In the new AppleTV+ series, Gutsy, Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea embark on a journey to meet with pioneering women artists, activists, community leaders and everyday heroes who live out that word through both their personal and professional lives.
Based off their 2019 New York Times bestselling book, The Book of Gutsy Women, the eight-episode docuseries features the mother-daughter duo in conversation with a myriad of women, including Wanda Sykes, Megan Thee Stallion, Amber Ruffin, Jemele Hill, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Katrina Brownlee, Minnijean Brown-Trickery, Carlotta Walls Lanier of the Little Rock Nine and more for a discussion on how they’ve used their gutsiness in their own lives and for the betterment of society as a whole.
The Root recently got the chance to chat with both Hillary and Chelsea, where they revealed exactly what it means to be a “gutsy woman” in today’s day and age, the importance of prioritizing joy, and working together for their first-ever series.
The Root: When I hear the word “gutsy,” I think about someone who’s audacious and really just goes for it. How do you define what a “gutsy” woman is, especially in today’s climate?
Hillary Clinton: Those are characteristics we believe in too, people who are resilient, determined, persistent, courageous. But that’s not enough, in our definition. That’s good and if you are that, that’s important in your own life. But we’re looking for women who use their gutsiness on behalf of others. How do you bring other people along? How do you stand up to hate? How do you make a difference when it comes to criminal justice or preserving our planet. We’re looking for people who are gutsy, but more than that, who are using that gutsiness to make the world a better place.
TR: In the first episode, specifically, you guys talk to Wanda Sykes, who I absolutely enjoy. And then later on, you guys talk to another comedian, Amber Ruffin who I also love. But with Wanda, specifically, you all discuss the power of humor and the importance of how that can really help aid people to get through those tough moments and situations and all the craziness life throw you. How do you both prioritize joy at a time that seems hellbent on being unjoyful?
HC: That’s a key question for what we try to do in this series. And you mentioned Wanda and Amber, they are both joyful. That doesn’t mean that everyday is perfect, that they don’t have problems and setbacks and challenges. But boy, being with them just kind of lifts you up. When Wanda was talking about humor and comedy, she said: ‘Look, you throw rocks up. You don’t throw rocks down.’ You try to pick on people who are big enough and powerful enough that you’re not gonna be making fun of people who are in difficult circumstances. That made a big impression on me.
And the time we spent with Amber, she just is like a joy machine. She’s happy, she’s funny, she’s wicked smart, she brings the best out of people. And you leave being with her and frankly, you don’t want to go. There’s just a joy about her. So to answer your question, honestly, I think it’s a decision. I think some people are maybe more constitutionally or temperamentally able to withstand the slings and arrows of life and keep going. But I think it’s also a decision. I got a decision everyday when I wake up: am I gonna let the world drag me down or am I gonna do my best to punch up and keep going. And I think a lot of the women in our series exemplify that despite what they may have gone through.
CC: I think the joy and the refusal for the world to take away your joy was one of the unexpected commonalities throughout the episodes. Whether we were talking to women who were fighting to preserve our planet or fighting for a more just criminal justice system, that even in the face of that inevitable challenge that can feel overwhelming, that they don’t pretend that it’s not hard. They don’t pretend that they don’t have to work hard. But that joy and that sense of—‘I’m not gonna be robbed of my joy. I’m gonna be joyful, I’m gonna create joy. I’m gonna share joy,’—was really powerful. You gotta laugh because it’s a sign of refusal to kind of give in to the hate, to be brought down to their level. But also that the joy is fuel.
TR: What did you guys enjoy most about working with each other throughout the making of this series?
HC: For me, I was thrilled. Chelsea and her husband and her three kids lived with us during COVID and we filmed this during [that time]. And when you get to be an adult parent of an adult child, you know, their lives are busy, your lives are busy. And you don’t want to be a pest, you don’t want to be there too much. But when we go on these adventures together, we never would’ve dreamed of doing some of this stuff together. It really was an absolute gift.
CC: It gave me great opportunities to not only have adventures with her but to also make fun of her. I love making fun of my mom, there’s just so much material. She’s such a good sport about it all.
Gutsy, premieres Friday, Sep. 9 only on Apple TV+.