by Jorie Jacobi
Organization: Grain
Published July 2, 2013

What I Have Learned From Attempting To Interview People

What have I learned from interviewing people for The Curator? People are so … different.

Well, duh.

But they really are. So different. Beautifully different. Spectacularly, unapologetically, spellbindingly different, which each interview reveals in all kinds of new, wonderful, infuriating, exciting ways, sometimes one at a time, sometimes all at once.

Often times, I’ve found that this happens most profoundly when interview subjects don’t even know it, in the moments when fear and anxiety creep in. Think about it: cameras, lights, and unfamiliar people show up to observe an hour of your presence, stamp it on an SD card forever, and edit through it with a fine-tooth comb, selecting what they perceive as your best moments. In that quiet space before we push the record button, before filters find their way onto the camera lights, an interviewee will do some really amazing things. They might not be all flashy about it, but that’s why you have to watch.

Maybe she’ll straighten her back, smooth the shoulders of her blazer, and fold her hands together in her lap, nervous as all hell, but carefully crafting a portrait of calm amidst the calamity, until she starts to believe it herself. Maybe she’ll wipe off glistening beads of sweat from her upper lip with the handkerchief she pulls from her pocket. If we’re sitting at a table, maybe she’ll will pick up a butter knife and check her reflection. Maybe she’ll nervously look around, eyes wide as dinner plates, looking to be calmed, looking for someone to tell her she’ll be great, that her story will be beautifully told and full of dignity, a fossilized imprint of herself, something she can be proud of.

I’ve learned to watch for those things. These are the moments where these people will share so much of themselves, they don’t even know they’re doing it, and they become so phenomenally, unapologetically human. I love those moments. They’re my favorite thing in the world, and writing about them gets me out of bed in the morning. And they remind me that all of us are just people who have been thrown into this crazy life thing together and we’re all just trying to figure it out, trying to connect but not knowing how, wanting to be liked and not knowing why, waving our hands in the air and hoping someone will think something about us is worth sharing.

At The Curator, that’s what we do. You’re not going to get a sterile, surface-level story, and like our incredible interviewees, we never apologize for that. When you finish reading one of our profiles or watching our videos, you’re going to know something so specific about that person it might make you feel a little less alone, even if it’s just a tiny bit. And we promise, you’re going to feel connected to someone else who loves the Lou as much as you do.

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