Rainn Wilson’s character, Dwight Schrute, was by far one of the most memorable characters of the T.V. show “The Office” with his blend of ridiculous, exaggerated life-guiding logic. But Wilson’s real-life endeavors are a far cry from his T.V. persona: he has directed his energy towards a new movement with his company called SoulPancake, an agency where they “create stuff that matters. That opens your heart… Makes you think… To help you figure out what it means to be human.” Quite a promise.
Of the company’s many proud works, SoulPancake launched the web series “That’s What She Said” where women had an open forum to speak honestly on things from hot-button issues like body image to broader themes of perception, confidence, power and purpose. Wilson and the SoulPancake team gave the opportunity to open the floor to women to speak candidly on these issues and engage the audience in dialogue around many difficult, real-life topics and themes that women face to encourage real and lasting change.
But they didn’t want to stop there: Wilson and his team of creators are also on their second season of their YouTube series “That’s What He Said”, a roundtable-like discussion with men of all ages and backgrounds on important issues with an aim to provide understanding and compassion within genders and across the gender gap.
“After I created the previous incarnation of this show which was centered around women (‘That’s What She Said’), I discovered that while girls are now being championed into becoming strong and powerful women, from sources as varied as Beyoncé to Cheryl Sandburg, there is very little discussion encouraging boys to be fully realized men. I wanted to provide a space for that” – series director Annabella Casanova.
Thus “That’s What He Said” was born. Conversations with a roundtable of open, honest men and real-life testimonials from men on the street from all backgrounds come together to speak on issues not normally discussed nor broadcasted to the masses partake in discussions from “What is Masculinity” to their thoughts and candid feelings on self-esteem and body issues. Just like for women, men are bombarded with images and concepts from the media on what makes the “ideal man” from perfectly proportioned bodies, hair in all the right places and the “tall, dark and handsome” aesthetic. What is so refreshing about these discussions are that these men are not afraid to dive deep, get vulnerable and share their open feelings and insecurities on the topic of body image and how much their struggles mirror that of women’s own struggles with body image and self-esteem.
Casanova felt especially passionate about giving the floor to men to engage in dialogue surrounding socially-relevant issues and topics – topics that are sensitive; topics that deserve to be addressed. Disparity among genders is an issue that “That’s What He Said” touches upon the episode entitled “Women,” where a group of men get together to discuss – and quickly realize – the differences on seemingly benign situations for men and women, such as running in a park at night, or getting cat-called on the street. The realization that men themselves also need to be an agent of change is a pivotal turning point in the conversation for the group and thus the #CheckYourBoys idea was launched – ensuring that men themselves are checking in with their friends and making sure they monitor and check each other for inappropriate behavior towards women (and men) alike. The webisodes not only touch on very important gender-related topics, but also foster the idea that gender issues are not one-sided and allowing a platform for these types of discussions to happen in the first place are paramount.
“I have always been a feminist and strong supporter of women’s rights and feel that a major step on the path to true gender equality is the celebration of men and women who are making an effort toward this end. I believe it is equally as important in the efforts of feminism to raise good men with a balanced understanding of masculinity and feminism as it is to raise strong women” – series director Annabella Casanova.
Check out more episodes of SoulPancake’s “That’s What He Said” series here.