By Daniel Ford
After a rough day, we’ve all at one point one or another Googled “Kid President,” clicked on the first YouTube video that popped up, and rejoiced after hearing a kid in a sharp suit tell us, “the world needs you to stop being boring.”
Kid President’s base of operations is SoulPancake, a website founded in 2009 by Rainn Wilson (from NBC's "The Office") with Joshua Homnick and Devon Gundry, that strives to “make discussions about spirituality, creativity, and philosophy cool again.”
Golriz Lucina, SoulPancake’s art director and executive producer and co-author of the The SoulPancake Book, graciously took the time to answer a few of my questions about the website.
Daniel Ford: How did the idea for SoulPancake come about? Has anything changed from your initial vision, or have you stayed true to your original ideas?
Golriz Lucina: SoulPancake was originally founded in 2009 by Rainn Wilson (from NBC's "The Office") with Joshua Homnick and Devon Gundry. The initial vision was to create a safe platform for people to 'chew on life's big questions' and really dig into what it means to be human. Even though SoulPancake is now accessible via several platforms beyond the original website (book, video, and television ) the core mission of always presenting inspiring, uplifting, and challenging content that pushes people to think about their existence is still a fundamental tenant of the brand.
DF: When developing the website what/who were some of your influences (and who are your creative influences in general)?
GL: There was really no other website on the Web that we found that was doing what we set out to do—which was not only to present quality content, but also to allow/encourage people to engage with it, have dialogue around it, etc. Our creative influences today are broad and span across amazing musicians, authors, poets, artists, and filmmakers.
DF: You guys published a book in 2010. What was that process like and what was the driving force behind that endeavor?
GL: The process of writing a book was really incredible, but also challenging as it was a first time for all the authors. We felt so grateful for the opportunity and excited to give people another medium by which to engage with our brand. One of the most fun aspects was sourcing incredible art to feature from artists all over the world. Aesthetic and design has always been of utmost importance to our brand so we scoured a lot of art sites to find the perfect illustrations to accompany the questions we were presenting in the book.
DF: Needless to say “A Pep Talk From Kid President” is a hit (32 million+ views on YouTube and counting. The true story of how the video came together is even more awesome. What are your feelings on the series and what has it meant to have it on your website?
GL: We are so proud of the Kid President series. Brad Montague, the creator of the show, is one of the most incredible, brilliant, and golden-hearted people we've ever worked with. His desire, along with Robby's (aka “Kid President”) to make the world a better place was completely in line with SoulPancake's ethos and we're so happy and excited about Kid President touching so many hearts with his positive, hilarious spirit!
DF: Besides Kid President, what are some of your other favorite things on your website? What keeps you up at night thinking, “Yeah, that is really cool and I’m glad it’s ours?”
GL: We are really proud of a lot of our content! Our signature SoulPancake street stunts such as “Chatterbox Heart Attack” and “Listen Up” are favorites. We are really proud of our “My Last Days” series as it tackled such a taboo subject in our culture (death), but in such a refreshing way! Currently our “Science of Happiness” and “Science of Love” series are resulting in a lot of great dialogue!
DF: We talk and write a lot about writing process on podcast and website. What are some of the things that define your creative processes?
GL: We are highly collaborative. We listen to our audience. We try to make sure that everything we create resides at the intersection of creative, thought-provoking, and uplifting.
DF: What do you all do besides run the website? Is it a full-time gig, or—like Rainn Wilson and acting, writing, etc.—do member of your team have other interests they are passionate about?
GL: On a daily basis, we run the website and a highly successful YouTube channel. We are also extending our brand and working as a creative agency, as well as developing television programming.
DF: Of all the Big Life Questions you’ve chewed on since launching the website, what’s one that you could talk and debate for days and weeks at a time without getting bored?
GL: There really isn't one favorite! I guess at the heart of it the biggest question we hope everyone asks themselves is "What is my life's biggest questions, and how can I start finding answers?"
DF: If you were a craft beer—or any other adult beverage of your choice—which one would you be and why?
GL: I recently had a virgin mojito that came to the table with a heaping mound of cotton candy on it. It was the most interesting and delicious drink I'd ever had. So yeah, that :)
DF: What advice do you have to up-and-coming creative types that are just starting out?
GL: Trust your gut. Spend a lot of time honing your skill. Make sure that whatever you're putting out into the world is your best work. Don't get complacent and don't compromise your intent.
DF: Name one random fact about yourselves.
GL: I have a freckle in my eye.
If you’re in the mood to chew on life’s delicious questions, check out more from SoulPancake by visiting http://soulpancake.com/, subscribing to its YouTube channel, or following the website on Twitter @soulpancake.