material, it would be different. But I had a really special theatre teacher in high school, and I felt like she saw me, and heard me, which is both the miracle of being a teacher and also the miracle of creating theatre - you're really seeing people and you're really hearing people in their full humanity. So those two things kind of overlap for me.

Fei Wu [11:38] I was already so excited to interview you after watching the show in New York very recently. I must say that what really intrigued me was this one article, which is called “Who's Afraid of Virginia versus learning how to talk about casting”. I know that you're writing about a potentially sensitive topic, about casting, and now you're in an all Asian cast, and I saw the way that you so calmly responded to this one person. If I have to make an assumption, this person is probably not of Asian descent, and he's probably not a minority, even though it seems to be anonymous. And it's intriguing because when someone comments on identity or race from a very privileged point of view, it's fascinating to challenge the fact that it is really tough to be an Asian person in the entertainment industry. And I could have probably said that about many other industries I've personally experienced. What's your take on that?

 

What intrigued you to write about the casting process?

Sophia [13:27] It's a piece that focuses on one of the great American plays “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf”. And there's been a lot of casting controversy circulating a lot of plays because there’s a fixed idea in the American consciousness that certain art pieces should look a certain way, and they should be played by certain folks who look a certain way, even though the whole premise of art is about transformation. It's about change, it's about bringing questions to things. So in this case, how do we artfully enter into being specific and bringing the right amount of integrity to an author's intention, if a playwright has since passed, so he's not alive to think about how his play should be cast? And how do we also make these art pieces relevant, alive and timeless? So these are huge questions, and the theatre answers them in these really graceful ways, but at times, in a really graceless way. They can do one of two things, and then everything in between: they can fix a historical moment, that demonstrates a status quo, or they can bring up questions like “We walk at the very edge of what the author intended, is that okay? Is that in the service of opening the play up to more people and opening it up to these values that we more often use these days, which is equity, diversity, and inclusion?”

Fei Wu [15:24] When you look elsewhere, when you accept what is the tradition or what's always been there, then maybe there's no question against it. But there's a simplistic view that I have that. For example, on YouTube, even just makeup tutorials, for the longest time were done by very young girls with flawless skin and a certain skin tone. And this didn't happen so long ago, because YouTube hasn't been around for the past 20-30 years, it's only been for the past 10 to 15. So I noticed that I literally would try to apply the techniques, and it just wouldn't work.

And I had this moment, I remember when I saw Asian faces on YouTube, and I was in a bit of a shock. Now I only exclusively go through these people. I don't see theatre the same way necessarily, but I think it's so incredibly important to have Asian actors and actresses represented in all of American Theatre and Theaters from around the world.

“Just because it's something that is persisted doesn't mean that it's natural. In fact, it's deeply artificial. “

Sophia [16:42] You use the word “tradition”, and those are the words that I think need to be unpacked a little bit. Just because it's something that is persisted doesn't mean that it's natural. In fact, it's deeply artificial. And when we can put those pieces in context, we can then begin to dismantle those artifices and create new ones because it's just human nature. And that is such a human impulse to stage stories, that we neglect to include faces that reflect who we are as part of those stories. It deprives us all, whether it's Asian faces in white faces or white faces in Asian faces. Although it is deeply moving for me to be surrounded by the diversity of Asian-American faces and Asian faces, I also have to say it's a beautiful thing for non-Asian faces, non-Asian experiences to see that too.

Fei Wu [18:44] It felt definitely very new and part of me felt intimidated because I really haven't read much Shakespeare. And like you said, I think to me, what came first were all of you guys. And like you said, it didn't matter what type of event and it didn't matter what part of Asia that you're from, it didn't matter if there's a Caucasian, African American actor or actress in there. It didn't matter. But to watch people trying to do this for the first time, that's really fascinating.

Also, there was an actress, she may be older than the rest of the cast, and part of my heart just went now for her thinking about the physical labor of her having to stand there. And I heard her backstory that she was actually originally from Hong Kong, instead of being born and raised in this country, and it brought all the humanity and all the vulnerability into the show itself. That's how I felt.

Sophia [20:43] Theater is one of those beautiful experiences where you get to work with a diversity of ages and experiences, you're working with someone who's, you know, much younger than you are. And then you have someone like Wai Ching Ho, who I think is the actress that you mentioned, who has been there and done that, and she's thriving! And we get to see a lot, see what it is to create a lifetime of work and to continue to make a lifetime of work in the theater, which as an Asian-American person is so powerful, that not should you be doing this, but you can be doing this all your life.

When I talked to John Haggerty, it almost drew tears to my eyes when he was talking to me about the theater, and he used the phrase “I think I have to do this”.

Fei Wu [21:53] When I talked to John Haggerty, it almost drew tears to my eyes when he was talking to me about the theater, and he used the phrase “I think I have to do this”. It's that important and there's a message behind it all. And when I described “Henry, the sixth” to my friends, who found out why I was going to New York to watch you guys, a couple of them in a very friendly way, not surprisingly, said “Okay, if it's about diversity, why is it an all Asian casts? Contradicts it a little bit”. And I said: “No, it's not” because I started researching and reading these articles about Asian Americans, either as producers, as actors, and there aren’t simply so many of these articles. Then I heard about research within Hollywood, which showed that they didn't hire any Asian producers/actors for the past two years of five years. And it breaks my heart and frustrates me.

Sophia [23:26] It sounds like these folks who you were talking about this are exactly the kind of people who need to see this show.

I know, that's what it sounds like, and I think if you take it in isolation, it sounds a little bit odd maybe to isolate a group of people in this way. But if you look at it within the larger cultural context, it's not only powerful, but it's absolutely necessary to compensate for the comparative invisibility of Asian Americans. So the idea of seeing a whole room of them, and that this whole fictional world is populated by a diversity of Asian American and Asian people, is exactly what you want your theater to be about, which is about shaking your world. And that's what great art should do. And I think this piece really inspires to that. It takes these Western pieces and so-called “Classics”, and gives them life in ways that we eat it, reconfigures them in ways that are new and astonishing to us.

Fei Wu [24:53] You just brought this memory to me, which I probably wasn't prepared for. My mom worked at the Forbidden City in Beijing for 37 years as a martial artist, and I was so astonished watching the way that she worked. I remember spending so much time inside the Forbidden City, as funny as it sounds. I watched so many foreigners, so many of them, when I was growing up, and I didn't know where they came from. Not just Americans, but a lot of legendary blond, blue-eyed people that I was watching for the first time. And I watched them walk through the Forbidden City, and there're so many gift shops that sold these extremely traditional Empress clothing, swords. So just for a second, I thought it would be really funny if they even consider putting on those clothes or find them attractive. And I saw little kids, foreign kids dressed up in them, and how comfortable they were. And then somehow I saw this kind of transformation, this border-crossing the other way.

Sophia [26:24] Yes, I think, we would really have to remake the world politically, for there to be a true sense of cultural exchange. If we could all just have all clothes and all customs were equal, then we could all have a true sense of exchange, but we know that isn't true. We know that the world is drenched in colonial history, drenched in political inequality, economic inequality, etc.

So what does that mean to take from here and to get there? Is there an actual exchange happening? It does involve give and take. And usually when we think about white supremacy, there's a lot of taking, but not a lot of giving. And that's where we get into places of cultural appropriation. For me, Shakespeare as a dramatist is someone who invites radical remaking of power, he gives language, in some ways, to women who were considered less than powerful, and gives them a go at power. And sometimes they fail, but they get this moment on stage, where they have claimed the power, and that's deeply radical. And there's something so radical and transgressive about it, that the door is open for people who are not considered the center of power to take it and try it on. And I think that can be very theatrical, satisfying and friendly.

I realized that because I've seen the show, I just assumed everybody knows what's involved. So what would be like a summary of that one?

Sophia [28:32] Some folks, if they do know “Richard the Third” and if they have some familiarity with that play, which is the play that immediately comes after the trilogy that we produce in these two parts. But if they don't know, one way to describe it is what's happening in the world right now. It's about politics when a leader is not considered strong, and a nation is vulnerable to ambition, it's what happens when the center doesn't hold. And if you can describe it that way, people are immediately like “Oh, that's a play about today”. The center is holding the lead, and there’s a sense of internal division. It often feels like this country, the United States, is sort of on the verge of peril, in a lot of ways. The idea of who we are as Americans, as an example, almost every nation has it. In the Shakespeare plays that we do, it’s like “What does it mean to be English?” And what does it mean to be an American? We are really, at this moment, almost defined by “what we're not” as opposed to “what we are”, and that is painful. It's painful because when you get down to it, it's really like “we are human, and those people are not”. And that is a recipe for violence. And I feel like that's the tension in this world, Shakespeare's world, which was going through a lot of political upheavals. What does it mean to be human? What makes us human? Is power compatible with humanity and civilization?

Fei Wu [30:42] Now as you're mentioning this, it becomes very clear why the show was created in such a critical time. And there are the creators, the scripts and the message that's being delivered, but it takes many people's commitment to actually make it happen, to ship and to deliver this.

Ever since I first learned about this show, there's this storm going on in my head, thinking a lot of things such as “What can we do to put ourselves back in control again?”, and that's what the show is sort of asking me to think about, something along that line. America is not what it once used to be. And it's really sad for anybody to travel outside of the US and just watch the look on people's faces, how sorry they feel for people who live here. And for me, I traveled to China and have literally had to sit down with people to say: “What you see on TV is not what America is about. It's not the America that I grew up in”. Sophia [32:03] What do we want most as human beings or as Americans: do we want order at the cost of our humanity or do we want something a little less easy to control so we could accommodate humanity in different forms and faces? Who America was, or is, or will be?

I mean, this is exactly what Shakespeare does: it makes you talk about the political moments. You know, the soil is founded in blood, and violence, and dispossession, and genocide, but also hope, and freedom, and liberty. We try to aspire to that, but can it confer those promises to everyone or is it only just the people in power? Because I think this country's always been a very wonderful and thrilling place for some people, but also, at the same time, it’s been an awful place for those who've been left out of that promise - liberty and justice for all.

Fei Wu [33:34] And we're responsible, because we're so privileged - I live in Boston, New York City, it's just an incredibly vibrant place, liberal place. But there are so many people living in the dark, there are people who want to join us, want to believe that we can all get along, but there are no resources, no people they can connect with and talk to. Because I didn't grow up here, I noticed that I was kind of isolated in an environment where I grew up among only Chinese people, that I didn't go to an international school, and things changed drastically. And, to be honest, it took me some time to really adapt and get used to it and to be exposed to so many different groups of people, ethnicities. And I would urge people to really sit with someone, if you're scared, go to an Indian restaurant, or a Chinese restaurant with your best friend. And then just try it more than once. What’s even better - connect with someone who's outside of your ethnicity, go to his or her home. It's such an incredible experience that I've had, and those are the stories that I'm left with when I go back to China. It's not the money, it's not the fame that's on my resume - it is the people that I had the privilege to get to know that I really wouldn't otherwise if I wasn't living in America.

“Food and stories and art - those are the things that make us human.“

Sophia [35:14] Food and stories and art - those are the things that make us human. And the theater, you can't really take it outside of the moment that you're sharing with other people. You can't package it, it's not film, it's not TV, you have to be there and experience it. And you're building community because you've shared time and space, because it's not a piece of commerce. It's a gift-giving impulse. But there's something so worth it about it because that's how you come to know people - eating at the same table with them, sharing their food, where it came from. And that's part of the joy, of the magic.

Fei Wu [36:13] There's something crazy about hundreds of hours that you rehearse, and it’s all for those six hours, which are the only time that you might interact with that small, intimate audience, and they will walk away with whatever they saw that day. I think it's so challenging. I would not even trust myself remember scripts for five minutes. I mean, five minutes is actually a very long time.

Sophia [36:49] It's condensed human experience. And you know, what's thrilling as an actor working on Shakespeare, it's the most brilliant people in the most extreme ends of their experience. It's so different from life, that it reminds you of life. But when we think about how it applies to life outside of the theater, I think that theater in this way connects to the sense of citizenship and community. I love thinking about theater as a rehearsal for real life.

Fei Wu [37:35] There's the reality of the fact that you are not best friends with everybody who happened to perform with you, you just met them not so long ago. And somebody might in the middle of the show, while you're saying your line perfectly, somebody might just forget a line.

 

What can be an example of constructive criticism or proper feedback that you give each other?

Sophia [38:38] And it's not a small cast, it's ginormous. So there's the play, which is kind of fixed, and it lives in inside of a script. Then there are the people who are trying to recreate or rediscover the play every night. And as much as you've prepared, things happen, we're human, new things happen. You prepare your work, research, rehearse, and hope and trust that work is there. But I have to confess that I live for those unintentional moments where something just goes a little bit not according to plan because then you can really step in and support your fellow actor, or receive support from your fellow actor. And it's a living, breathing collaboration. One of the fundamental building blocks of theatre is the relationship between actor and actor. I, as an actor, find that being able to truly trust somebody else, especially in our everyday lives, we're kind of trying to protect ourselves from everything, create safety, stability, and predictability that you are absolutely dependent on these other people to get the job done. And it's lovely.

Fei Wu [40:06] That's a philosophy, a very strong belief because most people live in the opposite universe. Being the producer is particularly challenging, and I have tremendous amount of respect for producers working in theater. And in documentaries, especially independent documentaries, I had no idea what it involved to make sure things go well. One thing that kind of got me through the most difficult times was precisely what you said - if you see the day-to-day life of somebody, things are going to happen if you believe that life is messy. And those frustrations will instantly disintegrate.

Sophia [40:58] I mean, you're not alone. That's the beauty of doing theater - you're not alone. And if something goes wrong, there’s the incredible support ever created behind the stage to get you through that moment. And the possibility of something happening actually inspires because it couldn't be planned, it couldn't be controlled, which is not to say that you didn't bring your work ethic, your discipline, your preparation to the moment. So you have all that, then hopefully, there's a little bit of freedom on top of that mountain that you've built, where you can really play because you've earned it. Hopefully, the process is there to support. And getting there can be very painful because you’re not fully confident about the score, the transitions, not just the lines, but what's happening inside of the lines and what's happened to the other person. But once you get a handle on all the things then there's this promise of liberation because we know all that other stuff that really makes it worthwhile.

 

How does this show compare to your other shows and experiences?

Sophia [42:23] I like to think that my favorite show is the one I'm working on right now. So this is my favorite show right now. Life changes, this is a moment in my life, I'm in my 40s, I have two kids, I don't actually live in the city. So I commute from the Hudson Valley, which makes this fruit all sweeter. It’s something like “Oh, you know what, this might be too big of a project for me to take on”, but then getting there and being hungry for it makes it feel very, very satisfying. It means a lot to see a community of Asian American Pacific Islander actors being kings and queens, I cannot even tell you how thrilling that is to be surrounded by people wearing crowns, and speaking this language and owning it. I think about when I was going to school at Northwestern, and I was maybe one of a couple hundred students, and I was not the only Asian American, but one of the students of color at Northwestern at the time. So to see this demographic be normalized on stage is a gift I'm giving back to that young person that I once was.

Fei Wu [43:53] You're an educator on top of that. And you're able to say things, I honestly wouldn’t be able to piece together an argument in such way as you do, I think you have an incredible approach of saying something that's not immediately positive or negative. I think it's so easy to be an artist and be extreme with your words, to say something, to swear, whatever that may be. But I love how you're actually listening, when somebody is giving you a concern or disagreement, you're able to dissect that, and it takes a lot of emotional labor to do that.

Sophia [44:58] I love it. That's exactly what I love to do. That's exactly the kind of space I'd like to occupy. There's, you know, the center and the margins, right, and people who occupy those two spaces are kind of constantly battling out. And there're interesting assets to be in that. On the margins, you get this really interesting point of view, that you can leverage to build bridges or to break in, and I'm super excited by that. It kind of sucks to be on the margins, right? You feel disenfranchised, etc., but there is something that you bring, or that you receive by being on the margins, and when you move towards the center, you certainly make space for others.

Fei Wu [45:54] Absolutely. You know, I've definitely evolved through the show. And there's so much of what we talked about that is so vulnerable, that it is often on the surface, but people are not really willing to address that we're to talk about it. You know, I think that “Henry the Sixth” is surfacing all of that, and you can't ignore that, so it's promoting this conversation to be held.

Sophia [46:26] It's about being vulnerable in front of each other, which is really hard. I mean, we carve out our lives, avoiding that as much as possible.

You know, one of my professors at Columbia who I really learned a great deal from, she talked a lot about the artist being someone who is comfortable with being uncomfortable. Anybody who doesn't want to do art, they create comfort around their lives, which is totally legitimate. But what makes our protest perhaps a little bit special, that, hopefully, we're willing to be uncomfortable and wrong and to fail.

Fei Wu [47:07] As you can imagine, I absolutely enjoy this. I think there's something in addition to what you're paying to the next generation, to the students - the fact that you are a mother, which I didn't ask of at the beginning. I assume it’s young children.

And then you chose to do this. This is so much harder than for someone who's just barely taking care of himself or herself. No judgment to people without children!

Sophia [47:40] Although I couldn't really do that when I didn't have children [laughs]. 

I couldn’t take care of myself. But, you know, you just level out. The thing that you're doing at this moment is the thing that's going to be challenging.

Fei Wu  [47:52] Yeah. I'm interviewing the parents on the show, and it gives me such a thrill to hear especially women say:

“I didn't just choose between my work or my children, I chose both. And my children are so much happier, knowing that I am happier. As a mother, I have something that truly excites me, and my kids are so supportive”. I wish more women would know that so they would choose themselves instead of waiting.

Sophia [48:24] It's hard because I think society makes you choose. You'd have to be one or the other, and it's never going to feel right. Everyone's going to have an opinion. And it's good to have those questions, I think about them a lot. I think about not too much money, but how I spend time. That's really our true social capital: how do we spend time, with whom do we spend time. It is a privilege and an honor to spend time with those 15 other people on stage and everyone else who brings us into that space. I know that's time well spent. I know these two people are growing into themselves all the time I get to spend with them.

How do you find the balance? It's so hard, but I the thing is you never do it alone. Oh, my goodness, I have so much support! And I know that too is a privilege.

Fei Wu [49:32] It's so wonderful. Thank you so much, Sophie! I shall not take more of your time, please rest. Thank you.

Sophia [49:43] We'll stay in touch.

Fei Wu  [49:47] Yes, sure.