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Landing The Kelly Clarkson Show & How PR Fuels Impact with the Co-Founders of Every Day Action – Podcast Transcript

Landing The Kelly Clarkson Show & How PR Fuels Impact with the Co-Founders of Every Day Action

Speakers: 

Hillary Cohen, Sam Luu, Lexie Smith 

Lexie Smith 

I am honored to be hosting today’s guest duo and really think there could be no more perfect way to end Season Two of the podcast. I met Hillary and Sam through a mutual connection. Carrie Murray, founder of the bra network, shouted out and had the privilege of working with them this past year at the PR bar. Since the amount of impact in success these two women have achieved has literally brought me to tears Even prior to being pregnant and extra hormonal. So Hillary Sam, sincerely welcome to the show. We have so much I want to get into today. But here’s what we’re going to do because I want everyone to get used to your voices. Hillary, I’m going to start with you and then Sam, you’ll go next but Hillary First off, where’s home base and what do you like to do? Outside of work for fun? I know you don’t have a lot of outside of work can talk theoretically to

 

Hillary Cohen 

 I currently live in Encino, California. I was also born in California, but I grew up in Connecticut. And when I’m not working, which yes, there isn’t much of that. I really enjoy traveling. That’s probably my 20 biggest passion. Going on an adventure down a rabbit hole I’ve never been to is my favorite thing to do on my time off.

 

Lexie Smith 

Okay, big question. Do you have the top three favorite places you’ve been to?

 

Hillary Cohen 

Yes, Japan was number one on my bucket list. And that was a place I went right before COVID wasn’t exactly up before COVID. But that was my first, my last big trip and I cannot wait to go back. I’m actually going to Iceland home for Christmas. I know that you went to Iceland. So we’re gonna go to the Blue Lagoon and I’m really looking forward to that. And then I’d say number three, Alaska. Alaska is one of the most beautiful places I think in the entire world.

 

Lexie Smith 

Amazing. Yes. Um, for anyone who is unfamiliar with the Blue Lagoon, just go on Instagram. Look up blue Gruen. I will say it is worth the hype. It was on my bucket list. And I got to go a couple years ago. It was incredible. So Hillary, that’s super exciting. Sam, same questions to you. Where’s home base? And what do you like to do outside of work for fun?

 

Sam Luu 

Well, I live in North Hollywood. But currently, I’m actually doing this podcast from my hometown of Mena, Arkansas. I grew up in Arkansas. So I came to visit my parents for the break. So that’s where I am right now. I love to paint. I haven’t painted since we started our nonprofit, because, but I love painting and gardening. I actually have a huge succulent garden. So I’m like eight years old inside, but I embrace it.

 

Lexie Smith 

I love painting. My husband loves gardening. So you’re like the two for one. I kill everything that comes near me, which is a little concerning, since I’m human, but I’ve kept my dogs for the last five years. So that is promising. We’re doing great. Okay, so you just mentioned your nonprofit. Perfect. That’s exactly where I want to start today. Let’s dive into what everyday action is. And how did it come to be?

 

Hillary Cohen 

Well, every action started during the pandemic, I was filling face masks, which is a whole other story for another day. But I sewed 5000 of them. And during that time, it was this really charged time in our country. And I was watching a lot of CNN because it couldn’t leave my house. So I think I was spending 12 hours a day sewing my hands getting pricked with needles and hearing Donald Trump and I started to really just kind of go nuts. And I just couldn’t think of you know, like what I could do to make a difference. But I had to do something. And I started thinking of this idea of like, What if everyone every day just did something for someone else, instead of spending six hours staring at the television being very angry, which I was really talking to myself. So Sam came over during the pandemic, and we were talking about this idea. And we had a very long evening. And we had also talked about food waste on film sets, which is where Sam and I met, we both have been assistant directors in film and television for the past 10 years. And both of us in COVID kind of had this stuff in our life. We never got to stop and we had to stop and we both wanted to do something different. So we started Every Day Action with the idea to inspire people to do something every day for someone else. But our action in that would be to reallocate food from film sets every day and maybe Sam can talk a little bit more about that venture.

 

Sam Lee 

 I think for us, we realized the easiest and quickest way to make an impact on our industry was to reduce food waste because there are so many different studios. Don’t do it out of fear of lawsuits and liability and we just really decided that no matter what it was definitely worth the risk and my ability to take it on and do something about it. Because, you know, you can talk to almost any crew member. And they will always say how they’re disgusted with the food waste, but there were a lot of people saying that they didn’t like it, but not a lot of people doing anything about it. So we just decided to do something about it. And we have reallocated gosh, almost over 2530 shows now, at this point, and just two years, so that’s pretty huge. And we, you know, we, we do a really simple process of we pick up the food, and we take it to a community fridge, or an encampment, or a shelter. And it’s as simple as that, literally. And we spent two and a half months kind of hashing out the paperwork, and talking to, you know, attorneys and family, friends, and anyone who could contact, you know, connect us with people who knew kind of what we wanted to do, and how we could get there and set up our, you know, set up our nonprofit. And we did it. And it’s been wild that something so simple hasn’t been done before. And now here we are doing it and Johnny, that is great.

 

Lexie Smith 

I’m drowning in it all. I mean, I just want to reiterate that you guys really, very recently started this. This was a pandemic, baby. So we’re gonna talk about all the crazy things that have happened throughout your journey. But usually when you start something, it’s not like that day it takes off, right. So I’d love to learn. What was the first thing that you did, or the first moment that happened that took this from just like, paperwork that you filed to? Wow, okay, this, this nonprofit has some legs, we’re starting to really see some impact here.

 

Hillary Cohen 

I mean, day one was hysterical. Me and Sam, it was the two of us, we went to Walmart, and I’m ashamed to say I went to Walmart, but we went to Walmart. And we bought this cooler that I can fit in. And we had like, two safety vests from work. And I think like a whistle, and the producer who agreed to take a chance on us. And it was like the thick of COVID was the first thing shooting. And this is the part of the story I really love because me and Sam, our whole life is logistics, and on a film set, if something goes wrong, that means we’re going to have a really bad day. But in everyday action when something goes wrong, all the food becomes ours. So on this particular day, you know, he called us and you sounded so stressed out. Um, I feel so bad for this man, because me and Sam just burst out laughing because we’re like, this isn’t our responsibility today. It’s just the right, yeah, you know, as, as IDs, like if someone called us and said, we’re not shooting today, we would have to sit down both the seconds and call the entire crew, and cast and tell people Oh, my gosh, it’s off. And you know, try to minimize the cost of losing the day. And for us, it was like, No, cool, just so we can come down and pick up the food. Awesome. Low stress. It was like a whole, it was really eye opening and a dream. You’re like, oh, this is exactly what we’d much rather if we had 170 meals and say I’m an I literally chase people down in the South Bay. And we learned, you know, we had one overnight shoot, which is something we both were trying to figure out what would happen if we had food at two o’clock in the morning. And as we were knocking on tents, we were thinking to ourselves, if someone came to my door at 2am, and was like, Hey, you want some lasagna? I’d be like, No, I’m sleeping. So that’s something that Sam and I both learned, Oh, these are humans, there are people This is our house. And very quickly, it just changed so much of what we did and how we did it. Or the second person we met was a vegan. And prior to that experience, I would say well, you’re starving to eat this food. But that’s the total wrong approach to a human being, which is what these people are. And I think that has been the most impactful part of me and Sam, this entire year is just every single day that either of us personally go out and reallocate food. I’m impacted by the human beings that I’m helping more I think then we help them. So we did yeah, those first two days and then and say SLA and good trouble, took a chance on us. And like Sam said, we’ve reallocated food from about 20 to 30 sets. We’ve done 110 meals 110,000 meals our first year and it’s We have crazy stories beyond stories. Maybe you say when talking about Steven in the soup?

 

Sam Luu 

Well, and also, you know, the great thing about us is figuring out how the process works. We knew from day one, we have to do it ourselves. So we actually pre-wrote a whole handbook on policies and procedures, because we’re used to thinking logistically in that way, but putting it into action was definitely different. And it’s like, it was amazing because it just actually opened up the doors, I think a lot faster. To us, figuring out a really good process for the whole process of reallocating because we did it ourselves, we figured out really quickly, oh, this is going to work. This is absolutely not going to work. And I think that’s what I think that’s sort of what’s helped us in the process of doing this is, we did it ourselves. So that’s why it’s easy for us to like, give this information to other people to easily do it themselves. Steven, our gosh, is our number one or second employee. We have like two employees. They’re both former salmons who decided to come drive for us and we were so honored. But in the beginning, you know, we really had a very limited amount of volunteers, maybe like five that we could really kind of call last minute and count on. And Steven, bless him, would pick up so many random shows. And we got really, you know, when you’re first starting out, people also don’t understand that you’re just starting out. So I think people would call us thinking we are just a full fledged business and not realizing like we’re both actually working at the time and doing this on the side. So I would be you know, helping to set up a stand on stage. And, you know, and get a call of like, hey, we need this food. And I think that particular day, something happened on the professional side for both of us. So we were swamped, and I answered this call and I was like, Oh yeah, just call. I’ll put Steven on it. We put Steven on this run and he ended up filling every part of his car with soups. They had like 80 soups leftover, he didn’t spell a single soup, but there was literally soup in his glove compartment. Every cupholder in the whole trunk, like his entire car full of soup. I used Fill any of it and he reallocated all himself. And he sent us the pictures and we just fell over laughing. But it also shows the absolute heart of someone like Stephen, he just will go and get the food anytime anywhere, and has never once complained. You know, it’s not always an easy process because productions unfortunately, were very, you know, very much like it’s going with the flow because sometimes shows break on time. Sometimes they don’t, sometimes they break early. Sometimes we’re giving the wrong information. So we send you to the wrong contact. That’s always good. You know, it’s always a bit different. And sometimes it’s not smooth and Steven goodness, he has never once complained. No matter what from the very beginning of this process. And that man is one of our favorites. Absolutely. Stephens is just an absolute hero.

 

Lexie Smith 

What a beautiful infant story and what skills I literally just was driving to a friend’s house. One, one. What’s it called Sweet Potato Casserole next in my backseat, and I was going for 10 minutes and the whole half of the thing was dumped by the time I got there. Now it wasn’t even soup. So I just have to shout out like Steven, you are good. You got voice skills. Does. I see you Okay, so Wow, there’s so much I could ask you to bring this a little bit to you know, the topic of pitching and sippin amongst this incredible journey you guys have had. You’ve also had this insane journey with the press. What was your first big press one for everyday action and talk me through how that came to be?

 

Hillary Cohen 

I think it was one of the news channels. It was a local news channel that reached out which the whole of our media following in general has been really cool. It’s been like this, we had three followers on day one with this logo I wrote on a piece of paper and then to get to the news is really cool. And they kind of just want to follow me and Sam. But Sam was working which has been such a bummer as Sam’s usually stuck on set when we have to do press things. So I think they follow Christina and Barrett and I were on the news and it was they talked about me and Sam and it was overwhelming like I burst out crying watching it on TV and it was just it’s so overwhelming and Sam and I both are overwhelmed by like the support and how much people are drawn to the work. Both of us actually, that’s the part that we struggle with is being in front of the camera being the face of this thing, because we both produce other people’s dreams every day. So like, that’s what our jobs are. So it’s so odd to be the face of our own and probably the scariest thing that we do. But that’s what brings in funds. Right. That’s what tells the story. So I think that’s actually been the hardest and most challenging part for me and Sam is to push ourselves out into the limelight, and push ourselves on that PR journey. And everyday, it’s kind of like, alright, we need to do this because our company also needs this side of the thing.

 

Lexie Smith 

Yeah, thank you for being so transparent that it’s not that easy. Being in the limelight, especially if you’re not someone who who is used you are someone who’s used to being behind the scenes, any little piece of advice for for founders that are listening, or people that are listening who might similarly feel uncomfortable, I’m not saying you have to have had it all figured out. But there are little things that you have thought of or you have applied that have helped you show up to these stages. And we’ll talk about a really big stage you shut up on recently. But first, any little tidbits there.

 

Hillary Cohen 

I really just try to remind myself what the impact is going to be and to just dare myself to do it. Because that’s really how we got here in the first place. So I usually have an epic panic attack, and I call one of my friends and like, this is gonna be terrible. I’m never gonna do this. And then you just do it. And also if you have a co-founder like I do, and Sam lean on them, because Sam and I definitely, you know, it’s like, if I’m doing something without Sam Oh, boys are way more terrifying. But Sam’s there. It’s like, okay, chicken, we got this together. Yeah, I think deep breaths too, is the, the biggest thing. You know, like we even before, like our very first run, we held hands in the parking lot, and took a big deep breath, and then went down and grabbed the food and did our thing. So we do that before, you know, big press thing.

 

Lexie Smith 

That’s so sweet.

 

Sam Luu 

 I think you just have to take a calming breath and like to breathe and then get through it. Because, you know, I think I’m especially super shy. I’m a total introvert. I’m only extra extroverted at work because they pay me to be. I’m actually naturally very introverted and shy. So I just remind myself when I don’t want to be in front of the camera and do those things that it’s not about me. It’s about you know, it’s about what we’re doing and the people that we do it for.

 

Lexie Smith 

Thank you, you know, and just to kind of reiterate for run listening, it’s okay. In fact, it’s helpful to find support, if you don’t have a co-founder, call a friend, call a parent, you know, whomever you have access to, and reconnect to that purpose that’s larger than yourself. The why and think about the impact that can come from you getting uncomfortable for this, you know, the short amount of time so I think those are really great tidbits and breathe. People breathe, right. So other ones have followed besides this local news when, but then something extra huge happened. Drumroll. Pause. Kelly Clarkson called Okay, not Kelly, but her show called The Kelly Clarkson show called and invited you onto the show. I would love to hear just what that process was like, like, pay they called you? Was it literally like you answered on a Tuesday and then all of a sudden you’re on the show tomorrow? Or what did that journey look like?

 

Hillary Cohen 

I mean, I answered two email accounts all day from like 4am till 11. So sitting at the everyday action desk is always an exciting day. There’s something that comes across our desk every day, whether it’s 700 lasagna pans, or Kelly Clarkson, like there’s something every day so I you know, I’m sitting there and just emailing our email account. Like it wasn’t on Instagram. It wasn’t like I was just doing everyday action. Susan Kelly Clarkson shows like we would like to have you on the show. And I was just like, hmm I wrote that I funny you say that because I was on set and just thought pop up on my phone really fast. But we were busy and I was like, Oh, this is spam. Just like every now and then they called me like instantly and they were like very interested but um I also in my other life run COVID testing for television show so I know that it’s very hard to have people that are COVID tested and network but me and Sam are code tested three days a week I got slips and I run COVID testing so like all the issues and hoops that someone else would have like me and Sam had like the all the paperwork to get through. You know, I think we pretty much were on, they were like okay, you need to be on our show in seven days, we were just like, Ah, okay. So they called some of our volunteers. They called some of our board members. They didn’t tell us who they were bringing on the show, and they just said, show up where you know, lots of interviews. Here we go. I mean, Sam both vomited in the trash. And I think like backstage before, I was literally shaking. It was also freezing. I never had a fur coat, but I’m cold. I liked looking at Sam. And she’s like, are you okay? Nope. No, me neither. And we’ve always said, I’m not today, but tomorrow. And Sam looked me in the eye. And she was like, this is tomorrow. And we have to do this and be like, okay, okay. And we both walked down to this very bright light. And I can tell you nothing else that happened after that.

 

Lexie Smith 

So I feel that my proposal, I don’t remember a single thing my husband said, I just know that there. He was on his knees and there was a ring and then eventually, we’re married three years later, so I like blackouts. Sam, Did you have that same experience? Do you remember that onstage at all? Or was it just kind of like, and then all of a sudden you were walking off? There we go.

 

Sam Luu 

Yep, that one. Though. Remember? I actually react differently to exciting discoveries, calm and quiet. And I just felt like it was a good balance. And then when we walked out, that’s when all of my calm went away. So I have no idea what I said.

 

Lexie Smith 

It went very well. You guys did absolutely amazing. Also, I love that you were comparing earlier. Everything exciting happens from reading about 700. Lasagna is to Kelly Clarkson. I’m like, which would make me more excited. I really like lasagna.

 

Hillary Cohen 

Yeah, this week, I didn’t tell you one really fast story that happened last week for the Thanksgiving event. There is a Hawaiian bread roll to bless my husband. I did not know how he was in front of this house yet. I was in Big Bear, not home and I get a picture from Steven and seven volunteers who took 75 boxes of Hawaiian bread rolls into my entryway and I kid you not if you open the door, you’d think I was a hoarder Hawaiian bread rolls up taller than me and about 10 feet long and triple wide. And that is currently sitting here waiting for Thanksgiving. So that is exciting. But also the reality of running a nonprofit.

 

Lexie Smith 

Yes. Oh, my God.

 

Sam Luu 

I was what? It was a commercial. Right? It was for Hawiian white bread. That’s 75 boxes for one commercial.

 

Lexie Smith 

Wow.

 

Sam Luu 

See how Yeah, how much we end up reallocating sometimes at once. And that’s why most commercials really fill us up. Yeah.

 

Lexie Smith 

 So I’m curious if you know, do you know how the Kelly Clarkson show got you on their radar? Was it just they’d heard about you? Or did they ever kind of open up about how you came to be I have guesses but I’m curious.

 

Hillary Cohen 

Everyone really says they just see our Instagram. Like, they’re, we’ve gotten a pretty good Instagram following. And the amount of food we reallocate a day is pretty crazy. Last Friday, we reallocated almost 1000 meals in one day. Wow. And a lot of nonprofits do that, you know, for like their big event for three months. And that’s just because of that, we’re just picking it up. We’re not making it or you know, picking up other people’s food. So we’re not saying we’re better than that, just that we have a crazy amount that we pick up. And we just have these crazy stories. So I may have seen that. Or they may have seen our spectrum news story, which really Oh Spectrum I think was after that that was after? Yeah, I’m not sure. I really think it was Instagram. I

 

Sam Luu 

I know we did. We did a CBS thing at the end of last year to maybe be there. I’m not sure.

 

Lexie Smith 

I think those all played together. Right? You guys are just getting out there. Whether it be from press or social media and kudos and power of social media, your stories being told and shared and the impact you’re making is real. So a lot of people ask, like, you know, people often pitch after these big opportunities, but they can come to you organically. But that’s not just you can’t get someone approaching you organically. If you sit in your basement and you aren’t doing anything you have to be out there doing something making an impact and talking about it on some sort of public platform. So big question. You’re killing Clarkson. Did anything happen? Whether that be traction or did anything not happen? I’d love to just know what happened from there.

 

Hillary Cohen 

Things did happen, we had about 500 new Instagram followers. So that was, you know, like, like four days, that was pretty awesome. I think we got the spectrum news story from Kelly Clarkson. Um, there was, we probably got like 10 more volunteers, which is like a million dollars to me and Sam. They came on board, we probably got like 1000 to $2,000 of added donation, which is really helpful. I think the biggest thing that we will get, which we’re crossing our fingers falls through, is we’re currently on the books to return sometime in January to the Kelly Clarkson show, where she will go live on our Instagram, volunteering with us. Ooh, fingers crossed

 

Lexie Smith 

That manifests itself.

 

Hillary Cohen 

We’re hoping that that happens. Um, we’ve like it’s been confirmed by a volunteer publicist that works for us sometimes that they might have us back and that they’re working on a calendar date. So someone at Kelly Clarkson has said, Yes, TBD.

 

Lexie Smith 

Yes, TBD. Everyone right now is going to message Kelly Clarkson and say, I heard about everyday action, and you should really have them on your show again, because I love them so much. So. Okay, I absolutely love that. Um, you know, we briefly touched on your guys’s day jobs. And I want to bring us back there for a second. Because your titles have some crossover with some of the media titles that we experience. Um, and some might confuse what’s the difference between those in the entertainment industry in the media? Are they not the same? Oh, these women are in the media. So that’s why you know, they’re getting all these placements. So let’s just, first and foremost, clarify, what are your day jobs? And what are your titles?

 

Hillary Cohen 

Sure, for most of my career, I was in a key second ad. In COVID, I had another pivot in my career. I’m now an associate producer. But I still spent most of my time as an assistant director. And kind of going on what you are saying, when PR comes to set, the crew is never, like we are never spoken about never talked about in fact, like, like, I don’t want to say anything about you know, people in our world. But it’s been very hard for us to get traction in the network that we work on. More than other networks.

 

Lexie Smith 

Fair enough. What about you, Sam? What is it? What is your day job? Are you the same? Are you in a different role?

 

Sam Luu 

No, I’m a second second assistant doctor. So we’re in the same category. I just, I’m the person who works alongside the first ad. And we run the set on like a day to day basis, you know, we coordinate everything they have. So I’m really kind of like an additional, you know, person who helps out run the set. Yeah. Okay. Yeah.

 

Lexie Smith 

So let’s pull out that clarification you just made about Hillary, I’m just because you’re in the entertainment industry does not mean that you’re in the more traditional press or media, is that correct?

 

Hillary Cohen 

Correct. And actually, it’s kind of a bit harder sometimes, because of that stigma, like, oh, it’s already easy. And we don’t need to help you. And we’re like, oh, wait, but there’s actually no one doing anything about that. So

 

Lexie Smith 

yeah, no, which is why I wanted to ask the question, because I think it is something if you don’t know or you’re not in the industry, one might assume so. So thank you for clarifying. We’re beginning to come towards the end of the show. And the one thing I really want to make sure we head on is how people can support everyday action or what’s next from here. What do you guys need, looking into the end of 2021 and going into 2022?

 

Hillary Cohen 

We really need donations, seminar kind of at a tipping point with who we know who we can reach out to, we’re really looking to level two of your two. We’re looking for grant writers, we’re looking for a secretary of our board and we’re looking for people in finance and investment banking all to join our board. But donors and board members are really what we need most volunteers always. But everyday action grows so quickly that sometimes we have to turn shows away because we don’t have enough people. I’d say on our busiest day, we’re at 15 sets with like, five people. And that’s crazy. And we just need to, you know, have employees and put a little money into the administrative side. So we really did Need to fundraise. And the best way we’re going to do that is by building our board. So if you’re a grant writer or in the finance world or in the PR world and interested in joining our board, visit your everyday action.org.

 

Lexie Smith 

What’s that Instagram account handle that we keep hearing about?

 

Hillary Cohen 

It’s at every underscore de underscore action.

 

Lexie Smith 

 Before I let you guys go. I have to wrap up Season Two with the classic pitching and sippin ‘question, which is okay, we’ve talked to pitch in what can we find you sippin so Hilary, I’ll go back to you first, what is your favorite beverage alcoholic or non alcoholic? Of course.

 

Hillary Cohen 

I mean, I’m definitely a cocktail kind of girl. If it’s a weekday, it’s Pinot Noir. But if it’s a week, it’s probably going to be a Moscow Mule.

 

Lexie Smith 

To my favorites. Okay, what about you, Sam?

 

Sam Luu 

Um, I mean, I’m a wine snob. Many of my friends now. So during the week, I can drink Italian red. I love Sangiovese AC. They’re my favorite grapes. So any of those wines makes Sangiovese a gold drink. And on the weekends, I am also a cocktail girl. So it’s why we’re good friends. And usually, it depends. I really love a good gin and tonic, honestly. I think it’s like the Southern, you know, raised side of me. I like my gin,

 

Lexie Smith 

Any local watering holes or brands that you want to give a quick shout out to?

 

Hillary Cohen 

Sam knows a lot of brands.

 

Sam Luu 

I was like, Oh, I know. I was like I love. I really love gray whale gin. It’s one of my favorites and it uses all local ingredients and it’s a California made ticket one. And Unti wine is my favorite. They are in Healdsburg. They’ve been biodynamically growing their grapes for a long time and they make really excellent Italian reds.

 

Lexie Smith 

got it. Okay, thank you for clarifying. Okay, guys, I just want to say thank you so much for coming on the show. I can only imagine how many more questions people have listening to. And I know you guys have 5000 More stories you could share. And you’re so busy. So I’m honored. You took the time to come and I’m so excited to see everything that is to come for you guys. Congratulations on everything that you’ve accomplished so far. And I just want to say cheers to you both. Thank you

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