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Let’s talk about the “starving artist”
Echoes of La Vie Boheme and probably a well-meaning high school counselor may be ringing through your ears about the perils of pursuing your artistic dreams.
Fortunately, we are getting better at finding ways to have meaningful conversations about how making art AND making money are not mutually exclusive concepts. With today’s creator economy and access to resources, the gatekeepers of the male-dominated media industry are struggling to keep marginalized artists and makers out.
To talk about how she navigates the male-dominated comedy industry and is leaving a more inclusive space in her wake, Tori sat down with Emmy-nominated writer, comedian, and actor Chelsea Devantez. Chelsea refreshingly shares how she navigates the comedy industry as a woman, her path to re-routing her established beliefs around money, and how she’s creating art for the sake of it.
What you’ll learn:
What it’s like to be a woman in comedy (or any male-dominated field)
How to make your own name in the industry by circumventing the gatekeepers and creating your own content
How the unique hiring process Chelsea championed for The Problem with Jon Stewart can be implemented in your own companies or work
How you can invest in the stock market and still be considered a feminist
Why it’s important to heal your childhood relationship with finances
Chelsea Devantez is a TV writer, filmmaker, and comedian. She’s currently developing television shows for 20th-century fox and is the head writer for Jon Stewart’s new show on Apple TV. She’s written on many other shows like Girls5Eva and Bless This Mess. Her podcast — Celebrity Book Club with Chelsea Devantez where she recaps and celebrates female celebrity memoirs was Apple Podcasts first Spotlight pick and features guests like Cecily Strong, Stephanie Beatriz and Ashley Nicole Black.
Tori Dunlap (00:00:00):
Hello, Financial Feminists. Welcome back. Excited as always to see you. We have such a fun interview for you today, especially if you love comedy, you love women in comedy. It’s such a good conversation. First, if you’re enjoying these episodes of Financial Feminist, leave us a review, subscribe, share with your friends. We love it when you tag us on social media, especially if there’s a particular episode that really connects with you. It truly makes our day. And yes, we do see it. I see it. My team sees it. We see those messages and we so appreciate them.
Tori Dunlap (00:00:31):
Okay. Today’s guest, Chelsea Devantez is an Emmy nominated… just got nominated for an Emmy, Emmy nominated writer, comedian, actor, and director. She’s most recently worked as the head writer on The Problem with Jon Stewart on Apple TV, but she’s also written for Tina Faye, Robert Carlock, and Meredith Scardino’s show Girls5eva on Peacock. Both seasons of Liz Meriwether’s Bless This Mess on ABC. Liz Meriwether, famous creator of New Girl among other shows as well, Mike Schur and Josh Malmuth’s Abby’s on NBC, Jon Stewart’s HBO project, The Opposition with Jordan Klepper on Comedy Central and Mike Myers’ Gong Show revival.
Tori Dunlap (00:01:09):
She also has a great podcast called Celebrity Book Club where she reads famous women’s memoirs with a guest each week, and I was recently on that show talking about Carrie Fisher’s incredible memoir, and we just had an absolute blast. So if you haven’t listened to that episode, go check it out.
Tori Dunlap (00:01:23):
This episode is fantastic for anyone who is in any creative field, or considers themselves to be creative, which I argue is every single person listening. We cover how Chelsea overcame the starving artist fallacy, her childhood of financial instability, and how she’s using her status as a head writer, as a woman in comedy to change the power balance in comedy. But we’ll also get into a really thrilling conversation on investing, on creating your own content, and so many other things. This is a candy bag episode full of so many beautiful gems. Chelsea’s just the shit. We love her, excited to have her here. Let’s go ahead and get into it.
Tori Dunlap (00:01:59):
I feel like I had all of these hair accessories. I mean, this is fashion in general, I feel like, is you have all of these things and then they go out of style. So you give them all away and then you just need to hold onto them and rat pack them for like 15 years, and they’ll come back.
Chelsea Devantez (00:02:23):
That’s right. Oh my God. That’s exactly right. Oh, my low rise jeans, just kidding. Never wore those. Never was happening for me.
Tori Dunlap (00:02:29):
I remember, was it Rihanna that was on the cover of a magazine two, three years ago, and she had pencil thin eyebrows and everybody revolted, and they’re like, “We’re not doing this again!”
Chelsea Devantez (00:02:40):
I do refuse that one.
Tori Dunlap (00:02:41):
We refuse to do this. That’s how I feel with that and low rise jeans.
Chelsea Devantez (00:02:42):
Tori Dunlap (00:02:44):
I’m like, “Never again.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:02:46):
I’ll just be chewy. I’m not doing it.
Tori Dunlap (00:02:50):
That’s a word that I understand vaguely the definition to, but it’s just…
Chelsea Devantez (00:02:56):
You know what? Someone said it to me, and then I was like, “I fully understand cheugy.” It was Alexis Novac, she runs a vintage style company. And she said, “All wedding dresses, wedding dresses in general are cheugy.” And I was like, “That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.” When have you ever seen a wedding dress that-
Tori Dunlap (00:03:12):
Chelsea Devantez (00:03:15):
No, just it’s a moment stuck in a time that we’re no longer in.
Tori Dunlap (00:03:23):
Oh, sure. You’re talking previous wedding dresses or like 80s wedding dresses. Oh.
Chelsea Devantez (00:03:29):
No, I’m talking even now. Wedding dresses will just always be slightly corny. Really, no matter what. You could even be in an Instagram wedding dress.
Tori Dunlap (00:03:38):
Chelsea Devantez (00:03:38):
Wedding dresses, just as a concept, always slightly corny. And I feel like that’s cheugy. You’re just always slightly corny.
Tori Dunlap (00:03:44):
How do we feel about colored wedding dresses? Ultimately, everybody can wear whatever the fuck they want, but how do we feel about a red wedding dress?
Chelsea Devantez (00:03:52):
I love, I love. I will not be wearing white down the aisle myself. I will be changing into some white dresses, but yeah. Oh my gosh. I don’t know. How do you feel about them?
Tori Dunlap (00:04:03):
I would not do it. However, it’s a statement. I think it’s fun. I would maybe do like a blush. I would do a white adjacent, but I wouldn’t wear a purple down the aisle.
Chelsea Devantez (00:04:13):
You wouldn’t? But I feel like the most important thing about weddings is that it has to fit you, and weddings have all these rules that don’t fit everyone. So that’s why it feels off, but I feel like if you’re the type of person who would wear purple, that’d be an incredible move. And if you’re not, you’d be like, “What have you done, Tori? Tori, you know that’s not you. Put a blush on.”
Tori Dunlap (00:04:35):
I think that’s the big thing with weddings is you end up trying to appease a bunch of people. And I’m just like, “My wedding will be extremely tiny and I’m not inviting anybody that I don’t want to be there.” Even if I “should.” I’m like, I’m just not going to do it.
Chelsea Devantez (00:04:48):
Wow. I love your boundaries. You seem good at boundaries.
Tori Dunlap (00:04:50):
Oh, I’m trying to get better at boundaries. No, but it’s not worth it. You know, it’s just not worth it.
Chelsea Devantez (00:04:56):
Yeah. I think I’m the opposite. I’ve been to weddings that were just so awful that I’m just like, “This wedding is for you to have a good time. Not me.” I just can’t make someone go through some of the weddings I’ve been through, so all I’m thinking about are the guests. That’s healthy, right?
Tori Dunlap (00:05:17):
No, that’s actually really sweet. Normally that’s me. Because I’m such an enneagram too, is I’m like, “How can I make your experience better?” I’m also like-
Chelsea Devantez (00:05:24):
Wait, what’s your enneagram?
Tori Dunlap (00:05:25):
I’m a two.
Chelsea Devantez (00:05:26):
You’re a two, yeah, absolutely. That is you. I’m a three.
Yeah. See, I would want everybody at the wedding to have a good time, but I’m more mean. Like, these are the people that I want to be there. I’m not inviting a random relative that I haven’t spoken to in five years just because I “should.” But if you’re there, you’re having the best time possible. 100%.
Chelsea Devantez (00:05:47):
I love that. I love that.
Tori Dunlap (00:05:47):
Yeah. This is not how I expected this conversation to start, but this is great.
Chelsea Devantez (00:05:50):
Weddings and cheuginess?
Tori Dunlap (00:05:51):
Yes. Tell me a bit about your story of getting into comedy writing. Were you always an actor/writer or did one develop before the other? What did that look like for you?
Chelsea Devantez (00:06:01):
Acting developed before the other, specifically because in the years I was growing up, it was not in our zeitgeist or culture that any other job was available to women. And still, we didn’t have famous female directors. You had famous male directors and male writers. So I just didn’t know it was available to me to be anything besides Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding. I was like, you’re Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding, or you’re not in entertainment.
Chelsea Devantez (00:06:27):
And I was also from a lot of small towns. I grew up all over the Southwest. I wasn’t exposed to a ton. So I thought if you wanted to be entertainment, you go to New York City because that’s where Broadway is, and I just didn’t have a lot of info on it. So I went to New York for acting school and it was there that I discovered improv and comedy. And the moment I discovered comedy, I thought, “Oh, this is what I have been meant to do my whole life.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:06:57):
And I can now look back to school assemblies where I remember we didn’t have TV, so friends described to me the SNL sketch, “Tostito, burrito, what’s coming out of your Speedo?” with Will Ferrell. And then I changed the words for our school and performed it based off my friends’ description. So I think if had I had more opportunities and the language in my life, I would’ve known this was the path I was on, but I didn’t find it until I was in New York City. And then I was like, “Oh, it’s always been comedy, goodbye everything else.” And then that’s when I really became a writer.
Tori Dunlap (00:07:33):
That’s amazing. Okay. Talk to me about Second City, because Second City is this comedy… It’s so just well known at this point, and there’s so many stories that have come out. It’s the incubator. If you’re not familiar with comedy, Second City is where you go if you want to be on something like Saturday Night Live, if you want to do comedy professionally.
Tori Dunlap (00:07:55):
So what was it like to be part of Second City? And as soon as you had that, “Oh, she went to Second City, or was part of Second City,” was there a certain pressure that came with the Second City label?
Chelsea Devantez (00:08:10):
Well, so as we used to say in our touring company intros, like, “Second City with famous alumni, like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Cecily Strong,” you would just start listing all the famous people and then you would perform your show. So that is a lot of pressure, where you’re basically saying, “This is the lineup I’m in,” so okay, wait.
Chelsea Devantez (00:08:32):
The second question was is there pressure that comes with that label? Yes and no. So Second City weirdly, it has a lot of training classes. This is the same with all other comedy theaters, like Groundlings at UCB, where a lot of people put it on their resume because they took classes there. So there’s no way to differentiate if you were on the main stage. Not to brag, like I was, or if you took a class there, but when you get out in Hollywood, the label means nothing. When you’re in Chicago, it definitely meant a lot, at least at the time I was there.
Chelsea Devantez (00:09:04):
And I definitely felt especially towards my third show where it’s almost like you’re a ballerina who’s 28. Your time is up. You know what I mean? You don’t get to dance anymore at a certain point. So when I was at my last show, I thought like, “Am I going to go beyond this? Or is this it? Are there jobs beyond SNL?” And definitely felt that pressure
. I loved, loved, loved Second City. And that being said, if you read the news, problematic, cultish, takes your money. Not great.
Tori Dunlap (00:09:35):
Sounds a lot of theater communities, just in general.
Chelsea Devantez (00:09:38):
Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s why I still have love for it because it’s not unlike the rest of the world. Misogynistic, sexist, fucked up, ready to fuck you over at any moment, wants to take all your money. That’s every entity.
Tori Dunlap (00:09:53):
Every institution. Yeah.
Chelsea Devantez (00:09:54):
Every institution. So the thing I loved about Second City is that the people there became my community and the people who got me through things. So on my very level one, day one first class at Second City, I met my best friend, Ashley Nicole Black, who is now hugely famous, but was just my support system. I met her there, so I can never begrudge that theater, and all the hardships really trained me for the even worse hardships that come when you’re in Hollywood, because it only gets worse. It doesn’t get better.
Tori Dunlap (00:10:27):
I was going to bring this up already. But speaking of best friends, my best friend, my favorite person in the world is a semiprofessional comedian, wants to pursue improv full time. However, she is based in Seattle and we’ve had many conversations of she spent significant time in Los Angeles, was in LA trying to pursue comedy, mixed with pandemic. That was just a wild time.
Tori Dunlap (00:10:51):
So for you, do you still feel like comedy is isolated or segmented in certain cities? Because at least in her experience in-
Chelsea Devantez (00:10:59):
You mean a chance for success?
Tori Dunlap (00:11:02):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think at least in her experience, it’s pretty valid of if you want to do this full time, if you want to “succeed” at comedy, you have to move to a LA/Chicago/New York.
Chelsea Devantez (00:11:17):
Yeah. I mean, I hate to say it, but 100%. That being said, it depends on what your idea of success is. So if success to you is having a great comedy community that you like performing in, where you have sold out shows, that can happen in any city, in any town you want to build that in. If success to you is writing on a TV show or having your own show, or performing live in a really large way and touring, yeah, you got to come to a city.
Chelsea Devantez (00:11:47):
If success to you is being an internet comedian, that can happen from anywhere. The tough thing with that is that if you ever do want to perform live or take it from the internet to television and film, and you never got that training, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. You’ll have a million followers, but you can’t do a live show. You’ll have a million followers, but you can’t write a script.
Chelsea Devantez (00:12:08):
So if you do want any of those film and TV successes, it’s such a detriment to not be in a place with the resources for you to train and mostly meet the people who you need to meet. And I don’t mean higher up famous people. I mean the person next to you, who’s going to build a career with you, they’re probably in a city.
Tori Dunlap (00:12:28):
Right, or you have a million followers, but you can’t work well with others, or you don’t know how to write or collaborate with somebody else.
Chelsea Devantez (00:12:34):
You don’t know how to write, and stuff that works on the internet really often doesn’t need the skills that make something work on television. So a true, hard joke punchline is really unnecessary for most internet videos. You can create a laugh off of much smaller moments, but if you never learn the larger story arcs or structures or joke structures, you’re going to be failing later on.
Tori Dunlap (00:12:58):
Right. Well, I think about my own training in theater, I took so many different classes that were acting in a certain environment. Stage acting is extremely
different than camera acting. It’s very different, and I grew up theatrically trained and I remember the first time probably when I was eight or nine doing on-camera work, and they were like, “You don’t need to be so loud.” Because I was used to projecting.
Tori Dunlap (00:13:23):
That was the perfect example of something that had to change. So that’s a great point of like, yeah, if you built a following on TikTok or something or blew up on the internet, but you don’t have any training on how to actually do this offline, there will be a disconnect.
Chelsea Devantez (00:13:39):
Absolutely. And also vice versa. I know a lot of really skilled comedians who have not learned the internet and they suffer for it too, because internet has this level of clout that gets you booked on things, that gets you attention, that sadly, you do need both at this moment in time to build true success.
Tori Dunlap (00:14:01):
I think in the earlier days, let’s say maybe early 2000s, back when it was like, “Oh, women are funny,” which is ridiculous.
Chelsea Devantez (00:14:10):
Yeah. The Christopher Hitchens piece of shit that ruined our life for seven years from Vanity Fair. Sorry, no big deal. It still haunts me.
Tori Dunlap (00:14:18):
Yeah. We’ll link it in the show notes if y’all want to read. No, no. I feel like for a long time and I would love to know if you still feel like it’s this, women in order to get platforms had to write their own shit. That was the only way. So we look at Mindy Kaling or something, in order to build a career, she started as a writer off-Broadway first, and then it was writing for The Office, writing and producing all of these shows. So do you feel like that’s still the case of if you want to be a minority in comedy, you have to write your own shit?
Chelsea Devantez (00:14:49):
Oh, 1000%, because our structures are still run by straight white male culture. Whether it’s those individuals or not, it’s still the power structures, and I think an example that I think breaks this down well is that I remember performing a sketch at Second City that I wrote and I wanted it to get up. And the director said to me, “This just isn’t a joke. This isn’t funny. I don’t even understand why it would be funny.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:15:20):
So I threw it away. And then there was one night at the end of our Second City process where you have this night where you get to put up anything you want and the director doesn’t have to choose it or not. And I pull that sketch back up, and it destroys. And I’m not exaggerating.
Tori Dunlap (00:15:34):
Do you remember what it was about?
Chelsea Devantez (00:15:36):
Oh, yeah, yeah. It was about feminism, which now, it’s definitely dated because this was… Oh my God, how many years ago was this? But it was a sketch where I’m on a date and I say that I’m a feminist and the guy has this pretty intense reaction to what it is. And I do do a bunch of jokes about what feminist actually is. It doesn’t sound funny, but it was really good.
Chelsea Devantez (00:15:59):
I mean, and it just destroyed. And to the point that it’s still touring now. Once you write for Second City, other people take it on, so it still goes on the road.
Tori Dunlap (00:16:09):
I didn’t realize that.
Chelsea Devantez (00:16:10):
Yeah. Women still message me, and they’re like, “Oh my God, I do your feminist sketch every night. It still kills.” And I’m like, “It should be so dated it’s not funny anymore, but it’s still news to people,” that feminists aren’t monsters.
Tori Dunlap (00:16:21):
Oh, gosh, it was couple years ago, Cecily Strong, I think Aidy Bryant on SNL, where they were approached by guys at a bar and they’re like, “Oh, I’m sorry about that guy. I’m super chill.” And she’s like, “Actually, I’m not interested.” And he was like, “Fuck you, bitch,” or some shit?
Chelsea Devantez (00:16:33):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Tori Dunlap (00:16:35):
I think about that one all of the time.
Chelsea Devantez (00:16:39):
Yeah. Yeah. It a different joke than that, but yeah, so relavatory concept like that that was present in culture at the moment, but what was so interesting though is that the director truly, he was this very experienced male director who had done so many Second City shows. Truly did not know it was funny. He wasn’t judging it like, “I don’t like feminists.” He was like, “This no equal comedy.” So, avenues do not exist for our humor for ourselves, for our layers, for who we are, unless we create them ourselves, which it’s so much work. It’s like, “Nope, bitch, you got to produce the whole thing yourself.”
Tori Dunlap (00:17:21):
Walk us through that. That was one of my questions was walk us through so, okay, you’re a woman in comedy. You’re realizing, “Fuck, I can’t get any opportunities unless I write them myself.” For somebody who isn’t in this space, what are the steps? What do you have to do to get something on its feet?
Chelsea Devantez (00:17:36):
So I will give you the real real, which might either be depressing or inspiring depending on how you take it. When I was 22, I was in Chicago and we had an idea for a TV show, which was Sex in the City, but for girls who are ugly and poor. What do you do if you’re ugly and poor, but you want to be dating? Yeah. So you can sit there and be like, “Okay, well, we’re nobodies in Chicago, we’re 22. What are we going to do? Write a script, try and meet someone famous?” I’ve never known someone in the business. I’ve never had a cousin who knows a cousin. What do you do? So we’re like, “Okay, we’re going to make a web series.” And then we’re like, “Who knows how to do that? Nobody.” They’re like, “We should get a director.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:18:18):
Well, we don’t have any money. So my friend always teases me about this, but I was like, “Okay, I’ll direct them.” So I held the manual to Canon camera, and the camera in my other hand, and shot this web series. And I studied everything I could, I was looking up stuff, I was going to resources, but you’re still a newbie. And I look back I’m like, “That shit was actually pretty good.” Your unbridled creativity before it gets squashed by network notes and stuff like that is so special.
Chelsea Devantez (00:18:52):
But all that to say, we create this web series, and it got us a little buzz in Chicago, but then nothing. So then we created another web series. It was a pilot presentation, we did the whole thing again. It’s always on no money, it’s always with no resources. We do it again. Then I did it again and again. I have created a short film, web series, pilot presentation, or some larger video content every single year for the past 10 years.
Chelsea Devantez (00:19:21):
And I’ve done it all by myself, or with the help of friends. And I say that to say that the last short film I did went to South by Southwest.
Tori Dunlap (00:19:31):
Chelsea Devantez (00:19:32):
And now it’s becoming a feature film. Thank you so much. But that’s 10, that’s 10 blood, sweat, and tears. It takes so long to… not short videos, but really film something seismic and write and produce. And especially if you don’t have money for production, everything has to be set in your friends’ apartments, so that being said, every time I’ve made something on my own, that has always pushed my career forward. Sometimes in small steps, sometimes in big ways.
Chelsea Devantez (00:20:01):
And Ashley Nicole Black and I, we got our agents by putting together a showcase of 10 women doing solo pieces. We got five women who already had representation and five women who didn’t, and then we had to hustle and get reps to come. The women who had reps could invite their reps, women who didn’t would have to produce harder. You have to rent the space, do all the comedy. And then that became a running show that helped women get representation each year. Each year five unrepped women went into the slots.
Tori Dunlap (00:20:33):
Chelsea Devantez (00:20:33):
But it’s just a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It just takes so much of it over so long, but it does work.
Tori Dunlap (00:20:46):
Obviously, we know that the entertainment industry in general is sexist and specifically comedy. What ways are women specifically taken advantage of financially in the entertainment industry?
Chelsea Devantez (00:20:59):
Ooh. Financially is a good one.
Tori Dunlap (00:21:01):
Well, let me think. An example I think of is an agent potentially, because agents take 10 to 20%, or managers, but are they actually bringing you gigs? We’ve all heard horror stories of the agent who wasn’t really an agent, taking somebody’s money. I think about something like that.
Chelsea Devantez (00:21:22):
I will say the financial ways this industry takes advantage of you are probably pretty equal opportunity, where an agent will take anyone’s money. Gender aside, they’re here to fleece you. The advice I give with agents and reps are that you’re just so desperate for one that you’ll be like, “Oh, I just need an agent so bad.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:21:42):
But one day, my lawyer said to me, “It’s like dating. It’s like dating. So you want to have a bad boyfriend, have a bad boyfriend, but you should be scouting and not settling until you find someone who’s a true match for you and doesn’t destroy your life.” Finally, it made sense to me. I think not women specifically, but at least people who have feminine energy tend to be polite or nicer.
Chelsea Devantez (00:22:07):
I don’t want to bother you, and then your reps will ignore you a lot more. They’ll take you less seriously. If you dress a certain way, act a certain way, they don’t see you as a director, a boss, even our voices and the sound pitch of them.
Tori Dunlap (00:22:22):
The vocal fry.
Chelsea Devantez (00:22:24):
The vocal fry, me coming out… I mean, this was something I battled for a long time, which is that I’m a very curvy woman and I have very stereotypically feminine features that really aren’t going away and I love to be feminine, but I entered comedy trying to be taken seriously. So I was just always trying to play femininity down so that you could take me seriously as an artist.
Tori Dunlap (00:22:48):
Right, so you can see the comedy rather than tits or whatever?
Chelsea Devantez (00:22:51):
Rather than tits, yeah. Yeah.
Tori Dunlap (00:22:53):
And I’m curvy as well. And I mean, you can see from the cover of this podcast, tits are out, baby!
Chelsea Devantez (00:22:59):
Tits are out.
Tori Dunlap (00:23:00):
But it’s the balance of that, of like, “Yes, I’m going to show up.” There was a TikTok sound, where it’s like, “Am I showing off my tits, or do I just have tits and exist?” Where it’s like…
Chelsea Devantez (00:23:13):
Tori Dunlap (00:23:14):
So it’s the dichotomy of that, we’re also being like, “Yeah, I’m a legitimate person and I want to be taken seriously.” Yeah.
Chelsea Devantez (00:23:21):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny because we used to come out on stage at Second City, and they really do cast specific types and lights would come up and it would take me probably 11 minutes for the audience to trust me and laugh at me. Whereas counterparts of mine who match more common visual stereotypes of what a comedy person looks like, they’d be laughing at, but I had to work so much harder because visually to them, I was an untrustworthy whore. You know what I mean? It’s like, “Who’s this bitch on stage? What is she about to say?”
Tori Dunlap (00:23:54):
I don’t know what friend I was talking to in a moment of vulnerability, and they very much were like, “I know this is my own internalized misogyny,” they were like, “If a pretty woman, if a beautiful woman gets up on stage, I am going, please be funny. Please be funny. Please be funny, because it is so much more pressure.” And they were like, “I know that I’m sitting there expecting this woman because she’s physically attractive, to be less funny. And hoping that’s not the case.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:24:22):
Yeah. Because she’s guiding the torch for femininity in that moment. Can we be serious comedians? It’s so sad. So I will say financially, we spend a lot more time on makeup, hair, looks, visual, all that stuff. And I’ve just flipped in the other direction. I am now high femme. I like to wear an amount of makeup and cleavage that’s scary. Where they’re like, “Ah!” And I’m like, “Yes, I’m changing. I got them! You will not think of this as weak!”
Chelsea Devantez (00:24:54):
But it’s been a real journey, for sure. It’s been hard to accept who you are, be who you are, and then turn the volume up on it.
Tori Dunlap (00:25:01):
Totally. You worked on The Problem with Daddy, Jon Stewart.
Chelsea Devantez (00:25:05):
Tori Dunlap (00:25:06):
Jon Stewart, Daddy. It was noted in, I think interviews about the hiring process, that there was a lot of intentionality when it came to hiring writers. Can you talk about that? Shed some light on that?
Chelsea Devantez (00:25:17):
I would love to, it’s one of the things I’m most proud of from my work on that show. So, my very first job in television was from Jon Stewart, from a blind packet submission. And it’s probably the only way I got it.
Tori Dunlap (00:25:31):
Wait, did you say a blind packet submission?
Chelsea Devantez (00:25:33):
That’s right. Yeah.
Tori Dunlap (00:25:34):
Chelsea Devantez (00:25:35):
Tori Dunlap (00:25:36):
Can you explain to people what that is?
Chelsea Devantez (00:25:38):
Yeah. Yeah. So blind submissions are when your name and information is removed from the packet. So all they read is a packet. Then after that, they find out who you are because as you know, and I’m sure you’ve spoken about, there’s scientific tests out there that even just reading the name Mary Smith on a packet puts certain readers into a, “Ugh, this is…” or if it seems like an ethnic name to them, things like that.
Chelsea Devantez (00:26:07):
So blind submissions are really the way to go. And most people don’t do it, and Jon was telling me, he was like, “It’s so frustrating. I ask agents and managers for more women, more people who are not fully white, more people who are not just white, just straight, I asked them for this.” He was like, “And they never send it.” And he was like, “The tributaries are broken. The system, way before it ever gets to hiring, it’s already been too…” all the isms. We’ve cut anyone who could possibly be a minority out of the process. So-
Tori Dunlap (00:26:48):
So he’s over there asking and not receiving?
Chelsea Devantez (00:26:51):
Not receiving, because they don’t have them. Because they haven’t signed them as clients.
Tori Dunlap (00:26:55):
Chelsea Devantez (00:26:55):
Because they have all the same biases.
Tori Dunlap (00:26:56):
Yeah, it’s like somebody being like, “I want to work with a woman director,” and it’s like, “Yeah. There’s like two.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:27:01):
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Well, we’ve only allowed two to work, and they’re busy.
Tori Dunlap (00:27:04):
Oh, of course. There’s way more out there, but what is it? I think there’s only been two women nominated, three maybe in the history of the Academy Awards for best director?
Chelsea Devantez (00:27:14):
Tori Dunlap (00:27:16):
Chelsea Devantez (00:27:17):
And it’s because it’s broken from the bottom. It’s not like, “Oh, the Academy is broken.” It is. But everything before that is broken.
Tori Dunlap (00:27:23):
Yeah. Women don’t make good directors, of course that’s not it. Yeah.
Chelsea Devantez (00:27:26):
Oh my God. Well, so when Jon hired me as his head writer, one of the things I was most excited about was how we were going to do the hiring process, because I’ve been a late night writer on other shows. So I’ve always been like, “Why is it not done this way?” So I finally got to do it, which is that I’ll take you through all the steps. You can cut them if they’re boring, Tori.
Tori Dunlap (00:27:45):
Nope. We love it!
Chelsea Devantez (00:27:47):
So first, it was a blind packet submission, but secondly, it was only a single page long, because a lot of these packet submissions are requesting seven to 11 pages of not only full research, but full writing.
Tori Dunlap (00:28:00):
That’s so much.
Chelsea Devantez (00:28:00):
It’s so much.
Tori Dunlap (00:28:00):
Okay. So, I want to go back even further. How are you the person who gets to submit?
Chelsea Devantez (00:28:07):
Well, that’s the other thing. So you usually have to have an agent or manager, so you already have to be repped, which is why the pool is skewed so male and white, because they’re repped the most. And even though they think like, “Oh, you can’t be a white man in comedy,” it’s still 90% them. It’s just 10% changed, and they’re like, “Oh my God!” So you have to have a rep, so the first thing I did is that I took that away.
Chelsea Devantez (00:28:35):
So on the packet submissions, I said, “You have to self-submit,” because in the past, if they left an email address open, we’d be like, “Oh, can I sneak in and submit my packet for this show?” And maybe they won’t know I don’t have an agent, but then you’re also like, “Did I just do 10 pages of writing and work for nothing, and it got thrown away?” So I said, “It’s self-submit only.” Here is the email address. We won’t accept it from an agent or manager. It has to come from you. Then I said, “It’s one page long.” Because I was always working a million jobs. So it’s like, when are you supposed to do all this work for free?
Tori Dunlap (00:29:12):
What is that one page? Is it the SAT essay prompt? What are you a
Chelsea Devantez (00:29:16):
No. So it’s one page of monologue jokes, and that’s because those are the hardest things to write.
Tori Dunlap (00:29:24):
They’re so hard.
Chelsea Devantez (00:29:25):
Yeah, it’s the corniest, oldest form, everything’s hack. So if you can be interesting and make a funny joke, you’re a really good writer. Secondly, you only get two sentences for it. So if you’re going to five sentences, it’s already a bad joke. It’s got to be a short, punchy joke. And it shows you do know structure, and if you can structure a good monologue joke, you can structure a good sketch.
Chelsea Devantez (00:29:51):
Because on the other end, this is the monetary problem. In order to take in a lot of packets from a lot of people, me, the head writer, me, my staff who’s blinding them, signing the legal releases, putting it in the process, they have to have the hours to do that. So making it one page meant I could read… I read 2,400 packets.
Tori Dunlap (00:30:13):
Chelsea Devantez (00:30:14):
Yes, I did. Because I opened it up.
Tori Dunlap (00:30:16):
How long did it take you? God, that had to have been so long! Did you read every single one that got submitted?
Chelsea Devantez (00:30:20):
I read every single one, yeah.
Tori Dunlap (00:30:21):
Chelsea Devantez (00:30:22):
Because I know the pain of not being read.
Tori Dunlap (00:30:25):
That’s something that no one should… yeah. That’s so amazing, but also no one deserves a cookie for doing that. That should be what happens.
Chelsea Devantez (00:30:34):
Yeah, exactly. Totally.
Tori Dunlap (00:30:35):
But I’m also like, “Take the cookies, because that’s amazing.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:30:38):
Yeah. But it’s also the thing of you got to have the will, you have to have the hours. When you’re in production, when do you have time to do it? I had Jon’s full support to make sure I had… it was basically a one or two-week… I think it was a two-week process of all of them coming in, reading all of them, whittling them down.
Chelsea Devantez (00:30:59):
Also Jon read them, people on staff read them, but I was like, “I’m going to make sure no matter… I’m not going to split it up. I’m going to make it to every single one.” And it’s really, if you can’t write one great monologue joke at the top of your packet, there’s no way you wrote 10. You know what I mean? You can read one joke, if it’s horrible, the second joke is horrible. The third joke is horrible. It’s an easy read, and I will say, it’s very hard to do 10 banger jokes, you have to be an incredible writer.
Chelsea Devantez (00:31:29):
And we gave them basically 24 hours/a weekend to do this, so that nothing could be evergreen. I said it had to be topical, so it can’t be stuff you have in your back pocket. I also said it on a holiday, as a trick. So it’s like, how many President’s Day jokes were we going to get? Who can be innovative? And if I have 1,000 President’s Day jokes, who wrote the one that stands out? So that’s how we did it, and I sent it basically, I sent it through comedy channels and I said, “Pass it to everyone you know who would want this job.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:32:01):
And then it went around on Twitter. It was posted on Reddit. We had international people apply, and blindly, we read them all, narrowed it down to a second round of between 30 and 40. And then that round did a second, much harder packet. And it was narrowed down to the final seven writers that we hired.
Tori Dunlap (00:32:24):
Do you have a favorite joke from those submissions? Do you remember?
Chelsea Devantez (00:32:28):
I do. I do.
Tori Dunlap (00:32:29):
Oh, can you tell me?
Chelsea Devantez (00:32:30):
Let me think if I can. I want to say it so that-
Tori Dunlap (00:32:34):
Do it justice? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Chelsea Devantez (00:32:35):
I don’t know if I can do it justice. I only remember, and it’s funny because we hired that writer, and I will say my favorite joke, totally different from Jon’s favorite joke. Totally different from our producer Katie’s favorite joke, which is again, why you need diverse readers. You can’t just have the same white straight dude reading all the packets. They’ll all have the same favorite Batman joke. You know what I mean? You need different ages. You need different races, sexes.
Chelsea Devantez (00:33:03):
And luckily, we had that. All of our top line people, we had a variety of readers, so that it wasn’t just one type of comedy getting through. It was a joke… God, I can’t remember the wording, so I’m not doing justice, but it was a joke about Eminem losing his battle to demons. And it was something like, “Dude, you’ve lost the battle,” something like that, but it was from our writer, Rob Christensen. And it was just really out of the box, and-
Tori Dunlap (00:33:30):
That’s very funny.
Chelsea Devantez (00:33:30):
… made me laugh very hard and specifically hit a style of humor you don’t often see in late night political comedy. And I will say this, when this process was going, I had this text thread of other female showrunners, and I was like, “You guys, what if I…” First of all, it went viral. So it goes viral, and at this point I’m like, “Oh, everyone’s watching to see what happens. What if this experiment turns out seven white dudes from Harvard?”
Tori Dunlap (00:34:04):
What if I hired 12 cis, yeah. Right, right, right.
Chelsea Devantez (00:34:04):
Cis men, hetero.
Tori Dunlap (00:34:04):
They all did The Lampoon. They all did The Lampoon.
Chelsea Devantez (00:34:04):
They all did the Lampoon. It was the correct process the whole time. We never need to change anything, because it was fucking blind. I was like, “This might happen to be this…” and here’s what makes me so… I’m so happy to say this, but there’s so many categories of diversity, but we had age diversity. We had race diversity. We had sexual preference diversity. We had working moms. We had military vets. It was people from all over the country.
Chelsea Devantez (00:34:41):
People from the Midwest, the South, the Southwest, California, New York. We had upper class. We had lower class. It was like, “Oh my God, it truly is when you open the doors, talent rises and talent just comes from everywhere. It just does.” And the fact that we think it only comes from a certain type of person, as we know, it’s just such a lie.
Tori Dunlap (00:35:08):
Are we seeing more shows do that?
Chelsea Devantez (00:35:10):
I hope so. I like that our process got so much attention. I hope it puts the pressure on. I’m talking to the WGA and have given over all the materials exactly how we did it. Hopefully, they can pass it on. I’ve thought about putting it online.
Tori Dunlap (00:35:26):
What year was this? Was this 2019? 2018?
Chelsea Devantez (00:35:30):
No, this was 2021.
Tori Dunlap (00:35:32):
Was it? Okay.
Chelsea Devantez (00:35:34):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, and those writers are so talented, oh my gosh. This is the other thing. Five of them were unrepped. All of them but one had never written in television before.
Tori Dunlap (00:35:47):
Chelsea Devantez (00:35:48):
And we had other people with lots of experience, but the newest… I don’t mean newest young, because not everyone’s young. It’s just the freshest, sharpest point of view happened to be these writers and they didn’t even have agents and managers. And they’re also really kind people. There wasn’t one asshole, which was truly shocking. I mean, just shocking. And Jon was always like, “Wow, these writers are amazing, Chelsea. How did you do it? They’re all good people.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:36:18):
I’m like, “That part, I don’t know.” But they’re all good people, and you can actually, if you watch The Problem with Jon Stewart, you’ll see pockets of them are in the behind-the-scenes clips that are a part of the show. They’re in the YouTube behind-the-scenes. They’re on the podcast, and it’s a cool group of people.
Tori Dunlap (00:36:34):
Yeah, that’s so cool.
Chelsea Devantez (00:36:35):
Also for anyone out there, straight white men also got hired. Do you know what I mean? It’s like, yeah.
Tori Dunlap (00:36:42):
Use the balm to soothe the white male ego. You still have jobs.
Chelsea Devantez (00:36:48):
Tori Dunlap (00:36:49):
This might’ve been after you and I recorded. I think it was, I’m in Brooklyn right now. And yeah, you were kind enough to have me on your show. And I think either that same night or the next day, guess who I walked past on the street? Louis motherfucking CK.
Chelsea Devantez (00:37:05):
No, you did not! I would’ve been like, “Hi!”
Tori Dunlap (00:37:08):
It was like seeing a ghost. I could not believe it. We crossed the street.
Chelsea Devantez (00:37:13):
Yeah, he’s just chilling.
Tori Dunlap (00:37:14):
He saw me clock him, and I literally knew that he wouldn’t turn back, and I did a full turn to watch him keep walking. I was like, “You’re just out? You’re out in public?” I couldn’t believe it. I could not believe it.
Chelsea Devantez (00:37:30):
I mean, he’s doing sold out shows.
Tori Dunlap (00:37:34):
Won a Grammy like four months ago or whatever.
Chelsea Devantez (00:37:36):
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah. That’s a thing too about cancel culture is I think the thing we don’t talk about enough is that it doesn’t work. If it was an effective means of making society better, then great. It’s actually ineffective. It’s not real. We have to pick something different.
Tori Dunlap (00:37:54):
Yeah. Yeah. Well, accountability culture and cancel culture are two different things. Right?
Chelsea Devantez (00:37:59):
Accountability culture doesn’t work either. It doesn’t.
Tori Dunlap (00:38:02):
I don’t know if we held him accountable. I don’t know. Fuck if I know.
Chelsea Devantez (00:38:06):
Oh, no, we absolutely held him… The whole world knows what he did, heard the stories.
Tori Dunlap (00:38:12):
Sure, sure, sure.
Chelsea Devantez (00:38:13):
Not every comedy monster gets their molestation stories shared the way his did.
Tori Dunlap (00:38:18):
Chelsea Devantez (00:38:19):
No, everyone knows. So, we all know. And then enough people made the choice that we don’t care. This is my own little feminist soapbox, but I really think we need a… even with accountability and cancel culture, I think like often there’s this, “Fuck off and die,” is what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to fuck off and die. And if that’s the option for what happens to people, they’re not going to take it. It’s rehabilitation. It’s even in prison systems, which so fucked up for so many reasons.
Chelsea Devantez (00:38:54):
But you have to show a means of how you’re going to get better and society is going to accept that and like that from you, and right now, that doesn’t exist in the way we talk online. So why would anyone choose getting better? They’re not, they’re just going to be like, “Oh, I tour red states now. Now my comedy is for Republicans, bye.”
Tori Dunlap (00:39:14):
Right. Nope, and it’s a scale too. What Louis CK did was horrible. Harvey Weinstein’s in a whole other realm, and I think that’s part of it too, is there’s so much nuance in all of these conversations too.
Chelsea Devantez (00:39:33):
Oh, absolutely. And I mean, first off, if you can get it to court, that’s what should happen. They should go to prison.
Tori Dunlap (00:39:39):
Chelsea Devantez (00:39:39):
They can rot in there forever, but I’m not even talking about Louis CK, I’m talking about even smaller instances when it’s like, “Stop doing that. You’re harming people,” and we just haven’t offered people an option to stop. We’ve only offered like, “Go away and get worse,” or “Keep doing it.” And we just need that third option of like, “How can you stop being a monster?”
Tori Dunlap (00:40:02):
Right. How can you actually learn and improve and not do it again?
Chelsea Devantez (00:40:07):
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Tori Dunlap (00:40:08):
It’s been weird, and then I walked behind Chris Rock for four blocks, like two days ago.
Chelsea Devantez (00:40:13):
Oh, wow! How’s he doing?
Tori Dunlap (00:40:14):
It’s been a weird, interesting New York trip. He was out walking at 10:45 at night by himself.
Chelsea Devantez (00:40:19):
Yeah, wow. You’re really out and about, Tori.
Tori Dunlap (00:40:22):
I don’t know how this is happening.
Chelsea Devantez (00:40:23):
Are you hanging out by the Cellar?
Tori Dunlap (00:40:26):
No, I was at the Cellar, but this is not either of these instances.
Chelsea Devantez (00:40:28):
That’s why. Oh.
Tori Dunlap (00:40:30):
And then I saw fucking James Franco at a play. I was like, “What is happening?”
Chelsea Devantez (00:40:36):
You’ve got a little radar. It’s like beep, beep, beep.
Tori Dunlap (00:40:39):
Apparently. I don’t know. Well, Chris Rock, I don’t know. I don’t know Chris Rock’s whole history. I don’t think-
Chelsea Devantez (00:40:44):
Yeah, yeah. I’m not putting him in that. I meant a comedy.
Tori Dunlap (00:40:45):
No, no, no.
Chelsea Devantez (00:40:46):
Well, I guess James Franco’s not comedy.
Tori Dunlap (00:40:47):
Chelsea Devantez (00:40:48):
You got a celeb radar.
Tori Dunlap (00:40:50):
I only recognized James Franco for his voice, because he was in the lobby being loud. And I was like, “Why do I know that voice?” And I turned and I was like… Again, weird.
Chelsea Devantez (00:40:58):
Tori Dunlap (00:40:58):
Chelsea Devantez (00:40:59):
Tori Dunlap (00:40:59):
Yep. Very bizarre. Okay. You’ve talked openly about your background growing up, working middle class with a single mom and how it left you in a scarcity mindset, and has made it now difficult to enjoy/manage your financial success. Can you chat a bit about that experience and how that influenced how you view money or your relationship with money now?
Chelsea Devantez (00:41:26):
Yeah. I mean, my relationship is so bad, which is why I was like, “Tori, please have me on. Fix me, help me. Fix me, help me.”
Tori Dunlap (00:41:35):
“Fix me, please!”
Chelsea Devantez (00:41:38):
Yeah, so very, very complicated story. Not long enough for this podcast, but my mom’s been married three times. So there were dads and stepdads in the picture, which is when we were doing financially better, because you had two incomes and one was a man’s income. And then there were times when it was just my mom alone. Those were definitely our hardest times. It’s weird when you think back to like, “How do we label ourselves?” There’s times when maybe we were middle class and we were taking vacations and just blue collar, middle class. There were times where we had nowhere to live.
Chelsea Devantez (00:42:12):
So it’s just, I’ve experienced like this range, and then later in life, things got very, very stable, but I was off at college at that point. So money has always been the thing to me that ruins your life. Money is why you’re sad. Money is why you divorce. Money is why you can’t have ballet lessons. Money is why you can’t go play soccer with your friends. Money is why this man is being violent. Money has just always been this horrible thing and I knew I needed some. I knew if I wanted to have a happy, stable life, I knew I needed money.
Tori Dunlap (00:42:46):
So you’re like, “This is an abusive relationship with money. Money brings nothing but terror, but I still need it?”
Chelsea Devantez (00:42:54):
Yes, no, exactly. Yeah. It’s like, “Ooh, I know I need money because it’s going to ruin my life if I don’t have enough and it’s going to make sure…” I mean, really you talk about money as feminism and as power, but especially if you are in abusive, violent situations.
Tori Dunlap (00:43:11):
That’s the big thing I talk about. 99% of domestic violence cases have some sort of financial abuse.
Chelsea Devantez (00:43:16):
Tori Dunlap (00:43:17):
We see it time and time again.
Chelsea Devantez (00:43:18):
Not only does it have financial abuse, but you stay in that relationship because you do not have the resources to leave. And if you did, I think our stats would be a lot different.
Tori Dunlap (00:43:30):
They’d be completely different. To your point of financial abuse, often a partner will take their credit score and tank it. There was one case actually who was a community member who literally, her partner monitored her bank account and moved the bank account to an hour away, where she wanted to access her money, she would have to go out of her way to do that. And then to your point of just regardless of the actual financial abuse, it’s you don’t have the money and the resources to afford your own apartment, to get a hotel for a week, to go somewhere else.
Chelsea Devantez (00:44:05):
Yeah. And let alone a week, the idea is you’re going to live without this man. You’re going to be on your own with two kids. How do you sustain them forever? And that’s a pretty crippling thought and yeah, some of the things you listed and way worse happened to my mom when she was trying to get free of her… a really tough marriage with my former stepdad. And I was 12 when all that was happening, so I was really a witness to some pretty intense things. And that’s when we lived in an office clinic for a summer. We lived in an office building and showered at the community center, because there was no other way out. So I was like, “I have to have money,” which is why I also thought I couldn’t be an artist, because I knew artists don’t get money.
Chelsea Devantez (00:44:57):
And then when things got better when I went off to college, I was like, “Okay, I am going to be an artist. I also don’t think I have the emotional stability to not be.” It was really a mental health thing for me. And now, I find myself with quite a bit of success. I am a working television writer. I was Jon Stewart’s head writer. People are like, “Oh, I’m not rich. I didn’t grow up rich.” If you went to the grocery store and you weren’t worried if the card would go through, you were rich, that’s my line.
Chelsea Devantez (00:45:28):
If you can go buy groceries, you’re not worried about it, you’re doing great. So I’ve been rich for quite a long time now. I know money is the true power, and I want to be one of those women who gets the power and shifts our politics, shifts our gun legislation. You know what I mean? All I want is all the women to just have so much money because that’s really what is controlling our political realm, is money. So I want to be one of those people and yet, when I can’t, I don’t know how to get there because I feel so overwhelmed, and to invest and things like that, you have to take risks.
Chelsea Devantez (00:46:04):
But when you have my brain, you’re like… Oh, see, that’s the thing. You’re like, “How do I feel safe? How do I not feel like everything is going to fall apart tomorrow if I take this money and give it away to something that I don’t need in this moment?”
Tori Dunlap (00:46:16):
Yeah. Yeah. See, that’s the scarcity mindset. Chelsea, do you have questions for me?
Chelsea Devantez (00:46:20):
Yes, I do.
Tori Dunlap (00:46:21):
We’ve never done this. We’ll do this. What can I answer?
Chelsea Devantez (00:46:24):
I’m going to start off with a really tough question if that’s okay, because it’s been on my mind a lot.
Tori Dunlap (00:46:27):
Chelsea Devantez (00:46:28):
Okay. So first I want to start with one question is, do you often tell women to invest in the stock market?
Tori Dunlap (00:46:34):
Yes. All the time.
Chelsea Devantez (00:46:35):
Okay. Yes. Okay. I’ve listened to your podcast. I figured, but I just wanted… yes, okay. So this is my question, because it’s something I really struggle with.
Tori Dunlap (00:46:42):
Chelsea Devantez (00:46:43):
Morally, the stock market is really bad, and beyond being run by straight white dudes and funding the prison industrial complex, all of the smaller ways to get in the stock market is often helping these men get richer. So Robinhood only helps them get richer. You’re not becoming an investor. You’re helping them, through payment for order flow. So when I think about putting my money in the stock market, I’m like, “I can’t.” So what do I do?
Tori Dunlap (00:47:16):
This is going to take me like five, 10 minutes, but-
Chelsea Devantez (00:47:18):
Okay, I’m ready. I need it.
Tori Dunlap (00:47:19):
Okay. First of all, Robinhood, I don’t recommend it. There are ways to invest outside of Robinhood. Robinhood is super bro-y. It does not offer any retirement accounts, which are the best ways to invest because you’re getting tax breaks, and it’s very much gameifying investing, which is good from an accessibility standpoint, it’s getting more people involved, but some of the behavior that they don’t necessarily encourage, but kind of encourage is more gambling than smart investing. So Robinhood-
Chelsea Devantez (00:47:51):
Well, very bad?
Tori Dunlap (00:47:52):
… isn’t like-
Chelsea Devantez (00:47:53):
Can I also add to that? Because we did a whole episode on this and Jon’s very into the stock market, but when these small financial transactions are made through Robinhood, they’re funding these larger hedge fund transactions who need people like you thinking you’re investing to make themselves richer. So they put out all these ads of like, “Oh my God.” It’s all people of color and lesbians being like, “I’m a Robinhood investor.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:48:17):
And it’s like, “Yeah, they only allowed you into the stock market now because they’re making money off of you. They’re selling your orders for more money.” So it’s exceptionally bad. Okay, please continue.
Tori Dunlap (00:48:27):
And still, just because you put a Black woman or a lesbian in a Robinhood ad, we know from the statistics that neither of those groups are really the ones that A, Robinhood actually goes after. And B, that are actually a part of the Robinhood community. It’s still straight white men. Okay. I think of investing in two different ways, and there is no right or wrong way. Both are pros and cons. There’s one way to do it, which we talk about more in my book that’s coming out, that’s just socially responsible investing.
Tori Dunlap (00:48:57):
And you’ve probably heard this concept, which is investing in companies that are either not as bad or not bad. You get to define for yourself what socially responsible means. Is it like, “I’m not participating in any, I’m not investing in any companies that do fossil fuels. Okay. I’m not investing in any companies that are contributing military grade weapons, or to the prison industrial complex.” You get to decide what that socially responsible investing means for you.
Tori Dunlap (00:49:26):
The con of doing this, one, is it’s going to take more of your time and research, but if it’s something you’re willing to do, cool. The second is it might potentially cost you a little bit more money in fees. A lot of these socially responsible funds that they put together typically have… I shouldn’t say typically. Some of them have higher fees because I think my not-so-conspiracy conspiracy theory is they know women are largely going to invest into those funds. So they’re like, “Okay, well, they don’t know that this is a higher fee, so we’re just going to charge them.”
Tori Dunlap (00:50:00):
And then third thing again, depending on the fund, sometimes these funds won’t perform as well because some of the larger companies who might be doing some… Again, you get to define it, but some not great things in the world are making more money. Thus, you’re getting more money from the stock. So those are the pros and cons. The method that I personally do, that again, I think a lot of people fully disagree with me on, I would rather go in, make my money, even if it’s on companies that I don’t absolutely adore, and then use that money to go fuck shit up, because I would rather invest in the stock market and use my resources somewhere else where I know that’s going to go further.
Tori Dunlap (00:50:45):
If I’m investing in the stock market, I would rather go ham, get as much money as I can, and then use it to change the world. And in my daily purchases, I’d rather support Black-owned, women-owned businesses, because a dollar to Amazon doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but a dollar to a Black-owned business matters a lot more. So that’s my personal outlook on it, is I would rather go in, even if it fucking sucks, play the game a little bit, profit off of the game, and then take that money and do better.
Tori Dunlap (00:51:16):
Build my own financial life, build other people’s financial life. You can do both. You get to decide what socially responsible looks like to you. There are certain companies where I’m like, “Yep, I will not partake. I just won’t.” There’s also I think this misconception that investing means investing in individual companies, like The Wolf of Wall Street. Like, “I really need to buy this company and sell this company.” That’s just not true. There’s funds, and that’s typically the smart way to invest, is you’re purchasing a share of this fund that has 100 companies or 300 companies or the whole stock market, or only the companies that don’t invest in fossil fuels or promote fossil fuels. So there’s ways around that. That was my long-winded explanation.
Chelsea Devantez (00:52:01):
No, I think that it makes so much sense, because the power imbalances are so strong because it’s the evil people willing to do the evil things that always lead to the most profits. And then they have the money to make change. So here’s a question. When you do use your money to fuck shit up in the world for the better, what are you primarily pouring it into? So who you purchase your goods from? Who your money goes from? Are you also like, “Okay, now I’m investing in businesses?” Or is it full donation? What do you go for after that?
Tori Dunlap (00:52:33):
Yeah. I mean, I donate a lot of money, it’s primarily that, it’s making sure I pay my employees fairly and compensate them good wages. I’m living in Bed-Stuy right now, in Brooklyn, which is a predominantly Black community. And I have done more spending in this neighborhood knowing for the fact like, okay, I can go and afford t
o eat out four instead of three times this week. And also knowing that this money is being poured back into the community.
Tori Dunlap (00:53:01):
I’m thinking a lot about that. In addition, I now have the financial resources where I can start dabbling in angel investing. So that is something I’m now exploring of actually using my resources to start funding companies with missions and with founders that I believe in. So I’ve only literally just started dipping my toe in that. But that’s the fun thing I get to do now is it’s like, “Okay, I’ve taken care of myself.” Our whole thing at Her First $100K and Financial Feminist is it’s like, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first. You have to take care of yourself first.
Tori Dunlap (00:53:36):
And then once you’re taken care of, you get to do really cool shit with that money, to your point, Chelsea, fuck shit up, change the systems that exist that don’t benefit everybody. So yeah, it’s a lot of different things and you get to decide too. There’s so many things where you can literally, yeah, not only just of course invest in companies you believe in on the stock market, but you can, again, angel invest or there’s community funded small business loans that happen in towns or cities where you can say, “Okay, I’m going to invest as a group with these 50 other people in this Black-owned business who needs some money to get started.” You can do that shit too.
Chelsea Devantez (00:54:18):
Okay. I have two questions. When have you fulfilled your oxygen requirements from the mask? How much air are we breathing in before we determine, now I can start helping others?
Tori Dunlap (00:54:34):
Great question. There is no magic answer. There’s certain people who are at $12 million and only need two, but they’re still not comfortable. I am financially independent at 27, meaning I will never have to work another day in my life if I don’t want to.
Chelsea Devantez (00:54:54):
Oh my God, Tori!
Tori Dunlap (00:54:58):
I’m really proud of myself, and I feel like I’m pretty much there. I’m good. I’m good. So a lot of my money now is either, “Let me do cool shit that I never thought I’d be able to do,” mixed with again, “How do I now take my oxygen mask not off, but give it to somebody else?”
Chelsea Devantez (00:55:16):
That’s forever money. You’re like, “I’m good forever. And now we start balling.”
Tori Dunlap (00:55:20):
But I’m also good forever as a single woman. If my life changes, if I choose to have children, my parents have been really smart and really frugal. So I don’t think this is the case, but if they were to get sick, if something were to happen, that’s going to slightly change my financial situation. So right now, I’m financially independent. And my numbers the way I’ve crunched them don’t really super change if my life changes, however, it’s going to be less comfortable.
Tori Dunlap (00:55:50):
If I stay a single woman who is healthy and doesn’t have children and doesn’t have any person depending on me, I’m good for the rest of my life. However, I don’t know what the future holds. None of us do. So I’m doing part of that planning that’s like, “Okay, in 10 years, how is my life potentially different?” At this moment right now though, I’m funding money back into the business to continue hiring people and giving people jobs, to continue doing that, to be able to afford a nice trip every once in a while, and then I’m giving away a shit ton of money.
Chelsea Devantez (00:56:24):
Ugh. I love it. You’re Mrs. Bezos over here, giving the money away.
Tori Dunlap (00:56:28):
No, but here’s the deal. We love what she’s doing. If you are a billionaire, you have exploited somebody, somewhere. Fully.
Chelsea Devantez (00:56:36):
Oh, yes. Fully. Well-
Tori Dunlap (00:56:38):
Except, there’s asterisks. I’m like Rihanna, Sarah Blakely, and Oprah can stay.
Chelsea Devantez (00:56:42):
ll, and also, I shouldn’t be calling her Mrs. Bezos. That’s not her name, but I think that’s marriage money, right?
Tori Dunlap (00:56:51):
Yeah. MacKenzie Scott, I believe.
Chelsea Devantez (00:56:52):
Her husband did all the… Well, listen. Okay. We think-
Tori Dunlap (00:56:54):
I would argue though, that she built that business just as much as he did. And I think that’s our own misogyny going like, “Oh, she doesn’t deserve the money and got it because they split up,” and I’m like, “No.”
Chelsea Devantez (00:57:02):
Oh, no, no. I said that I wish she got more.
Tori Dunlap (00:57:05):
Sure, got it.
Chelsea Devantez (00:57:06):
And I love how much she’s giving away. No, no, no. I meant he did the exploitation, but maybe they both did. In which case, I’m still glad she’s giving it away.
Tori Dunlap (00:57:13):
Yeah, who knows.
Chelsea Devantez (00:57:13):
But back to my questions for you. I’m just going to have so many questions. The first question is how often you take your money out of the stock markets. How often are you like, “Ooh, I got a bump. I’m cashing out?”
Tori Dunlap (00:57:26):
Chelsea Devantez (00:57:27):
Tori Dunlap (00:57:27):
Chelsea Devantez (00:57:27):
So you don’t care about the crashes, the lulls, you’re just riding it out forever?
Tori Dunlap (00:57:33):
I don’t know when this episode will release. Definitely after, but as we’re recording this, we’re literally doing an episode of recession FAQs.
Chelsea Devantez (00:57:41):
Tori Dunlap (00:57:42):
So, yeah, investing is for the long term. The definition of the word invest is to put energy, money into something for a long period of time. Just like we’re going to the gym, you go to the gym once, that’s amazing. But you don’t expect to walk out of there as Dwayne The Rock Johnson.
Chelsea Devantez (00:57:54):
Okay. Actually, ideal, if I work out once-
Tori Dunlap (00:57:55):
That was really hard to say. Walk out as Dwayne The Rock Johnson.
Chelsea Devantez (00:58:02):
Yeah. If I work out once, I am expecting to lose 50 pounds, that’s just me though.
Tori Dunlap (00:58:05):
Oh, I mean in my head too, but then I’m shocked when I look in the mirror, it doesn’t happen. But that’s the thing is a lot of the investing now that is popularized on places like TikTok or Reddit or Robinhood is not really investing. It’s gamblin
g, like day trading or buying and selling.
Chelsea Devantez (00:58:19):
Tori Dunlap (00:58:20):
Investing’s, yeah, it’s meant to be done over literal decades. If not years, decades. So for me, I have actually never sold any of my investments. I might if I want to buy a house or something like that. However, I’m in this for the long term, and especially with retirement accounts, very frequently, you actually can’t remove that money without some penalty if you are under retirement age, they’re trying to incentivize you to keep that money in for retirement, what it’s used for.
Tori Dunlap (00:58:48):
There are certain risks that come with selling early, I give a stat in our investing workshops that we do. If you put your money in the stock market and take it out the next day, you are likely to make money half the time. So if you put money in one day, sell it the next, you’re going to make money 50% of the time. Those percentages increase to 68% over a year, so if you give it a year, you’re 68% likely to make money. Over a 10-year period, it’s 88%. And over every 20-year period, even a 20-year period that included 2008 or the Great Depression, you have been 100% likely to make money. So the key to not losing money-
Chelsea Devantez (00:59:26):
It’s just how much though, do you know what I mean? If let’s say your retirement’s coming in 2008, you know what I mean?
Tori Dunlap (00:59:34):
Well, you have taken certain precautions and measures to not have the majority of your money in the stock market if you’re retiring in two years, in theory.
Chelsea Devantez (00:59:42):
Yeah, yeah. Like started to move it out.
Tori Dunlap (00:59:44):
Right. If I am planning on retiring at a traditional age at 65, and I’m 27 now, I’m okay on the stock market, because there’s going to be dips, but they’re going to recover by the time I’m doing that. For my parents who are nearing retirement age and getting to that point, they’ve been scheming for the last 10 years and doing what’s called like… You can Google this, but a CD ladder, they’ve been taking money out and putting it in a certificate of deposit, which is a fancy savings account. So they’ve been strategic in only keeping some money in the stock market and they’ve withdrawn some every single year.
Chelsea Devantez (01:00:17):
Man, yeah. I mean, really it’s so interesting too, of just how much… I think this is what makes it hard for anyone like me who trauma is just so deeply tied to money. So probably most people, how much work and consistent mental and emotional effort it takes to be good at this. And then you’re also battling all those inner child demons, as you do it, so it’s a lot.
Tori Dunlap (01:00:40):
Totally. Not only of course are we existing in a system that wasn’t built for us, it’s also just these things have… I mean, some of them have been made more complicated than they should be/we are told that they’re complicated. And no one’s teaching it. No one’s teaching us how to navigate it.
Chelsea Devantez (01:00:58):
Well, that brings me to my next question. So as a kid… Sorry, I have a lot, I hope you’re okay with this seven-hour podcast. So as a kid, I was like, “Our life is ruined by not having money. If we had money, we’d be safe and free and fine.” So I read all of Suze Orman’s books. I read Rich Dad Poor Dad. I read everything. I was like, “Let’s take this in, let’s do this.” None of it helped. So when you are-
Tori Dunlap (01:01:24):
Do you know why none of it helped?
Chelsea Devantez (01:01:25):
I think because definitely overwhelming. Definitely, I was fucking 12, so I don’t know how much Suze was speaking to me, but-
Tori Dunlap (01:01:34):
Sure. Oh, and none of that’s applicable because you can’t go to the… I mean, I guess you could, you could walk to the bank and open a savings account on your own. But I don’t know, is there any 12-year-old who’s doing that?
Chelsea Devantez (01:01:43):
And I’m pretty sure that was some of the advice. I read for college kids to get out of debt, which none of that helped me, and I was in a lot of debt, but it was like, “Open an account, take your latte money and put it in every day.” Because I know you’re writing your book, and I love your podcast episodes and listening to you, I’m like, “I need to listen to every single one.” We’re going to get all the power. We’re going to change gun legislation.
Tori Dunlap (01:02:09):
Yes, we are!
Chelsea Devantez (01:02:10):
But when you are writing your book, what do you think you’re doing to make sure… I feel like Suze Orman fleeced us. Do you know what I mean?
Tori Dunlap (01:02:21):
Chelsea Devantez (01:02:22):
So when you go forward, what do you think is the main difference between a book you’re creating and one of the 19 books that I read of hers?
Tori Dunlap (01:02:30):
You just threw a softball about 30 feet in the air and I’m just going to knock it out of the park. It’s like I paid you to ask me that question. Chelsea, okay. My book’s actually done. It’s going through the copy editing process right now. So for all intents and purposes, it’s actually wrapped up and done. A couple things that the old school money experts just got wrong. One, they’ve told you that the reason you’re not rich is because you buy too many lattes.
Tori Dunlap (01:02:52):
Suze Orman literally is on record saying that if you drink coffee, you’re pissing money down the drain. She said that in an interview, that is not the reason. The reason you’re not rich is not because you purchase something “frivolous,” which is a gendered statement in and of itself.
Chelsea Devantez (01:03:09):
Tori Dunlap (01:03:10):
Frivolous spending, dude’s season ticket to an NFL team is not deemed frivolous, yet a handbag is deemed frivolous. So even that is extremely gendered. The reason you’re not rich is because of systemic oppression. The reason you’re not rich is because of the trillion dollar student loan crisis and stagnating wages and sexism, ableism, racism, all of the above. So even the acknowledgement of that, which shouldn’t seem that crazy, is incredibly different than pretty much every book written by the old school money experts who are again, telling you, “You have to deprive yourself. You have to hate your life.”
Tori Dunlap (01:03:48):
Dave Ramsey literally tweeted, “The only time you should see the inside of a restaurant if you have debt is if you’re working there,” that was a real tweet. So that’s the first thing, is the acknowledgement of systemic oppression. The fact that personal finance is only about 10 to 20% personal choices. It’s 80 to 90% circumstantial. The acknowledgement of that is huge, the second thing is we do not do shame here at Her First $100K. We don’t do shame. We don’t do judgment. We don’t do deprivation. 99% of diets don’t work because the more you tell my brain, “You can’t have fried chicken,” the more I want fried chicken. It’s not about willpower. It’s literally our psychology.
Tori Dunlap (01:04:27):
And I don’t want you to hate your life. There is a way to be able to save money and to invest and to pay off debt and to do all the things you’re financially supposed to do, I put that in quotes, with having a great meal out and going on vacation and taking care of your family and yourself. Those things are not mutually exclusive. The third thing is I think very few people are talking about money in a way that of course not only acknowledges systemic oppression, that doesn’t shame people, but is also just as accessible and fun as we can be. I think in this very intimidating place, it is so exciting and deeply vulnerable in a beautiful way to be able to sit down and have a conversation.
Tori Dunlap (01:05:11):
Even if there’s you come from different backgrounds, to just say, “It sucks to have debt. It fucking sucks,” because no one’s talking about money. Talking about money is taboo, that’s the narrative that gets perpetuated, and this narrative is meant to keep people underpaid and overworked. It’s the patriarchy’s way of saying, “Don’t discover that other people have debt and therefore you feel less alone. Don’t discover that Chad in your corporate environment’s making 25% more than you with four years less of experience. Don’t talk about money, it’s impolite, it’s gauche. It’s taboo.”
Tori Dunlap (01:05:47):
When we talk about money, even if it’s just like, “God, this fucki
ng sucks.” Or, “I got to raise today. I feel so incredibly powerful.” It changes everything. If you look at Brene Brown’s work at all, who’s incredible, she talks about shame living and shadow. The more we don’t talk about things, the more we feel ostracized, the ostracization, it continues. So if you can just start being transparent about money, even if it’s how much things suck, even if it’s the tiniest win in the world, we have a Facebook group where literally people will go on and just be like, “I know this is tiny,” which it’s not, but they’re like, “I saved $500 in my emergency fund.”
Tori Dunlap (01:06:24):
And the entire outpouring of love in the comment section is just like, “Yay!” That’s the vibe and the environment you want from somebody who isn’t mansplaining to you, who isn’t using jargon. I didn’t fucking study finance. You know this, I studied theater and communication in college. So I don’t have the jargon. I don’t have the preconceived notions about how to teach this or the correct words to use. I’m teaching it in a way that’s accessible, that acknowledges that racism and ableism and sexism and homophobia exists, and that’s why I’m different than Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, and the rest of them.
Chelsea Devantez (01:06:59):
I mean, it’s funny, now I realize, I almost asked you like an interviewer, “What makes this a good…”
Tori Dunlap (01:07:03):
You did, no, but it was perfect.
Chelsea Devantez (01:07:05):
Meanwhile, I already worship you. And I’m like, “Please have me on your podcast. Help me.” You were so right about the conversation, and I will say, as you were just saying that, right now, as soon as we get off this, I’m joining your Facebook group. But as you were saying, talking about things, it reminded me of the first time. And I honestly am so mad about this, that I’m excited to put it on your podcast, even though you probably already talked about it. I didn’t know credit cards with points were real. And I was using my debit card because I just never wanted to be in debt.
Chelsea Devantez (01:07:36):
So my friend was like, “Get a credit card with points and just automatic pay it off, so it’s like a debit card.” And every year now, I have points and all I do is get gift cards, and then I donate the gift cards to… Los Angeles has a group here of families who want to have Christmas, as you do, want to have Christmas. But it’s fucking free. It’s points. It’s never even something you saw or needed, and I didn’t even know points existed because we don’t talk about it. I didn’t know points existed until like two years ago.
Tori Dunlap (01:08:06):
Yeah. But what I loved, you said this and I didn’t want to interrupt you when you said it just 40 minutes ago, you were talking about your group chat of other women showrunners. I have group chats. Anybody who’s listening, especially if you’re a woman identifying person, please get yourself a group chat. I have a group chat of women who are also entrepreneurs, that I turn to and I’m like, “Hi, I was in this piece. I need you to share it. And I need you to gas me up because I need other people to see it.”
Tori Dunlap (01:08:35):
Or it’s like, “Hey, my business didn’t make as much money this month, and that makes me a little nervous. Let me know. I just need to tell you.”
Chelsea Devantez (01:08:44):
Tori Dunlap (01:08:45):
The power again of talking about money, talking about what you’re going through, especially with other people who can at least empathize, maybe not fully understand, but at least empathize is huge. So if you’re not talking about money with your girlfriends, if you’re not talking about money with your partner, if you’re not talking about money with your friends, your family, it is so important. And especially to do it with people you trust.
Chelsea Devantez (01:09:08):
Yes. I totally agree. And I will even say advise, we share our salaries on every single job. Every time we’re up for something, and they say-
Tori Dunlap (01:09:15):
Right, see, you’re talking about money already, Chelsea. It’s happening.
Chelsea Devantez (01:09:17):
I’m just talking crying in a corner. And we have to do a lot of negotiation in my business and it’s so hard. But knowing what five other women made doing that job before you go in and negotiate changes things.
Tori Dunlap (01:09:33):
We do the same thing in the personal finance community. Technically, we all should be competitors of each other. Yet we all, if we find out somebody’s attached to it, it’s like, “Hey, do you mind me asking what they offered you?” And especially for me as a white woman, I have a responsibility to other people in this space, especially black women, women of color, brown women to go, “Hey, this is what they offered me. This is what you should be asking for.” We have that responsibility as well.
Chelsea Devantez (01:09:57):
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Tori Dunlap (01:09:58):
Yes, anyway, that was my soapbox moment for the last 15 minutes.
Chelsea Devantez (01:10:00):
Yeah, no, no. My takeaway is get a group thread.
Tori Dunlap (01:10:10):
Talk about money.
Chelsea Devantez (01:10:11):
Maybe I do need to Wolf of Wall Street for a second, just so I can get that money and take it somewhere that matters.
Tori Dunlap (01:10:15):
I mean, shameless plug. We would love to have you. We have an investing education platform that we launched. I’m pretty sure we’re in the New York Times, that was launched a couple months ago. And literally, we teach smart, consistent investing that isn’t the bro-y culture. So that’s literally what we’ve built.
Chelsea Devantez (01:10:30):
The only thing that stops me from every single piece of content you put out is the emotion money brings up in me. But Tori, I’m a follower. I’m a church-goer of yours.
Tori Dunlap (01:10:42):
Oh, thank you.
Chelsea Devantez (01:10:42):
You’re my religion.
Tori Dunlap (01:10:44):
That’s so nice.
Chelsea Devantez (01:10:44):
Tori Dunlap (01:10:45):
No, I mean, don’t shame yourself. Don’t judge yourself. There is so many emotions around money. Literally, the full first chapter of our book is about we don’t go right to the actionable. We spend a full chapter, it’s actually the longest chapter in the book talking about the psychological/emotional side of money, because you can’t pay off debt. You can’t invest. You can’t do any of that until you’ve worked through some shit. So it’s like-
Chelsea Devantez (01:11:10):
That’s so true. And even now, I’m like, “Oh, God, I feel like such an asshole,” because again, like I said, I can afford all my groceries. Who am I to sit here and be like… but it is real.
Tori Dunlap (01:11:21):
Chelsea Devantez (01:11:23):
And I want all the women in the world, as is your movement, we have to get the money. We have to get the money so we can change the laws. And I just love that you’re helping women get it. You’re helping women get theirs!
Tori Dunlap (01:11:38):
That’s the idea, and the realization too, that as many “negative” emotions as there are around money, there’s just as many if not more positive ones. Like yes, money can make you stressed. It can make you have that scarcity mindset. It can make you feel bitter. It can make you feel jealous. It can also make you feel beyond joyful. It can give you ease. That’s my whole mission, is how do we give women the amount of money where ease is just normal.
Tori Dunlap (01:12:09):
Where it’s like, “Fuck, I forgot the lunch I packed at work. I can go and spend $15 on a salad today, and it means nothing.” “Oh, my car got towed. It was 400 bucks. That fucking sucks, but I got it. It’s fine.”
Chelsea Devantez (01:12:21):
Yeah. No, I-
Tori Dunlap (01:12:23):
Chelsea Devantez (01:12:24):
I totally agree with you, and I have a very controversial statement that you probably won’t agree with, but they always say money can’t buy you happiness. A lie. The person who said that was never poor.
Tori Dunlap (01:12:33):
Chelsea Devantez (01:12:34):
Tori Dunlap (01:12:35):
Literally, I break down every chapter of the book is we break down the narratives you’ve been believing, like the patriarchal narratives, and literally in the first chapter we go through one of the narratives is that money can’t buy you happiness. And I go, “Really, motherfucker?” It’s in all caps. I go-
Chelsea Devantez (01:12:51):
This is why I love you.
Tori Dunlap (01:12:51):
… “Do you want to bet, motherfucker?” I’m like, “Do you want to bet?” Because money can buy you happiness.
Chelsea Devantez (01:12:56):
Yeah, it sure can.
Tori Dunlap (01:12:57):
It can buy you stability and ease. And again, if you’re buying a Porsche to make you happy, that’s not it. If you’re consuming things in order to fill a deep void in your life, of course that’s not it. However, money can buy you all of the things in the hierarchy of needs. Clean water, food.
Chelsea Devantez (01:13:16):
Tori Dunlap (01:13:17):
Healthcare, housing stability, money buys you all of those things.
Chelsea Devantez (01:13:22):
Yeah, it’s like-
Tori Dunlap (01:13:23):
So of course money buys happiness.
Chelsea Devantez (01:13:24):
… if you’re rich and not happy, you haven’t bought the right things, but you surely can.
Tori Dunlap (01:13:29):
Yeah. No, totally, totally, totally. Yep.
Chelsea Devantez (01:13:32):
I love that. I love that.
Tori Dunlap (01:13:33):
Okay, I have a couple more questions for you because I’m just so fascinated by you and your story. You started writing for Girls5eva.
Chelsea Devantez (01:13:39):
Tori Dunlap (01:13:41):
Did you know who you were writing for, actress-wise? Was this pre-casting, and does it make your job easier or harder if you know who you’re writing for?
Chelsea Devantez (01:13:51):
Definitely easier. So showrunners, they always have written the pilot before the staff ever gets there. So Meredith Scardino had written the pilot and that was all done, but we were there for the casting. So we got to see who was coming into each role and the roles shifted. It changed some of the story arcs. And I think the decision… Oh, actually, hold on, let me think of what I can give away and what I can’t.
Chelsea Devantez (01:14:17):
One person came in who they thought it was going to be, and they dropped out. And the person who ended up being cast is so incredible. You think like, “Oh my God, this show can’t exist without this person.” And once everyone was locked in though, then this storylines get super specific. You start writing to their comedy, their voice. But watching it being cast is one of my favorite things. That’s why I love being on shows too, seeing who gets it and also rooting for the right people.
Tori Dunlap (01:14:46):
Totally. If somebody is interested in writing for TV or film, or just doing comedy professionally, where’s the best place for them to start?
Chelsea Devantez (01:14:55):
You need to educate yourself fully. I went to acting school, that is not what I am talking about. I think that’s a waste of your lifetime and money. There are so many books, creators, podcasts, blogs. It is time to get educated. I think you’re going to go on two paths at once, fully educate yourself. The next step is create your own work, and the third step after that is get bold about putting yourself out there.
Chelsea Devantez (01:15:25):
And I think sometimes, people mix the steps up. Usually, they leave education behind. So there’s so many times, because especially me, it was so hard coming up with just nothing, just no one to help you. So whenever someone gets in contact with me and I’m available, I will always try and read, help, send something on. But there are people who have gotten ahold of my time and my brain when I don’t have it and sent me a script that is bad.
Chelsea Devantez (01:15:56):
And had they sent me a script in that moment that was great, and it’s not good. You can’t just be good. You just can’t, there’s too many people here. There’s a lot of people who are good, but there’s almost no one who’s great. So if a great script gets in my hands, I now have you under my wing, I will recommend you to things. I will pull you into things. I will tell people about you. If I have spots, I will put you in. But a lot of people shoot their shot without a great basketball. Is that the metaphor here?
Chelsea Devantez (01:16:27):
You got to be great. You have to be great. People have good scripts. It’s not good enough. You have to be great. And if you are great, your moment will come, as long as you keep trying. If you stop trying, you could miss it.
Tori Dunlap (01:16:41):
I will also say too, I think with creative people, at some point your work needs to be done. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It will never be perfect. At some point, it has to be done. Because I have a lot of creative friends who are pursuing maybe it’s comedy, maybe it’s somebody else, and they’re like, “It’s not perfect yet.” And it’s like, “Yeah. But 10 years will go by, and it’ll never be perfect. So at some point, you do have to decide, okay, I’m fucking sending it.”
Chelsea Devantez (01:17:04):
Yeah. Yeah. But I would say that’s probably the number one skill to develop, especially in improv. If you can walk off stage and know that was a really good show or that move was good, that joke was good, and know which ones were bad, that was bad, that was bad, that was bad, you are talented. If you walk off stage, you’re like, “I don’t know if it was good or bad.” Okay, well now, you have more growing to do. You need to know, was that good? Was it bad?
Chelsea Devantez (01:17:28):
And why? You can have a horrible show and be a very talented person. I’ve had many. But you know why it’s bad, and that’s your talent and you know why it’s good, that’s your talent. And you have to look at a script and be like, “This is great. I’m standing out. Everything can always get better, but this is a good script. I know because I’ve read 1,000,” and that’s what I did. I read 1,000 scripts, so then when I write my own, I know this a good script or just a bad script.
Tori Dunlap (01:17:54):
What is your favorite thing you’ve ever written, and why is it your favorite?
Chelsea Devantez (01:18:00):
Ooh, I like this question. So my favorite thing I’ve ever written, it’s really tough because definitely the thing I’m most involved with in the moment is always my favorite. Right now, my short film that went to South by, it’s only three minutes long, very short, which I was also… Oh, that’s my other tip. Make something great that’s very, very short.
Chelsea Devantez (01:18:28):
And people think, “Oh, short is 10 minutes.” No, short is three minutes. Short is two minutes. It would’ve been better if it was one, because everyone can watch one minute. Everyone. Not a lot of people can watch five, 10, especially not the people whose attention you need. So that’s my tip. But I made this really short film and it got a lot of attention and a lot of connection with people, and I wrote this screenplay for it. And it’s now with a production company and it’s moving forward.
Chelsea Devantez (01:18:52):
And that is the film where I’m like, “If I don’t get to make this, I’m going to lose my mind,” because I’m also going to try and direct it.
Tori Dunlap (01:18:59):
So you’re making the short film in the hopes that it leads to the feature film, is that the idea?
Chelsea Devantez (01:19:04):
Actually, the short film, everything I’d ever made in my life was always for a bigger purpose. I want to sell it, it’s a TV show. It’s a bigger thing. This was the one thing where I was in such an exhausted place that I was like, “I haven’t made something for me in a while, with nothing on top of it.” And I just made it for me because I loved it. And of course, that’s the thing that did well. And I was like, “God damnit!”
Tori Dunlap (01:19:28):
It typically is. It typically is, yeah.
Chelsea Devantez (01:19:30):
Yeah, yeah. So I didn’t have intentions on it then. When people asked what the feature film was, I was like, “There’s not one.” And then I had one of those lightning bolts where the whole thing comes to you and that’s my favorite thing I’ve ever written. And I hope I get to do it. The short film was called Basic, if you want to go see it.
Tori Dunlap (01:19:48):
We will link it in the show notes, most definitely.
Chelsea Devantez (01:19:50):
Tori Dunlap (01:19:51):
What would you tell younger you about her journey through comedy?
Chelsea Devantez (01:20:00):
I would say you need to find a trauma-informed therapist right now, and don’t be afraid of meds. Because I did not know for most of my life that I had CPTSD, which is intense, and I just thought it was my shitty personality. I was like, “Wow, am I nuts sometimes?” I did try lots of therapists, but I didn’t have a trauma-informed therapist because I didn’t have what? Money.
Chelsea Devantez (01:20:36):
And when I did get money, finally had a friend really push me towards them. My whole life changed and I definitely got afraid that like, “Oh, if I’m less severely upset all the time, will I be less talented and funny? And is my rage actually helping me?”
Tori Dunlap (01:20:53):
Just like, I have to be broke in order to be an artist, and being an artist means I have to be broke?
Chelsea Devantez (01:20:57):
Yes, it means I have to be-
Tori Dunlap (01:20:58):
It means I can’t sell out-
Chelsea Devantez (01:21:00):
Tori Dunlap (01:21:01):
… if I “sell out” and make money, then I’m not a real artist anymore. Mm-hmm.
Chelsea Devantez (01:21:05):
But you know what the great thing about selling out is? Is that I didn’t get to see any art house films when I was a poor ass kid living in the Southwest, because they don’t make it to me. You know what made it to me? Network sell out sitcoms. So, sometimes selling out in your art means that art is going to get to people. It’s going to get out of New York, which is where someone like me needed to see it. But yeah, and otherwise in comedy, I would say if he doesn’t have a top sheet, don’t fuck him. They’ve got to have both sheets. They really need both sheets.
Tori Dunlap (01:21:40):
And their mattress needs to be off the floor. That’s my other tip for people.
Chelsea Devantez (01:21:45):
I’m not even going to say that. I did need to have sex with some comedians-
Tori Dunlap (01:21:49):
Oh, see, I’m like, “Hmm.”
Chelsea Devantez (01:21:49):
… and did any of them have raised beds? I don’t think so. But the sheets, the sheet’s a real deal breaker, and I would also tell myself to… I really thought being so feminine and I really only give a shit about the feminine, energy, personhood, not gender, but just that’s what I care about. And I really tried to fit into their box for a long time, and the moment I stopped is the moment I succeeded.
Tori Dunlap (01:22:23):
That’s amazing. Chelsea, thanks for being here. Where can people find you?
Chelsea Devantez (01:22:26):
Thank you for having me. You can find me @ChelseaDevantez on Instagram and Twitter. My podcast is Celebrity Book Club with Chelsea Devantez, where we recap female celebrity memoirs, but it’s really about women’s stories and successful women’s stories.
Chelsea Devantez (01:22:42):
So whether you respect all female celebrities or not, they are still successful women in our culture. And we basically learn juicy gossip while discussing the depth of womanhood in society, so come on over, Celebrity Book Club with Chelsea Devantez, and I’m around. Come see some live shows, I’m here.
Tori Dunlap (01:23:01):
We had a great conversation about Carrie Fisher’s book, Wishful Drinking, which-
Chelsea Devantez (01:23:04):
Tori Dunlap (01:23:05):
… so good. It was so good.
Chelsea Devantez (01:23:05):
You were such a good guest, too. I can’t wait for that episode to come out.
Tori Dunlap (01:23:08):
Oh, thank you. Yeah. Thanks for being here. Appreciate it.
Chelsea Devantez (01:23:11):
Thank you for having me. Bye.
Tori Dunlap (01:23:15):
A huge thank you to Chelsea for joining us on this episode, we’ve made sure to link all of her social channels below and in our show notes. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for her book as well, releasing next year. And speaking of book, our book, Financial Feminist: Overcome the Patriarchy’s Bullshit to Master Your Money and Build a Life That You Love is available for pre-order wherever you get your books. Not only as a hard cover, but also as an ebook and an audio book.
Tori Dunlap (01:23:38):
And y’all, we just got word, it is already a bestseller. And I’m recording this after we announced the pre-order about three weeks ago, and it is already a national bestseller, both at indie bookstores as well as on Amazon. And I am just so humbled, so floored. Thank you for your support of the book, and if you haven’t gotten your copy, please do so.
Tori Dunlap (01:23:58):
It would mean the world, and it’s literally my manifesto. It’s so actionable. It’s every single thing you need to know about how to live a Financial Feminist lifestyle, how to save money, how to pay off debt, how to invest, all of that in one little, little book. We appreciate you listening, Financial Feminists. We can’t wait to see you. Talk to you soon.
Tori Dunlap (01:24:20):
Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist, a Her First $100K podcast. Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap, produced by Kristen Fields, marketing and administration by Karina Patel, Olivia Coning, Cherise Wade, Alina Hillser, Paulina Isaac, Sophia Cohen, Valerie Oresko, Jack Coning, and Ana Alexandra. Research by Ariel Johnson, audio engineering by Austin Fields. Promotional graphics by Mary Stratton, photography by Sarah Wolfe, and theme music by Jonah Cohen Sound. A huge thanks to the entire Her First $100K team and community for supporting the show.
Tori Dunlap (01:24:54):
For more information about Financial Feminist, Her First $100K, our guests, episode show notes and our upcoming book also titled Financial Feminist, visit herfirst100K.com.