Art of Power They changed the world. So can you. Each week, award-winning journalist Aarti Shahani meets fascinating humans who've done big things. They answer two questions: (1) How does power work in the real world, anyway? (2) How has wielding power changed you? The movement begins here. Listen now. Let your volcano erupt.
Art of Power

Art of Power

From WBEZ Chicago

They changed the world. So can you. Each week, award-winning journalist Aarti Shahani meets fascinating humans who've done big things. They answer two questions: (1) How does power work in the real world, anyway? (2) How has wielding power changed you? The movement begins here. Listen now. Let your volcano erupt.

Most Recent Episodes

Franklin Leonard finds the best scripts in Hollywood

His annual 'Black List' elevated films like 'Juno,' 'Argo' and 'The King's Speech.' Now he wants to change how Hollywood finds its talent. Franklin Leonard tells Art of Power's Aarti Shahani how his nerdy beginnings in Georgia set the precedent for his career as a revered film executive. He explains how creating his first 'Black List' broke an unwritten Hollywood rule, what show biz can learn from the NBA about finding the best talent, and the power of imagery in dismantling racism and asserting personhood.

Former 'Roe' attorney Gloria Allred on NDAs, empowering victims and a world without legal abortion

Back in the 1960s – before Gloria Allred became one of America's most prominent women's rights attorneys – she says she was raped at gunpoint. She became pregnant and had a back-alley abortion that nearly killed her. "It did teach me a lesson," Allred tells Art of Power host Aarti Shahani. "And the lesson is that abortion should be safe, legal, affordable and available." In conversation with Shahani, Allred explains how that traumatic life event changed her worldview and preceded her decades-long career in civil rights law (10:20). She explains why she uses a cheeky sense of humor to get what she needs (4:30) and how she's represented some of the most famed names in women's rights, including "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade and O.J. Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson (14:35). Plus, Allred defends a long-standing practice she's been criticized for: negotiating non-disclosure agreements (26:20).

Former 'Roe' attorney Gloria Allred on NDAs, empowering victims and a world without legal abortion

Dolores Huerta on organizing, motherhood and 'sexual coercion' in her labor rights movement

She helped organize one of the largest labor movements in history, but her name is often left out of the narrative. As an organizer in the 1960s, Dolores Huerta says it was not always easy to assert her power. "As a woman, I had to do something about the way the women were being treated," she told Art of Power's Aarti Shahani. Huerta explains how she raised 11 children in voluntary poverty while leading a nationwide civil rights battle (01:45). She dissects the mechanics of the famous 1965 Delano grape boycott, including how she allied with some of America's biggest leaders (13:50). And for the first time, she reveals how higher-ups within the organization handled an alleged case of what she calls "sexual coercion" less than gracefully (30:40).

Dolores Huerta on organizing, motherhood and 'sexual coercion' in her labor rights movement

'Hangover' producer Scott Budnick cannot be pigeonholed

Scott Budnick might be best known for producing The Hangover trilogy, one of the most successful R-rated comedy franchises ever. But making frat-boy comedies and spending years among ladder-climbers and clout-chasers in Hollywood left Budnick wanting. "I just felt empty inside," he tells Art of Power's Aarti Shahani. Budnick tells Shahani about the turn of events that led him to become one of California's foremost advocates for criminal justice reform. He explains how he broke into the film industry — and then why he left it to found the non-profit Anti-Recidivism Coalition. And he describes his pivot back to creating films — including the 2019 Michael B. Jordan drama Just Mercy — through One Community, a production company with an explicitly political agenda.

How 'Queer Eye' Changed The Culture

'Queer Eye,' both the original version on Bravo and the newer Netflix reboot, is one of the most celebrated reality TV shows on the planet. But it was no sure thing. Creator David Collins tells Aarti Shahani the show's amazing creation story. He says God used him as a vessel to help gain cultural acceptance for the LGBTQ community. And he reflects on how others can do for their community what 'Queer Eye' has done for the LGBTQ+ movement. This episode was originally published on May 6, 2021.

Stacey Abrams does everything

Stacey Abrams is one of the highest profile democracy activists on the planet. She's also an entrepreneur, lawyer, novelist, and she nearly became the first Black woman to govern a state in the U.S. In conversation with Aarti Shahani, Abrams opens up about her inner wiring. She says she writes novels in order to live the adventurous lives she cannot, she explains why neither victory nor defeat are permanent, and she reflects on her 2018 election loss. "Crisis sometimes changes us, but more often it reveals us," she tells Shahani, "and my crisis was a revelatory moment." How does Stacey Abrams recover from heartache? "Slowly." This episode was originally published on July 15, 2021.

Sal Khan, Founder Of Khan Academy

First, a lovely update from Aarti. Then, Sal Khan, a man who challenged the education model we've been using for centuries. In so doing, he created the largest school in existence. Khan tells Art of Power host Aarti Shahani about the humble origins of Khan Academy, how he wanted to offer a world class education — like a Harvard or an Oxford — except online and free for everyone, and how he had the confidence to revolutionize education. This episode was originally published on May 20, 2021.

From BLM activist to Congress: Rep. Cori Bush

In this week's episode of Art of Power, host Aarti Shahani sits down with Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-Mo.), a former Black Lives Matter activist who lost two elections before finally winning Missouri's 1st congressional seat in 2020. Rep. Bush tells Shahani about her early exposure to politics (12:36), the adversities she endured in her early life — including eviction, homelessness and rape (19:12), the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson that pushed her to seek public office (4:00), and why she didn't quit after two lopsided electoral defeats (32:45).

Indra Nooyi smiles through the BS

In this week's episode of Art of Power, host Aarti Shahani sits down with Indra Nooyi, who became the first woman and immigrant to head a Fortune 50 company when she was named CEO of PepsiCo in 2006. Nooyi and host Aarti Shahani discuss her unusual family – where the men pushed her to be more ambitious. Aarti asks Nooyi how she manages to stay so light-hearted when people cut her down at work. (It's something she does over and over again.) Her answer? It's not what Aarti expected. Indra Nooyi's book, My Life In Full, has a provocative passage. Describing the times she's been invited into rooms with the most influential people on the planet, she writes: "The titans of industry, politics and economics, talked about advancing the world through finance, technology, and flying to Mars. Family – the actual messy, delightful, difficult and treasured core of how most of us live – was fringe. This disconnect has profound consequences...In a prosperous marketplace, we need all women to have the choice to work in paid jobs outside the home and for our social and economic infrastructure to entirely support that choice." (emphasis added) Aarti dissects that call to action with her. It sounds like the call of a feminist or labor leader. Nooyi posits her argument is simple economics. "If you think like an economist, not a feminist, then you say you want the best resources available, which means that men and women, the best talent, have to be in the service of the economy," Nooyi says. "And that requires some social support. ... If you don't provide them a support structure, and then lament about the great resignation, it's crazy."

Vladimir Putin hates her: Meet Daria Kaleniuk of Ukraine

In this week's episode of Art of Power, host Aarti Shahani sits down with the woman who helped build Ukraine's fledgling democracy. Daria Kaleniuk is the executive director of Ukraine's Anti-Corruption Action Center. She has spent a decade building sweeping anti-corruption infrastructure, much to Russia's chagrin. As Vladimir Putin invades her home, you may have seen her calling out U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a recent press conference that went viral. In our conversation, Kaleniuk questions the value of her life's work: "We are being executed by Russia for fighting corruption and building rule of law," she tells Shahani. "Those allies which helped us...are betraying us. They are not providing means to protect our democracy." To understand the war in Ukraine, you need to understand her story: where she grew up, the uprising that shaped her, and the threat that she poses to Vladimir Putin. We discuss her early childhood in the post–Soviet state (1:43), her protest work during the Maidan Revolution (7:00), Putin's recent speech that cited the organizations she helped create as a pretext for his invasion (27:37), and her call to action for Western governments (32:02). Editor's note: This interview was recorded on Monday, March 7, 2022. It provides vital context for understanding Russia's attack on Ukraine, but does not reflect the latest developments on the ground.