Story is universal.
Every human culture has had it, all over the world, from the beginning of time.
I believe the central mechanism of story is empathy. When we engage with narrative, we walk in the shoes of the protagonist, traveling on their journey. Our mirror neurons fire, “mirroring” their experiences; our systems flood with oxytocin, the neuropeptide responsible for connection.
I believe there’s an evolutionary reason this capacity is wired into our brains in a way that feels good.
Empathy is the glue that holds us together as a species.
And story is a technology for triggering empathy.
My fifteen-year career in theater, film, and television has served as a laboratory to study how story creates social impact. My work has changed policy, impacted global leaders, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for populations in need--and I teach and speak about how to make that happen to writers, political consultants, activists, and thought leaders at the forefront of culture change.
I speak about narrative, story and empathy at venues ranging from TED stages to Off-Broadway theaters; from universities to prisons; from psychoanalytic conferences to international arts festivals, and for audiences including law students, entertainment industry professionals, PhD candidates, NGO leaders, therapists, policymakers, and high school students. I've taught and spoken about writing to vets, wounded veterans’ caregivers, and former prisoners for nearly a decade; and I've given keynotes, residencies, and master classes at universities including Brown, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Dartmouth, NYU, the New School, Northwestern, Macalester, Indiana and Hamline University.