Making It Big in 30 Minutes

Transcript: Episode 5, Manny Jaquez

Making It Big in 30 Minutes

Transcript: Episode 5

Manny Jaquez


Terri:
What does it mean to make it big? Having money, fame, worldwide acclaim, climbing the corporate ladder, or crushing it in your business. One things for sure, there isn't just one way to do it. Welcome to "Making It Big in 30 Minutes," a podcast for, by, and about the Emerson community.

Terri:
You're about to meet an Emersonian who's making it. Making a living, making a difference, and sometimes making it up as they go along. As far as we're concerned, if you're making something, you've made it big time. I'm your host and Emerson alumni, Terri Trespicio, and we've got 30 minutes. So let's get started.

Terri:
Manny Jaquez sometimes wonders if what he's doing is important enough. He once confessed to his father that he worried that he wasn't passing legislation, or saving lives in the ER. His father said to him, "When those senators and doctors go home, they need to be able to laugh."

Terri:
Manny, originally from Miami, graduated Emerson in 2013 with a degree in writing from film and TV. Today, he's the manager of talent and development at Comedy Central. So no, he's not performing heart transplants, but he is helping shape the future of comedy at a network that turns unknowns into household names.

Terri:
He's rare in that he actually knew what he wanted to do early by watching TV. And we're not talking starry eyed fantasies about being a leading man. I mean, he was researching development roles in the industry before most kids had picked a major. Yes, he aspired to management. Which in its own right, is very much a creative role. He often gets asked if he really wanted to be a writer. And the answer, no. Did he dream of doing standup? Not on your life.

Terri:
In fact, he admits to phoning it in with his scripts in school, because he was way more interested in giving his classmates notes on theirs. You'll love Manny's insights into the future of comedy, what he learned from doing improv, and how when he moved to LA, he learned you can get paid to do almost anything. I give you Manny Jaquez on making it in the TV industry. Where are you right now? You're in LA?

Manny:
Yeah, I'm in a corner of my bedroom, otherwise known as my home office. Yeah.

Terri:
Yes. That has been newly christened, or not so newly.

Manny:
Yeah, exactly. I built myself a desk, I built myself a chair, and I got a little plant. I'm ready to go.

Terri:
How do you like doing that? What a change. I imagine that you went into glamorous, maybe glamorous offices usually. And so how's it been for you?

Manny:
Well, we sat in an open floor plan office that had a view of the Hollywood sign. So to go from that to this is humbling. I think that, for me, I'm a person who puts a lot of value in encoding my spaces. I don't bring work or food into my room, I try to read anywhere but my living room, because a huge part of my job is reading scripts outside of office hours. So I try to do that in some other space, because I want to make sure that my living room and my bedroom are places where I relax.

Manny:
So having to incorporate work into the spaces, there was a learning curve for sure. But I think I'm starting to figure it out.

Terri:
It's really very evolved of you to be so good about your spaces, and keeping them separate. But you're saying that you don't ... What's the real fear is you didn't want to bring work into your bedroom because you said you didn't want to read in the living room, where else is there to read?

Manny:
I go to coffee shops, I go to—

Terri:
Oh, you go out somewhere?

Manny:
Yeah. I mean, I still have to read. And I know that I have to do that. And I think that a change of scenery is nice. Also, going to a place that's public, it gives you a hard out, because it eventually closes. So you have that to keep tabs on you, because otherwise, I would just spend hours doing it, which is what I'm afraid would happen here at home.

Manny:
And also, it came because working in entertainment especially, there is no such thing as a work, life balance, I think. Or it's very rare to find. It's a fine line. It's just in the spirit of trying to maintain as much of that as I possibly can. It's just taking it one day at a time, and just, for me, I've found a lot of solace in just a schedule, and keeping as much of a routine as I possibly can. That makes it a little better.

Manny:
I think that tiny rituals throughout the day make a huge difference. Making your bed, for me ... Making my bed, for me, has been a huge game changer, and it just sets you up for a productive day. Just little things like that.

Terri:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). You're working in a field where ideas grow out of cross pollination of ideas, of joking around. I mean, that's, I imagine, how ideas take root. It's not just, "Here's a script, read it, decide." There's a lot of talking, and going back and forth. And it makes me worry that, since we're not having that, you aren't, and a lot of people aren't, are there ideas that aren't happening as a result? Do you worry about that, that maybe the quality of stuff doesn't stay the same because you don't have the nearness to other people?

Manny:
Well, I think the beauty of the world that we live in is that we're more connected than ever. So writers, there are virtual writers rooms happening. There are—

Terri:
So you're on there with them. You're not totally isolated. There are ways of ... You are doing that. But you don't get to hang out with them all day, but you're on a million, I imagine, video conference calls.

Manny:
Yeah, exactly. That's just the new normal for now. And I think that's key, right, is just accepting that it's temporary, and that it won't be like this forever hopefully, knock on wood. But yeah, luckily we're still able to develop scripts, and to develop ideas and pitches from the comfort of our own homes. Production can't happen right now, which is a huge bummer.

Terri:
You get lots of ideas, but how do you do it?

Manny:
Yeah, there are other avenues, there are other ways of doing it. I think it's been interesting seeing the way that corporations and individuals are getting creative with producing content with whatever resources that have available to them.

Terri:
Well yeah, it's like the great [inaudible 00:06:14]. All of a sudden, my face to face or whatever, Zoom calls, are looking a lot like A Closer Look with Seth Myers. Everything has been raised to the ground, and brought to this basic level of production in a way. That, in some sense, is exciting, because it shows you that now, you're not competing with grandiose production, it's got to be that great ideas stick.

Manny:
Yeah. There's less to hide behind now.

Terri:
Is that good for comedy that there's less to hide behind? Because I mean, we think of Comedy Central, we think of standup specials, you think of these big sweeping camera views of a laughing audience, and the big scope of a comic on stage. You don't get that feel ... I mean, a lot of comics won't even do video, because they're like, "Oh, yikes, you're bombing every second."

Manny:
Well, that's an interesting question. I think that, at the heart of all great comedy is a point of view. That's what we always look for. We develop out of a point of view, and an experience, and we let that color every aspect of whatever project we're working on, or whatever we're doing. So luckily ... It's not so much about the venue, it's more so about the point of view, and the voice that's echoing within those walls.

Terri:
But hearing the audience. Yeah. Hearing the audience is a big part of it, hearing the laughter so we know when it's funny. We miss that.

Manny:
Yeah. And then we're living in the time when there are so many platforms for comedy. You have people who come up through Twitter, or Instagram, or even TikTok, in their own right as comedians in that space.

Terri:
Right.

Manny:
And that doesn't always translate to other areas. But that's always been true. Historically, there have been comedians who are pure standups, or writers, or performers. And I think we've seen a huge rise in multi [inaudible 00:07:55], which I'm thrilled about. But there are still people who just, they just stick to their thing, because that's what they do really well, and that's what they love.

Manny:
So to that end, I really feel for the live performers. I really feel for the standups, and for the sketch groups, and the improv groups, and all the people who perform in front of an audience. To not have that is brutal.

Terri:
Well, that's what I'm thinking. Did standup die? Or is it in a coma for the foreseeable future because it relies on that in person vibe? Or is it going to just have to be reinvented?

Manny:
I think that people will always need to laugh. I think that it's the best medicine, especially right now. And I think it will definitely come back. I wouldn't say that it's dead or in a coma. It's just taking a bit of a nap.

Terri:
It's taking a nap. I like that better. Just a beer nap. A disco nap.

Manny:
Yeah. It's taking a disco nap. Exactly. And for what it's worth, I think the whole world needed to. I feel like everyone was running on empty. So this is a time for people to step back, and look inward, and check in with themselves. And I think there are still comedians releasing funny content from the comfort of their living room.

Terri:
People are getting very innovative for sure. Well, let's back up, Manny, to your title, right. You're manager of talent and development at Comedy Central. And we think we know what that means. But the truth is, only really you know. So how do you describe what your job is to people who don't understand?

Manny:
I've had to do this so many times, because—

Terri:
You got it down?

Manny:
I do more or less have it down. So I always tell ... Because I have to do this every Thanksgiving when I go back home.

Terri:
What do you mean? No one knows what you do anymore?

Manny:
No one knows what I do. My grandma, up until very recently, thought I was a character actor at Disney.

Terri:
Stop it. Stop.

Manny:
Which honestly, I'm so flattered, because those guys are really attractive. So I was like, "Thank you, grandma. I do look like Aladdin."

Terri:
You did that once? Your grandmother thinks you still are? Or she just has this idea that you did that?

Manny:
I have no ... It's because I once internet at Disney ABC. So she just—

Terri:
[crosstalk 00:10:05] you are a Disney character.

Manny:
Yeah, so she's like, "Oh, well yeah, clearly he is Aladdin." And I was like, "Well, okay. I'll let you believe it." But basically, what I do is, I always tell people to think of their favorite comedies, right, their favorite TV shows. And then I explain to them that I'm the person who those comedians come to when they have the idea for the show. And I'm the one who gives them the ability to make it.

Terri:
You're giving the green light, or you're taking a bunch of scripts for a bunch of ideas, and then moving them up the chain kind of thing, and deciding if it's something that you guys want to take on.

Manny:
Yeah, I take the pitch. So I hear pitches from all kinds of creators. Because I work at Comedy Central, it's specifically comedians, writers, performers, directors, producers, production companies, a whole array of people will come to us with ideas that they think are right for our network. And then it's up to me and my team to decide if they fit our brand, if it's something that we think makes sense for us. And then we develop the idea with them from the ground up in hopes of making it into a TV show.

Terri:
What is something you believe that people assume about your job, that they're really wrong about?

Manny:
I think that—

Terri:
Besides from being maybe a Disney character.

Manny:
Aside from being Aladdin in The Wonderful World of Color.

Terri:
Or maybe people just make assumptions about what it's like to be you, that are like, "You have this wrong." It sounds incredibly glamorous. Is there anything about it ... It very is interesting to hear people with these real Hollywood type jobs, and what is it really like? Is it as glamorous as people think?

Manny:
I wouldn't use the word ... I mean, I spend most of my time in dingy comedy clubs, or at open mics, and stuff like that.

Terri:
Oh, boy. Yeah. Those are rough.

Manny:
Yeah. So if you could look at that as glamorous, if that's what you mean, then sure, it's very glamorous.

Terri:
It's gritty glam.

Manny:
Yeah, I don't know. But I really enjoy that. I think that maybe a misconception that people might have is that I'm rubbing shoulders with big wigs, and movie stars, and stuff like that. It's not that at all.

Terri:
Well, yeah, I would assume that too though. That you'd be like, "What up, Jerry." You'd just be tight with [inaudible 00:12:14].

Manny:
No, unfortunately not. And we're certainly working with bigger people, and we always are. But I also ... For me, the most gratifying part of the job is identifying new voices, and incubating them, and giving them a platform. And Comedy Central has historically always had this amazing pipeline where you—

Terri:
Yes, that's where we find out about comics.

Manny:
Yeah, exactly. We enjoy being boots on the ground, and finding people, and giving them shots. And once you're in the family, you're always there. How can we keep you? What other ways can we work with you? So that, to me, is the most exciting part of the job. And I think that that's what people don't ... The part that people don't really think about is the amount of—

Terri:
It's relationship building.

Manny:
Right. The amount of time that you spend out in the world. And to go back to your other question about working from home. I think that that's maybe been the hardest part for me to process, is that the job is innately social, I'm a very social person, and I love that pat of it. I love meeting new people, I love hearing their stories, I love going to shows. And not being able to do that right now has been pretty hard. It sucks

Terri:
Yeah, I can imagine.

Manny:
Yeah. I'm holding out for the day that I can do that again.

Terri:
Yeah. I mean, this is part of, I imagine, why you took the job. People who don't want to go out and see comedy usually don't want the job you have. And of course reading scripts is part of it. But sitting and reading scripts in your bedroom just isn't the same as being out and seeing real talent rise.

Terri:
But part of this that makes it magical, and why we think it's glamorous is that you really can wave a magic wand for people. You are a magical Disney character. You can sweep into a comedy club, you see someone performing. You go, "Wow, that person. I've seen them, they've gotten better over the past year. I'm thinking this persons starting to really kill it." You could go up to them and change their whole life. I mean, there is a bit of power there as a gatekeeper. What's that like?

Manny:
I do think that I am a stakeholder in that way. But I think that there are so many others. And that's another thing people don't really think about. Often before I've heard of someone, there's a whole group of people who have heard of those comedians, and those up and coming voices. There are agents, and there are managers, and there are producers, and there are so many people who are doing the exact same thing I do. And again, it all goes back to being collaborative.

Terri:
Oh, so you're meaning like competing for a talent. You're like, "Don't let those Netflix people get after that guy. I want him."

Manny:
No, not at all. I think there's none of that. I would say it more so, you're right in that I am a gatekeeper, but I am not the gatekeeper.

Terri:
Got it.

Manny:
I am a gatekeeper for one very specific gate down an alley of many others. And there are so many different ways that people could go, and so many different platforms, which is the beautiful thing about the comedy landscape right now. There are just so many opportunities for people, now more than ever. There are people who are rising to prominence again just from their Twitter accounts. And it's really exciting to see that. And it makes my job more gratifying to know that there are so many different spaces I can go to for different kinds of comedy, and that they're all [crosstalk 00:15:14].

Terri:
You can't keep it down.

Manny:
Exactly.

Terri:
People [inaudible 00:15:15] need the humor more than ever. And it's almost one of the only ways to cope with the Incredible stress that isn't a crime. And so we're going to gravitate toward people who can help us channel that. Let's jump back in time though for a sec, Manny. You did improv in college.

Manny:
I did.

Terri:
Now, anyone who went to college probably went to an improv show. Anyone who's been in any major city probably went to an improv show. And it is an incredible skillset. What do you think is one of the weirdest things that you learned to do doing improv that you're like, "This is a great skill that I still have."?

Manny:
It's funny, because I used to be so passionate about it. And now I think of it as that thing I did once in college.

Terri:
Really? You're not ride or die with improv?

Manny:
No. No. For me, again, it all goes back to community. There's such a vibrant comedy community at Emerson. And I saw it. And I just wanted to be a part of it, because I wanted to spend my free time with like minded people who had a similar sensibility to me, and who laughed at all the same things, and who I enjoyed being with. I think that I was a member of Stroop Waffle, which was a short form group, which started at The Castle way back when.

Manny:
But part of what I loved about that experience, and the huge takeaway for me was just the ability to be present, and to fully listen to what the person across from me was saying, because you're taking that little gift that they're giving you in that moment, and you have to spin it into something on the fly.

Manny:
And you can only do that if you are giving someone your full and undivided attention. So that's the one thing I think I took away from that, and that I've applied to other parts of my life.

Terri:
Oh, it's such a great answer. It's true. Because everyone always says, "Oh, I've always wanted to try standup." Or, "Oh, I want to be a better speaker, I'm going to do standup." And I always say to people, "You can learn how to do standup. But that's a skill. You learn how to write a joke." Improv is a multifaceted in that you've got to get along with others, you have to play off what they're doing, you have to make them look good." It's the most virtuous comedy that there is.

Manny:
I also think that they're both ... It's like two houses [inaudible 00:17:26], because I think that with standup, that's challenging in its own way. And I'm not going to speak to it, because I've never done it. And God, that's for everyone's sake.

Terri:
You wouldn't want to do that, would you?

Manny:
I think it's the most terrifying thing ever. And I really admire standup comedians, because with improv, I find that audiences tend to be on your side, because they know that you're going to get somewhere, and they want to see how you do it. But it feels like, with standup, audiences often ... You need to prove yourself as the comedian.

Terri:
It's you against them unfortunately sometimes. Whereas, improv, everyone is on the same team.

Manny:
Yeah. Worst case scenario, sometimes it is that. But there is this moment of needing to prove why you're on stage. Or at least, that's what I've always felt from watching it. And that, to me, is just so daunting.

Terri:
Totally. Yes.

Manny:
But yeah, what was the question? I forget.

Terri:
Oh, no, I was just nosing around in your improv background.

Manny:
Oh, yeah. So it was amazing, and I made really great friends. And again, just took the ability to be present, and to fully listen to someone when they're speaking.

Terri:
Yeah, I love that. I think that's fantastic. So obviously, a lot of things we do in college, we're doing them for the first time, and exploring who are we going to be? What are we going to do? What did you enjoy the most when you were in school that you were like, "Ah." Maybe you fell in love with doing it, maybe it was a class, and that you thought, "Oh, it's so cool.", but it's not like you'd get paid for that? And can you get paid for that?

Manny:
Well, what I've learned about working out here is that you can get paid to do anything.

Terri:
That's a great lesson to know.

Manny:
That's the thing, is you come ... You spend all these years at Emerson, and before taking classes, and learning, and getting hands on experience. And then you get out into ... And you think you have a sense of what the landscape looks like. But then you move out here, and you realize, "Oh, I just scratched the surface. There are so many other things." I feel like my first two years out in LA were spent being like, "Oh, that's a job? Oh, I can get paid to do that?"

Terri:
Like what? Do you remember what you were like, "That? How is that a job?" What's one of the weirdest things you remember being like, "Wait, how is that real?"

Manny:
I remember learning that a food stylist was a job. I just remember thinking ... And honestly, it's meticulous, and it's really intense. And for commercial spots, or for integrations in TV shows, whenever they do extreme closeups of the food, or they do photo shoots, there's a person whose job it is to make that food look appetizing. And they have all these ways of doing it. And I just remember talking to a food stylist and just being fascinated, and wanting to know everything about it. But again, that's just an example of one of those things that you don't realize is a job until you move out here.

Manny:
LA is a really amazing place, because it's a playground where people have made livings out of the things that they enjoy doing. So that's the privilege and the luxury of being here, right, that you get to do what you love for a living. Or at least that's the hope.

Terri:
Is there one thing you discovered you were bad at, at Emerson, and you were like, "I'm not going to do that anymore."?

Manny:
I've had the rarefied experience of always knowing exactly what I wanted to do.

Terri:
What? Who does that? Please, back up. Explain that. How did you know? How did you know that job even existed?

Manny:
I think that most kids of immigrants do it. Most kids of immigrants are very decisive about their futures, and know exactly what they're going to do because they have to. My parents are immigrants from Mexico. And there was this expectation that I would be a few things. Your staples of a doctor, or a lawyer. My parents really wanted me to be an ambassador for some reason, a diplomat.

Terri:
What?

Manny:
Yeah. They had it in their heads that I would be amazing at that job. And I respectfully disagreed. So when I told them that much, they were like, "Okay, if not that, then what?" My parents were always about a plan, and were always about knowing exactly what the next step would be. And as a kid, I spent hours in front of the TV. And I just loved it. And I obviously as a little kid, grew up on cartoons and all these other things. But then I found shots like Six Feet Under, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Terri:
Oh, that's so good.

Manny:
I know. I know. And watching that, that for me was that catalyst. It was the moment that I realized that TV could be elevated, and that TV was an art form in its own right.

Terri:
Oh my God. I thought you were going to say a comedy thing. That was one of the best shows of all time. I thought when I watched it, it was the closest thing that TV came to reading a book.

Manny:
Yeah. Exactly. And a really good one at that.

Terri:
Yes.

Manny:
Yeah. And I just loved ... I saw that probably too young.

Terri:
[inaudible 00:22:10] you were a little young watching this very death centered show.

Manny:
I was 12. And I was like, "This is awesome." But yeah, I just remember thinking that ... I was so impressed by the characters, they were so drawn out. And there were moments of humor throughout the show. It was really dark humor, but there was plenty of humor. And that was formative for me in defining what my sense of humor was, and what my sensibility was.

Manny:
Another show that did that was Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I found those three shows around the same time. And again, it was with Buffy that I made the intellectual connection like, "Oh, I know that someone wrote this, right. That person had to take it to someone else, who decided it could be on TV. And that person probably decided other shows could be on TV." And then I did a bit of research throughout the years and slowly learned what a development executive was.

Terri:
Manny, who does that? That's really brilliant. First of all, Americans, and people world over of course watch TV, fall in love with TV. But it doesn't mean they go become screenwriters, or actors. But a lot of them dream of being actors. They look at the people and go, "I want to be that person on TV." Or, "Ooh, I want to write that." But to go beyond that. To say, "The writer had to go somewhere, and someone else helps get that on TV." Is a really sophisticated view of TV that most people wouldn't even think of. But somehow you did it. And you said, "This is what I'm going to do." So did you just start looking at that job? You're like, "I want to be in talent development."

Manny:
Well, yeah. Everything I did after that was geared towards getting there. I majored in screenwriting at Emerson, because you can't major in development. But I figured this was the next best thing. I learned how to give notes, which is exactly what I saw my four years as. I barely put any effort into my scripts, the ones I had to write for class, because ... But I enjoyed the workshop process so much. I enjoyed giving notes to people, I enjoyed reading other people's work.

Terri:
You liked that. That is hilarious. In the workshops where you're supposed to be focusing on your [inaudible 00:24:17], creating your dream script, meanwhile, you're like, "Yeah, whatever. Phone this in. But listen, Mark, I've got comments. I've got some notes for you."

Manny:
Yeah, exactly.

Terri:
You were already management.

Manny:
Yeah. Literally, it was me being like, "Look, I know that my Modern Family spec is trash. But let me talk about you for a second."

Terri:
But that was what you owned.

Manny:
Yeah. And that was what I enjoyed. And then also, both inside and outside of the classroom, I think that I got so many opportunities to do that. To collaborate with writers, and work with writers. I really admire and respect the writing process, and writers. It os not something I could ever do. It does not spark joy in me the way that it does writers. And I acknowledged that very early on. Because people ask me, "Did you ever want to be a writer? Was that ever something that crossed your mind?" And the answer is no.

Terri:
I think that we perhaps give management short shrift, because we assume still, this old view of creativity where one person is blessed with a gift, delivers it unto the world, and everyone else just does their bidding. And the fact is, you know that the best scripts, and the best shows and I ideas come out of collaboration. What you're doing, you may not be a writer, but you are a curator of ideas, and talent. And it's an art. What you're doing is shaping and developing work. And it's just like someone who loves sculpting, except that you don't work with [inaudible 00:25:39]. I mean, that's the way I'm seeing it.

Manny:
Yeah. I think that's ... Yeah, that's definitely a bit of it. I think another part of it was just wanting to give diverse voices, and people that looked like me a platform, because growing up ... During my formative years, it was the early [inaudible 00:26:01], the Bush administration. Just to give you a sense of when I was growing up.

Manny:
And at the time, there just wasn't much Latinx representation on screens. And also, and there was some queer representation for sure. I think there were shows that paved the way. I mean, Six Feet Under being a prime example. But I felt like the queer characters I was seeing on screen were often very thin, or just, they weren't always the most authentic representations. And we've come such a long way since then, because there are more people writing authentically behind the scenes, and there are more people of color, and more diverse voices who have had their experiences, who are now behind the camera, and who are decision makers who are giving opportunities to those groups. So for me, that's my MO.

Terri:
[inaudible 00:26:53]. First is, what do you like to do? Which you figured out early on, and you worked hard to get there. And this is an art form in itself. But there also, I'm hearing, a level of advocacy ignition. Because, because you do play a role as a gatekeeper, you get to help bring people's voices, and stories, and lives to the front where they've been typically white washed. So you're there advocating for, and making sure that there is representation of talent across the board. I mean, that's critical. That sounds like a big mission.

Manny:
It's the hope, right. And I mean, I'm noting what jokes at the end of the day. So I'm not saving lives or anything. And I did have this moment of a quarter life crisis right after school where I found myself working in comedy. And I told my dad, I was like, "I feel like I should be doing something that has more of a net positive for the greater good, right. The world at large. I'm not passing legislation, I'm not curing any diseases. So what the fuck am I doing with my time on this rock?"

Terri:
Right.

Manny:
And he said, "Well, yeah. But the people who are passing legislation, and who are curing diseases need to go home and laugh at the end of the day so that they can wake up and do their jobs the next day." And I was like, "You're so right."

Terri:
Yeah. But also, is everyone supposed to be a surgeon or a senator? Not everyone can be that. We don't need everyone to be a senator and surgeon. I mean, comedy ... You raise a really important question though, Manny, because it's, how important is that role? And is this just fluffy stuff? We're in the middle of a crisis.

Terri:
As I said, you know this as well as anyone, comedy is a major coping mechanism for the people who do it, write it, and the people who consume it. Comedians today are what the musicians were in the '60s and '70s, right. We look to them for the truth. I mean, some people can't even stomach the news anymore. We only watch through comics, we only want to metabolize the news through people who can also help us laugh at it, because in laughing at it, we can feel we can cope.

Manny:
Exactly.

Terri:
I think it's terrific. The last question. What does it mean for you to make it? And how will you know when and if you get there?

Manny:
Yeah, I don't know if i have an answer to that, just because to say that I've ... The idea of making it implies that there's a destination, and that that's it, right. But I think of it as more of just this ongoing journey. I think that you will make it many times throughout your life, and that will look different every time. And I don't think it ever stops. I don't want it to ever stop. I definitely want to keep learning, and keep growing. And for me, my personal metric for success has always been, "What would 12 year old me think about this?"

Terri:
Oh my God, he'd be so blown away. Are you kidding?

Manny:
He would ... Yeah, he'd be thrilled. And that, for me, is the marker of success personally.

Terri:
That is.

Manny:
Yeah.

Terri:
Yes. And it should be. Because don't glaze over it, Manny. It's a big deal what you're doing, and having achieved at a young age. So I love this idea of, "Would the 12 year old version of me think I have made it?" And the 12 year old version of Manny thinks he died and went to heaven.

Manny:
I feel like, if I went back right now and talked to 12 year old me, he'd be like, "Wow, you look rough. We look rough."

Terri:
Wow, you look rough. Hilarious.

Manny:
And I'd be like, "Well, yeah. I've been quarantined for three months."

Terri:
Yes.

Manny:
"So you have that to look forward to."

Terri:
And he'd be like, "How's Jerry?"

Manny:
Yeah, exactly.

Terri:
Hilarious. Terrific. Thank you so much for this. It was fantastic. "Making It Big in 30 Minutes" is a production of Emerson College. Bringing innovation to communication and the arts. Sponsored by the Emerson College office of alumni engagement, and supported by the alumni board of directors. Our theme music was written by Phantoms, and Avocado Junkie. For more information about the alumni association, please visit emerson.edu/alumni, where you can also find bonus material from the show. I'm Terri Trespicio, thanks for listening.