Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Emily K. Harrison: Wow. Way to ask me the hardest question ever right off the bat. You know, when I was in high school I was obsessed with Lucille Ball. I videotaped every episode of I Love Lucy from Nick at Nite: 8 p.m., Central Standard time. It drove my parents nuts, and I think probably caused them a lot of anxiety (although I'm certain they considered it an improvement on my previous obsession, which was the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty by the Bolsheviks. I didn't have a lot of friends, as you can imagine). I really wanted to be able to do what Lucille Ball did, and I watched those videos over and over and over again. I think she's one of the most gifted physical comediennes who ever lived. I would love to go back in time and learn from her.
I'm also pretty much in love with Annie Clark's guitar badassery (St. Vincent). I would love to write a rock musical or make a grilled cheese with her. I don't know what it would be about, that rock musical, but it would be a comedy, obviously. With shredding. Maybe we could just blink together or something. Even that would be awesome. I'm seeing her play with David Byrne in July, actually, if anybody with connections wants to hook me up with a meeting. I would meet the hell out of Annie Clark. It would be super awkward for everyone involved, mostly her.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Brené Brown, who is a therapist, teacher, storyteller, and public speaker. She's probably most well known for her TED Talk, "The Power of Vulnerabilty," but she's also written some great books about courage, vulnerability and shame, and has an awesome blog. She writes and talks a lot about taking risks and being willing to fail, which is something I really try to do with my work. Being brave in life and art is so hard; so many people play it safe, take the easy, tried-and-true route. It's something I struggle with every day: Do I choose the project I really want to work on, the project I believe in, the project I think has the power to create a profound shift in everyone who participates in or witnesses it?
Do I choose the project that terrifies me because it could force me to question everything I believe in, the project that could be a complete disaster because in working on it, I could reveal too much of myself? Or do I choose the project that I know I can easily tackle with little to no effort, the project that won't really challenge me or my audience, the project that will show off what comes easy for me and will win me easy adoration? I think artists run up against this sort of decision constantly. I think humans run up against this sort of decision constantly. She really highlights that struggle by sharing her own, personal travails, which are sometimes glorious and sometimes horrific. She's done a lot of research on these topics and is able to share that research in a way that's very accessible, which I can't imagine is easy. I like her. A lot. She does Texas proud, which is something I always find refreshing.Continue reading for more on Emily K. Harrison.