Amanda Seales On 'Insecure' And 'Small Doeses' : It's Been a Minute Amanda Seales is perhaps best known for her role as Tiffany in HBO's 'Insecure,' but the actress and stand-up comedian has been busy the last few years. She hosts the comedy game show, 'Smart, Funny, And Black,' and her first stand-up special, 'I Be Knowin'' came to HBO earlier this year. Now Seales is out with a book, 'Small Doses: Potent Truths for Everyday Use,' full of life advice. Seales and Sam Sanders talked about the success of 'Insecure,' what it means for black shows on TV and who her comedy is for.

Actress And Comedian Amanda Seales On 'Insecure' And Her Book, 'Small Doses'

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(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

AMANDA SEALES: (Sneezing).

SAM SANDERS, HOST:

Uh-oh. It's that time of year.

SEALES: No, it's - I just don't get sleep.

SANDERS: That's not good.

SEALES: I'm working on it.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: I got to figure - I got to restructure, like - there's just not enough hours.

SANDERS: It's true.

SEALES: There just isn't.

SANDERS: There's not.

SEALES: There's not enough hours for my ambition.

SANDERS: From NPR, I'm Sam Sanders. IT'S BEEN A MINUTE. That voice you hear - the one who sneezed, the one who wants more hours in the day - that's Amanda Seales. And she could actually use more hours in her day because she is very busy. She's best known for her role as Tiffany on HBO's "Insecure." You may also have seen her first standup comedy special on HBO this year, or you may know her as a creator and host of "Smart Funny & Black," a comedy game show dedicated to all things black culture. Also, Amanda has a master's degree in African American Studies, and she used to be in the hip-hop duo Floetry. Incredibly, the reason we sat down to talk recently was none of the above.

Amanda Seales, on top of all that other work, she is out with a new book that is called "Small Doses: Potent Truths For Everyday Use." It's essays, life advice, little pearls of wisdom from someone who has a lot of wisdom to give. All right, here's my chat with the fun and engaging yet overworked and underslept (ph) Amanda Seales. Enjoy.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: And then the worst thing is, like, when you think you need to go to bed and you're ready to go to bed - then you have an idea or you want to finish a thing. And you're like, I should just get up and type this out right now.

SEALES: That happened literally to me last night.

SANDERS: Really?

SEALES: I was like, I need to go to bed. However...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: ...I haven't put any time into the screenplay today. So I need to do something - even if it's just come up with the names of these characters.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: Which I did. So...

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. Anyway - so before this interview - and actually for, like, a year or two now, watching you on "Insecure," seeing your career blow up, I've kept being like - where have I seen her before? And then I figured it out. You were on the college circuit.

SEALES: The college circuit?

SANDERS: Like, college tour circuit - and you were Amanda Diva.

SEALES: Yes.

SANDERS: And you did a conference in Texas when I was an undergrad...

SEALES: At A & M?

SANDERS: Yes, the Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference.

SEALES: Yes, Southeastern.

SANDERS: Southeastern or whatever - SBSLC.

SEALES: SBSLC, yes.

SANDERS: OK. That's what it is.

SEALES: (Laughter).

SANDERS: I was like, I know. I know I've seen her.

SEALES: I know.

SANDERS: Yes, because I brought your CD after the - your show.

SEALES: Oh, my God. You went - OK, so I've been to SBSLC twice.

SANDERS: OK.

SEALES: So you went when I was there the first time...

SANDERS: OK, yes.

SEALES: ...In '05.

SANDERS: Yes.

SEALES: I was there in '05...

SANDERS: Yes.

SEALES: ...My homegirl Ashley Handerson (ph) had got - had brought me out there. And Finnie D. Coleman - professor Finnie D. Coleman.

SANDERS: How long - so like, if I'm reading correctly, for a while you were doing, like, a lot of college stuff.

SEALES: Mmm hmm.

SANDERS: And I'm always intrigued by that as, like, a career path because I've talked with other comics that do that. It is a grind that in many ways prepares you for other stuff. Like, it is...

SEALES: Oh, absolutely.

SANDERS: It's a testing ground.

SEALES: Well, when I started doing colleges, I was doing them as a poet because I had done "Def Poetry Jam."

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: So I was doing it - I was literally touring colleges while I was in college.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah.

SEALES: But the thing about doing poetry was that - and the thing about colleges in general is that you just never know what you're showing up to.

SANDERS: Yeah, like, do the students want to be there? Is it extra credit? What is it?

SEALES: Oh, let's take it to another level. Is it in an auditorium? Is it in a cafeteria?

SANDERS: (Laughter) Yeah.

SEALES: Is it in a random room in the back of a library?

SANDERS: Uh-Huh.

SEALES: You know, or is it in a lecture hall?

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: Like - so as a performer and as, like, a Type A personality, like, there's a certain level of surprise that I appreciate...

SANDERS: Uh-huh.

SEALES: ...And that I am very disturbed by.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. How long were you doing, like, college, college, college, shows, shows, shows?

SEALES: I did college, college, college until 2005, when I found myself at Miami Ohio in the back of a bar that had a college basketball game going while I was doing a poetry reading.

SANDERS: Oh, man (laughter).

SEALES: And I felt my spirit, like, wither before my eyes like a leaf falling to the ground on the first day of winter. And I said to my manager at the time, like, I don't want to do this anymore 'cause it's, like, literally killing my soul.

SANDERS: Yeah. How do you think that experience has shaped the performer you are now?

SEALES: Well, I think I just, one, have so much content.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: You know, like, by the time I started doing stand-up, I was 34.

SANDERS: OK.

SEALES: And I had just amassed so many years of experience being onstage and having to perform in all these different formats, whether it was as a poet or as a host or as a lecturer or as a musician. Then by the time I got to - or as an actor because I used to do a one-woman show called "Death Of The Diva." I toured that.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: By the time I got to stand-up, you know, I just had a very wide breadth of experiences to draw from in terms of content and a wide breadth of experience to draw from in terms of just being comfortable onstage.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Would you play colleges now? They seem like very different places now than when I was seeing you at that conference in 2005. It is a...

SEALES: Yeah, I still do. I still do. I'll do - I'm more thoughtful about it. I mean, in my...

SANDERS: It's a different climate on campus right now, it feels like.

SEALES: It is. It is.

SANDERS: Do you like that?

SEALES: No. I don't like the idea of people coming to - I think - I don't want to blanket statement. Right? Like, I don't want to say everybody comes. But I think there is a hypersensitivity that's just a part of a generational change and a cultural change that I'm not fully accustomed to. I think some people talk about like, oh, it's so PC. I don't have a problem with being PC. I mean, I don't think that I am culturally oblivious. I think it's more so just this idea of nobody ever wants to be offended. And sometimes, you're going to be offended...

SANDERS: Yeah. Well, also people - and this is not just college campuses.

SEALES: ...Or addressed.

SANDERS: They don't want to hear a thing that doesn't align with their worldview.

SEALES: One million percent.

SANDERS: When it's like, oh, the - one of the big reasons to go to college is to hear a bunch of different...

SEALES: Perspectives, yeah.

SANDERS: ...Worldviews, yeah.

SEALES: And if you - and sometimes, it's like they may not even hear the message. Like, I have - like, I had people be like, oh, like, you don't like Jamaicans because in my special, I reference that a Jamaican man hollered at me on the street. And so this is me talking negative about Jamaicans. Like, that's not a blanket statement. But sometimes, I think that there is this idea of, like, if you even mention a group that people are from, they don't even want you mention it...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: ...If that's not your group.

SANDERS: Yeah, let's talk about the book.

SEALES: Yeah.

SANDERS: So you got a new book coming out. Or is it already out? When did it come out?

SEALES: October 22.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: And...

SANDERS: Congratulations on the book release.

SEALES: Thank you.

SANDERS: How are you feeling?

SEALES: I'm feeling good now. Like, at first, it's just, like, such a new space...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: ...That I kind of just had this weird, like, numbness. It was, like, all the feelings at once so it kind of feels like nothing. You know, like if you mix all the colors together, you just get a clop of, like, some weird color. Like...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: That's how I was feeling. But now I feel like I've probably compartmentalized. And the book tour really helped to kind of just bring me back to center with it because you just get to talk to different people about what they're looking forward to or what they've already read. And...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: And I think that I've never written this - you know, I've written a book of poetry before, but I've never written a book in this fashion, where it's essays. It's blurbs. It's lists. It's stories. And it's all my point of view, you know?

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: So you're stepping out naked...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: ...You know? And, like, you want to feel safe.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: And the book tour really help me feel safe.

SANDERS: Yes. Let's describe the book for those who haven't gotten it yet. It's called "Small Doses: Potent Truths For Everyday Use." Describe that frame for our listeners because it's not a typical memoir. It's...

SEALES: It's not a memoir.

SANDERS: Yeah. It's vignettes of you and your experience but about life and more than just you.

SEALES: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's honest advice for the side effects of life. So, like, we have side effects of insecurity. You know, there's side effects of being a multihyphenate, side effects of a Type A personality, side effects of haters, side effects of the hoe phase...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: ...Side effects of race in the workplace.

SANDERS: Yeah, I like the side effect frame.

SEALES: Thank you.

SANDERS: It's throughout the book, and I appreciated that. What was the hardest side effect for you to write about in the book?

SEALES: Well, the whole section on womanhood was the hardest part...

SANDERS: OK.

SEALES: ...Which I was surprised about because I'm like, I'm going to do this one, like, no problem.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

SEALES: And I think it was because I'm so close to it. And I just felt like I didn't want to write stuff that was kind of kitschy or hackneyed or had just been, like, overdone. So it was like, well, I don't want to write about beauty. Like, I don't want to write about - I want to write about sex. But how do I write about it in a unique way? For instance, like, I have a whole essay about beauty...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: ...That is literally just one sentence (laughter).

SANDERS: Tell us the sentence.

SEALES: Well, it's one paragraph. And it's "Jam-Dropping Pretty Versus Gorgeous." (Reading) You know what? Every woman is pretty, gorgeous, fly, sexy, cute, banging, fine, bad, stacked, pretty, hot and tempting or phat, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera in their own way. Learn and love what you consider to be pretty, gorgeous, fly, sexy, cute, banging, fine, bad, stacked, pretty, hot and tempting or phat about you. And don't base that on what anyone else thinks. And that's all I have to say about that.

SANDERS: I like it. I give you snaps for it.

(LAUGHTER)

SEALES: Thanks.

SANDERS: How long did it take you to get to the place where you could write that poem down in a book with your name on it?

SEALES: Did you consider that to be a poem?

SANDERS: It read like a poem just now.

SEALES: Thank you.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: I mean, I think I read like a poem. Like, you know?

SANDERS: Good point (laughter).

SEALES: Yeah, like, at my core, like, that's there.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

SEALES: And then - I mean, but also let me tell you something. Like, I watched Toni Morrison's documentary recently.

SANDERS: It's so good.

SEALES: And I talked like (imitating Toni Morrison) hello.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: I'll have - I mean, I was, like, a full Toni all day. I was talking to my homegirl, and I was like (imitating Toni Morrison) hello, what are you doing? I was like I'm sorry. My bad. Like, I'm feeling Toni in my...

SANDERS: Feeling Toni.

SEALES: ...Speech.

SANDERS: And, like, she does this thing where (imitating Toni Morrison) you will wait for her words. And that's fine.

SEALES: Yo.

SANDERS: I love it.

SEALES: That right there.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: Economy of words.

SANDERS: Listen. She gets it.

SEALES: I've been trying to work on that, too.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: I've been really trying to work on the economy of words.

SANDERS: How hard was writing the book? - because it's got a lot of threads going on. Like, you know, like, these chapters with various side effects, a lot of different vignettes throughout - like, you know, like, there's some books you read, like, OK. They started out, like, we're going to go from point A to point B. Your book goes to many, many different points.

SEALES: My book is like "Interstellar," OK?

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: We're riding on planets. We're in black holes. We are in other dimensions. Matthew McConaughey's, like, showing up.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Was it hard to write?

SEALES: It was incredibly difficult to write.

SANDERS: How long did it take you?

SEALES: A year.

SANDERS: OK.

SEALES: I thought it was going to take two months because I'm a very, like, pragmatic, like - and now we're doing this, and now we're going to do this.

SANDERS: Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, yeah.

SEALES: But in that year, my life really changed, you know, over the last two years just in terms of, like, my visibility, in terms of my workload. I mean, these two years have been nonstop. I'm not complaining by any means. I'm incredibly booked and blessed. But it's just taken time for me to adjust to, like, how to manage my time now.

SANDERS: So, like, you've been working consistently for a long time, but I think it's fair to say that a lot of stuff changed for you once America began to see you on screen more in "Insecure."

SEALES: Yeah, absolutely.

SANDERS: And so, like, when did we start seeing you, like, become, like, a regular? - like, season two?

SEALES: I was - well, yeah.

SANDERS: Or it was more...

SEALES: I mean, I think that we were present.

SANDERS: You were present. But, like, you and Natasha Rothwell became, like, more later on.

SEALES: Yes, we became more considered like, oh, this is a foursome.

SANDERS: Yes. Yeah.

SEALES: Like, this is a group of girls that are friends.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: And I think that was also just by nature of the fact that, like, you only got six episodes for a season.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: Six a season - you still only get six episodes but just the repetition of...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: ...Seeing these faces and these interactions. And I think the fact that, like, Tiffany just got more of a point of view, you know? And that's, of course, by the growth of a show...

SANDERS: Exactly.

SEALES: ...Like, the growth of story.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

SEALES: So - and I got the opportunity to really just kind of lock in to, like, this is a person that you're going to see more of.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: You know, this is the character you're going to see more of.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: All right, time for a break. When we come back, you know those friends who ask for your advice and never ever take your advice? Amanda knows those friends, too. And she has thoughts. BRB.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: Let's talk more about your performance on "Insecure" and that character, which I find quite funny and hilarious but also not at all - in IRL - like you.

SEALES: I think the only thing that's different about Tiffany is her delivery and just kind of, like, the way that she carries herself. But honestly, if you...

SANDERS: Do you see yourself as bougie as she is?

SEALES: I'm not bougie. I think for the first two seasons, we felt like she was somebody who defined herself by her status, like, by her bougieness (ph).

SANDERS: Yes, yes.

SEALES: And...

SANDERS: And her wealth.

SEALES: And her wealth, which actually was not the case. I think it just gave off that.

SANDERS: OK.

SEALES: But, really, what it is is that she's just a very pulled up - she's very similar to me. Like, she's a Type A. She likes things just so.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: Like, remember when she told Molly, like, listen. I didn't spend time handwriting all of these place cards with a calligraphy pen so that you could just sit where you wanted to sit.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Yes.

SEALES: Go sit in your seat, you know? Like, she likes things just so because she's put time into it.

SANDERS: Yeah. And she'll say what she wants, which seems like you.

SEALES: And that's Amanda.

SANDERS: OK.

SEALES: Yes, and so it's interesting because people are like, I don't like your character. And I'm like, you don't like somebody to keep it a buck with you.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: That's what it is.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: And that's me. And I say it ain't shade if it's the truth.

SANDERS: All right. What in portraying that character is the hardest for you to get to? - the stuff that's not like you, that you have to reach the most for.

SEALES: Well, the pregnancy stuff - I mean, I've never had a baby.

SANDERS: OK.

SEALES: And I've also, like, never been a part of a friend group like that.

SANDERS: Really?

SEALES: Yeah. Like, I have my individual...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: Like, I have individual friends, but I've never had, like, a squad.

SANDERS: Well, I also feel like the squad kind of friendship is very TV.

SEALES: Isn't it?

SANDERS: Especially in LA, there's no way I'm getting four of my friends together on a regular basis.

SEALES: Regular is not happening.

SANDERS: It's LA. Someone's in Silver Lake. Someone's in Venice. Someone's in Orange County. And I'm going to see y'all at somebody's birthday.

SEALES: It's true. It's so true.

SANDERS: You know what I'm saying?

SEALES: Yeah.

SANDERS: It is kind of interesting to, like, inhabit what, in many ways for a lot of folks, feels like an aspirational friend group. They're together a lot, and a lot of folks don't get that.

SEALES: Yeah, but then - they're together a lot, but there's a lot of dishonesty amongst them.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: You know? And I think it's an important thing to explore and to, like, take notice of when you're watching the show, you know? Like, and I would say, like - I would say that's probably the biggest difference between me and my character is that I am, like, wildly transparent. And I could learn something from Tiffany.

SANDERS: OK, which is what?

SEALES: Because Tiffany, I feel, has a healthy - well, Tiffany has a healthy amount of temerity. And I just come through like, we're all friends. We're here. Yeah.

SANDERS: Let's go. Let it out.

SEALES: And it's like, no, they don't even like you.

(LAUGHTER)

SEALES: Like, just - it's just she seems to be a lot more conscious of, like, being quiet when it's time to be quiet.

SANDERS: And knowing when and where best to let those words out.

SEALES: Yes, and it's not like I'm tactless. It's not that I'm tactless and I lack no filter. It's that sometimes, I feel like my intentions are not going to be reflected by the room, received by the room.

SANDERS: Got you. Got you.

SEALES: And so I need to read the room to know if this is the right room to present.

SANDERS: Exactly.

SEALES: You know, like, sometimes - OK. So, like, if I'm in a room and, like, there's wrong information being said, it kills me.

SANDERS: To let it just be spoken.

SEALES: Oh, my...

SANDERS: You want to say, stop this. That's not right.

SEALES: That's not right.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: But sometimes, it's like you do that in the wrong room, and they're like you're a know-it-all, or...

SANDERS: Yes, this wasn't your room. This is his room. This is their room. Yes, exactly.

SEALES: And, like, I know there's people listening who are like, oh, my God. I feel you...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: ...Because it drives you crazy. You're just like no, no, no. Or, like, if you have a - it's like you know that you have, like, really good advice you could get somebody in a situation. And like...

SANDERS: Yeah, and they don't heed it. This is a thing with most advice - people don't heed it.

SEALES: Well, people don't heed it. And so - but I'll still feel like I want to give it. And I have to just catch myself and be like, you know what? Unless they're asking for it...

SANDERS: Don't give it. Even now when friends ask for advice, I just find a way to ask them a bunch of questions.

SEALES: Well, you know, people don't really want advice. They want permission.

SANDERS: Yep. Yep. Yep.

SEALES: (Laughter).

SANDERS: That's it. That's it. Like...

SEALES: I talk about that in the book.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: People don't want advice. They want permission.

SANDERS: They - yeah.

SEALES: They just want you to say like...

SANDERS: It's OK. They want permission to stay with the trash man or leave the trash man. They don't want you to say, break up with him.

SEALES: But sometimes, it's like - to your point of asking the question, it's like, well, what do you want to do?

SANDERS: Yes.

SEALES: So then the person will say what they want to do. And a lot of times, I will say - if I agree with it, I'll be like, follow your gut.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: If I don't agree with it, I'll be like, well, are you interested in any advice?

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

SEALES: And you can tell - because sometimes, they'll be like, yes. Or sometimes, they'll be like, I mean - you know what I mean? Like - or my homegirl Demetria, Demetria Lucas, she's - I talk about this in my standup. She always says, permission to be honest?

SANDERS: (Laughter) Yeah.

SEALES: You know, because sometimes, people don't want your honesty, especially your friends.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah. And, like, what I'll do now is, like, try to have a series of questions that makes them work out that choose-your-own-adventure.

SEALES: Oh, so you're a therapist.

SANDERS: It's like - yeah.

SEALES: Do you invoice them after?

SANDERS: I should.

SEALES: (Laughter).

SANDERS: But it's like, all right, so if you do do that thing, what do you think would happen, and how would you feel about those things happening? Would you regret those things happening if you did that? So knowing that...

SEALES: What's expectation?

SANDERS: Exactly. What is your intention and your expectation, and which of these two choices will get you closer to that?

SEALES: There you go. That's the major - that's the one right there.

SANDERS: You know?

SEALES: Because, like, I know for me, I have to ask myself that question. Like, if I'm going into a particularly difficult conversation or if I feel like I want to start a particularly difficult conversation...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: ...I have to ask myself...

SANDERS: What I want to get out of it and where is it taking me.

SEALES: Yep.

SANDERS: Because it feels good to be - it feels good to live in your truth in a moment, but if your truth has kept you from that check...

SEALES: Yeah.

SANDERS: ...Has kept you from that love...

SEALES: Yes.

SANDERS: ...Has kept you from that thing you need...

SEALES: You got to tailor the truth, and I think that's the thing. It's like, it's not about learning to be phony. It's just finding a new way to be real.

SANDERS: I've been giving you a lot of snaps this episode. I really like it.

SEALES: That's been - I mean, that's something I've been working on all year.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: And it is a work in progress.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: I'm not all the way there, but I consciously pursue it.

SANDERS: Which I like.

SEALES: Thanks.

SANDERS: Speaking of realness, I have now interviewed - you're my third interview with someone from "Insecure." I interviewed Prentice Penny.

SEALES: Oh, yay.

SANDERS: I interviewed Natasha Rothwell. Going into Season 4, how are you feeling about the place of the show? It's become this thing that is, you know, perhaps bigger than folks thought it might be.

SEALES: I think it's great that "Insecure" has continued to be successful, but I think that it's - the side effect of it is that I think some people seem very comfortable about where we're at as black folks with voices in this industry. And I think that it's like, because of its success, some people feel like we're having this, like, great big renaissance. And I'm like - I mean, there's - I mean, I grew up in the '90s, where, like, I can't even name...

SANDERS: "Living Single"...

SEALES: ...The amount...

SANDERS: ..."Martin," "Moesha," "Fresh Prince"...

SEALES: ...The black...

SANDERS: Yeah. "The Parkers"...

SEALES: Like, the shows are in - I mean...

SANDERS: They're waves.

SEALES: ...But they're - I mean, they just number. I'm saying...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: ...Like, even, like, "Sister, Sister," I mean...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: ..."Smart Guy," like, I mean...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: Like, "Cousin Skeeter," "My Brother And Me" - like, there were just so many.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: Right now - and we're just naming comedies.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

SEALES: Right now, like, I can count on my hand the shows that I would consider to be black shows - not just shows that have a black lead, but shows that feel like a representation...

SAM SANDERS AND AMANDA SEALES: About the black experience.

SEALES: Yeah. I can count those on my hand.

SANDERS: It's "Insecure" - what else in terms of, like, prestige TV?

SEALES: "Insecure," "Atlanta" - if we're talking comedies...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: "Insecure," "Atlanta" - and I talk about in the book just the difference between diversity and inclusion.

SANDERS: Yep.

SEALES: And you have to have a conscious directive and intention to practice diversity...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: ...In any space.

SANDERS: All right, time for one more break. On the other side, how Issa Rae from "Insecure" gave me a tip on a question that her co-star Amanda did not expect. BRB.

SANDERS: I want to ask you a question comparing your work in the book to your comedy work.

SEALES: Ooh.

SANDERS: Yeah. At the beginning of your comedy special from HBO earlier this year, "I Be Knowin'"...

SEALES: Hey.

SANDERS: Congrats on that.

SEALES: Thank you.

SANDERS: You have this wonderful monologue at the top saying who this is for...

SEALES: Oh, yeah.

SANDERS: ...And who it's not for. And you say, quote, "it's for everybody except for racists, rapists, sexists, misogynists, narcissists or those that are calling the cops on black folk just living our lives." You go on, but it's kind of, like, saying, I'm here for these folks, not for those folks. Wouldn't those people benefit by hearing you and reading you as well?

SEALES: Most of those people are not interested in any other point of view.

SANDERS: If they could come to your work in an open-minded way...

SEALES: Yeah.

SANDERS: Would you want them to, and, like, what would you hope that they get from it? All the stuff the other folks get from it, I guess.

SEALES: Yeah. I hope they see the error of their ways and make a practice to change not only their own behaviors, but those that they feel - share. You know, like, I have a great essay in here from a friend of mine, Alison Faircloth. There's two pieces in here that I didn't write. One is from my friend Leah, and the other one is for my friend Alison Faircloth, who is a woman who happens to be white, and we grew up together in high school and beyond at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla. And Alison wrote an incredible piece on Facebook after the Charlottesville horror about what it would take for white people to be allies, and she was like, this is what an ally...

SANDERS: Does.

SEALES: ...Is.

SANDERS: Yeah, is. Yeah.

SEALES: And I was so happy that she allowed me to it in my book because I felt like it was so integrally important that it was coming from a white person speaking to white people because it just - it's not my job to continue trying to get white people to understand racism because at the end of the day, if you are a white person who is racist, like, you're not going to hear me because you don't even see value in me.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: So you need to hear from another white person who can let you know that it's not enough to just be like, I just don't like racism.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: Like, it's not...

SANDERS: That means nothing at this point.

SEALES: Like, don't you love when you see videos of, like, a person who happens to be white in a situation where they see somebody, like...

SANDERS: And they call it out.

SEALES: ...Being attacked or - and they're like...

SANDERS: Call it out.

SEALES: ...No, no, no. And they put themselves in that position because they know that once they're in the situation...

SANDERS: It changes it.

SEALES: It changes it.

SANDERS: It changes it.

SEALES: They understand that math.

SANDERS: Yes.

SEALES: And they do that math for the help of somebody else. And, like, I mean, the only thing that makes me cry more than that is, like, videos on The Dodo...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: ...Because I love an animal rescue, honey.

SANDERS: Listen. Same here.

SEALES: Woo.

SANDERS: Same here.

SEALES: Love it.

SANDERS: Yeah. In thinking about all of the multiple hats you've worn throughout your career - we've gone through that list; so many things - I found out a little tidbit from you from one of your co-stars on your show. I ended up at a wedding two weekends ago with a mutual friend of Issa Rae, so we both were there. So we're hanging out, and I was like, Issa, I'm going to interview one of your co-stars. I'm talking to Amanda Seales. Tell me something to ask her that will, like, catch her by surprise.

SEALES: Oh, God. What is it going to be? OK.

SANDERS: And she was like, have her tell you about how she was, like, a professional gymnast in her youth.

SEALES: (Laughter).

SANDERS: And I was like, OK. I'll ask. So this is me asking about that.

SEALES: I wouldn't say professional because, like, I didn't make money off of it. I spent a lot of money doing it.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: But yeah, I was, like, a real intense gymnast. I started gymnastics when I was 12, and I excelled up to that point by 15. And I quit gymnastics when I was 16 because I had a stress fracture on one wrist, and then I, like, learned all my routines on one arm.

SANDERS: Oh, my God.

SEALES: And then when that wrist healed, I had stress fractures on the other wrist, so then I was like, I guess this is a wrap. And then I went into diving. But gymnastics was a huge part of my life, and I mean, just thinking about those years - 12 to 16 - I mean, those are...

SANDERS: It's formative.

SEALES: ...Very formative years. And it formed me to be just a very meticulous, disciplined - that's why it was so just - it was incensing to me the lack of discipline I had writing this book.

SANDERS: Really?

SEALES: I mean, my coaches would have just been...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: Like, listen. When you get to the gym and Christie says, like, OK, we're doing 10 beam routines today, and you need to stick the first three in order to start counting the rest of them, when you've fallen on that third routine four times and you're just standing by that beam crying and everyone is changing and going onto floor and Christie is like, you're not leaving...

SANDERS: Christie is the coach.

SEALES: Yes.

SANDERS: OK.

SEALES: Christie is the coach - Christie Mitchell, honey. And Christie's like, Amanda, you're not leaving, so I would wipe the tears. If you need to go to the bathroom and get yourself together, do what you got to do, but you're not leaving...

SANDERS: Get back there.

SEALES: ...Until you stick the routines you need to stick.

SANDERS: Yeah. How many hours a day were you practicing?

SEALES: Six.

SANDERS: Oh, my God.

SEALES: I mean, my mom was like, I mean, for you, home was just a place you slept...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: ...Because I slept - I would go to school, and a lot of gymnasts, like, homeschool so they can train - you know, especially elite gymnasts homeschool so they can train longer.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: But I really loved school, and I was in regular school for the time I was in gymnastics. So I would go to school, you know, from, like, 7:20 in the morning until, I think, 1:40, maybe. I can't remember.

SANDERS: And then you go practice.

SEALES: And then you leave school, and you go immediately to the gym.

SANDERS: So it seems like that life has prepared you for the very, very busy life you lead right now.

SEALES: One thousand percent, and I'm just trying to, like, tap into that. I'm also just, like, older, and I'm tired.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

SEALES: Like, I just feel like - I just get, like, tired faster, you know? Like...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: And I would love to meet an investor who just gives me a bag of money so I can, you know, put my company together and just sit in my office...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: ...And make things.

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: And, you know...

SANDERS: That's not how it works.

SEALES: How often does that happen?

SANDERS: Not how it works.

SEALES: But I'ma (ph) put it out in the universe anyway.

SANDERS: There you go. Put it out. I love it.

SEALES: It's out there, y'all.

SANDERS: I love it. Last question for you...

SEALES: Ooh.

SANDERS: You have just written this book that a lot of folks are going to read and use to hopefully help their lives become a little bit better. What tidbit from this book and the wisdom you have in it would you most want that 14-year-old Amanda Seales, gymnast crying by the floor routine, to hear or receive from this book?

SEALES: I think it goes back to what I said earlier, which is just that it's in you...

SANDERS: Yeah.

SEALES: ...Because there's been so many times where I feel like all is lost or I feel like, damn. If I just had this person - you know, like, even, like, me saying, like, I wish somebody could give me a bag of money - it's like, yeah, but you also know that you can make a bag of money.

SANDERS: There you go.

SEALES: And sometimes, you just need to know that. It doesn't change the fact that you would still love for somebody drop a bag of money, you know? But sometimes, you just need to know that because hope is a currency.

SANDERS: And hope is maybe even worth more...

SEALES: I was going to say.

SANDERS: ...Than the bag of money.

SEALES: And there's been so many times where I've had to check myself and remind myself, it's in you. Like, you may not be able to see it right now. Keep looking.

SANDERS: Thank you, Amanda Seales.

SEALES: Thank you.

SANDERS: This was a delight.

SEALES: This was so fun, yes.

SANDERS: I really enjoyed it. Oh, my goodness.

SEALES: And you know you have perfect hands.

SANDERS: What?

SEALES: You have beautiful hands.

SANDERS: Listen. You come here every week.

SEALES: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: Thanks again to Amanda Seales. Her new book is called "Small Doses: Potent Truths For Everyday Use."

Listeners, we are back in your podcast feed on Friday with our usual wrap of the week's news and culture and all the fun stuff. As always, for that episode and every Friday episode, we want to hear you in the show as well. Email us the best things that have happened to you all week. To share that, just record your voice into your phone and send the audio file to me at samsanders@npr.org. You might hear your own voice in our Friday episode. It could be fun.

All right. Till then, thank you for listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. Talk soon.

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