The Companion Series Explores American Perseverance in 2020 Through Personal Stories from Around the Country
ARLINGTON, VA; August 13, 2020 – PBS announced today the launch of SELF-EVIDENT: A PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT MINISERIES, new from PBS Digital Studios and Smartypants Pictures. Inspired by PBS’s 50th-anniversary initiative and crowdsourced storytelling project, PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT, the 11-episode short-form companion series will launch Monday, August 17 on PBS’s original YouTube channel, PBS Voices, Facebook page, PBS.org, and the PBS Video App.
The SELF-EVIDENT series is informed by the central question that PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT examines: “What does it really mean to be an American today?” As the U.S. grapples with the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread social unrest following the killing of George Floyd and a polarizing election, the series explores American challenges and triumphs as we persevere in an especially tough year. These stories will be told in a variety of styles, but will rely on footage filmed by individual participants, letting them tell the story of America in 2020.
Each episode will be organized around a theme and will feature several personal stories from across the country. Guided by the series hosts — Dr. Ali Mattu, a licensed therapist and clinical psychologist and YouTuber behind “The Psych Show,” as well as Danielle Bainbridge, Ph.D., historian and the writer/creator of PBS’s “The Origin of Everything” — the episodes seek to portray the full spectrum of the human condition during this moment in time and include diverse American individuals and their experiences.
“This has been an intense year, with people across America experiencing a rollercoaster ride of emotions and uncertainty,” said Brandon Arolfo, Head of PBS Digital Studios. “PBS is committed to producing programming like SELF-EVIDENT that is not only responsive to this moment but is also a resource for families and individuals who seek to inform their lives, heal, celebrate and prevail.”
New episodes will be published on a bi-weekly schedule. Descriptions for the first few episodes of the SELF-EVIDENT digital series are as follows.
Episode 1: “Being Ten in 2020”
Premieres: August 17, 2020
Description: Every 10-year-old kid goes through big changes while they’re simultaneously learning to navigate and understand the wider world. By nature, this makes them incredibly resilient and adaptable. Could their resilience and adaptability give them an edge when it comes to taking on the seismic shifts happening in 2020? In this episode, we will meet a diverse group of kids from all over the U.S. to get their tips on staying strong, safe and sane in 2020.
Episode 2: “Behind the Activist”
Premieres: August 31, 2020
Description: After the killing of George Floyd was captured on camera, unprecedented Black Lives Matter protests sprang up across the country, and according to The New York Times, it is now believed to be the largest movement in American history. With these uprisings, America seems poised to have a reckoning with its history of racial injustice. The people at the forefront of the movement are often presented as two-dimensional “characters” who are warriors in the battle to stop white supremacy. This episode will show a more intimate look of what it looks and feels like to be an activist fighting for racial equality, featuring author Ijeoma Oluo (So You Want to Talk About Race); author, activist and The Loveland Foundation founder Rachel Cargle; and Elijah Lee, a 12-year-old minister and activist.
Episode 3: “Music Prevails”
Premieres: September 14, 2020
Description: Music can inspire, heal and entertain, but how can we create together if we have to be apart? So many musicians, concert venues and fans across the country are struggling to persevere without live performances. However, struggle can lead to incredible creativity. From the producer of a mass virtual concert, to a distanced drive-in concert, or a producer looking to make the next top hit live on Instagram, examine the unique challenges facing musicians during this time. Featuring Ricky Reed, who is best known as Lizzo’s producer, and Madame Gandhi, a musician and activist whose work centers around gender liberation."
Target is a major funder and national promotional partner for PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT and SELF-EVIDENT, expanding the reach of this initiative. Additional funding is provided by Anne Ray Foundation.
Please visit the PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT website at www.pbs.org/americanportrait and follow the conversation at #AmericanPortraitPBS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to view the thousands of stories already being submitted.
SELF-EVIDENT is produced by PBS Digital Studios and Smartypants Pictures. Jeremy Mack, Joshua Seftel and Anna Bick Rowe serve as executive producers alongside Brandon Arolfo, Head of PBS Digital Studios.
About Danielle Bainbridge, Host of SELF-EVIDENT
Dr. Danielle Bainbridge is a fun-loving history nerd who will never shy away from a good debate or bad joke. In addition to hosting SELF-EVIDENT, she hosts the PBS Digital Studios series “The Origin of Everything,” which just completed its third season. She has a Ph.D. in African American Studies & American Studies from Yale University, graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in English & Theatre Arts, and is a new faculty member at Northwestern University in Theatre and African American Studies, which basically means her interests run the gamut from big Broadway musicals to the social & political movements of the last 200 years.
About Ali Mattu, Host of SELF-EVIDENT
Dr. Ali Mattu is a cognitive behavioral therapist in Northern California who has spent over a decade helping kids and adults with anxiety disorders. On his YouTube channel, “The Psych Show,” he teaches a global audience how to use psychological science to achieve their goals while sparking conversations about mental health through storytelling performances, school assemblies and pop culture conventions. His videos have been viewed over 2,000,000 times. Dr. Mattu received his B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he majored in psychology and minored in Asian American studies. Dr. Mattu received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He completed a doctoral internship at the Bellevue Hospital Center and a post-doctoral fellowship at the NYU Langone Medical Center's Child Study Center.
About PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT
Launched on January 10, 2020, PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT, a national storytelling project aligned with PBS’s 50th anniversary celebration, is the organization’s most ambitious multiplatform project in its history. A digital-first initiative produced by RadicalMedia, PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT begins as a platform for user-generated content participation, and is envisioned to encompass publishing, short form content, classroom engagement, a web miniseries, public art installations, live events and, in January 2021, a nationally televised documentary series. Leveraging the local reach of PBS through its member stations, PBSAMERICAN PORTRAIT presents a mosaic of our country’s diversity by connecting tens of thousands of people across the country, creating a communal voice through individual stories of joy, hardship, triumphs and sorrow. Participants will be able to tell and share their own stories, and see the stories shared by a wide panorama of Americans, united by a series of prompts that will serve as conversation starters, including: “I was raised to believe…,” “The tradition I carry on is…,” “What keeps me up at night is…,” “When I step outside my door…” and “Most days I feel…,” among others like, “I never expected…,” added in response to COVID-19, “Now is the time…” added to encourage people to share their stories about race in light of recent events.
About PBS Digital Studios
PBS Digital Studios produces original, digital programming for YouTube and Facebook Watch, designed to engage, enlighten and entertain online audiences. The PBS Digital Studios network has more than 23 million subscribers, generating an average of 50 million views a month and has acquired more than 2.6 billion views lifetime views. Currently, the Studio has 20 original series streaming online, including eight series from PBS member stations. Series include the Webby Award-winning It’s Okay to Be Smart, Sound Field, Physics Girl and Crash Course, as well as popular series such as Two Cents and PBS Space Time.
PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’s premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV— including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.
About Smartypants Pictures
When award-winning filmmaker Joshua Seftel (War, Inc., Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, This American Life) founded Smartypants, his goal was to craft stories that connect with people. It’s this quest for authenticity and humanity that has allowed Smartypants to partner with the most cutting-edge and forward-thinking collaborators, to produce some of the most fulfilling, award-winning work in the industry. For more information on Smartypants, please visit https://www.smartypants.nyc.