“I think it is essential that when you feel that creative fire inside to be true to that. It doesn’t mean it’s going to save the world but it might save you and that could be just as important”. William Etundi
EPISODE 19 – WILLIAM ETUNDI ON ACTIVISM, CREATIVITY AND EVOLUTION
FUELLING CREATIVE FIRE TO INSPIRE CULTURE CHANGE
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About this interview:
How to bring people together for experiences that change lives.
In this episode Amisha is in conversation with William Etundi, a curator and creator of “events that touch the world”. From jubilant mass political protests to mind-expanding mansion parties, William’s events blend social commentary, art and public spectacle and are designed to evoke feelings of freedom, gratitude and possibility. William has designed experiences for over 100,000 guests from the Brooklyn underground, to Art Basel Miami, from the Louvre to the White House.
His current project in New York City – “You Are So Lucky” – is designed as a deep celebration of the city itself which leaves participants deeply grateful for where they live and who they share their home with. William speaks of “alchemising the dark energies” of a gilded age mansion on the outskirts of New York where the events are hosted, and talks us through his experience of hosting events across the city from Harlem to Yonkers.
Together Amisha and William discuss their experiences of race, difference, place, belonging and embodying cultural bridges. William speaks about his experience growing up as a mixed race man with African heritage in both America, as well as his early childhood experiences of activism as the son of a politically engaged pastor in a proudly gay district. He shares how these experiences and contexts have informed his creative work in the past and what he perceives now as a fertile cultural moment for the expression of African heritage in the arts.
From taking days off school to attend protests as a child, William grew up and moved to New York to immerse himself in the community of activists and culture creators of the late 90s and early 2000s. He describes the energy and hope of young people reclaiming the streets and speaking truth to power, and the crushing disillusionment that followed the brutal police suppression of protests around the 2004 Republican convention in New York.
Amisha and William share stories of entering inside the mainstream political and judicial system, getting burned, the impact of what they saw and experienced there and their personal journeys from disillusionment and burnout to reconnect with the most essential parts of themselves. They speak of a shared commitment to the soft, small, interpersonal actions at the roots of society, the collaboration that produces something greater than its parts, the imperfect spiral of human evolution that meanders upwards and trusting in the call of the creative fire inside.
“I choose to believe that these smaller softer moments can build a more sustainable evolution, a spiralling up for all of us. It’s the best solution I have.” – William Etundi
William Etundi’s work has been featured in the pages of Vogue, i-D Magazine, Paper Magazine, and more, with the New York Times proclaiming him “an impresario of the underground.” In 2012 he launched SeeMe, an international artist network that grew to over 1 million members. He is also the founder and creative director of You Are So Lucky, one of the most sought-after tickets in New York City.
To find out more about William, visit www.youaresolucky.com, and www.williamxalexandra.com
To connect or work with Amisha Ghadiali, visit www.amisha.co.uk
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