Comedy, Power and Confidence

Comedy, Power and Confidence with Selene Luna!  In this episode, Comedian, Actor and Activist Selene Luna shares her journey of finding power in her story and confidence on stage. Selene is the voice of Tía Rosita in Disney- Pixar’s Academy Award Winner COCO, she has shared stages with her friend and colleague Margaret Cho, and she has found comedy as a place where she can own her narrative and be seen on her own terms. 

A little person and disability activist, Selene shares with us how plowing through a world that doesn't want her, has given her the power she needs to take the stage and develop her skill as a comedian. She gives us her insider view on what it means to build confidence and that it’s available to us all if you just do the work. 

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We very often have more power than we think.  It’s what you do with it that matters.  During this episode we get to hear from someone who took the stage to do more than get laughs.

Comedy, Power and Confidence with Selene Luna!  In this episode, Comedian, Actor and Activist Selene Luna shares her journey of finding power in her story and confidence on stage. Selene is the voice of Tía Rosita in Disney- Pixar’s Academy Award Winner COCO, she has shared stages with her friend and colleague Margaret Cho, and she has found comedy as a place where she can own her narrative and be seen on her own terms. 

A little person and disability activist, Selene shares with us how plowing through a world that doesn't want her, has given her the power she needs to take the stage and develop her skill as a comedian. She gives us her insider view on what it means to build confidence and that it’s available to us all if you just do the work.  

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Dia Bondi  00:04

If this sort of interesting, like who goes first moment where we may be sometimes have to feel seen in order to speak up and speak out, or to feel like connected enough to have the courage to show ourselves but at the same time, we can't be seen the less weak, speak up, speak out and show ourselves. Exactly. So somebody's got to take the bigger risk in that moment. Welcome everyone to the Deobandi show a big podcast for women with goals, and we're here to help you really speak more powerfully, ask for more and get it, you can reach your goals faster. I'm dia Bondi longtime leadership communications coach and catalyst owner and founder of Dia Bondi communications LLC, and I'm so happy to be here with my partner on air are Julian Adams a third Hi, baby A.


Arthur  01:18

Hey, Lottie Dodd, I know I made it sound LLC and


Dia Bondi  01:23

I made it sound fancy. I think, you know, one of the things I'm talking a lot with my team right now about is that we, the world knows my client base. And my the world knows me as dia Bondi, like, of the things that I do, but actually, there's a machine behind what I'm doing. And that machine is growing. And so I just had to, like, put that in there to just shift even my own perspective around like, oh, yeah, the thing that we're doing the things that we do in the world have it there is a machine that's making it happen. Yeah, it takes a village. It sure does. Today, I'm excited. We are going to be joined by Selena Luna to talk about power. Cool. Yes. I know. She is very cool. And I'm excited to have her and I haven't, like so many other conversations we had the first time on this show. The first time I'm talking to her will be on this show. So yeah, I'm gonna get it kind of fresh, just like I am. And this is kind


Arthur  02:15

of the first time we've had someone that's truly in the like, entertainment biz on the show.


Dia Bondi  02:20

Yes. She is a comedian and actor and activist. And she Yes, like Hollywood style. Yeah. Cool. Which is really cool. Yeah, we'll give you her bio. And just just a little bit. So maybe I was thinking today, I got a compliment.


Arthur  02:37

Oh, really, really, you got a compliment? You know.


Dia Bondi  02:43

So one of the things that one of the women on my team is like, really keeping her eye on is how much dia needs to do less things and like, let go of things. And we this week, we did our we did a big planning retreat. And we were just wrapping actually, before I jumped on, jumped onto this recording. And actually, there's nothing jump about getting onto this recording, let's be real it like it takes, you know, some set, there's no jump.


Arthur  03:15

I mean, really, you jump out of a plane, but you do a lot of prep beforehand. And that's kind of


Dia Bondi  03:19

what I mean. Yeah. Before I dialed into this call after having set things up and retested and all the things but she said to me, she was like it was really great do over the week, I saw you actively let go of things. She's like, I noticed it right in the middle of the week, you really like sat back and let things let the team do stuff in a way that I hadn't seen you do before. And she's sort of new in the in at DIA Bondi communications, not new, but a couple months in. And I was like, Yeah, and I was reflecting on why that was possible this week. And I noticed that it's, it's, it was possible, I said to the group, I was like, I can actually do that. Because we I know, it's surprising to everybody, I can let go. Because we did so much alignment work at the front end of the week. And as soon as I know, we're aligned on what we're trying to create, who really, you know, serving and talking to and what we're trying to build, when I know there's alignment, it is actually quite easy for me to sit back and let the genius of the team you know, sort of run itself and flourish and like that. And I just I took that as a compliment because it's so easy for me to be in everything all the time. But also just really made me you know, we say in my communications work that I work with leaders and founders to help them align people align and activate people, teams and cultures towards shared goals. And that even applies to me, you know, like practicing what I'm preaching at that moment, like there is so much value in going slow and creating alignment, because then the talent at the table can collaborate really with their genius on how we're actually going to get there, how we're actually going to achieve the thing that we're aligned around achieving. It just makes so much room. And so that was, I'm just recognizing in myself that I have, I am good at letting go when I see evidence of alignment when I spend time creating alignment, and maybe you can too.


Arthur  05:24

Hey, hey, it's baby a just checking in to let you know that if you are a fan of what we're doing here on the Deobandi show, there are a bunch of really important ways that you can help support us. First of all the basics you can like, subscribe, rate and review on your favorite podcast platform. You can also share us with your friends on social media, or hey, even the old fashioned way, just tell somebody in person. If you have a question for dia or you want to give us some feedback, you can give us a call at 341-333-2997 and we might just play your voicemail on a future show. So as you said before, we have Selena Luna on the show today we do


Dia Bondi  06:04

I'm so excited. So everybody, Selena Luna is an actor and comedian and was called a Polish Spitfire by the New York Times, and a walking ball of comic defiance by LA Weekly. She's known for being the voice of Teodoro Sita in Disney Pixar is Academy Award winning Coco, which is one of our favorite movies in our household. So good, so good. And Selena also opened for several of Margaret Cho's national tours as a stand up comedian. And in 2019, she took to Capitol Hill alongside us, Representative Maxine Waters and US Senate, Chuck Schumer to speak on behalf of disability rights. I have to say, this is a first conversation we're having with her but I already know that Selena is awesome. Welcome Selena. Selena, I'm so happy to have you here with us today. I'm so excited.


Selene Luna  07:01

Hi, dia, thank you so much. I'm so thrilled to be had, and thank you.


Dia Bondi  07:05

And I'm also of course, so nervous. I'm always nervous at the beginning of these conversations, because I have like all these hopes for like, you know, sometimes I have questions, questions sets that, that try to try to get to the heart of what I'm curious about with the guests that we have. And I'm hoping today that our conversation gets to the heart of what I'm curious about it in a way that is, you know, interesting to you and also useful to our audience.


Selene Luna  07:28

Well, thank you. And I'm sure we're gonna get there.


Dia Bondi  07:31

So I will say like, you and I have not talked before I mentioned that in our introduction, except over email a little bit. And I invited you on the show. I mean, you've been on my list for a while. Because I was so compelled by you when I was one in one of your audiences, actually, last year. Oh, wow. Thank you so much. You were hosting an online event called chronically funny, a comedy revolution featuring on all disabled lineup for of women. Do you remember that event?


Selene Luna  08:00

I sure do. I sure do.


Dia Bondi  08:02

It was so fantastic. I mean, of course, it was like a beautiful program anyhow, because you know, and you were actually you did some comedy. And you were also the emcee or host of the event. And then we had a panel discussion at the very end with some of your guests, it was just fantastic. You were, you know, you did such a beautiful job of like, threading the evening, as we as they went through the content, you absolutely pulled no punches and made everyone really pay attention. You had this incredible, like combination of sense of like calm and also urgency and some of the, I don't know, just in some of the conversations we were having and how you move from one person to another that night. It was really powerful. And I could really sense your power, even over, you know, a digital experience. And we invite I'm inviting you on the show because I wanted to talk about comedy actually through the lens of power and confidence. So, you know, I am super curious how you came to comedy. How did you come to stand up comedy?


Selene Luna  09:11

Well, um, and thank you for the kind words it actually means a lot to me to hear that. And I feel like wow, okay, I have made some progress here. So I'm the way I came into comedy. It's, it's, um, it's actually a very kind of clear moment in my life. I had big, I started becoming involved. shifting into a showbiz career when I was in like my mid 20s, and mid to late 20s, and I just kind of decided that, well, at a very young age at age five, I have a vivid memory of deciding that I wanted to be in the entertainment business, because I thought that would be a very impactful way. For people to look at me on my terms, and for those of you who are not familiar with who I am, I'm a disabled person, I'm, I'm a little person. And so at a very early age, I knew, you know, I was different. And I was going to have a different life experience. And I always knew I wanted this platform. And so I anyway, flash forward to about 15 years ago, on a roughly 15 years ago, I was working with Margaret Cho, who is a dear longtime friend of mine, we've worked together on many capacities, and but she's also my mentor, who got me into stand up comedy,


Dia Bondi  10:46

like pull you in or push you in, or what does that mean to


Selene Luna  10:50

both literally both, like, we were shooting her reality show at the time, which was VH, once that show show, and then one day, she pulled me aside, and we had already been working together for quite some time, on her life stage show touring together. And so one day on set, she pulls me aside, and she says comedies where you need to go, you need to go to stand up. Because stand up is the only platform where nobody cares what you look like. And you know, she saw my struggle in the entertainment business. And I thought that was the most brilliant advice I've ever gotten. And it just so happened that she and the director of the show director and producer of the show at the time, who's also a longtime dear friend of ours, both of them, independent of each other pulled me aside, to give me this bit of advice you need to do stand up, that's where your that's where you're going to find your power and control your narrative,


Dia Bondi  11:45

control your narrative and find your power. What a beautiful, what a beautiful thing to point to. And, you know, something that I think is so interesting about that story is that it's you know, it doesn't start with like, Oh, I've always been funny. Right? You know, it's, it starts with, you know, it starts with recognizing a particular context and a particular platform, you know, that offers you an opportunity to take control of your narrative and to exercise power to have power to be powerful. Now, am I in my loop?


Selene Luna  12:17

Yes, yes, no, absolutely. But the other part of that, which I should clarify, I left this part out of my story, but the other part is having people in your life who are who are experienced, and that you can look up to that can mentor you be and I bring this up because prior to them prior to these two great friends of mine who pulled me aside, I had already had experience with stand up was actually the very my very first attempt ever in showbiz was doing stand up those the very first thing I ever did, and I, it came about because I a friend of mine, and I decided to take a summer workshop at the Melrose improv, just to like take a crack at it. And long story short, but Friedman, who the founder of the improv, pulled me aside one day from and this is one of my greatest regrets in life. He pulled me aside from one of the workshops, he saw me in it, he said that he thought I had it. And he pulled me aside and invited me to perform on a regular basis, you know, during the regular club nights. But I, as I didn't see it, I didn't see the opportunity he was handing to me. And also, I mean, it sounds like I'm talking about like the 1800s. But that's how it felt. Even at the time, this was in the 90s. I, I was still, at the time, I didn't see anybody in the comedy clubs that I could relate to that I could associate to I'm talking about other comments, there were still mostly white males. And nothing wrong with that. But I wasn't connecting with anybody. I was young, I was naive, I was insecure. And I was terrified. And so I allowed myself to kind of get bullied out i i waited myself out of the opportunity. Because I didn't feel like it was a world that I related to. And I didn't feel seen or understood. And what I know now with my age and wisdom, that was no one's responsibility, but my own.


Dia Bondi  14:29

What uh, that's yes, I was gonna say like we it's it's this sort of interesting, like, who goes first moment where we may be sometimes have to feel seen in order to speak up, speak out, or to feel like connected enough to have the courage to show ourselves but at the same time, we can't be seen unless we speak up, speak out and show ourselves. Exactly. It is somebody who's got to take the bigger risk in that moment. And I


Selene Luna  14:59

wasn't ready I wasn't ready to take that risk. And so that's why I started this with this was one of my biggest regrets. Because had I stuck to it had I had the ovaries to stick to it. I think but Friedman would have definitely helped me create a career. And that was a, you know, and I just wasn't ready. And there's nothing I could do about, you know, you just don't know what you don't know. And so flash forward, you know, many years after that experience, I had these wonderful people in my life, Margaret and our friend Rico, and they both saw it, and they both understood it. And they both let me know that they see me that they see me.


Dia Bondi  15:41

Yeah, there is something about finding mentors that see something in you, you don't see in tandem with what you see in yourself, you I mean, so that you're they're stretching you but also, there's an alignment of recognition that you can, that that creates that I don't know if it's safety or creates that platform for you to be able to say yes to their pushing and to their pulling, because it's not bifurcated from from completely bifurcated from how you see yourself.


Selene Luna  16:12

Yes, absolutely. Um, I think you hit the nail on the head, you know, it really took a mentoring from these individuals, to give me permission to speak up, you know, I, because of who I am, being a disabled Mexican immigrant, I never in my life, like even fathom that my voice mattered. Never. And so that, you know, a lot had to do with silk, social economic issues, lack of education, equality. There are so many elements, so many reasons. And, you know, and generational to now we're living in a time where, like, my childhood would have been completely different than it actually was. So a lot of it is timing. And I just feel very fortunate to live in the time that we are in now, I never thought I'd see this day.


Dia Bondi  17:09

So you, you know, you are in your career, you're, you know, significantly into your career, what kinds of decisions what key decisions, maybe one or two, three key decisions did you have to make along the way? It's interesting that I had this question for you already prepared. And you even said, just in the stories you're told so far is that you had to decide, there were a lot of moments where you had to decide. So I'm curious, what were some of those key decisions you made along the way?


Selene Luna  17:37

Well, I don't think that I was strategic, strategically deciding. But my entire life has been based on survival. So, for me, it's all no matter what the issue is, whether it's entertainment, whether it's school, whether it's social life, doing the laundry, whatever it is, because of my physical limits, everything in my life has been a decision to survive. So that's really what propels me. And, and as far as deciding to continue on with the tenacity that is required for anybody, regardless of your path in life or your background, if you want to delve into showbiz, you must have tenacity, and a certain sense of fearlessness. So because of my background, I was already pretty fearless, and somewhat of a survivor. So that really was my decision making. Am I going to survive this or not?


Dia Bondi  18:47

Because the big and you're I hear you speaking to like, there's just blockers all over there. Yeah. Just everywhere for you constantly. Yes. And so this was just another opportunity or another context in which you decide to like, take it head on. Yes.


Selene Luna  19:02

And, and my entire life I've always resented I mean, who wouldn't? But I've always had like a really strong, deep resentment to unfairness. And to people saying no, to me, which has been my entire life. I mean, down to my family, I mean, everything, everything in my life has been no, because of what you are. And I just had and not everyone has this personality who's disabled? You know, I'm just very feisty. I would never take no for an answer. So for me, it was more about proving to the world that I'm good enough, even though I didn't feel it, but I just wanted people to think it. And so it was more about that than a strategic decision.


Dia Bondi  19:54

i Well, you said it earlier on in the conversation. I had to write it down here that like you know, you wanted to folks to see you on your own terms like that is I think that's a really powerful idea for all of us that, you know, where do we get to actually decide that we can, there are certain things we can do on our own terms, and where the platform for that is might be unique to each of us for maybe for you, it's comedy, and the world of entertainment. For others, it can be, you know, speaking up in a meeting at work, and other in other places it can be, you know, what they're advocating for out in their volunteer life, but like to be actively recognizing that there are places there are places where we can decide to do it on our own terms. And in this case, you said for folks to see me on my own terms.


Selene Luna  20:43

Yes. And, and full disclosure, complete honesty here. I've done it all, while feeling complete shame and self loathing. Oh,


Dia Bondi  20:53

this is so I don't know why I think that's a wonderful


Selene Luna  20:58

response. But the


Dia Bondi  21:00

the the so I have been leadership communications coach for two decades, it's what my business is about. We also have a project aimed at helping a million women ask for more and get it so they can resource their dreams faster. You know, what, what one thing I run up against all the time is people saying to me, how do I get the confidence in order to fill in the blank? And I actually have a point of view about what where confidence comes from, and it can't, what you're speaking to there, what hits me that about that is that it sort of yet another story of how confidence is an outcome? It can't always be a prerequisite you're doing you did the thing, you doing the thing while you're feeling all the things that you would not articulate as confidence, potentially. But in but so for you, does confidence come after the like, Where does confidence come from? Because I'm sure the world perceives you as a confident person,


Selene Luna  21:49

the world does perceive me as a confident person. And for most of my life, I have not been confidence is very new to me. I mean, like the last handful of years, and I'm no spring chicken. I have it's a fake it till you make it. But really, though, what I've learned from life, is that confidence is not an external thing. Confidence, you cannot find confidence, and somebody cannot create your confidence for you. Like, you can't depend on a relationship to make you confident. You can't depend on a job to make you confident. Confidence. To me, comes from practice. It's just you do it, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, no matter how much how desperately you want to crawl out of your skin. You do it. And it's very fundamental. It's just exercise. You Yes, you physically do the action, and the emotion will follow. This is so


Dia Bondi  22:58

Oh, it's just like, it's like literally making my skin on fire hearing you say this? Because it's so true that that confidence is an outcome, isn't it? Yes, we can't, we can't hold ourselves hostage and say, I can't do it until I'm confident enough. I mean, there are ingredients into action, right? Like, I'm gonna assume that when you step on stage, you actually have a freaking plan. Yeah, when you step on stage, you have jokes you've already written you're not winging it. Correct. You know, having a plan allows you to take action, but you can have a plan and act even when you don't feel confident and expect that confidence will follow as you said, that has


Selene Luna  23:36

been a 98% of my survival. No matter how I feel, no matter what dialogue is looping in my head, I'm going to keep my head down and keep moving forward and ignore the voices ignore the sick feeling. And with every little step you take, there's a reward. And eventually, all those little rewards add up to a fully flourished confident person, it doesn't happen overnight, and you can't find it, you have to create it.


Dia Bondi  24:13

So confidence and power to me are, you know, in the same realm, so I want to shift to talk a little bit about power now. So you know, I perceive I get you know, I've worked with a lot of folks and celebrities and you know, leaders senior leaders across organizations are very recognizable etc. But but there and I don't fan girl very much but I will say you know comics are a zone where I found girl a little bit because I just think it's such a compelling the whole the whole world of stand up comedy is so I'm not in it, but I'm so interested in it because I perceive comedy actually as power like a dance with it, you know, taking power giving power. And in my career, you know, I've coached you know, senior level folks and VC back startup founders to speak powerfully and their businesses and ventures in front of their teams in front of the world. And they often have a hard time sort of tolerating their own power when they experience it. And I'm talking not about the people who are, you know, shameless and power grabbing. I'm talking about, you know, folks, who are we doing good by themselves, and by their, you know, by their people, you know, they kind of squirm when they feel that power. So I, I'm always curious about how do we help? What is what is that about? And I'm curious, like, for you, you know, how is comedy power to you? Well, I,


Selene Luna  25:37

I am, I gotta really think about it. Because I, I've, honestly, I don't process it too much as power. Like, and maybe it is, and I'm just not kind of there mentally. But to me, it's, honestly, a position of privilege where, like, I, I'm a guest, on stage. And people are in the room, who weren't sitting quietly waiting to see what I have to say. And to me, I feel like I better deliver because these people are giving me a, you know, an hour of their life. And so I just look at it as a job, you better do your job. But I yeah, I understand what you're saying about, but also sometimes, like a cigar is just a cigar. Like, we're not curing cancer, it's comedy. You know, and some people are funny, some people are not some people got it, some people don't. And I don't put too much thought into it. Honestly, I just You just get up and do it. But as far as like, kind of addressing, you know, people who are not able to speak powerfully to a room of people. It's there's no magic, it's just practice well,


Dia Bondi  26:59

but what you're, it's so interesting that you don't perceive it this way or in this apartment. Because as I sit in an audience or I watch comedians, you know, whether I'm watching on television or on live in the room, or even the evening that I spent with you, I I'm looking at this going look at what this person is doing to these people look at how, you know, the the the choices you make around timing, and whether you you know, whether you follow on on something or you riff on something that shows up in the audience, like you're in such unbelievable control of the room, at the same time that control is fragile, is it not?


Selene Luna  27:37

Yes, I think you make an excellent point. And that is, I'm going to backpedal, because now I was thinking really deeply within myself while you were saying this, and I guess it is true. I mean, you're the ringleader, and people are there to listen to you. And I think for me, the power in comedy is in humor, because humor connects us with others. And I think that's really what propelled me and encouraged me other than having mentors in my life supporting me. But what has really connected me to humor is the power of making my own experience universal. And that's how and, you know, humor is is disarming. It doesn't matter who you are, where you came from, what you look like what you do, if you can make somebody laugh, you have their attention. Now,


Dia Bondi  28:32

that's interesting that you say that, because in that moment, you are on the front of the stage are making something that doesn't feel universal, universal, all of a sudden, to a hundreds of people at a time. I mean, when you were on tour with Margaret Cho, I'm sure you guys were in front of large audiences and small audiences. Like you're you're, you're creating a shared experience that people will, in some cases even have an involuntary response to think about laughter like laugh people, people say I couldn't help but laugh, I can't help but laugh. It's like you're, you're you're you are triggering something in people that creates a shared experience can identify, you know, a unifying experience and also causing an involuntary reaction by what you're doing on the mic in the front of that room. At that moment, I can't think of a more powerful position to be in.


Selene Luna  29:18

It's true. You're so right. And I think that's part of my self loathing, I really minimize a lot of what I do. I you know, I do, I just, I just do, I'm, I'm i That's my own personal damage. You know,


Dia Bondi  29:33

what we all we all I think underestimate how much power we have, when we're having it, you know, and it doesn't always have to be this big, like power on you know, or this. You know, it's not about dominance necessarily, but this this sort of like when you're doing what you do best, often, you know, and speaking on behalf of IT voicing it, you know, it is an incredibly powerful position to be on and you are using You know your story, your point of view, your you know how you're delivering it as a as a way to bring power into the room sometimes as well. So I'm curious. Okay, can we talk about roasts for a second? Sure. Um, I don't know of roasts are part of your repertoire is that thing not remotely. So it's but it's something I'm sure in comedy you've observed. It's a it's a genre. Genre. I've


Selene Luna  30:24

got friends who are like a professional roasters and I bow down, I have nothing but admiration. It takes a lot of work years of experience. Yeah, a lot of


Dia Bondi  30:37

because it's dangerous, I perceive it as a dangerous position to be in so it can so I, I wanted to talk to I want to talk to all comedians, but I want to talk to you about roasts, because you're in and around that, as you say, you're like, I have friends that are actually they're experts in that zone, because it is a zone. Yes. So what are your thoughts about roasts and power and I bring this up because I did not grow up in a household of, you know, professional entertainers, or comedians about my we did, I did grew up in a household where if my grandfather decided that this is the year you were going to get roasted at your birthday at the anniversary party at whatever it was, it was like an unbelievable privilege. And it's great. And I remember distinctly as a kiddo being at his best friend's 50th wedding anniversary, and he took the mic and roasted the the especially the, you know, the the gentlemen in the marriage. And it was so like, I knew my grandfather, but it was it was I sat in the room just in awe of how powerful and how risky like he was both in power, and, and the one experiencing the risk. Mm hmm. For like those 40 minutes. And I would I've just always been fascinated with that, with that position as being the one doing the roasting. So talk to me about like, how do you see that as a job? Or as a role in the room?


Selene Luna  32:02

Oh, well, I think roasting, it takes a very special skilled individual, you have to have, I think, an equal balance of, you know, charm with compassion. Because events mean you. It's such a fine line. Because if there's anything remotely mean, mean spirited, nobody likes that you will lose your audience and may never get them back. So you have to know how to do this in a loving way. What still you're sticking to them good. But it's from a place of love.


Dia Bondi  32:41

And it can be brutal, though. Yes, it can be brutal.


Selene Luna  32:45

Yes. I mean, I think we've all seen some great ones. And, you know, a, and a really dear friend of mine is especially skilled at it. But this friend of mine has been working on it for 30 years. I mean, oh, at least 35 years. So and has written material for some of the greatest comics. I won't go into naming them but legendary comics, but this person committed 35 years of you know, crafting that skill,


Dia Bondi  33:17

right? And what is it that they're working on? Like, what is the skill? I mean, I love that you said the word compassion. But what is it? And and I'm asking that because one of the sub questions under here for me is like, when I watch a fantastic, I mean, I'm riveted when I watch a fantastic roast, because it's very interesting to me, I perceive the roaster as the one who is taking the risk, actually, yeah, even though they're not the one getting filleted. They could very easily fillet themselves in the in one wrong intonation. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. When you say your friend has been, you know, working on this skill, what is the work of being a great roaster?


Selene Luna  34:00

I think, even though you don't see it on the surface, ultimately, coming from a place of love. That's just really it. Because when you're roasting, you're roasting people, you know, personally, have to Yeah. And it just, it has to come from a very intimate place of love, a safe place. And so it allows you to, you know, throw in some jabs and, but the person still feels loved. And that's something that I did not work on, regretfully because I think had I dedicated a time to developing that skill, I probably would have been pretty good, but I didn't. And so there you have it


Dia Bondi  34:44

soon. So in that in a scenario who actually has the power in a roasting con in a roasting bit.


Selene Luna  34:52

Oh, I agree with you. I think it's the roaster. Uh huh. I think it because the roaster directs the entire store. You know, tells you really is, is directing the entire audience, you know, to follow them on this journey that will pay off.


Dia Bondi  35:09

It's interesting to this dance, we were talking earlier about the mentors in your life, that it's easy to get pushed, or it's easier to get pushed or pulled by them, when they see you in a way you don't see yourself but you also know that you feel seen by them, you know? Yes. And I wonder if that's also an interesting dance in in like you're allowed to roast, we allow you because I actually think my perspective is that the inner roasting conference in context, like the roaster has an incredible amount of power. But it's such a dangerous power, that it very easily the room could have the power in so quickly. So I think like I wonder about, you know, the best roasters do a great job because they're, they're stretching you, they're stretching you the reality of you, but they're also you're like being acknowledged, you're actually being seen in it the whole time. Mm hm. And it


Selene Luna  36:09

really just exposes a lot. It exposes the roasters vulnerability, the intimate relationship they have with the roasty. So you can't go you don't want to go too far. And compromise your buddy's, like confidence. So and just ultimately, you have to make your fellow roasters laugh, you got to make the roasting laugh, and you got to make the audience laugh. So it's a lot, it's a lot of responsibility.


Dia Bondi  36:39

It's that amazing. You know, I just keep going back to this, like this idea that confidence is an outcome, that that you know, that being in, you know, that the person taking the risk is also the person with the power in that moment. And we can expect some, like, they're too in a box, you know, they happen. I mean, I think about you, as a stand up comedian, like, every time you get in front of an audience, it is incredibly powerful position to be in at least I perceive that from where I said, and also I recognized fully that you are taking the risk, like you we can't have, we can't speak powerfully often without taking a risk. They're one in this. They're related, aren't they?


Selene Luna  37:19

Absolutely. And I have to say that it is your responsibility that it's it is the responsibility of the risk taker to be prepared, the more prepared you are, the higher the risk you can take, the further you can go,


Dia Bondi  37:34

Yes, this is something that I get, you know, with my clients all the time that like, Oh, I was just, you know, I'm going to get in front of an audience. And I'm going to do this thing. And this is in the corporate, you know, in startup context, but I'm just not, you know, I don't have executive presence, I wasn't born with it. I don't have that natural thing that Steve Jobs has blah, blah, blah, but what you're pointing to is that it is exercise, this can be acquired,


Selene Luna  37:56

just do the work, really, is anybody can do it. I mean, not anybody as far as I mean, it's not for every personality, but it's available to you, but it is available to you, you can just do the work, practice exercise, you know, successful comics. I like the really successful comics, they exercise like, like pro athletes, you know, you're on the mic every single night, you don't take a day off.


Dia Bondi  38:26

No. And the real success is successful, iconic executives who speak to their organizations in a way that shift perspective that help them innovate. They are also do not underestimate how much time and attention and care and practice they put into recognizing how powerful that moment is, to shift an entire audience towards something that matters in the organization. Like you, you were saying that, you know, you can create a shared a universal experience by telling a story that brings people all of a sudden now we're all having the same, we're recognizing a shared thing. Yeah, that creates a shift in the room. And so when you're when you have the mic in your hand, or is strapped to your chest or, you know, hooked over your ear, or however you like to wear a mic, like you are an incredibly compelling a powerful position to shift something and don't under don't come unprepared. Mm hmm. So I want to I want to shift the conversation a little bit to your activism. So you're a disability rights activist. And I'm curious, how has your, you know, experience and skillfulness in the world of comedy and acting impacted your work and disability rights? Well, just a byproduct.


Selene Luna  39:40

Oh, it has it absolutely has, um, I feel like my activism was born out of doing stand up. i It's a complex issue for me. Um, I never saw myself as a disability rights activist. I'm putting really educated I, most of my life, I've had very limited resources and very limited support. So it was just never on my radar, and never felt like that's something I can do. Or that I would have the opportunity or whatever. And, but the more and more I did stand up, I found myself just, you know, pulling from my own life experience, because I want it to be seen and heard. And so the more I talked about disability in my material, then the more I saw, Oh, wow, people are responding. And then what asked me questions and opening the dialogue. And then I realized, I was like, wow, I probably have a valuable platform here. It is a complex issue. And let me just tell you why I keep saying that. I don't enjoy being an activist. It does not bring me joy. It's out of a necessity of survival based on anger over discrimination. Why do people like me have to kick and scream just to be treated civilly?


Dia Bondi  41:09

It's interesting that you say that because I think I last night and prepping for this call. In all honesty, I wanted to I, I saw you in an interview, or it was just sleuthing the internet just trying to understand your world. And I saw you in an interview. And I don't know, it was a conversation with Margaret Cho or someone else where you said outright. I, I like, I don't want to be inactive. Like I'm tired. I don't want to have to do this. And I just thought I rarely hear the activists in any, you know, pocket of equity and equality to I really hear them say like, I like I don't want to actually well, that's not true. I do hear it. I've heard it a lot more in the last couple of years. But that just hit me that you were like, I don't want to do this tired.


Selene Luna  42:01

Yeah. Yeah, it's exhausting. And, you know, it's just like, constantly, you know, sounding the alarm, hey, people like us exist. We deserve civil rights to you know, and the fact that you got it. We've been screaming about this since the 70s. Although we've needed it forever. And disability is the world's largest minority that crosses race, socio economic class, gender, age, and is still not represented properly. And we are still discriminated against more than any other marginalized group on the planet, not just America on the planet. And so it's exhausting. I'm like, I'm no spring chicken. I've been like kicking and screaming my entire life, just to be treated decently, like halfway decently. And I still don't have access that everyone else have access to. I'm poorly educated, because I do as a direct result of my disability. I do. I was not given right, you're actively excluded? No, I was actively excluded from, you know, public school learning. My siblings weren't the only disabled person in my family. So it's things like that. So yeah, I'm sick and tired. I, you know, there's seems to in the last couple years. It's just such a lot of internal conflict for me, because the last few years, you know, activism is kind of like been glamorized. And now, people, now people are listening, which is great. I don't resent that at all. It's like God about time. But it's like, God, how much more do we need to do this? You've heard all the points. What more do you need to know?


Dia Bondi  43:55

Yeah, we're not actually saying anything differently. You just finally finally listening. Yeah.


Selene Luna  43:59

Yeah. So it's very draining and frustrating. Trust me, I have better things to do. You know, I'd rather go hiking, you know, I'd rather go a go pay, I really enjoy watercolors. I rather be painting. I want to just see smoke, smoking a doobie and enjoying myself. But now I got all my kick and scream and fight. So there


Dia Bondi  44:19

is something. I mean, you have like going back to where we started, like I was so compelled by you listening to how you threaded together a conversation, you know, how you'd curated this incredible lineup of Comedians with Disabilities. For the event that I participated in, it was in the audience for like, You were so good at moderating the panel discussion and you're just so compelling. I mean, I imagine that the skills that you I mean, I'm telling myself the story, that the skills that you acquired practicing comedy and managing a room serve have served you know, the moments where you have folks listening around your activism and and you Do you use comedy in your activism? I mean, it sounds like you talk about disability, your disability and disabilities in your, you know, parts of your in your material. But does it flop the other way to that when you're going to talk about disability activism in front of audiences that can impact policy or other things? Do you use humor? Do you use? Yes, I


Selene Luna  45:21

do, I do. And I have had the opportunity to do it. And, for example, an example of that is right before COVID hit and the pandemic shut down. The summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to travel to DC, and participate in the nickel Conference, which is the it's basically the yearly national protest on the White White House lawn for disability rights, basically. And so I spoke there, and I used humor, because it was a dis, for the first time in my life, there was an entire audience of disabled people. So I and that's something that's very rare in my life and most disabled people's lives, you know, you're usually the only disabled person in the room. And so, so I used humor, disability humor, to bring us together to be to let everybody know, I see you. I'm one of you. You weren't one of me we are, it was very union unifying, in a way that I've never experienced with with a non disabled audience. And that there I felt my power. So I feel my power, with my disability within my disability, I think that's why I don't give too much credit, to my own personal power experience with comedy. Because before comedy, before I even set on, before I even take a step on stage, I already feel power, just navigating through the world that does not want me, oh, navigating through a world where you are actively excluded, and you still speak up and you're still an individual. That to me is power, not telling jokes. And that really, I am getting clarity now in our conversation. That's really where I feel my power. And I'm not saying you got to go, you know, navigate life in a wheelchair to understand. I'm just saying to me, the power comes in your story before that. It's the subtext to why you're even on stage. And that's what I identify with.


Dia Bondi  47:47

Beautiful, I feel like I want to hold it there.


Selene Luna  47:52

Thank you. Thank you, Your proverbial Mic drop.


Dia Bondi  47:55

I'm, I'm, I'm so thrilled to have you today. And I am going to continue to follow you. And when there is an opportunity to be live in a room, you know, with you, I'm going to take that effort, that opportunity.


Selene Luna  48:10

I will I am that I would love that. And I would love so much to meet you in person.


Dia Bondi  48:14

I am cheering for me for you. And I thank you for sharing your story with our audience. You know, I, the two themes that really stand out for me as I talk to you is this sort of deep desire to see and be seen, and to you know, draw on our experience and our own stories as a source of power wherever you place that whether it's in a one on one conversation or in front of an audience of 1000 people with a big old mic in your hand.


Selene Luna  48:41

Thank you so much. Thank you. This was really wonderful. I'm excited to share this and I'm thrilled you had me on so thank you very much.



This is a production of Dia Bondi communications scored, mixed and produced by BBA, you can like share, rate and subscribe at Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your favorite podcasts. If you'd like dia Bondi to answer any questions about how to make your next big move, you can call into the show at 341-333-2997. Thanks for listening

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