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May 08, 2023
What A Day
We See You, Tre'vell

In This Episode

  • Award-winning journalist and What A Day host Tre’vell Anderson has officially added “author” to their many accolades. Their debut book, We See Each Other: A Black, Trans Journey Through TV & Film, is out today, along with the audiobook and an accompanying limited series podcast. Tre’vell walks us through their process writing the book, the stories within it, and their message to future generations of Black trans kids.
  • And in headlines: a New York jury will begin deliberations today over whether to hold Donald Trump liable for an alleged sexual assault, California’s reparations task force approved several recommendations addressing the state’s history of racism and discrimination toward Black residents, and the Writer’s Guild strike has officially entered its second week.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, May 9th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day where we would like to formally apologize for our royal family coverage this week. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. We did not talk about Queen Charlotte. But to be fair, there’s a lot going on right now. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: There absolutely is. Shonda Rhimes, if you’re out there listening, we’re sorry and we’ll do better. [music break] 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: On today’s show, a New York jury will deliberate on whether to hold Donald Trump liable for an alleged sexual assault. Plus, this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners have been announced. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Spoiler alert. Neither one of us got it. Um. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: We didn’t get it. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: For yet another year in a row. What is wrong with them? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I know. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Anyway. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: 30 something years of not getting the Pulitzer in a row. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Undefeated. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Undefeated. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: In a different type of way. [laughter] But first, today is a very special day. As my first book, We See Each Other: A Black, Trans Journey Through TV & Film is officially available at a bookstore near you and on audiobook read by me. This book is a part history of trans images on screen, a part memoir. It is both a culmination of my reporting over the last decade on the issue of diversity in Hollywood, and it reflects a little bit of my my own identity formation throughout that same period, weaving in some cultural critique about the things we’ve seen on TV and in movies. Actress Angelica Ross did the foreword. And if you care about blurbs and what not, everyone from journalists Imara Jones and Raquel Willis, to the writer producer Lena Waithe have said that you need to check out my book. Including Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Not only do I think you need to check it out, I think you need to purchase it and then purchase one for your car, purchase one for your job, purchase one for your family. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It is truly so good. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Thank you. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m really excited to talk about it. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s do it. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I’m really excited. I’m, like, awkwardly excited like [laughter] nerdly excited. Okay, so let’s start with the foreword by Angelica Ross. She writes really passionately about the trans community’s resilience in everyday life. And I want to know, how did you feel when you read these words for the first time? What did it mean to you and why did you choose her, right? To write the forward to your first book? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, well, so first of all, grateful and thankful that she said yes and took time out of her busy, busy schedule to check out my little book. All right. But, you know, when we have conversations about representation and diversity in Hollywood, this also applies to DE&I work in other industries. There’s often a capitulation towards, like, the feelings of those who are already in power, the folks that are actually doing the marginalizing and committing the violences against those of us who’ve been historically excluded for various reasons. And for many years I feel like Angelica Ross has resisted that urge to like, sanitize her thoughts and experiences for the consumption of white people, of cis people. And I kind of feel like because we’ve been having this conversation about visibility, particularly for trans folks and how it is a paradox, right? We are the most visible we’ve ever been as a culture and community, but we also are the most vulnerable we’ve ever been as a community. I think Angelica Ross is someone who doesn’t sanitize her thoughts. And the way that she communicates, I believe, is where like the discourse on trans visibility needs to go. And it’s going to require some tough, unapologetic talk to get us to that promised land that we say we want. And I’m thankful again that Angelica chose to model that once more in her foreword in which she’s talking about some things she hasn’t talked publicly about before as it relates to her experience. Right? Moving through the world and through the industry as a trans person. So I think it’s a cute little appetizer, a nice little appetizer. I say appetizer. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Appetizer. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Um. You know, for what I hope is the meal that folks will be able to chomp down on in the pages that follow. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Absolutely. Love food analogies. My favorite kind [laughter] so great work. Talk to us a little bit about writing this book and really researching this book. Right. Because one of the kind of important elements of this is that there are not a lot of these histories recorded. Like a lot of this is you’re doing yourself. Primary research, trying to kind of trace back some of these things that are in some ways not untraceable, but very difficult to trace. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm hmm. Yeah. So I pitched the book as a very like comprehensive look at the history of trans images on screen. I thought it would be primarily like diving into the archive, right, and watching all of these old movies. And in the process of doing that, I actually was watching Boys Don’t Cry, which is this canonical film, and was realizing that I basically was putting myself in the position to have to watch all of these deeply traumatic stories as a means of like telling this history on screen. And I basically decided I didn’t want to do that because it was causing me to basically, you know, trigger and unsettle so many things that, you know, we as trans people kind of live through. And so when I decided to, instead of doing a comprehensive thing to just focus on the movies, the shows, that kind of helped me come into myself and helped people who I am in community with come into themselves. Um. That kind of changed things. And, you know, that’s one of the reasons why the subtitle of the book is not The Black, Trans Journey through TV & Film it’s just a Black, Trans journey through TV and film because I wanted to, like, alleviate myself of the pressure. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Right, of doing something comprehensive and also kind of serving as a calling card, right. For other people to also dive into the archive, to also unearth and document their histories and histories from their vantage points as well. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I think what you just said is so interesting and relevant to the book and what I really love about it, which is that it acknowledges the struggle and the isolation and frankly, the persecution of the trans experience, of the gender non-binary experience. And it’s not just tragedy like there is community, there is joy, There is this sense of like the gift, right, of being part of this community. So can you talk a little bit about framing it that way? Because, you know, you see books and stories about Black history and about history of oppressed groups where it’s just tragedy, it’s just sorrow. And that always feels really one dimensional to me. And you do I think a beautiful job of presenting a much more holistic and beautiful picture of this experience. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Thank you. You know, I feel like with many of our histories, these just often get sanitized into these, you know, one dimensional stories. And so often when it comes to trans people in particular, the bulk of what people know about us is, you know, our trauma. It’s our tragedy, often our deaths. And while that is very much so a part of our reality in this anti-trans transphobic world that we live in, there also is a whole lot of joy and community and care. I think we kind of model that also right on this show, we talk about the anti-trans stuff that’s happening all the time. And more often than not, I’m laughing through it because of the absurdity, but that is the complexity of our lives, right? What’s the saying? You know, laughing to keep from crying and all that other stuff. Um. And so with the book, when you read these pages, when you listen to the audiobook, I want you to feel like, you know, like Tre’vell is giving you this information. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right, right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And because I’m concerned and invested in upholding my complexities as an individual. Um. Hopefully, the book also recognizes and honors and uplifts that complexity as well. So yeah, you’re going to get the trauma and the murder and you know, those types of stories, but you’re also gonna get a little fun, a little razzle dazzle, as I like to say. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Trauma and murder and a little razzle dazzle. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You know. [laughing] 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Look. You talked a little about the experience of watching Boys Don’t Cry and recognizing, like, really having to assess how much of the trauma of sitting through some of this that you wanted to do. And throughout the book, you referenced like several films and TV shows that have featured trans characters for better or for worse. We all know there are countless transphobic movies and shows out there. Friends, I’m looking at you, but can you pick one movie or TV show that you mentioned in your book that had this profoundly positive impact on your journey with gender and what made you feel seen? I mean, it’s kind of a cliche thing to say at this point, but truly, I mean, it’s really relevant, I think, in the context of what you write about. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And I talk in the book about that question in particular. When was the first time you felt seen? It’s a question I personally hate for a number of reasons that you all will read about in the pages of the book. But in answering it, I often give credit to what I call my possibility models, um and they include the character of Noah from the TV show Noah’s Arc, played by Darryl Stephens back in the day. Shout out to Patrik-Ian Polk, who was the writer director of that, um as well as Miss J. Alexander and André Leon Talley, who both came into my life by way of America’s Next Top Model. Um. But, you know, they were possibility models for the person I was then. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And were the person I thought I wanted to be then, right? I didn’t really– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –see a character like the me that I am today until rather recently. And that is the character of Uncle Clifford on P-Valley. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mmmm. 

 

[clip of character Uncle Clifford from the television show P-Valley] What did you mean, man? You asked me what I am without even realizing all that come along with that answer. Don’t get me wrong now. I loves me some me. And people don’t understand how lonely it can be to shine so bright. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Hmm. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I remember when I first saw Uncle Clifford and that TV show P-Valley. It did something in me in the ways that you often hear people talk about, you know, when they see themselves on screen and how it allows them to, like, you know, just realize possibilities that they didn’t um consider before. And when I think about the complexities of my existence as a Black non-binary person of trans experience from where I’m from, you know, in this world, P-Valley really gets the closest. Right. But this is a show that premiered in 2020. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And, you know, I’ve been alive for a little longer than just– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –2020. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And so, you know, part of the book talks about the experience of folks always say you can’t be what you can’t see. But I find more often than not, trans people, we are creating ourselves out of the depths of our imaginations. So it’s not that you can’t be what you can’t see, because many of us are regardless. But it is about what you could be by seeing that which is out there. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And how much easier it might have been if I had a character like Uncle Clifford on TV that felt right a lot earlier. But, you know, Uncle Clifford, you know, is played by a cis gay man, Nicco Annan. And while he does a damn good job in the role, to be clear, he’s not a non-binary person. Right? And I would have loved– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –to see that character embodied by a non-binary person, to see what they might be able to do with it. And so a lot of the book is about the complexities, about like– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You know, recognizing something for its greatness and what it does, but also critiquing it in a particular way to hopefully push us um a little forward. I also talk in the book about my relationship with Madea, um which is an interesting one that y’all can read about. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. Um. Okay. So I don’t know if you know this, but What A Day is a news podcast. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Is it? Gasp. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Breaking news, it’s a news podcast. And there is this like entire section of your book that talks about the news and how media has historically covered trans issues and trans people in this, like, horrible, irresponsible, othering, cruel way that has had a very negative impact on how trans people are perceived. And we’ve obviously seen in some ways some improvement. I think in that department there are reporters such as yourself doing the work, complicating the narrative, telling a broader story. In other ways, we are having similar or worse, I would say, conversations because of the, you know, the increased persecution and culture war over kind of othering of trans people that we’re seeing even more drastically, I think, on the right and some on the left. So in many ways we are like having new conversations, having similar conversations, like how is the history of media coverage here– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –along with your own desire to be seen authentically and fully by news media, inform your decision to do something like What A Day where you are like reporting the news. Right. Like where you are helping tell the story. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting because, you know, this is a news show, um but I’m always trying to weasel some culture and some entertainment up in this mix. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: We love it. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But, you know, part of the reason why I wrote this book is because I feel like everybody thinks that our history as trans people in this country in particular started with like Laverne Cox on Orange is the New Black. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Maybe you can go back a few years earlier to Chaz Bono. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But, you know, folks just don’t know that history, which is our collective history. So many people still believe that they’ve never met a trans person. And so all that they’re really getting about us is coming from what they see on TV or what they see in movies, or if they happen to be, you know, someone who grapples with the news a little bit, then they’re getting what they’re getting about us from newspapers or from Fox News or wherever. And so when I got the chance to be on this platform, that definitely crossed my mind. Much like what we see in movies and TV shows, those are characters written by and written for a quote unquote “mainstream audience.” By mainstream I mean cis people. I mean white people. Um. In the same way those same type of people are also the ones doing a lot of the coverage of trans issues. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Um. We’ve had various conversations on this show about The New York Times, for example, and their coverage issues. And so it was important for me to be a trans person covering trans issues in this particular moment. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Um. So I would say yes. But that history also informs where I hope our conversations on this show are going, where I hope the broader media landscape is going, which is not only can trans people speak about, cover, report on the issues that impact directly our communities, but we’re also able to speak on and cover issues that aren’t, quote unquote “trans issues” because our lives are much more expansive than the legislative assault that we are fighting against. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. Absolutely. And you say that your book is a reclamation of lineage still in progress, one that can’t stop and won’t stop. And you also talk about how this book is documenting your transcestry, love a hybrid word first of all. Your transestry in real time as it’s being made so as a transestor in the making, what is your message to the next generation of Black, trans kids coming up in a crazy world, like a different world than we came up in? What’s your message? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It has been very useful for me as we move through this legislative assault, this cultural backlash on trans people, um to remind myself that I belong to a long line of trans bad bitches, right. Who have walked this earth and gifted this culture so much. Um. And so for the next generation, um of particular Black, trans kids, I would remind them of that um because I know that it is the thing. It is the secret weapon that keeps me going, that keeps me showing up to this show every single week to cover, you know, these horrible stories. It’s so interesting. We often hear people say, like I said earlier, you can’t be what you can’t see. But knowing that you belong to a history of folks who have lived and loved and existed prior to this moment, I think can be very motivating as we as a community fight back and fight forward. So that’s what I would share to the next generation. You belong to a lineage of trans brilliance. We are divine. We will always be divine, even though this world may not always recognize it. And so we have to recognize it ourselves. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. Absolutely. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And before we go, if y’all would like more discussion about some of these things, I’m doing a limited series podcast, nine episodes. Okay. It’s giving kitchen table talk with journalist Shar Jossell. The podcast is called We See Each Other, the podcast, and it is available right now. Wherever you are listening to us here and for our New York City listeners, if you’re interested in coming to a book talk and signing that I’m doing this week, I will be at the Barnes Noble in Brooklyn on Atlantic Avenue this Thursday, May 11th, at 6:30. Come join me, come say hello and all of that wonderful stuff. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]. 

 

[AD BREAK]. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: A New York jury will begin deliberations today over whether former President Donald Trump can be held liable for the alleged rape of writer E. Jean Carroll. We’ve talked about this on the show, but to recap, Carroll filed the civil case last year. She says Trump assaulted her in a department store in the 1990s and that he defamed her by denying her account when she went public in 2019. During yesterday’s closing arguments, Carroll’s attorney noted that this isn’t the first time someone has accused Trump of rape or assault. That his behavior and defense, quote, “fit a pattern.” Trump himself did not appear in court and declined to testify in his own defense during the two week trial. But his lawyer called Carroll’s accusations, quote, “an unbelievable work of fiction.” This is the same lawyer, by the way, that questioned Carroll on the stand about why she did not fight back during the alleged attack. The jury will decide whether to award any damages to Carroll, and Trump won’t be facing any jail time as a result. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: A Texas man accused of killing eight people after driving his SUV into a crowded bus stop outside a migrant center has been charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault. The crash happened Sunday morning after investigators say the 34 year old Brownsville local ran a red light, lost control and struck at least eighteen people. Several of the victims have been identified as Venezuelan migrants. Police said yesterday that the driver, who has previous assault and DUI charges on his record tried to flee the scene Sunday morning but was held back by several witnesses. According to The Washington Post, the driver even taunted the crowd and yelled insults at them before the crash, with one witness saying the driver yelled, quote, “You’re invading my property.” Authorities are still looking into whether or not the crash was intentional. And they’re also waiting on the results of toxicology tests to determine if the driver was driving under the influence at the time. His bond has been set at $3.6 million dollars. 

 

[clip of protesters in Texas] Raise the age, raise the age. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You just heard protesters inside the Texas state capitol chanting, raise the age. It happened right before a committee voted to advance a bill that would raise the legal age in Texas to buy semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21. Just hours before the decision, relatives of the victims of the Uvalde school shooting asked the panel to vote on the bill because it was up against a deadline that would make passing it into law much more difficult. The measure does face an uphill battle with Texas’s GOP majority, but it is progress. The decision comes just two days after the shooting in Allen, Texas, that killed eight people. And a week and a half after a separate shooting in the town of Cleveland that left five people dead. Last June, The New York Times reported that six of the nine deadliest mass shootings since 2018 had been committed by people under 21. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: In the first ever state level effort of its kind, California’s Reparations Task Force has approved several recommendations to address the state’s history of racism and discrimination toward Black Californians. On Saturday, the nine member board voted to approve a report that proposes financial compensation for Black residents. A package of policy changes and a formal apology for the Golden State’s role in perpetuating slavery and discriminatory laws. According to the report’s preliminary estimates, a California resident who meets the eligibility requirements could receive more than $13,000 a year, and, according to calculations run by the nonprofit newsroom CalMatters, an eligible Californian in their seventies, could get up to $1.2 million dollars in damages. Okay, that sounds like a lot of money for those in their seventies. Potentially a lot of money because you might not get the 1.2, it says up to y’all. Those numbers are based on the harm caused by systemic racism, including mass incarceration, housing discrimination and other injustices. The task force was officially convened back in 2020 following the police murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests for racial justice. The panel has spent the past two years conducting research and holding listening sessions across the state and will meet once more on June 30th before sending its final report to state lawmakers by July 1st. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: The Writers Guild strike has officially entered its second week as its members continue to pressure Hollywood studios to meet their demands for fair compensation. Week one saw huge shows of support nationwide with picket lines drawing big crowds in both New York and Los Angeles, with many A-list actors like Quinta Brunson of Abbott Elementary and SNL’s Pete Davidson stopping by as well to show their solidarity. Meanwhile, the studio’s unwillingness to negotiate a fair labor contract continues to impact production across the entertainment industry. Members of other unions, like the Teamsters and IATSE have refused to cross those picket lines in solidarity with striking WGA members. And many shows have had to stop production entirely, with production crew members and writers walking off the job. Severance has become the latest high profile show to halt work on its highly anticipated second season. Other big shows like HBO’s Hacks and Netflix’s Stranger Things, have also been forced to shut down their sets indefinitely. Now look, studios. [laughter] You are in the way of Hacks season three and it is not a laughing matter, get it together. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Do not take our laughter for weakness. Okay, we’re being serious here. The 2023 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced yesterday. Among the notable awardees, the staff of the Los Angeles Times received the Breaking News Reporting Award for its coverage of last year’s L.A. City Council scandal involving leaked audio of racist remarks made by then Council President Nury Martinez and two of her colleagues. In the category of audio journalism, Gimlet Media took home the award for its podcast, Stolen: Surviving St. Michaels, led by Connie Walker, which details the abuse of hundreds of Indigenous children at a residential school in Canada. And two friends of WAD, Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa won the General Nonfiction Award for their book, His name was George Floyd. The Pulitzer board called the book, quote, “an intimate, riveting portrait of Floyd, whose murder sparked a racial reckoning in the U.S. that was heard around the world.” 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Love Pulitzer season. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Don’t you? Like? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I really do. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: We love to uplift and honor, like great reporting. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: We do. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Great storytelling. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: We do. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Like shout out to everybody. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Shout out to everybody, a special shout out to Stolen. When I was making Unreformed. We really admired their work, really shining a light on what happened to those children. So I’m so happy that it’s getting this fancy Pulitzer Award. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And, you know, next year I will be the Pulitzer Prize winner. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s true. [laughter] It’s true. I don’t know why you’re laughing. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: We know why I’m laughing. [laughing]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And those are the headlines. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: One more thing before we go. Crooked Coffee’s cold brewer is back in stock, and just in time for summer. The cold brewer is an easy way to make your own delicious, cold brew at home so you don’t have to leave the house or pay $7 to get your caffeine fix. It’s like having a fancy cafe in your fridge, but you never have to fight anyone for an outlet. These always sell out. So grab yours today at Crooked.com/store. And don’t forget to check out our show notes for today for links to my book and its companion podcast. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yes. Do not forget. Are you listening to me? Don’t forget. [laughter] [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Pressure the Pulitzer Board to give us an award and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just personal histories of trans visibility like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

[spoken together] And buy Tre’vell’s book already.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You know you want to. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: One copy does not cut it. [laughter] You have people you need to buy presents for. Birthdays. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Graduation? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mother’s day. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Great graduation gift. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Christmas, Graduation, July 4th or something. Pride Month. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Like buy a book. [clapping]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Juneteenth. Why not? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Juneteenth? Oh Juneteenth. [laughter] [music break] 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla and Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. Jocey Coffman is our head writer, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.