The Intersection of Art and Service with Rainn Wilson
Harry. What's up? It's chase. Welcome to another. So the Chase Germans live show here on creative life. You know this show. This is where I sit down with amazing humans. And I do everything I can to impact their brain with the goal of helping you live your dreams and career and hobby. And in life, my guest today is so many things. The founder of a nonprofit, he's an author of best selling author. He's an actor, a director. Uh, he's a lot of things. You probably know him best as Dwight on that random comedy called The Office. My guest is the one and only rain. Wilson. Hey, man, I love you. Hello. How are you? I'm well, good old fashioned handshake. How about it? Like it was like the sixties there. Very good. Very nice to meet you, sir. Yes, this video podcast. Yes. Um, thank you very much for being on the show. My pleasure. Thanks for having. We have Ah. Well, I hate to state. The obvious is, we talk before we get on the show, and I'm always thinking, Okay. Right before the cameras were...
rolling, we talked about a bunch of your stuff that's gonna We're gonna take a nice arc to the show today. We're going to cover a lot of ground, but first, let's start from the start. Yeah, Go way back. Two small rain, Wilson. Okay, what were your aspirations? Because I think we're very well aware of your success. You had a lot of success. Personally. Professionally, we talk about, we'll talk about your faith. We'll talk about a lot of things in the show. Sure, but young Rain Wilson. I'm not very many people who know a lot about young Green Wilson. Take us back. Yeah, well, um so young Rain Wilson like going super young. I talk about this in my book, the Bassoon King 99 95 19 something. It's probably like 3 95 in the remainder bin. At this point, not I talk about my I was This is a true story. We have a family wall at home with, like, baby pictures and family pictures. I was the most hideous baby alive. I'm gonna go way back to may being an infant. Okay. Um and I was a giant, bloated white. It looked like a manatee took a shit, you know, just just like a bald, huggy like unformed alien Cuba. Pew! Pay! What is How do you say that? Cuba Pupi is that I don't know what the plural is Pubic, but e pupil pupil I occupy. Now what's your comment section is gonna Philip people thing. Actually, it's pronounced. It's right. Um so yeah. And, um yes. So you know, lots of lots of lots of good. Lots of bad about growing up in Seattle Washington It's your hometown are home to wear Oguz, Go Ogi seventies, Seattle 71 Birthright 66. I remember being there in the first year of the Seahawks in the kingdom. Um, alright. Peaking. Yeah, R I p Well, does anyone miss the kingdom? Really speaking What unbiased Rosset e cement blob is a parking garage football field in it. It's terrible. Um, it was a nerdy kid growing up in the north side of of of Seattle, Um, a k a the white side of Seattle. And, um uh, my dad is a strange dude in that his day job was managing a sewer construction company, and his side gig was painting abstract oil paintings and writing science fiction books. Whoa! Yeah, I was very, very strange. I think it's amazing that your dad had a side hustle in the sixties. In seventies. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. That, like the side hustle is the thing, right? That's what the reasons that creative life exists to help people pursue their passion debts from that's right here is the original way. Uh, side hustle. Only instead of driving an uber know, um, yeah, he would get home. You know, work was at 5 30 25 minute drive to our house. 5 25 He'd come home. He would make himself a giant glass of V eight juice, and he put on an old flannel shirt covered in paint and he'd get out his canvases. Wow. And he blast opera music. And he would just start painting giant abstract oil paintings. Wow. Or he would go in and on his little manual typewriter, just finishing up. Whatever kind of weird fantasy or science fiction novel he was writing. Not actual novels. Yeah. Did he publish these books? He published one of them. It's called Tentacles of Dawn. It was a not a best seller, to say the least. On the cover was a man punching a giant bat with a very buxom woman at his side, and this significant will have you have to read the book. You find out the significant Yes, the on the cover. It said they they programmed him to save the world and propelled him into a nightmare. Future is in the future, and the sun has gone out and it's a dark earth and he's trying to save the world. This is before Zombie Apocalypse was even not even greater. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. So I grew up with a lot of science fiction books. That was really a lot of nerdy pursuits, so I played musical instruments. Hence the bassoon. King of the Soon And that's an unusual How did you choose to play the bassoon? Was that given team because you had a bunch of lying around the house? I did not have a bunch of assumes lying around the house, but I got co opted by my by my band teacher. They like having aided pursuit. Who would? Who would do it? What idiots! What's about to play this God awful weird adenoidal instrument? So I wanted to play the saxophone because the saxophones, we're so cool and they got to wear like, sunglasses. And, like, as they're playing riffs, they got to, like, do a little unstable there. Like like, uh, Ron Burgundy. Doesn't. Yeah, just, um So he convinced me that the bassoon would be a good idea. And, um also, he let the class No. On the first day, I signed up to play the assuming that, um, remember, this is the seventies. But he said, you know, the original name for the bassoon is the faggoty. So he was like, Everyone, Rain is playing the Bugatti. So that went over really well in the seventies in a lily white, semi racist, homophobic high school in north Seattle. Um and, uh, yeah, so I got picked on a lot for that as well as my other character aspects. But it was really in the science fiction and stuff like that. And I guess you know, people ask me, how did you get started with acting and what not And you know. Okay, you know what? There's a There's a pretty terrific story If you take a worldview. This is how the universe works in my mind, in my heart of hearts Chase Jarvis, I just knew I wanted to be an actor. There wasn't anything special when I would see actors on stage. I was like, I want to do that when I would see funny guys on sitcoms and I watched Taxi or Cheers or Bob Newhart or any of those favorite shows from back in the days like I want to do that, I want to do with those amazing that I actually got to live my Yeah, yeah, But as I started pursuing, acting as I got a little older, Um, my dad was very weird about it. My dad was very supportive of me doing the arts always, but he was a little strange about it. Now what you should know is that my natural mom and my birth mother and my dad got a divorce when I was two and I went with my dad, not with her, and I really didn't get to know her again. Barely saw her until I was, like, 15 years old. So when I was 15 16 I started acting again and he was very The street is weird vibe. I couldn't He wasn't very supportive of it, and, uh, later on, I uh, I had a talk with my mom. I was in acting school in New York, New York University and had a talk with my mom. And I was like my natural mother. Why did you guys get a divorce? And she goes, You mean your dad? I never told you it was like, No, she goes Well, did you know that I used to be an actor like No, I used to do plays in Seattle in the late sixties experimental theater. I did a play where I experimental play where I painted. I was topless and painted my torso blue and, like, ran around on the stage and stuff. I was like, Really? What? Wow, So that's the why he was not supported. There's it gets better. The reason they actually got a divorce, she said, is, uh, she had an affair with a theater director. Wow and left my dad for this theater director. Wow. So it all just kind of made sense like, First of all, I had no idea that she had been an actress, but I had this kind of like genetic kind of calling in that direction. Estimate. Probably enough fast, weird and then might it explain my dad's situation? Two. So it's up back and talk to your dad. Hey, you never told me it was up. This it was that a sore point for you guys when you did, you have to reconcile that. Yeah. I mean, we've had unfair number of sore points over the years. That's not really been one of them. But, um did kind of talk to him about it. I mean, I would say the good thing about my dad Is he most people's parents in divorces, bad mouth. The other person. He never said a negative thing about her, ever. He never said that she had an affair. He never said that she left him. She never said he never said negative things about her or anything like that. So And she was flabbergasted that he hadn't told me and that he had told me all this stuff, so that took a lot of integrity. I think for him to do that. So you were raised in an environment where creativity was supported? Yes. Was it supported overtly like yes, rain. You should go do this like play the bassoon. There's a little bit of a hiccup there with the being on stage and acting. We know we know why now, but it is a fair to say that that was a path that was paved for you. Or did you have to like, No, I really don't want to goto Teoh school for economics. I want to be an artist. Yeah, it it wasn't like, written that I was going to be an artist, but they were very supportive of an artistic path, So I was very lucky in that sense. I think it's really hard for aspiring artists, and I meet him all the time. Uh, I want to be creative, and the parents like, we'll do that on the side. And what's your What's your day job? What's your city? You get your accounting degree and then if you want to do photography at night, you could do that as a hobby. And it's really hard for especially teenagers to be getting that kind of messaging. You know, Um and it's just fear on the part of the parents. It's just fear, as apparent yourself. Yeah, Do you? Do you share that fear? Do you think Walter is your son's name? Walter is 14. I have a lot of fears about Walter in this world. Um, is there a fear around him being an artist? That's not where the fear lies for things to be afraid of. When you have a 14 year old boy, yeah, there's so I mean, it's just like Oh my God, it's like the Internet media and the Internet and in pornography and in Sex and drugs and alcohol and video game a screen addiction. You know, his friends are just obsessed with video games, and this is all they talk about. And it's the supreme motivator for him. So the carrot, the carrot and the stick when raising a 14 year old boys is it's very easy. It's, you know, a chimp could raise a child these days. It's like you do good, You get some video games, you don't do good, you don't get video games. It's just it's really that it's that simple. So we have fears, but not around that. But I'm in a very privileged position. I've got some money have been on TV show, so, um, we don't have to worry about that. I don't have to worry about him making the rent. Yeah, all that stuff. Not that he's gonna be, like a trust fund, kid, but, um, in fact, that's a very interesting conversation. Let's do it. I know I'm doing like, all the talking. This is why you're here. Because they they've heard me for 153. This is their first time, so and seeing you and I love like this lets you just go wherever you need to get. All right, I'm in for the ride, buckling up. So I'm not trying to brag or anything, but obviously the viewers here I have a little money because I was on a TV show. Whatever I've done, save some money. And I'm not, like, filthy rich, but TV actors do. All right. Okay. So step, no judgment. Just not trying to brag. Just like it's just a fact. So dealing with this fact. And I have this teenage boy been thinking a lot about, like, how do I disperse money to this teenage boy? And it's a really interesting, complicated dialogue to unpack Germany. Kids, No kids, no plans. Forget I'm a fungal ever shirt. This is fun. Uncle Funchal. Yeah, that's my role in life is okay. All right. Active decision. Will you be my son's fun, uncle? He's He could use a few more. Happy to do it. All right. Um, so did you guys you have You recorded that part, right? Okay, Uh, like, if I was like, it has Of course, we're gonna pay for his college and educational needs. Whatever. Okay. But, you know, trust funds are kind of we I never had a trust fund, and that's kind of a scary landscape, because if I was in New York City in the early nineties trying to make it as an actor trying to get an agent on a hustle jobs, build my resume, trying to get experience, and my parents paid for my apartment or gave me 1000 a month or gave me month again before 1000 a month or whatever, I had just this interest thing like it would have absolutely demotivated. And I never would have made it as an actor if I had had financial help, because the motivator for me was I had a fire under my ass too. Pay the next month's rent because I was month a month, baby Yeah. I was an actor for nine years in New York City doing theater I never made as an actor over $20,000 in a year for the 1st 9 years of my career. Wow. Um wow, that is a That is a stone cold Steve Austin fact. Um, but if I had that money coming in, I don't know that I would have. I don't know that I would have done anything. I mean, maybe I would have liked to think in some ways that I would have, but my motivation was like, make the next month's rent and, uh, and build my resume and get hustle and get that next job so I don't have to wait tables. And I don't have to be a guy with a moving van, and I don't have to cater events. And I can just, like, be an actor, and it gave me that drive and determination that is so important for creative types. The ample that you serve for sure, and that's a thing like trying to navigate to me, that's the most, uh, important and untucked about were not the most but one of the most important talked about things is how do you survive, sustain what it is that you're trying to do not get distracted? Because if you want to achieve the, you don't just stumble into the life that you have right now. And I think a lot of people, rather than whether they want to be on, you know, a hit television show or write novels or whatever it's think it's understood enough, certainly from the Ark in this show that that just doesn't happen. The amount of effort like you're the 150th person who sat here and said nine years like I had to, like, you know, about Panama head against the brick wall for nine years in order to make it so. Given that, why isn't there a support system to help people navigate like I personally, my Segway was waiting tables. Yeah, I waited tables on the side because you don't have to work very long hours. You make pretty good money. It's highly flexible. So I got a job as a photographer. I could say Get someone else to cover my shift. Sure, And you it sounds like you didn't want to you. So how did you what was your bridge. Did you do? I had a friend who said recently that there's, you know, the A job and the B job, So everyone's going for their A job. Maybe this is I have never heard this before. Now is that I'm an old fogey. So there's your a job. It's what you really want. And it's the B job that you're going to do that's gonna enable you to get that a job like and that there's no shame and having that be job and a lot of people, like, I feel like if I get that be job, I will never get a job. It's a It's a false dichotomy in a way. But yes, so for you, what was? What would you be job mainly? I waited tables as well. I got married and to to my wife, and we got we asked for money and maybe we got, like, $3000 or something like Grand Total in wedding money. We were dirt broke living out in Brooklyn, and I took $1200 of that. I bought a van and I was a man with a van. I had a moving service called the transcendent moving company Trance, your transcendent. Even then, even then, I had a kind of a mystical bent to my work, and I would in New York City back then. I don't know what it's like these days. I don't have any insurance, anything like that. I just I would put up flyers with tear away the little numbers in laundromats in on the telephone poles in New York City. I would call me and I would charge 30 bucks an hour to whatever thumb move, whatever. And if it was two guys, it was 50 bucks now. And I would just hire a friend and I would line up. It was I had I didn't have cell phone and voicemail, but I would line up like Saturday. I'd move someone from 9 to 1, and then someone from 2 to 6 and then Sunday, this and it was It was off. The books pay taxes on it should actually pay taxes on that money. Now that I'm saying this out loud in the podcast with hundreds of thousands of listening, Um, So, um and it was great. It was so flexible, Like you said it just it was it was super easy. And whenever I wanted to, I could go make 2 300 bucks and, uh, it worked out. It worked out, worked out great for me. Feels like we needed. But we need a world where we like, tell people that that's a thing and that it's OK and that that's the A and B job. Why don't we like, Let's cement that. All right, that's put on your big to do list website Creativelive. Yeah, don bullshit. Whatever that is, we're going to do it. The the other thing, I always say to young artists, and it's hard these days, like in New York City, because, basically, that the salaries are essentially the same and the rents are 10 times what they used to be when I lived there. I remember renting a room for $500 a month, you know, so I could you know, you can get a parking space for you really can not even theatre actors. It's so tough. But I would always say to kids, you know, keep your overhead low. Yeah, and I think that is a big mistake, and I think it's people make fun of millennials a lot for it. You know, the avocado toast. You know that they're they're making minimum wage at Starbucks, but they'll go out and have the $12 avocado toast in their $6 were at the base. And that land, it was literally on the many this morning. I was like, boxer. I think it's 16 actually. Yeah, it's so damn good. Good. Avocado toast not exist up until, like, two years ago. I was just in the whole foods this morning. They had one with, like, egg on it. And like, it's a human and that look so delicious. But yes, I understand making 50 an hour. It's kind of a waste of your you work for an hour and 1/2 in order to have a keeping your overhead low is a super important thing for artists and creative types to dio it will keep you hungry. Keep you lean, keep your costs down and so you can focus everything on what? Your creative. How are you going to do that with Walter? Who were we going? Drop some dishes in the kitchen? Yeah, we're downtown Los Angeles. This is all part of the texture of the show. How am I gonna do that with Walter? I have no idea. I have no idea. There should be a class for that too. You know, someone said and it's very true. My friends are pregnant and they're taking their birthing class, you know? And you do these really intensive birthing classes when you have kids like this is what's happening, the pregnancy. And when you go to the hospital, there's what to put in your to go bag. And there's different options of how to have the kids. But you don't take the classes on the actual parenting. So when you come home from the hospital, you got this little thing legs and a Penis and a pooper. And you're like, What the hell did I do with this thing? I know how to carry it. I know how to swaddle it. Yes, but I know nothing. I know nothing else, but I know how it came out. And I know how all that pregnancy worked in the birth work because I took those three months of classes on that Get what to do. So I am an uncle. You exactly what you just described there? Yeah, yeah, so you get some work to do. So I s as raising a teenage boy in today's environment is extremely challenging. My wife and I talk about it a lot. Um, consult. We read about it, Uh, and I don't know. It's you know, it's it. It's a super interesting challenge. I don't know how people have multiple kids do it, by the way, we have one kid and 14 year old and he kind of we're pretty flummoxed. People with five kids like what they're outnumbered. So obviously, you've already mentioned very clearly that you've been successful as an actor on Hit showed office. Dwight is a character. The character that you play in that show is so radically different. And this is that's called acting right. So is that it's not really a surprise, but I just wondered if you could start to reconcile because, you know, one of things that I want to lead into here in the show is, uh, the work that you do with nonprofits. I was really been a fan a long time with Seattle Connection and probably a handful. The same people I love, what you're doing with Lee Day, with some of the non profits with so pancake, Um, and Dwight, like, connect the dots for people. You are this comedian and most of the comedians that I know no enough they don't have a this this really strong give back sense. There's not a lot of other. They're very I see comedians and actors very focused on comedy and acting. It's very insular. Yeah, and like Prov Troop And they have their standups. Yeah, I don't want in their little how cluster of friends you have, you have? Um, yeah, then so much outside the industry. And to me, that's what strikes me is the way I talk about it is we're all hyphens. There's so many different things. We used to just be an actor or we should be a writer or we used to be an architect. And now we're many things. Is that what motivates you to be many things or is there you know, I know faith is a part of it for you, like, give me a just a little bit of Ah, yeah, there's a lot of that faith and it's something to do with that. I'll mention a little bit about that. I don't mention that one. Things I'm really one of the things I'm super grateful for is that in my training as an actor at BYU Graduate Acting Program and in the director's that I worked with and early on in my theatre career, we were always spoken to as and treated as artists. So they always kind of drilled this into like, You're not just an actor, you're an artist. What is an artist do? Well, an artist, ultimately on all artists tell a story. All artists attempt to make something true and beautiful. Whatever the media that artists are in charge off their creative faculty and they have choice in the matter, There is often a feeling about actors like Oh, actors wait for the phone to ring the audition. Maybe they get a job. Maybe they don't and they just kind of go where the winds take. So I was very fortunate to have some great teachers and mentors early on. That kind of helped give me agency to kind of think of myself as ah proactive actor in my career that I was able to make these choices, and I was always as an actor. Yes, I would audition and try and get roles. And sometimes I get good ones, and sometimes they get bad ones. Incident. I wouldn't get any roles for a year, but I was always trying to generate my own work and always, always tryingto work with people on things. And I was trying to I would I would always teach as I was an actor. I would go in the inner city schools in New York and new teaching and would teach theater games and improvisation and clowning comedy. And, um so I was very lucky to be trained to have kind of a broader view of myself then just an actor or just a comedy actor. And it always is very surprising to me when I meet actors that have such a narrow sense of themselves who they are, Um, so that's that's part of it. When I grew up a member of the BEHI faith, Um, from early early early early, my parents were behinds. These strange bohemians, you know, my dad, working at the sewer company and painting abstract oil paintings and writing science fiction novels, was also a member of the behi faith, as if things couldn't get any weirder. Um, and it was during the time in the late sixties and early seventies that a lot of kids these days really forget. It was a very fertile time for spirituality. People were exploring spirituality, you know, Cat Stevens became a Muslim and the Beatles went to India and people were doing practicing meditation and yoga and reading the Bhagavad G. Todd and searching for some meaning and truth in their life beyond just the material at the time. And that saturated the arts during that time period. So my parents became the highs during that time that a lot of people became members of the behind faith. At the same time, a lot of people became members of a lot of different when I would say, like alternative religions, it's not really what is so in the behind faith. So I grew up. I left it for a long time. Um, just this teenage sort of your your own journey. And then exactly when I was 2021 living in New York City, I just didn't want anything to do with religion anymore. I think it's a pretty common journey. Yeah, I didn't want the faith of my parents. I didn't know if there was a God. Um, I didn't know if there was. I don't want morality in my life. I didn't want to think that. Yeah, I just I wanted to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do what I wanted to be. An actor wanted to be a bohemian and an artist, so I just jettisoned all that. And I really, um uh, you know, I talk about this in my book a little bit. I went on a spiritual journey. During that time. I was, uh uh I'll tell you, I became, uh I started living. I started making a living as an actor. Mostly incredible. 20,000 year, making my 20,000 year. But I was working. I was gay. That's beyond my wildest dreams. I mean, yes, my dad published one book and he painted these paintings, but I didn't know anyone that made any money as an artist. So from suburban Seattle, it's pretty rare. So, uh, it was pretty fantastic. But at the same time, I found myself to be really unhappy and unsatisfied in my life. So kind of in my late twenties, early thirties. I really went on a spiritual journey. Kind of like trying to see, you know, am I missing something? Here? Is Did I jettison? Did I throw the baby out with the bathwater when I jettisoned all of religion and spirituality early on and long story short, Um, I came back to the faith of my childhood. I found great truth and beauty and meaning in the Baha'i faith. I believed that it was true. Um, I had a kind of, like, personal kind of conversion, that act of faith. But one of the things that one of the main teachings not one of the main, one of the minor teachings of faith but one that resonates with me is the idea that art is worship that we can people think of like worship. What do you think of worship? You think of getting on your knees or holding your hands like this and saying, Oh, God, you're so awesome. God, you're the basket Me a hand here. Would you broke your help me out exactly, or help me out, or or saying certain prayers or songs or things that have been pre written or whatever and and so these they're thes writings in the by Faith about the making of art is the same as worship that it's a divine act. It's a secret act, and when you think about it, it's really profound. Because let's just assume for a second, probably majority agnostic out there listening right now. Probably good quarter Atheist. But let's just let's not get into that whole debate right now. But let's just assume there's let's say, there's some kind of creator force out there like And what better way of worshipping this creator who had the ultimate blank canvas, the universe and for five billion years ago, had this little speck that became the Big Bang and became all these Galaxies and molecules and elements and time and matter and energy? And what better kind of testimony, testament and owed to this creator, then to take your own blank canvas and create something on it that God is the creator, and then we as artists of the Creator. Also, when you make stuff like art, it's a service, you know? I mean, I can't tell you the number of people that come up every week and are like I love the office so much. My sister was dying of cancer in the hospital. We would gather on her hospital bed, would watch the office and we would laugh and we would cry together, Thank you, and just people like where I was going through a divorce. And I would watch the office with my kids and it was me and so meaningful. Or it's my family would bring together like I'm not. It's just a silly comedy or whatever. I don't want to sound too now but yourself important. No, no, the art has the goal of art is impact, right? And you know it is to make people laugh, make people laugh, take their troubles away, touch their hearts in a way that I think the reason the office last so much as it has so much heart. Yeah, it's not just about getting those laughs. It's falling love with these characters and characters connecting and failing to connect. And there's something really beautiful in universally human about those stories that so that's a tenant of the Baha I. Faith is that created creativity is sort of an active worship or reverence because your present closest thing that we could come to the son of the founder of the Baha'i faith. The founders named how Law and he lived in Iran, Persia in the mid 18 hundreds. Um, his sons and that name means the glory of God. How long his son was called Abdul Baha on that title meant Servant of Glory. So Abdul Baha was a very wise man that, um, buys read a lot of his writings, and he actually came to America and toward around America in the early 20th century. But Abdul Baha said in a letter to a young artist, he said, I rejoice to hear that thou has taken pains with high art for in this most wondrous age, Um, art is synonymous with prayer. That is to say, when you put your paintbrush on the paper, it is as where you were kneeling in the temple. It's the same act. Wow. So I love that I love that idea. I love the idea of the ancient sacredness off the creation of art going back to the Cave man days to the artistas shaman, you know, to those first cave paintings of little deer and elk in antelope and bear and the human hand that sketched on the wall of the cave and how art and the sacred and the artistic has always been linked throughout human history. Um, and for me, great art witnessing it, experiencing it is kind of the closest thing I get to a religious experience when I see Radiohead live in concert. To me, that's more meaningful than any pilgrimage or going to any church or worship service. Yeah. Wow. So if by extension, then do you attend, like is art a big part of your day to day life like you mentioned? Going to Radiohead is consuming art. Obviously, you've been creating art written music, uh, theater, television. You're doing your part there, but it's consuming it part of your day today as well. Oh, yeah, sure. I mean, I I think these days were lucky cause there's so much great television and television this It's incredible martial arts. Been watching this show on Netflix, Babylon, Berlin. It's this German show during the Weimar Republic, and it's it's kind of an adventurer, he show, but it's it's so beautifully done. Yes, it's a really exquisite work of art, but yet it's I love contemporary art I love going to museums. I listen to music all the time. I really love. I really love great music and the take away for me. And what I'll just try and frame it, please, for the folks at home that this is a really common theme on the show. Is that the folks who that people draw inspiration from areas beyond their focus? So you've been an actor since your teens. You talked about that plays on television movies, etcetera. But you just talked about the breadth of expression that you try and tap into and your inspiration across half a dozen different disciplines. That is a strong, strong theme, people who are and the same mystery for me photography. I was motivated and inspired by Warhol and Rauschenberg and the artists from the sixties seventies eighties in New York because they were sort of reinventing the game of art while they were making it. You know, taking art out of the streets. If your boss got out of the you know the streets and into the galleries, or if you're Warhol out of the out of the supermarket shelves and into into museums with a Brillo boxes, I was really motivated by that. And I tried to do that. Photography. That's been a really consistent theme here. Is there any area besides acting that you feel like, played the largest role in inspiring knows an actor? What? You know, Was it music specifically? Because, you know, you're but soon it is. Um um Or was it was it? Uh, yeah, Well, yeah, I don't know about that, but I think I was such a nerd. I have I still have my science fiction and fantasy book collection from the 19 seventies, which is, like, three or 400 books, but I all red before I was, like, 16 years old as a mob. Brad. Oh, yeah, all all that Finland. You know, all the greats. And, um uh, that's in the back of my mind. That's my kind of secret. Other got a profession is like, I kind of can't wait to the point where I'm like, you know what Enough of that's acting b s so tired of it. I'm pulling the plug on all this and I just want to go hole up, right? A bunch of really nerdy science fiction books just have this other career and just not have to deal with people and just kind of live and just like my dad and his little typewriter and create those little worlds so cool. Maybe someday that's where I'll be. All right. Um, I'm going to go to this is about a biggest lead, but will make in the show today. Go from your faith to so pancake, which is a tech young media company. Yep, that you're a co founder of Yeah, but there's a thread there. Right? Isn't true. There's a threat. So pancake. That was one of the things when I feel like it was in 2010. Maybe when that thing started. Yes, yeah, good memory it it came on. The scene really quickly struck me a bunch of great videos. I remember videos with kid president and videos with starting yourself, just asking the big questions in life and doing so in a playful way. Online early YouTube stuff. So there's this media component to it, but I can still sense, especially now that we're unpacking your history. What's the thread there? Because it seemed, for maybe someone who didn't know is like it's Dwight from the office and he's got a tech company. Yeah. Oh, well connected threat there. Yeah. So, yeah, that's, uh, hideaway unpack. That gets a little complicated, I think. When we started founding Soul Pancake, it started as a website. So it was kind of a tech company early on because we wanted to make it almost a social media type of portal for people to interact. There was content, but the content was back seat to people creating, you know, their membership and interacting with each other on the site. It it's swiftly, Uh, that didn't really work. Um, content work, though, didn't content worked and especially the video content that we're making is what really took off. So we had a kind of come to Jesus moment, Come to Baha Llama and we kind of sat around and we're like, Okay, lots of this is not working. Some stuff is working. What do we do here? And we had one of those great tech pivot moments. It's like we've got this website and we're getting a whopping $100,000.1000 people a month coming to it. It's not enough to make any money off of, um, people are really engaged with that. But the video content that we make spikes, people love it. They replay it, they buy the rights to it. They're playing it on their shows. Oprah wanted a bunch for her launch of her Oprah Winfrey network like we need to. We need a transition. What this is seems to be where the need is. The need is for uplifting content, for content that is rich and human and meaningful and challenging and deals with life speak questions in connection and and no one was doing it At that time, there wasn't an up worthy there were. There weren't a lot of other A plus Ashton Kutcher's company. A lot of those ones weren't in existence at the time. We were kind of the You're definitely seminal. Very early. It was end. So we kind of transition from okay. Exploring life's big questions to making meaningful, uplifting content has almost a service. So we were a mission driven company, so we were a for profit company. We wanted to make money at this, but we had a mission. And, uh, how do you say a brand, you know, to make uplifting, enriching content and how does this connect to me? You know, I guess I as a behi um uh, Baha'is believe in doing service and giving back and trying to do good in the world lots of other religious faiths do. And a lot of atheists to do as well, by the way. So it's all good. Um, anyone that wants to make a positive difference in the world. Amen. We could have made a lot more money just being a video production company and doing whatever the hell we wanted to do. But we really stuck to our mission. And our brand about so pancake is uplifting, connecting, inspiring content. We make stuff that matters. What became our tagline? Ultimately, um, so went from to on life's big questions to we make stuff that matters. Um, and this had to do with just me as a person. I have this opportunity all of a sudden. I was Dwight, you know, our show almost got canceled a whole bunch of times, and then we're halfway through our second season and all of a sudden were hit in like, Oh, my God. I'm gonna be on the show for 6 79 years. I know where my thing is the guy who was making $20, a year, like all of a sudden, like I'm making more than that a week, you know? And, uh, so I saw this opportunity I have an opportunity to have, and I have a name to do something positive in the world. How do I want to do that? Well, at the time, the Web in 9 4010 was a really foul smelling place. It's a much more interesting place now, still dangerous. But it was all like Kardashians and credit scores and fails. And, you know, it was just kind of the worst of humanity, just kind of porn fortification of the Internet. And so I saw an opportunity. Let's do something positive on the Web, and it also came from my faith tradition, which teaches that the most important thing that we can do as human beings, it's explore the truth for ourselves. So that's one of the central teachings off by faith is it's called the Individual investigation of truth that we have an obligation all of us to try and find what is true in this. In this short time that we're spinning around the sun, You know, it always puts it in perspective. Whenever I hear someone share like, Oh, you get X many breaths in your life, you get X many heartbeats. You know, I've you. It's like this body is on lease. You know, I leased my my car. You know, I'm 2.5 years into a three year lease and have to think about leasing another car. This body I'm 52 years into Ah, 96 year. At least I'm being optimistic. Yes. So what? Um, what is that? Uh, what is what do I do? You know, during that time, but search for what is true and meaningful in this world. So I wanted so pancake to be a portal for that for young people to search for the truth has nothing to do with the by faith, per se if you look at it. But inspired by that teaching of the individual investigation of truth, can we find Can we put all our resource is in defining what is true and what is beautiful in this life. Extra pertinent today with the truth layer in there. But I like that it's an individual exploitation and and this is really hopeful because you can now look back at your career and there's a lot of exploration exploring with different, uh, media mediums, media and art. Um, I think this tech thing is that basically trying to scale this idea of search for truth. So you get millions of people. I have seen videos all over the Internet, especially early on. It was very inspiring to me like Oh my God, this is like positive content to see you of not so positive stuff. Uh, it's an easy transition here. Let's talk about, uh, lead A. Yeah, because they seem again. This is your Your thread now makes perfect sense to me grounded in your faith, your journey of seat seeking truth and trying to provide avenues and vehicles for other people to do the same. I was very moved by a little video that you may with your wife about how you Well, I'll let you introduce it. In short, my intro would be that it's helping girls and women in rural Haiti express themselves and empower them through arts and creativity. But yeah, exactly, exactly. Right. So as I started getting well known for Dwight. Another thing happened besides soul pancake, which is I started getting approached by all these nonprofits like, Hey, did he do a thing? Can we have some money? Will you be on our board? Will you do a fundraiser with video? We make a video for us. Will you travel with us? We you know, because And that makes sense. So but I was very like Oh! Oh, shit. What do I do? And so I started kind of researching the kind of work that I wanted to do, and I decided that education was for me because I think education is is key. I mean, anything you want to change, you can change their education. And in fact, it's usually better to change it through education. Like if you want clean water in the world. Yeah, you could go build wells. It's great. Go around and build wells. That's great. What about teaching people to build wells? What about educating them on the virtues of clean water, clean on the virtues of clean water, on health aspects of clean water and how to get their own clean water? How do you how to best utilize their water out and not waste water. How toe? You know how the science of water you're gonna have a way bigger impact with what do you give a fish teacher? Exactly. And that and that. And that goes across the board. So I joined the board of this foundation called the Mona Foundation, that gives grants to schools all around the world. Seattle, come Seattle based. In fact, we're having a big thing in Seattle May 30th. Hope you could come if you're in town. I'd love to have you. There are many. Three if I'll do it. Um, And some money. It's a rain. Wilson and friends were having Joel McHale is gonna be there. And Chris Belew from my love presidents, The United States of America. Chris. Yeah, Long for my nephew. Oh, nice. Specifically, like with his name and the thing and that we bought that election. Chris is a longtime friend. Okay, well, yeah, right now happening so that that's at the Paramount Theater. Amazing. Um, and we took a trip to Haiti because Mona foundation supported about four or five schools in Haiti, and my wife and I just fell in love with the country culture, the beauty of it, the music, the art, the people, the language. It's like this strange little chunk of Africa like cut off and just put in the middle of the Caribbean is a very different culture than anyplace else. You go in the Caribbean. Um, and of course, because it was the first free slave nation. So the slaves over threw their French masters in 18 04 and became the, you know, the second independent republic in the Western Hemisphere. Hating us, Um and boy, the people did not like that. They did not like the slaves having overthrown on created their own kind of powerful state. You know, it was a very wealthy country back in the day. And, um so two months later was the earthquake. The hotel we were staying at called the Montana was obliterated, fell down the side of the hill. Everyone inside of it was killed. 300,000 people died in a matter of minutes. And the devastation, as we all remember, was just off the charts like nothing you've ever seen before. So my wife and I again well, that Oh, man, we really have to do something So a couple weeks later, there were we found out about a group that was sponsored by the U. N. That was going to teach arts to adolescent girls in a tent city where there was the tent camp at J. P H R O, which is Sean Penn's amazing charity. Unity. And so we stayed intense. The back of Sean Penn's house and Muddy yard. We spent two weeks teaching drama, photography, creative writing, um, to these teenage girls that were living in tents and we saw the incredible positive effects that it had it created community among the girls. Um, it allowed them to find their voice. We weren't training them to be professional artists. We were training them. We were giving them inspiration. And it's very powerful. That is like the like. I remember like these people need water and homes and roofs. And then, you know, as I watched the 1st 10 seconds of the video, you made you hit that head on, you're like, Wait a minute, don't these girls need places to sleep in places? And I think you through through a story for one of the girls, like know what we need is we need hope. Yeah, And this creativity gives us this inspiration that is as important as some of these fundamentals. Maybe even more important than your shoes. Hopefully, we'd like to give them hope and she Swiss shoes and water. And what? But yeah. So there's an incredibly powerful experience, and together with this woman, we worked with an incredible woman. Dr. Katherine Adams is an educator, creative writer, psychologist. She's a professor. She was willing to leave literally her house on the beach in Malibu and moved to Haiti to do the work. And we're like, OK, well, if he's willing to do that, then we've got to support this and we gotta make this happen. So we spent several years researching consulting with other nonprofits. We have, ah, number of the non profit world is a crazy, crazy world. It is so difficult. There are so many landmines. There's so many mistakes. I really feel like there should be. Maybe I need to write something about, like, how did how to navigate this nonprofit world because it is Kuku banana town. And, uh, we learned a ton, and we work in rural Haiti because a in Haiti all the nonprofits work in Port a prince conveniently located by the airport with lots of four star restaurants. So we work way work out places so remote most Haitians don't know where they are. Um, we quickly added literacy because that's what all the girls and their parents said that they needed. Like these girls, you want to teach him photography? They don't know how to read, bro. Yeah, So I was like, Oh, yeah, I guess we better go in the first principle. Yeah, let's exactly Let's slow things down. So we really want to serve the needs of the community. Then these girls were falling behind in schools. We had a tutoring to it. They needed scholarships to school. Haiti has the most percentage of kids in private schools in the world. Well, because there are so few publicly funded schools that are functioning, so they need scholarships. They need clothing, uniforms, books, materials. We provide that, um, we have a mobile computer lab, I was saying before the interview Most girls, most kids in Haiti, when they take a computer course, they get a little computer workbook, and it's all in pencil and you feel in like short keyboard shortcuts. If you want to take a screenshot hit, control all four and like that's rimming whatever insult with a pencil. And they never touch a pencil that they have to provide. The school doesn't provide. Um, they never touched a computer. So we have these incredible footage of, and it's incredible when I get to go there and these girls, they just their faces lighten up, seeing a computer and just learning how to make a spreadsheet or how to make a word document and how toe do use Google Translator, create a resume and how toe connected to the Internet and whatnot. It's That's where miracles happen. Yeah, you know, because these girls are basically farm girls, they're basically subsistence farmers. That's what their families are. So we're trying to, and most of them are going to continue doing that. But they're going to teach their kids. No, here's the thing. Why girls? People say, Why have girls that boys, when you educate a girl, you're educating 25 people, their kids, girls spread what they learn their their sisters, their cousins, their moms, their community boys don't do is obvious. Yeah, you know, I would say like you educate a boy, he'll move into town and becoming uber driver. You know, you educate a girl, she spreads it. So it's been a It's been an incredible It's been an incredible experience. And basically, what I do is I whore myself out as Dwight and I do these guys in T shirts saying Fund raisers with Dwight T shirts and Dwight B. S. And you know and I do online things and raffles and stuff like that. Last year I did a thing where we toured office sites in the Valley with the raffle winner, made a good chunk of money, and I just take all that money and shovel it over to some of the poorest people in the world. So it feels great to be able to give back in that way. Amazing. Well, I think that that's Ah, let me. I'm gonna ask one more question to trying to impact this. What is that? Why you do What you do today is is that your your next focus is to give back. Do you have other acting aspirations? And if so, it is that is there a personal component to that film? It Or is it all to try and in power and others? Is there split like all you, all them, some sort of a split you take, it gets interesting. I was listening to your podcast, a bunch of just kind of preparing for this and congratulations on it. It's a really, really terrific one that really is one of the best ones out. Thank you. I love the wide ranging, I guess that you have in the way that you approach the topics that you approach Thank you podcast leg. Yours and several others often deposit the wrong question at the center of the dialogue. And the question is often for people. How can I be happy? How can I be successful or how can I be more happy and more successful? And I think that's completely understandable questions. But those are the wrong questions because it's how can I find meaning and purpose. If I find meaning and purpose, I will be happy and I will be successful. So it's It's a shifting of perspective, you know. I don't know that that's it. I wouldn't like right Rain Wilson writes the book meaning and purpose or something like that you know what I mean? Like I'm not I'm not Seth Golden orb Renee Brown. I'm not like an expert in this stuff, but I do think you have to frame it in the right way. Because if you're pursuing happiness, you're not gonna be happy. Yeah, if you're pursuing connection meaning and tapping into your passion, you'll find happiness as a by product of that. Exactly. Like you said, I know you've learned this in your in your many conversations, so But I think young people have to kind of shift their perspective, their shift, their thinking. I was saying the other day that I read this incredible story about in the late seventies There were these best selling albums on whale songs. Do you remember this at all? I don't. You might have been a little too young. It was literally a top album. And it had whale songs and literally like the Wu kind of stuff and that launched the whole ecological movement of Save the Whales. And all these whales were almost extinct at that point. And they have come back now they might go extinct again with global warming and the acidification of the oceans or whatnot. But it was the songs that shifted people's perspective that they said, Oh wow, these creatures are making beautiful music and communicating with each other across hundreds of miles there so special and they're so beautiful We have to save them. We have to save them. So it didn't come from like, Hey, whales are dying. We got to save them It came from art. It came from that the beauty of their songs that ignited people to to save Thies, to save the whales, which was a really got made fun of a lot. But it did a lot of good at the time, so it shifting that perspective is is is super important. So, you know your long, long winded. I'm so long winded today. I love it. I know the reason they're long form podcasts is so that we could be long winded. This is exactly Burbank time A windbag Fix it. The, uh So you asked, like What's up for me? What's asks for me leg If I want to focus on where my passion is, where meaning is where connection is, Um, Then things unfold in a really natural way for me, for me that has to do with God. It has to do with sinking my will with the kind of the will and the flow of the universe. I am sorry to say, but that's how it works for me. Other people may not quite work that way. But if you I want to make myself a better person because I still get a lot of work to do on myself, and I want to try and make the world a better place him back the world. I want to do both of those things. And that's a very behi concept to be working on both of those things at the same time. So what am I doing? I'm producing and directing some new projects. I've been writing some stuff. Looks like I'm gonna be doing a new TV show, which I can't talk about yet. Negotiating. Sorry. Early. I'll let you know. Okay. If it happens, you'll be the first person I yes, can announce it. Um and I'm you know, I'm starting to write another book, and, um and we're trying to expand, lead a Haiti and some interesting new and and cool ways. So, um, but again, It's following that path of kind of meaning purpose and connection. And, uh, then things Things has seemed to work out. I'm grateful for the time. You're incredibly inspiring. And this whole windbag thing don't like if I could handcuff you to the chair here again for another minutes. I would, um so grateful people would kill me, though, if I didn't ask. What in the hell is going on with the office? We see these teasers way. See these teasers? And I know how passionate we already talked about the the how much joy you've brought however many seasons. 100 seasons on nine or 10 not nine seasons. 200 episodes. Yeah, like an office reunion type of thing. You know, you just Yeah, I mean, I'd be up for that. It gets very tricky, you know, it's for sure it was going through this guy named Greg Daniels, who is the founder of the American office and A is our fearless leader. He is one of the kind, ist most brilliant, funniest, perceptive human beings on the planet. And we're also loyal to Greg, So it's like, great. What do you want to do? Well, follow whatever. Greg, what we're not gonna do without Greg. We need Greg. So it's up to Greg. So don't talk to me Talk. I won't find Greg. Greg, Your, um Greg, I don't think Steve would do it because I think Steve, you know, really played out his term on the office, and that's going in different directions and stuff like that. I don't think John would do it, because because he's a warrior now is a superhero warrior, And it is your right on your on your instagram when you were talking like I just thinking about my cast crew in the background in the background was this video billboards Jonatan plant on Jenna's on another TV show on ABC. So I mean, she's controversially locked up over there. Someone's busy, I get It would be tricky, but, you know, maybe there will be an office movie. That would be fun, like a two hour like road trip office movie like That's my pitch, a Christmas Siris of episodes or something like that. We always do really well with Halloween and Christmas. So maybe something that on office holiday special or something like that, um, I don't know what it means, but I'm definitely I'm game, but I'm waiting for my phone to ring, and it has not run. Okay, I'm tapping my fingers. Greg, this is coming for you. Uh, just because that was a n'importe part of your career. It's so inspiring to see that that that base has created so much that you've created so much from it. Books, Music Thank you so much for being on the show. Yeah, man. Super inspiring. I'll do the thing on the May 30th me up. If you and Chris believer in the same room like I'm happy. Great, do anything to be there. Thanks for being with Show means a lot. Thanks so much. It was a real pleasure. Thank you. Another sixties? Yeah. Shake to Yes. Yes. Hello. It was excellent signing off until next time. I appreciate you guys watching. Thanks a lot