Cat Greenleaf and her Emmy award-winning series, Talk Stoop with Cat Greenleaf, are a part of almost every New York City taxi rider's journey.
Each week on Talk Stoop, Cat conducts interviews with actors, musicians, athletes, politicians and even her own mom on the outside steps of her Brooklyn home, warm cup of coffee in hand. From the stoop, Cat's Talk Stoop segments are featured on New York Nonstop, NBC New York's 24/7 digital channel, the weekend NBC Today show, and in taxi cabs throughout New York City.
Cat started Talk Stoop with a simple idea, personal passion and a stoop interview with a close friend -- and to date, she's interviewed more than 200 people, from Cal Ripken Jr. to Elizabeth Berkley. In each conversation, it's Cat's warmth that comes through -- she projects a distinctive way of asking questions, like catching up with an old friend.
Even though I didn't have a stoop, I wanted to find out more about Cat's story, who she's talked to, what she's learned from Talk Stoop -- an interview with the interviewer. Not long ago, we met up to chat about Talk Stoop and her other projects -- "Lean In with Cat Greenleaf," Cause Celeb and Look Up Stop Texting (LUST) -- all initiatives she's actively developing and passionate about.
Our time together was all sans stoop, but with coffee. For me, it was a pleasure connecting with a fellow curious soul.
Laura Cococcia: How did you come up with the idea for Talk Stoop?
Cat Greenleaf: It's interesting -- there really was no big plan behind it. I just wanted to make cool, good TV, which is what I've committed myself to doing throughout my career. I'm also a self-proclaimed asker of questions. One day, the title just hit me over the head and now, I've interviewed more than 200 guests.
LC: You also talk to people in your kitchen on Lean In with Cat Greenleaf. What's the story behind that show?
CG: Lean In started when Kahlua introduced me into doing a show. The show is really a tight conversation with intimate friends. And, because of the way my kitchen is set up, one naturally leans in to talk to have a conversation. It's similar to Talk Stoop in that it's in my home so it's a part of me. I'm lucky to do what I like to do where I do it.
LC: What's challenging -- if anything -- about your interviews?
CG: If I'm interviewing someone who has a tough story, a story that people know, I am beholden to ask them about it. I'm not there to judge, but I do want to strike the balance between investigating the person while allowing that person to be themselves. Most people know why they're there and that I'm going to ask a question, but I don't focus in on just that one piece.
LC: What are some of your proudest moments?
CG: We [Talk Stoop] just won an Emmy, which I'm thrilled about. I'm excited to get to do the job I want and to love it.
LC: Since you're doing your interviews at your home, do you envision your family joining you on the stoop at some point?
CG: My dogs often join me and I've even interviewed my mom. I'm waiting until my son grows up a bit so he can decide whether or not he wants to participate -- I want him to be able to make his own choices about how involved he wants to be.
LC: On that note, how do you see Talk Stoop evolving?
CG: I want to see the show grow as big as it can and have a much larger landscape. I'd like to see it get a proper network spot and span across the country. I know this can help it be an entrée into even greater things.
LC: I've loved so many of your interviews but as a music fanatic, one that comes immediately to mind is your recent chat with Sean Lennon. What's he like in person?
CG: I interviewed him with his girlfriend and artist Charlotte Kemp Muhl. What struck me the most is that he is the real deal. He understands that he has the history of his father's success around him and he can't forget that fact, but he's a true artist in his own right. He wears it well.
LC: Who would you still like to interview?
CG: President Obama, Bill Clinton, Oprah, George Clooney, Bono. People who are doing good things with their status.
LC: Speaking of good things, you're also heading up an initiative called Cause Celeb. Can you talk a bit about it and where it's headed?
CG: I'm thrilled about what's coming up with Cause Celeb -- it's something I'm extremely passionate about. Cause Celeb features celebrities and the causes they support, but goes deeper than that -- it showcases how they're using their reach for social good. We learn about the causes that move them and find out why. Most importantly, we watch what they're doing to help. It's getting some great traction already and I've talked with numerous interested individuals - including Don Cheadle and Iman.
LC: And there's another project you're heading up called Look Up Stop Texting (LUST). From a selfish perspective, primarily because I'm a Blackberry junkie, I'm curious to know more. What's it all about?
CG: It's my effort to try and start a revolution for people to get back to the experience of being alive, because in many ways, we're losing it. Everyone has this addiction and it really started with something I was noticing about myself. We can be walking down the same street we always walk to work, but if we're texting, we might be missing a moment. Perhaps we miss someone helping another or a beautiful sunrise. We're drawn by that sexy red light that needs and wants us. LUST is about texting wisely and setting boundaries, which is of course, is easier said than done. It's now been picked up by Macy's with T-shirts and hoodies, but people are really starting to talk about how it's helped them be more mindful.
LC: You've been successful with so many projects -- what advice can you give to others who are truly passionate about a topic or cause and want to bring it alive?
CG: Just do it. Technology is different now than when I was starting out as a reporter, but the core concept of working hard and just doing it is the same. For me, being the best reporter I could be meant doing the hard work when I was out of school, spending 20 hours a day in a newsroom, shooting my own footage and putting reels together. Now, anyone can do it -- but the theory is the same. If you want to be a reporter, report. If you want to be a comedian, do standup. If you want to be a writer, write.
My pre-interview instinct about Cat was right on -- she's funny, down-to- earth and serious about making a difference in the world. To find out more about what Cat's up to, check out her site here.
For more interviews with other cool people in the world, visit The Journal of Cultural Conversation here.