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Let's partner for all of it. Learn more at edwardjones.com. Good morning. I'm Jane Pauley, and this is Sunday Morning. For many of us, most of us, let's hope, Valentine's Day is still a warm memory. And there are the others, the ones for whom Valentine hearts are cheating hearts. Infidelity is now attracting some serious study, as Tony DeCopel will report in our cover story. It's a subject as old as marriage. It's happening at roughly the same rate almost everywhere. Everywhere.
Western, Eastern. Americans don't cheat one iota less than the French. Let's be very clear. They may feel slightly more guilty about it.
Ahead on Sunday Morning, an honest look at infidelity. You say you're reluctant to down a margarita on an empty stomach? Then how about a moveable feast, Spanish style, like the one our Seth Doan has enjoyed. Sure, you can order tapas all over the world, but it's here in Spain where they're truly savored. It's a way of life. How can a food be a way of life? Tapas, the moveable feast. It's inviting us right into the kitchen.
Later on Sunday Morning. When they ask for the envelope please for best supporting actor, fans of Willem Dafoe will have their fingers crossed. He's an actor who's not at all like some of the characters he's portrayed, as Martha Teichner will show us. Given some of the creeps he's played, it's hard to grasp that Willem Dafoe was actually a nice midwestern boy. A doctor's son from Appleton, Wisconsin. What have you got of Wisconsin still in you?
Oh, it's it's a certain kind of work ethic, a certain kind of politeness, not wanting to stick out or owe anybody anything. He could be describing Bobby, the motel manager he plays in the Florida Project, a role that's earned him his third Oscar nomination. Happy skin, you're out of here. Willem Dafoe, as you may not have seen him later this Sunday Morning. On display this Sunday Morning, Alex Wagner's look at the artist behind Michelle Obama's just unveiled portrait. Mo Rocca remembers the president, some argue, was our worst ever.
Florida high school shooting survivor, student David Hogg argues, enough. And more, all coming up when our Sunday Morning podcast continues. Cheating hearts. It's a side of romance less spoken of and more plentiful, it seems, than we might like to think.
Our cover story is reported by Tony DeCopel. It is the only commandment that's repeated twice in the Bible, right? Once for doing it and once for thinking about it. It's a subject as old as marriage and usually more taboo than divorce. Every model of marriage has had infidelity. Psychotherapist Esther Perel has been studying infidelity for more than a decade. 93% of Americans think that infidelity is morally wrong and more morally wrong than cloning, than suicide or than domestic violence. It's an interesting location for something that is not criminal, that is totally consensual. The contradictions of unfaithfulness raise a question. Why do so many people cheat?
These days there's ample chance to examine the issue. In recent weeks we've seen President Trump deny new reports of affairs with an adult film star and a Playboy model in 2006. I was engaged in a consensual relationship with a woman who wasn't my wife. And Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has acknowledged an affair with his hairdresser. And it's a mistake for which I am deeply sorry. I've had a an extramarital affair. While Nashville Mayor Meghan Berry has apologized for sleeping with her bodyguard.
And I am deeply sorry for that. Which makes her part of a trend. According to a survey by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, female philanderers are catching up with their male counterparts for the first time on record. Of course it is a form of marriage, but it's not a form of marriage.
On record, of course, it is a form of emancipation, leaving the potential of being able to go the potential of not having to accept it. I mean, part of why families have been preserved is because women made the compromise more than men. In a series of massively popular Ted Talks, never has infidelity exacted such a psychological toll. A buzzed about podcast and her latest book, The State of Affairs, Parell is asking us to rethink our attitude about infidelity.
To think about them just as a good person and a bad person does not help the millions of people who are experiencing it. The children, the friends, the family. I mean, it's the lovers. I can't blame him and I can't blame me.
I mean, it's 50-50. We just didn't like each other. We got to a point that we just didn't like each other anymore.
Christy is a mother of two who asked that we not use her real name or reveal where she lives, but allowed us to show her face. I was not looking for love, was not looking to leave my husband, was just looking for companionship. Like many women, she resolved to stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of her kids until one night a few years ago when she also resolved to stray. I was sitting on the bed, you know, and he said something to me very disrespectful, very hurtful. I don't remember what.
And I just snapped. I pulled my phone out and I went to my phone and I said, women looking for men to have affairs with. She ended up on Ashley Madison, a website that helps men and women pursue what's known as married dating.
Yes, married dating. Who came up with this term? I think it's been around a long time. Reuben Buell is the president of Ashley Madison's parent company, Ruby Life. After a damaging leak of user names in 2015, he says the site is booming with 20,000 new members a day. A lot of this came out of singles dating where you're on single sites, but 30 plus percent of the people on the site were married.
So somebody took a category and created Ashley Madison. It almost sounds like you felt like a teenager again. Yes, I got giddy. You know, I really, I fell for him.
I really did. We actually were calling each other girlfriend and boyfriend, even though we were married. He was my boyfriend. I was his girlfriend. What was it like after all those years of not having any to having some again?
Wow. But sex is far from the only reason that people cheat, says Esther Perel, and cheating doesn't always mean a troubled relationship either. Affairs happen in good marriages, in bad marriages, young, old, straight, gay, you name it. When people go to look elsewhere, they're not so much wanting to leave the person that they are with, but they want to leave the person that they have become. They want to go back to who they might have been.
Or never were and never got to explore worldwide. The one word that people would keep coming back to when I would say, what is it you're feeling alive? I was so depressed. I didn't want to get out of bed every day and I had to because somebody had to in the house and I was it. And now? Oh no, I like getting up.
Yeah. You know, I have something to look forward to. Daphne, who did not want us to use her real name or show her face, never thought she'd have an affair. The first 22 years of her marriage were good, she says, but her husband's Alzheimer's changed everything. The man that I stood up in front of everybody and promised to love forever no longer exists. Daphne is committed to caring for the man she married for the rest of his life, but the 56 year old decided in order to live her life, she needed to date again. Six months ago, she met her boyfriend on Ashley Madison.
How did your moral thinking change? It's not me. Well, now it is. I wasn't going to be able to continue taking care of my husband if I didn't have some fun.
How do you mean? Well, because I was impatient with him. I cried. I was just angry. And now I'm much more patient with him. I don't get angry. I'm a better wife now than I was. And consider this, infidelity may just be nature's way.
You can love more than one person, bottom line. But why? Why would that be helpful to survival? Well, I wondered that too. And so I studied adultery in 42 cultures. What do they all have in common? They all fall in love. They all marry and they all are adulterous. Not everybody's adulterous, but in every single culture that I've looked at, there's some people who are adulterous, which made me have to wonder why. Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist at the Kinsey Institute.
Let's go back a million years. A man has one wife and has two children. But if he occasionally goes over the hill and sleeps with another woman and has two extra children, he's doubled the amount of DNA he has sent into tomorrow. So adultery made it more likely that any given gene pool would continue?
Yes. But if it's all so natural, you might wonder why does it have the power to cause so much pain? It is the ultimate breach of the romantic ideal. It is the shattering of the grand ambition of love. To be clear, Perel does not recommend infidelity, but she does call for empathy. We do not claim moral superiority just because we haven't cheated. When we have been neglecting, when we've been married to our jobs, married to the bottle, you know, and just because we haven't had sex with somebody else, we think we are the mature and the committed and the superior. This is got to change or we will never have an honest conversation about this. Christy, for her part, was forced into an honest conversation with her husband after he read text messages from her lover. So he came and he says to me, you know, I see everything that you're right. I didn't deny it. I'm like, yep.
And I want a divorce. It was pretty much like that. No tear, nothing. Not on his end, not on mine. I don't condone what I did.
You know, I'm not saying for anybody to go out and just do that. But I'm telling you, that was that's my story. Which cleared the way for Christy and her now divorced boyfriend to no longer hide their secret. Last year in Las Vegas, they were married. How did it feel saying those vows again? Great. You know, it was like, and I know it's forever.
I know it's forever. And now a page from our Sunday morning almanac. February 18, 1957, 61 years ago today.
A red letter day for game show fans. But that was the day Vanna White was born in small town, South Carolina. A model and occasional movie actress Vanna White hit the big time on December 13, 1982, when Pat Sajak introduced her as his helpmate on the TV show Wheel of Fortune. Congratulations and welcome.
Thank you. I am very excited and happy to be part of Wheel of Fortune. And what a very big hands on part of Wheel of Fortune Vanna White has grown to be. Day after day, year after year, more than 6500 shows so far, Vanna White has been showing all of us how to play the game simply by revealing countless letters with never flagging authority, even enthusiasm. And though occasional skeptics and naysayers have downplayed the demands of her job, Vanna herself makes no apologies. Oh, what the heck?
It's not the most intellectual job in the world, she's quoted as having said, but I do have to know the letters. A question on this President's Day weekend. Which of our former chief executives was the worst ever? Presidential historians have been making a list and our Mo Rocca may have the winner. James Buchanan, outhouse for five. You could have a whole cabinet meeting in here.
The family that goes together. Warren Harding. You want to shake hands with the hand that shook hands with Harding?
Wow. No survey of forgotten presidents. So Miller Fillmore's lips were on that teacup.
Yes. Would be complete without our 17th president, Andrew Johnson. Do some people come in thinking it's Andrew Jackson?
Oh, lots of times, absolutely. Andrew Johnson's presidency would end in disgrace. But in 1864, when Republican President Abraham Lincoln was running for reelection during the Civil War and needed a running mate who'd balanced the ticket, Tennessee's Andrew Johnson was his pick. He was something politically that really wasn't even supposed to exist. He was a union supporting Southern Democrat. It's kind of like Sasquatch. You know, I've heard you exist, but I've never seen one.
I am loving that banner. Lincoln Sasquatch, 64. Burke Greer is a ranger at the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greenville, Tennessee. Lots of things with his name on it here.
Where you'll find the Andrew Johnson Bank, the Andrew Johnson Highway, the Andrew Johnson Inn. He is always, for this town, going to be the local boy does good story. Is this town still proud of him? Absolutely. Johnson was a tailor here before he ran for office.
They would constantly need to keep heating different irons. And his shop, The Original Still Stands, became a place for everyday people to talk politics. His people were the yeoman, the good solid working people of eastern Tennessee. He stood for public schools. He stood for public libraries. He liked state fairs.
Anything to give the working man a leg up. Johnson's backstory, says historian Howard Means, was every bit as raw as the rail splitters. If Lincoln and Johnson were competing in the humble Olympics, who would come away with the gold?
I think Johnson would have. His father died when he was three years old. He was, he was a penniless family. He had basically no education. His wife taught him to write when he was in his early 20s. Which made his political ascent all the more stunning.
From town alderman, all the way up to vice president, he didn't lose a single election. But on the very day Lincoln delivered his iconic second inaugural address, Johnson had a little too much whiskey. He rambles really drunkenly for about seven, eight minutes. He's reeling around some.
He's filled with rage, basically. Criticizing the, the ambassadors who were there as, you know, as highborn and all that sort of stuff. Still, there were high hopes for Johnson after the shock of Lincoln's assassination just five weeks later on Good Friday. When you look at sermons that were preached that Easter Sunday, many Northern churches talked about the nation being delivered at the right moment to the man who could do the job. The stage was set for this guy to be a savior.
Yeah, precisely. But the task ahead of Johnson may have been the most daunting any president has ever faced. It's impossible to conceive of the America of 1865 when Johnson took office.
You're trying to heal the wounds of a four-year war with 600,000 people dead. There are four million freed slaves in the South in a country of 30 million people. Johnson wanted the post-war South treated leniently. As for the fate of freed slaves, he wanted that left up to the states. But many of his so-called radical Republican opponents wanted to punish the secessionists and to guarantee civil and voting rights to freedmen.
The clash led to crisis with the president all but declaring war on Congress. In his Washington birthday speech in 1866, he declaimed, they may slander me, but let me say, I do not intend to be bullied by my enemies. Did he take things personally? Yes, he was very thin-skinned. He took just about everything personally. He remembered taunts and jeers from decades gone by. He never forgot the sound of somebody criticizing him. The more you would try to get him to open up and listen to a different side of thinking, the further back he would go, almost to being like petulant, if you will, like almost like a child.
Like, you know, he would just ball up and not really want to hear anything you have to say. Despite the personal pleas of abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, Johnson vetoed major bills that would have helped former slaves. Congress overrode him. Finally, the bad blood spilled over. The president was impeached and escaped removal from office by just one vote. On the wall here is the impeachment tickets. If you went to the impeachment trial, you bought a ticket for every day. At the Greene County History Museum, Betty Fletcher is the keeper of all things Andrew Johnson, including tickets to his 1868 impeachment trial.
I think it's valuable, very valuable, the complete set. Well, those are pretty great, unless you're the guy being impeached. He's not a success as president.
How do you explain that to people? I don't know who would have been a success right then, right there. Lincoln may have had a little easier row to hoe just because of his political savvy, but I certainly don't think it would have been smooth sailing even for Lincoln.
His mind is so complex. At the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, Abraham Lincoln is prominently placed, casting a shadow on his much less popular successor. How do you think he'd feel about being stuck in the corner?
Lincoln's where all the traffic is. He wouldn't like it. I don't think he'd like it.
Even Buchanan gets a better spot over there. Now that's an insult. That's an insult, I would say. That kid becomes your responsibility.
Still to come, But that never happened. Oscar-nominated actor, Willem Dafoe. There's only one who can stop us or imagine if he joined us. It's Sunday morning on CBS, and here again is Jane Pauley. With roles in films such as 2002's Spider-Man, Willem Dafoe is one of our most versatile actors. Not surprising, his name will be in Oscar night contention when they call for the envelope, please.
First, though, he takes a walk in the park with our Martha Teichner. Ready? Yep. That was a good clap. The big open smile, not necessarily what you'd expect sitting down with Willem Dafoe, who was once nominated for MTV's Best Movie Villain Award.
We are who we choose to be. As the Green Goblin in Spider-Man. He's even a little sinister as an animated fish in Finding Nemo.
Tonight, we give the kid a proper reception. Famous as he is for looking and sounding menacing. Those are dummies. Dummy. In person, he's not scary at all. A lot of the villains I play with a lot of love and a lot of pleasure.
And you also play them as heroes, you know, you don't judge them. You can't just not let me have guess what gives you the authority. What, the authority? My job title? Manager? Bobby, the character Dafoe plays in the Florida Project, is a kind of hero. What's going on, Jancy?
I got you! He's the manager of a motel on the seedy outskirts of Orlando that's home to struggling families always on the edge. I'm kind of in the movie, connective tissue. New job?
Yeah. If you're working, who's looking after money? You're not my father! I don't want to be your father! You can't treat me like this! He's going around putting out fires because all these people have pretty challenging lives.
And there's lots of problems at this budget motel and I've got to sort things out. The story is set in a place surrounded by kitschy symbols of phony fantasy. Where the thing that's real is childhood innocence.
Filmmaker Sean Baker made the Florida Project on a miniscule budget. So when Willem Dafoe sought him out to play Bobby, it wasn't for the money. So what was the fascination about this particular movie for you? The fact that basically he was making it with a mixed cast of professional and new performers and children and non-performers filming in an actual place, telling a story that's not usually told of an underclass of a world that I didn't really know.
You got your power back? And use your TVs, VCRs, AC, what have you? His understated performance has earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, his third. Compare that to his nomination in 2001 for Shadow of the Vampire.
Or to his 1987 nomination for Platoon. There's no better way to gauge Dafoe's range as an actor. At 62, he's always working. I'm very high-minded about what I do. I'm very serious about what I do. And I think it can be very important. When I was a young actor, you know, everybody used to always say, you know, it's not brain surgery. Well, it is a little bit, because you can change how people think. You can change how you think by performing. He says he remembers his life by the movies he's made. More than 100.
Four released last year alone. Heaven is yours. An unimaginable career trajectory for the kid from Appleton, Wisconsin. The son of a surgeon and a nurse, William Dafoe, was the second youngest of eight children.
Willem was a nickname that stuck. He is up at night. He is writing two books. Here he is in a college theater production at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Milwaukee County. What made you know you needed to come from Wisconsin to New York?
Because that was Mecca. New York, not Hollywood. In 1977, at the age of 22, he found himself living in the East Village. Near here?
The second square park, yeah. It was a rough neighborhood. But a good place at a good time to shape the kind of actor he would become. When you started out as an actor here, what were your dreams?
My dream was to get through next week and to be around these people that I thought were really fascinating and stimulated me. And initially, that was this downtown scene, and specifically, these people working at the Wooster Group. I mean, it was a new kind of work. It wasn't a commercial work. It was a work that was personal, and it was a work that pushed forms.
The Wooster Group was experimental theater at its most experimental. 27 years with the company taught Dafoe a very physical kind of acting. I may have a lot of faith in the wisdom of the body. You know, I feel like the body doesn't lie. You said that you sometimes feel that you're acting as, that you're more like a dancer.
Right. I think I express myself best through my body. I forget myself.
They're angels. And your face, the way you use your face. I don't use my face. My face uses me. I mean, really. I have gaps in my teeth.
My face is expressive. But I have nothing to do with it. It just happens. It happens. And it's really no problem to get rid of chocolate peanuts.
Suck them. Only a confident character actor would dare engage in such on-screen silliness. He can be very funny.
This is a disaster. Yes, Willem Dafoe. But he's still taking roles like this one in the life and death of Marina Abramovich. He picks his projects based on whether he feels challenged.
The production was directed by his wife, Italian actress and filmmaker Giada Colagrande. They live in Rome and New York. Dafoe's son Jack, from a previous relationship, is a lawyer. Spend any time at all with Willem Dafoe and you understand that he likes to disappear into his roles and his life. I like Hollywood fine, but I don't live there.
And that's because? That's because I love New York. I like being in California when I'm there because I'm usually working and I see friends and the weather's nice and all that. But I feel like I die a little because I like the streets. I like being out. You know, it's pretty heavy being an actor in Los Angeles because you're always reminded of yourself.
Where here it's much easier to get lost. Please welcome Willem Dafoe. So for this consummate shapeshifter to emerge and play the Hollywood game in the run-up to the Oscars speaks not so much to his ambition as it does to his generosity. I'm very thankful that I was nominated and I'm not blasé about it at all. I'm very happy. And since the movie wasn't nominated, I'm really proud to represent the movie. You're the flag bearer essentially. I'm the flag bearer and I'm happy to do that because I like this movie very much. No harm, no foul. No foul.
There's a joke in there somewhere. Hope you're hungry. We're off on a movable feast with Seth Doan.
Sturdy walking shoes and a hearty appetite recommended. Quick, think Spain and food. This is our tapas come to mind. I thought I'd had tapas.
It turns out I had no idea. Tapas is not a plate of food. It's an activity.
It's something you have to do to understand and that is really the key to it, to doing it. James Blick is surprisingly trim for a man who offers food tours for a living. Maybe that's because in Madrid, tapas can be a kind of strolling meal. Our first stop, salt cod fritters. Hola, Santi.
Casa Revuelta Santi calls their Bacalaufrito the king of this place. With your fingers? Yeah, with your fingers. Some of the most popular tapas bars here specialize in one dish. Good, right?
Really good. You look around and see what people are ordering. People have just finished, but down there, that's what they're ordering. Over there, that's what they're eating. Blick, a transplanted New Zealander, runs the aptly named Devour Tours, which shows visitors how to eat like a local.
This place is hidden in plain sight and I love it. At Bar Ceveris, Carlos is known for his tortilla española, or Spanish omelet. He's inviting us right into the kitchen. He beat the eggs. In go the potatoes.
In go the potatoes. A flip, then another, a toast, vermouth. Salud. Salud. Then a taste. Perfect.
And it was time to move on. You can eat tapas in New York, but you can only do tapas in Spain. That's because there are a lot of options. Normally we go out for tapas and we go to the bar.
You know, we have I don't know how many thousand bars in Spain. Julia Perez and Jose Carlos Capel are both food writers for major Madrid newspapers, and they explained how deeply rooted tapas are here. It's a philosophy of life. Not food, it's philosophy?
No. What do you mean? It's a lifestyle. A lifestyle. The way of sharing, the way to be happy with the friends and to cheer with the wine, and these are tapas, really. Defining tapas is as difficult as determining how they came to be. One possible origin of the word tapa, Capel suggested, is that in the taverns of Andalusia they would place something solid on top of the wine.
A cover. Tapa means cover or lid in Spanish, perhaps used back then to keep out flies. Capel told us when it comes to a tapas crawl, there's a lucky number. Seven tapas, seven wine.
Perfecto. That's a lot. These guys know mushrooms. Phew, with James Blick, we were bringing up the count at the House of Mushrooms for, you guessed it, topped with a little chorizo sausage, parsley, and salt, oil, and holy water, Paco told us.
As for eating it, I was helped by a higher authority. I have this theory that Spanish tapas bars are like a fast flowing river. Like, if you just jump in and you don't know what you're doing, you're going to drown. But if you know what you're doing, it's an exhilarating experience. You just go with the flow and you let it take you.
Exhilarating is one way to describe what Chef Javi Estevez does with his reinterpretation of tapas at La Tascaria. We're starting to play, OK? Yeah, oh no. Javi is all about offal or organ meat. I can't believe I'm eating and liking rabbit kidney.
And then we put here on top. He served a dish with dueling baby pigtails. You eat the bone too?
Yeah. Javi says tapas are about variety. And then you can try a lot of things and your meal is not boring. Not when you're eating baby pigtail tapas. Back on our tapas crawl, it was back to the traditional. Shrimp. Yes. They made sandwiches here until a bread shortage during the Spanish Civil War forced them to embrace the one thing they could find, shrimp. Still bubbling here. Food is a wonderful launching pad to really understand a country and explain and help people understand the place. Tapas we found mix history, tradition, conversation, and yes, food.
That's a lot on a little plate. Valentine cards are for just one day a year. By contrast, the postcards from home Steve Hartman tells us about are forever.
Generally speaking, postcards are for braggarts. Write what you will, but the core message is always the same. I'm on vacation. You're not.
Nah nah. Wish you were here. If they really wished you were there, they wouldn't have left you behind. But in Valdosta, Georgia, we found a man who's bringing a certain sincerity to the petty postcard.
His campaign started in 1995. David Lasseter had just dropped off his oldest daughter at college. She was going to Notre Dame, and he was going to mush. Because I cried from South Bend, Indiana, to Elizabethtown, Kentucky with the whole family in the car when I left her. And I missed her. So that night he sent her a postcard.
And then why quit? Just as he has done virtually every day since for all four of his kids. Any day they're not with him, he sends cards. Nearly 20,000 over 20 years. His daughter Sarah, who lives in Savannah, Georgia, has actually saved them all on strings and racks and crammed in cabinets.
There's nothing I love more than just a picture of a building. And almost every card is unique. They'll mail anything. On front and back. Uncle Ben's rice box. What did he find to say? There's a whole lot of talk about gardening and football. Apologies to your dad, but that sounds boring. I mean, come on.
I need a hard lace-up shoe. He really cares what happened at the podiatrist. He taped my foot and said for me to wear my shoes all the time. I don't even know if they read the cards anymore. And he doesn't mind if they don't.
David says this was never about conveying new information. This was always about repeating the same message over and over and over again. When I'm gone, they'll know their daddy loved them.
I think they know that now. You know, life gets tough. And it's nice to know somebody loves you no matter what.
A good reminder, after last week especially, to tell your kids you love them as daily and creatively as you possibly can. Now on display in Washington, the official portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama. The story of the artist who painted the former first lady is the story Alex Wagner has to tell. Ms. Amy Sherald, portrait artist. Last week, Amy Sherald went from being a virtual unknown to one of the most talked-about artists in the world. On Monday, her painting of Michelle Obama was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery, alongside Kehinde Wiley's portrait of President Barack Obama.
Both Sherald and Wiley were interviewed and chosen for the job by the Obamas themselves. She came in and she looked at Barack and she said, well, Mr. President, I'm really excited to be here and I know I'm being considered for both portraits, she said, but Mrs. Obama, she physically turned to me. And she said, I'm really hoping that you and I can work together. She maybe had a particular interest in painting her. Yeah, yeah, yes.
I mean, he was asking questions as well and she was like, no, no, no, no, no. Unlike Kehinde Wiley, President Obama's portraitist, Amy Sherald, age 44, had been largely unknown. This was her big break. You've taken out loans, you have waited tables.
Tell us how game-changing this moment is. I am relieved that I can pay back my school loans. It's something that, I mean, becoming an artist is not empirical, so it's not about hard work. I mean, you have to put the work in, but that doesn't mean you're going to make it.
I think hustling for that long, it kind of like chips away at your self-esteem. And then the breakthrough comes and you're like, oh, yeah, that's who I am. Like, this is who I am, yeah. The portrait is similar to Sherald's other works, except her models, exclusively black and never smiling, are usually strangers she meets on the street, not former First Ladies. As the process went on with the First Lady, did you get more comfortable?
I did, yeah. We had two sittings, but you're still always a little bit nervous having to look her in her eyes because I have to study the face before I photograph to try to figure out what I want, and those little intense moments where you just have to have courage to keep looking because you get bashful because, you know, you're looking at the First Lady. Why do you paint black skin in grayscale? It just looked good, like the gray skin on these bright colors, it just looked good. I think also I was subconsciously struggling with not wanting to be marginalized, and I say that because I feel like the black body is a political statement in itself, right, so on canvas all of a sudden I'm making this political statement just because I'm painting brown skin. But I paint the way that I paint, you know, she chose me, she knew what to expect. There are some people who look at the portrait of the First Lady and they say, I don't see her in it, I don't see the Michelle Obama that I know.
Everybody is invested in them in all kinds of ways on all different levels, and so for me to even want to paint her makes me crazy because, and I'm setting myself up for criticism, right. I feel like I captured her. When I look at it, I see her. I see the Michelle that was present at the sitting, you know, a contemplative, graceful woman, who understands her place in history. Today, Amy Sherald has a place in history.
Her paintings, which she works on in this Baltimore studio, are now selling for up to $50,000 each. But while this is her moment, it's a moment she wasn't sure she lived to see. When did you first find out about your heart?
When I was 30. I mean, I had been walking around with my heart function at 18%, which is what most people get transplanted at, but I was asymptomatic, no symptoms at all. Her heart was failing. Plus, there were relatives back home who needed her help, so she put aside her brushes and returned to Georgia. At one point, Sherald stopped painting for four years. In 2012, her brother died of cancer. Just days later, Sherald received a heart transplant from a young donor nearly a decade after her diagnosis. My brother dying changed me. I didn't realize how strong I was until I lost my brother, and then I realized I can get through stuff.
And losing him only made me want to live my life even harder. For an artist all too familiar with mortality, Amy Sherald seems to have found a sense of permanence. After all, her work now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. And I think it matters that these portraits are so different, because something happened in history that wasn't supposed to happen. You know, there's a continuum, and then there's a stop, and all of a sudden you're like, what was this? So 300 years from now, when the story's been watered down, you know what I mean?
It's like those portraits will speak to that moment with the intensity that is necessary to bring forth the truth of what happened and why they were here. So what to say about last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida? We've asked for the views of senior David Hogg, who heads the student TV station there. After which, you'll hear from Faith Sehle. I was in my environmental science class when the first day of school was over. And I had to go to school.
And I didn't know what to do. After which, you'll hear from Faith Sehle. For the unfortunate individuals that were at my school, I ask that this be a time of togetherness and something that is going to be always remembered, not only as a terrible incident, but as a turning point in American history, where students speak up and speak out when the politicians won't. I understand the importance of interest groups and how oftentimes they're necessary to continue a political agenda. However, when that agenda involves putting the lives of children at risk, how can you justify that?
I support the Second Amendment. But for God's sake, how can we knowingly pass bills and laws that are in direct opposition to saving kids' lives? Sandy Hook, the Pulse nightclub shooting, and Vegas, just to name a few. What legislation was passed in response?
The answer to that question is little, if any. This President's Day, I think it's important that we come together as a nation and see each other's viewpoints and respect each other as fellow Americans. But this tragic event must never be forgotten, because once it is, there will be another one, and another one. We need to stand up, go out and vote, talk to your legislators, and get educated.
Be persistent, because these interest groups and these politicians will not listen if we don't speak up. So as American citizens, unite and stand up in the face of division, not for any political agenda, but for the lives of millions of schoolchildren. It seems like the same horrific story. Another school, another man with a gun, innocent children slaughtered. We'd like to call it unthinkable, but after Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and now a high school in Florida, it's not just thinkable, but sickeningly predictable. As David Hogg just told us, the terrible truth is, it's only a matter of time, maybe weeks, maybe just days before the next one. This generation of young people, kids who have to perform active shooter drills at school, has been mocked for its sensitivity, for needing trigger warnings. How can we blame them when they are not safe from actual triggers?
It seems like the same story, but this time may be different. American children are looking right at us, at the people who are supposed to take care of them. Their parents, grandparents, teachers, at their congresswomen and men and senators, and at the President of the United States and saying, do something.
Seventeen of this past week's victims have been silenced by a 19-year-old with an AR-15, so let's give them a voice today. For Elena, do something. For Nicholas, do something. For Erin, do something. For Alyssa, do something. For Martin, do something. For Scott, do something. For Jamie, do something. For Christopher, do something.
For Luke, do something. For Cara, do something. For Gina, do something. For Joaquin, do something. For Meadow, do something. For Helena, do something. For Alex, do something. For Carmen, do something.
For Peter, do something. We call the men who created our Constitution the Founding Fathers. fathers, and we used the document they created to thwart any attempt to restrict access to guns like the killing machine used in this and so many other shootings. But if those fathers of America knew their children were being massacred, I'd like to think they too would say, do something. If we don't, shame on all of us.
I'm Jane Pauley, thank you for listening, and please join us again next Sunday morning. This is Intelligence Matters with former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell. Bridge Colby is co-founder and principal of the Marathon Initiative, a project focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. The United States put our mind to something we can usually figure it out. What people are saying and what we kind of know analytically and empirically is our strategic situation, our military situation is not being matched up with what we're doing. Follow Intelligence Matters, wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-26 11:38:43 / 2023-01-26 11:56:42 / 18