We had the good fortune of connecting with Vicki Abelson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vicki, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
For much of my life, I tried to be who and what I thought others wanted me to be––in business, with love, family, and friends. Ultimately, it didn’t work. I’d fall short. I didn’t know how to be “that person,” and I was afraid to be me. As a young actress, I was told I was too ethnic. I changed my name, my hair color, and my accent, and got basically nowhere. There came a time in my life, post 9/11, getting sober, becoming active in my recovery and my craft, when being my authentic self became an essential part of my journey and growth, As soon as I stopped trying to be what I thought people wanted me to be, and spoke from my heart, expressing myself organically, things began to shift. It was scary using language that was unacceptable for a woman on social media, and in my work, including a Huffington Post article about it, ironically, the one they censored; I chose a title for my book which was unsettling and shocking, Don’t Jump: Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘N Roll… And My Fucking Mother, and, I started to speak my mind personally, professionally, and politically, Live on the air, without a script or a net. The payoff has been: an ever-growing audience, a run as a personal essayist, an Amazon best-seller, and a talk show which is connective, real, and unfiltered. When I played it safe I wasn’t very interesting. As soon as I was willing to jump without a net, the unknown has become thrilling, for me, and hopefully, for my audience.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve worn many hats in my life: actress, comedian, writer, producer, promoter, which have lead me to what I do now, which is a culmination of them. For the past twelve years I’ve hosted a live, celebrity-driven literary salon in my living room, Women Who Write, featuring amazing writers, actors, and astounding music, (sadly on hiatus until it’s safe for us to gather), and, Game Changers, a weekly talk show also featuring celebrities who are living their dreams. Both enable me to shine a light, shoutout talent, in an intimate, unscripted, in the moment, safe haven, which connects artists with audience, and has created an ever-growing community. Both are shot live in my living room, and, with Game Changers, sometimes from my celebrity guests living rooms or kitchens, which allows for a relaxed, easy, intimate view of the person behind the celebrity. We got to spend almost two hours with Ed Asner, in his den, wearing shorts, slippers, eating pizza, surrounded by his awards, his pets, and his family. I never know what will happen, or what will be revealed. It’s thrilling. Technology allows us to forge on in corona, safe in own homes.
When the pandemic stay at home began, I made the commitment to go Live Monday through Friday to connect with other “COVID Crazies,” as we call ourselves. Creating community, and having company has been salvation for me, and hopefully respite for the regulars who are Shooting the Shit With Vicki, daily. We have each other and know that part of our day will be in conversation, connected––laughing, crying, showing up for each other, and ourselves. Even though I’m the only one on camera it’s a free-flowing conversation between us. Somehow it fills an hour, sometimes closer to two per day. Also during COVID, I began a weekly support group on Zoom, and rather than spend holidays alone, we Zoom BBQ together. It all saves me.
I couldn’t love what I’m blessed to do, more. It’s a privilege, joy, and great fun for me, and hopefully for those who tune in. It’s all a work in progress, as am I.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ah… I’ve been in my home for almost seven months due to COVID, let me remember… Absolutely, live music! The Hollywood Bowl, an intimate club, like the Write-Off Room to hear amazing friends play, a trip to Malibu, with a stop at Neptune’s Net, to view the bikers, and have great seafood; window shopping at the Santa Monica promenade, likewise, a stroll on the Venice boardwalk to check out the people and the wares, Din Tai Fung, my favorite LA restaurant, and a walk through the Americana, dessert outside at the Cheesecake Factory; a trip downtown to Grand Central Market, hungry, so that we can sample lots of delicacies; maybe a hike at Runyon Canyon; the zoo at Griffith Park; Universal Studios for a day of fun, Texas tacos at Homestate; a shopping stop at The Beverly Center, Pastrami and cabbage soup at Brent’s; a walk on the beach and an outdoor dinner in Marina Del Rey… a classy dinner at the Parkway Grill in Pasadena, after walking down the main drag; a stroll down Honolulu in Montrose, landing at Sushi Monster…. ah, I miss all of the above, so much!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ve been blessed to learn from the best. There are so many people who have and continue to teach, mentor, and set an example of how to do it, this thing called life. My life coach, Jeremy Stevens. my money mentor, Anson Williams, my spiritual teachers, Craig Ames, Alan Padula, and Susanne Crummy. It doesn’t just take a village; it takes a city and most of its inhabitants to right my course on a daily basis.
Linda Abse, Ken Volok, Louise Palanker, Carlos Alejandro