OUR teaching professionals are the foundations of our children’s development.
After teaching methods were revised with urgency when the Covid pandemic struck, our education establishments sought to ensure parents that their young ones would not miss out on vital lessons.
The Best Teaching Professional category has three people that stood out within their roles.
One of the three shortlisted is John Crook from Lakes College, whose selfless approach to his job and life landed him as a finalist in this category.
John’s day-to-day routine alone makes him a worthy finalist but his work outside of teaching proves just how generous he is, from sponsoring Workington Reds Ladies and volunteering at the local parkrun.
Inside of education, John hands out hampers to employers and staff and always has his students' interests at heart.
John's plans for the future are to simply continue doing exactly what he is doing now and get his students to achieve the best they can. 'Don’t fix something that isn’t broken!'
John spoke about his reaction to the nomination, saying: “It is very, very humbling. I just do what I normally do and I do not expect anything back, it is not what I am about.
"It is very exciting and nice to be recognised, but it is for my students. It is an honour for us all.”
Also shortlisted is Sarah Graham from Lakes College.
Sarah has worked at Lakes College for 15 years after only initially coming for 10 weeks. She teaches GCSE maths and works with the Centre for Excellence in Maths as one of ten lead trial teachers across the country, developing the concept of 'mastery in maths'.
Sarah’s goal in her teaching is to find out a lot of information about her students so that she can break that down and pinpoint any gaps in their learning.
Sarah said: “I just love teaching and I love teaching maths because I think it’s a beautiful subject.”
Sarah is already working with the exam board to try and get more data from schools and know more about children when they start - as well as looking to increase the use of mastery in maths.
Sarah spoke about the build up to the awards night, saying: “It’s quite exciting but I don’t do anything for the reward.
"I love getting up on a morning and thinking that I can make a difference to people’s lives, so it is nice to be recognised for that.
"I’ve been before and I’m looking forward to it, even if it is a little bit scary.”
Laura Reid, from Ormsgill School in Barrow, is the third finalist. Laura is the school’s lead for maths and ICT, and shares her passion for literature to inspire all her students to read.
She's described by her school as a book-loving teacher who has gone above and beyond her own specialist subject of maths to Excellerate literacy levels across her school and community.
Laura led a series of 'virtual author events' that has led to virtual school visits from internationally-renowned authors including Michael Rosen, Alex T Smith and Lenny Henry - with further visits planned in the summer.
In December, her Year 3 pupils enjoyed national reach when they sent Christmas cards to their favourite author and got lots of letters, cards and books back, including from the likes of Julia Donaldson, Philip Reeve and Nick Sharratt.
With the help of other school staff, she helped set up a special memorizing area for the children to enjoy.
Laura’s pupils wanted to nominate her for the Golden Apple Award saying: “Mrs Reid helped me write a letter to Clara Vulliamy - she's my favourite author - and she wrote back and even sent me one of her new books, it was so exciting!”
“Mrs Reid has introduced us to lots of new books. My favourite author is Steven Lenton. I love reading. When I read, I feel happy and calm”
Dr. Temple Grandin speaks outside of the US Patent and Trademark Office on April 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images
When animal behavior scientist and autism rights advocate Temple Grandin was beginning her career in livestock, one of her goals was to make the slaughtering process more humane for cattle. As she explains, her autism gave her an advantage in the process. Grandin studied the chutes that cows would walk down, and felt she could literally visualize what they visualized. Her autism allowed her to think in pictures and, through that process, empathize with animals to help make their experiences less emotionally painful.
That is an example of a visual thinker — their mind immediately turns to pictures. And in Grandin's case, being a visual thinker has put her at an advantage, she says — even though in other ways, being a divergent or neurodiverse thinker is often stigmatized.
Grandin is an object visualizer "who thinks in pictures and cannot do algebra. We're good at mechanics, art, animals and photography."
The idea of visual thinking is the focus of a new book by Grandin. Titled "Visual Thinkers: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think In Pictures, Patterns and Abstractions," the book differentiates visual thinking from other types of autistic minds, which she divides into three categories: visual thinkers, musical/mathematical thinkers and verbal/logic thinkers.
Part of my interest in the book is that — while I am autistic like Grandin and have found solace in her commentary on how those on the spectrum think differently — I am not a visual thinker but a verbal thinker. This perhaps speaks to the diversity of minds that characterize those on the spectrum, and how we are not a single mass of similarly-minded neurodiverse people.
Interestingly, while she and I bonded over shared experiences — Grandin experienced similar issues with social rejection as an autistic person — her autistic mind operates differently. At the same age when I was swimming in a world of facts, Grandin was wielding her burgeoning gifts as an animal scientist and artist to draw and discuss horses whenever she could. As she told me, she is an object visualizer "who thinks in pictures and cannot do algebra. We're good at mechanics, art, animals and photography." Grandin's mind conjured up vivid images and was inclined toward mechanical work.
Like me, Grandin's peers mocked her for repetitive speech patterns and being "nerdy." When she displayed autistic traits as a young child, her parents hired a speech therapist and provided mentors throughout her life. Grandin has stated that she is grateful to have had supportive teachers and other authority figures throughout her childhood, although she still dealt with bullying and rejection as a teenager.
Want more health and neuroscience stories in your inbox? Subscribe to Salon's weekly newsletter The Vulgar Scientist.
Yet as Grandin explains in "Visual Thinkers," these years of social torment also helped her develop into the internationally renowned scientist and activist that she is today. Because she was allowed to have hands-on experience learning about the animal industry, she applied her autistic brain in a way that empowered her to develop new technologies and approaches for reducing animal suffering in the livestock trade. Indeed, during her formative years, Grandin had many opportunities to utilize her intellectual powers in constructive ways. Only a year after she was expelled for throwing a book at a child who was taunting her, Grandin took a giant step toward her calling by spending a summer at an Arizona ranch owned by her stepfather's sister. After she transferred to a different school, she was mentored by a science teacher under whose tutelage she developed the squeeze box, a deep-pressure device that can calm people who are hypersensitive.
"I'm an extreme object visualizer. And everything I think about is a picture. Like when I told you about the three people fixing the escalator? I'm seeing it right now."
Because Grandin was surrounded by opportunities to use her autistic mind, she was able to make the world a better place. In "Visual Thinkers," Grandin expresses hope that other autistic individuals can receive the privileges that allowed her to realize her potential.
She argues that Western education systems are ill-serving autistic children who could contribute to society in important ways — particularly visual thinkers who, as engineers and problem-solvers, could repair our crumbling infrastructure — and advocates more shop classes and more programs that expose students directly to subjects that could fan the flames of interest in them. In addition, Grandin deplores the ongoing mistreatment of autistic individuals in all walks of life, from students whose teachers reject their unique ways of learning to adults who struggle to find employment because bosses only see their idiosyncrasies and not their gifts. Finally, she offers those who are not visual thinkers an opportunity to step into the mind of a visual thinker.
I am one of the people who needed that opportunity — because while I am indeed autistic, I am not autistic in the same way as Temple Grandin. That, perhaps, is the other valuable message of this book: not all autistic people are alike.
The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Both in this book and in your other work, you stress the importance of hands-on education and the type of teaching that focuses on technical skills. Can you elaborate on why this type of education is particularly important for neurodivergent people who are also visual thinkers?
We have a gigantic shortage of high-end skilled trades. In the first part of the book, I write about a trip I did in 2019, and this is when I realized that there were things we didn't make anymore. I went to two state-of-the-art pork plants, a state-of-the-art poultry plant. And in all three of those plants, most of the equipment came from Holland. Then the final stop was the Steve Jobs Theater with the structural glass walls, and also the Apple Mothership Building. Those structural glass walls were from Italy and Germany and the carbon fiber roof was from Dubai. Then later on I found out that the state-of-the-art electronic chip-making machine also comes from Holland. We are paying a price for taking out shop classes and other skilled trades classes 25 years ago.
Another big mistake that industry made about 25 years ago was shutting down in-house engineering departments. In the short run it was cheaper to contract that work out, but now it's coming back to bite us. And I know people that were autistic, dyslexic or ADHD, that build equipment for me, that built lots of equipment, that barely graduated from high school and have taken some shop classes. They're in their sixties now and they're selling stuff all around the world. I also am a big proponent of all kinds of hands-on classes. That's gonna include theater, music, art, cooking, sewing, woodworking. And then people can try out lots of different things.
To what extent do you think this problem involves education systems not understanding neurodivergency? Because it seems like if administrators understood that different people think in different ways they wouldn't, for instance, deemphasize shop class.
I talk about three kinds of thinking in the book. I talk about the object visualizer, like me, who thinks in pictures and cannot do algebra. We're good at mechanics, art, animals and photography. Then you have the visual spatial, more mathematical mind, that is super-good at computer programming and mathematics. There is a pattern I'm seeing all the time where either a parent or a teacher will come to me and say "My eight-year-old or 10-year-old can just look at the formulas and do it in his head, and the school won't let him do it in his head." But that's the way the kid thinks! They don't solve the math problems the same way. And a lot of those kids that are really smart in math need to be moved ahead.
"I've worked with people where some mechanical piece of equipment is the most important thing in their life. If the waterworks is the thing that that person really cares about, then the waterworks is going to work."
And some of those kids are neurodivergent. Not all of 'em, but some of them are. And I'm especially concerned about screening out my kind of mind because the people that built a lot of the equipment for me, they can't do algebra either. It is too abstract. And yet we need these skills. I've been on several rather dicey elevators lately because they haven't been serviced. I've been checking out the people who fix elevators and escalators. Just today, I was walking through the airport. There were four people fixing an escalator, and three out of four were older with gray hair. Well, what's going to happen when they retire? That's an issue. Who's going to fix the elevators and the escalators? Who is going to keep the waterworks running or prevent the wires from falling off the powers? We have got infrastructure that is falling apart right now.
I'm glad you brought that up, because one of my questions involves your chapter about disaster responses. What I found fascinating about that chapter is that it seems like you are foreseeing a future where infrastructure is going to crumble, supply chains are going to deteriorate. Climate change is going to create all kinds of problems. We are going to need object visual thinkers to help solve those problems.
We also need object visual thinkers because, when I think about myself, I am what I do. I've worked with people where some mechanical piece of equipment is the most important thing in their life. If the waterworks is the thing that that person really cares about, then the waterworks is going to work, and you need to have a waterworks that works or you're not going to have any water that's safe to drink in the houses.
This is something where those decisions were made 20 years ago, but I didn't realize how bad it was until I did that trip. Mainly, with the meat plants, I've worked with beef. Beef we actually still know how to build. But they're getting close to retirement too. The pork and the poultry, we've lost it.
Now I want to focus on the other types of thinkers that you describe in your book. If you were to explain this conceptually — how there are different types of neurodivergent thinkers — if you were to explain that to a neurotypical, how would you do so effectively?
Most people are mixtures of different kinds of thinking, but then you get somebody who has a different kind of mind. Like me, for an example, I'm an extreme object visualizer. And everything I think about is a picture. Like when I told you about the three people fixing the escalator? I'm seeing it right now. And I was going down the other escalator that was working. You see it's not abstract and everything is a picture. The mathematical thinker, the visual spatial thinker, thinks in patterns. They're the people that make it possible for us to use a video phone. The programmers that make that kind of technology possible. You see there are actually two kinds of object visualizers — like me, which are more art and mechanics, and then there is the mathematical thinker that would program the computers, that does the abstract math part.
"Just say that some people are geniuses in things like math and computer programming, but you might call Michelangelo a genius in art. I'd rather put it that way."
I get a magazine called Chemistry Engineering News, and there is amazing stuff they're doing with chemistry right now. I don't understand a lot of the math, but I understand the purpose of it. And that's being done with a mathematical, visual spatial mind. And then one of the chapters in the books reviews the research that the object visualizer and the extreme visual spatial math mathematician, they're actually opposites. And then a lot of people are mixtures. Lots of people are mixtures.
The thing I often ask is, what would happen to Albert Einstein today? He had no language until age three. What would happen to Steve Jobs, being bullied in school while he was fooling around the next door neighbor's garage? That was really helpful. What would happen to Michelangelo, a 12-year-old school dropout, if he hadn't grown up around great art and stone cutting tools? Because the other thing is that for kids to develop an interest in things, they have to be exposed to those things. I get asked all the time how to end up the cattle industry. I was exposed to it as a teenager. I'm a big believer in getting the neurodiverse kids exposed to lots of different things so they can discover what they're good at. I was always exposed to musical instruments. I was not good at that, but I was exposed to it. Another kid is going pick up that instrument and just play it immediately, but you don't know until you expose them. Shop classes are not for everybody, but I tried computer programming. Bill Gates and I had access to the exact same computer system. He could do it. I had to drop the class.
At one point in your book you discussed geniuses, people who literally qualify, and you make it clear that it's very difficult to quantify what counts as a genius. I was thinking because if someone describes themselves as a genius to others, they're considered to be bragging. Do you think if someone wants to assess themselves or another person as a genius, what criteria should they use, in your opinion? How should one define genius? At least in terms of conventional usage?
Just say that some people are geniuses in things like math and computer programming, but you might call Michelangelo a genius in art. I'd rather put it that way.
What about someone who is a genius at playing video games, or someone who is a genius at playing the harmonica?
There are many different things. You can get really good at one particular thing. One of the things that I was good at was drawing, and one of the things that was done with me when I was a child was to broaden the drawing. Instead of drawing horse heads over and over again, they would say, "Let's draw the whole horse. Let's draw the stable." Take that interest in drawing and broaden it so it's not so fixated. When I was in high school, I had a little sign painting business, and one of the things I had to learn is I had to make signs that other people would want. My first paid sign job was for a hair salon. I had to make a sign that they would want and would not have horses on it.
Longtime professor Cathy Davidson is on a mission to promote the practice of active learning. And she says the stakes for improving classroom teaching are higher than many people realize. It’s not just about test scores and whether people learn, she argues, but there’s an ethical issue that sometimes gets lost in discussions about teaching.
The latest book she co-authored—“The New College Classroom”—is a surprisingly lively read for a how-to book on teaching. It contains what are essentially recipes for various active-learning techniques. But it’s also full of examples and context that remind readers of how classroom moments, when done well, can be life-changing ones for students.
One active learning technique she cites in the book, for instance, was devised by Samuel Delany, who was also a renowned science fiction author. He encouraged every student to raise a hand every time he asked a question, and if someone who was called on didn’t actually know the answer, they were encouraged to recommend someone else in class who might. His message was that classroom rituals are a training ground for power dynamics students face out in the real world. As Davidson puts it, he told students, “Don't you realize that every time you don't raise your hand, you're learning how not to ask for a raise. You're learning how to take it. You're learning that you're invisible. You're learning you don't count. You're learning your opinions don't matter. It's not just that you're not raising your hand because you don't know the answer.”
Davidson’s book also argues that colleges in particular have a responsibility to update teaching techniques to meet the changing demographics of students and the changing needs of the workforce.
Davidson has spent her career encouraging innovation in education. A classic example: Back in 2003 she led a groundbreaking experiment at Duke University to use iPods in education. Apple’s iPod had only recently come out, and Duke became one of the first to experiment with putting out free lectures online that people could listen to on these digital music players. These days you can find plenty of lecture recordings online, which she says can help the active-learning “flipped classroom” technique, where students are asked to watch recorded lectures in advance and use class time for more active discussion.
These days she works as the senior adviser to the chancellor on transformation at the City University of New York’s graduate center, and she co-wrote the book with a postdoctoral research associate at the university, Christina Katopodis.
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts, or use the player on this page. Or read a partial transcript below, lightly edited for clarity.
EdSurge: Why is there so much old-fashioned lecturing going on at colleges, if research shows that mixing in more active techniques works better?
Cathy Davidson: So let me first back up just a little bit and tell your listeners about a wonderful study that Scott Freeman conducted for the Publications of the National Academy of Science in 2014, which is a meta study of 225 separate studies of learning. And in that study, he and his co-authors discovered that no matter what … there was no measure by which traditional learning, by which I mean lectures and what we call seminars, [is as effective.] Active learning wins.
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Carl Wieman, who's a professor of both physics and education at Stanford, wrote a book about how to teach science better. He's a huge activist and advocate of active learning. He's said traditional learning is basically like bloodletting was in the past, where people knew for a hundred years that bloodletting didn't work, but it took a hundred years for people to finally provide up bloodletting and go to other forms of medicine.
One active-learning technique you describe in the book is called Popsicle sticks. How does that work?
It's a great one. Everybody's given a certain number of Popsicle sticks … so you might provide two Popsicle sticks to every student.
That means in the course of that class session, if a student makes a comment, they provide up one of their Popsicle sticks. They make a second comment, they provide up the second Popsicle stick, and they're out of Popsicle sticks, so they can't talk again.
And the reason that is is because sociologists of education have figured out who speaks most in a class. And the person whose identity is closest to that of the professor is the one most likely to speak. The Popsicle stick is the simplest way [to counteract that], and it's kind of gamey. So it's fun. It's not wagging your finger. [But] it regulates or equalizes who's speaking in a classroom. And it makes you think about, ‘Is what I'm about to say valuable enough to use up this Popsicle stick?’ And then once some people have lost their Popsicle sticks, the teacher or the professor can say things like, “OK, who still has a Popsicle stick, because it's getting quiet in here.” And encourage those who still have Popsicle sticks to participate.
If you had one takeaway that you hope people get from this book, what would it be?
Trust your students. So much of our educational system is structured on the idea that students hate school, don't care, just wanna go to frat parties—the percentage of students that actually live in that mythical world where everybody's in their residence hall, nobody has a job and all they care about is athletics and Greek life is, that's a minority of our college students. Almost 50 percent of students today go to community college where it's a whole different world. But if you trust them to care about their future and you can earn their trust that you care about their future, higher education is an amazing experience.
If you assign students a term paper and they have to manage that all the way to completion, you're teaching them work skills. … Most of us in higher education don't [appreciate that]. We think [the important thing] is making students remember that 76 things in our field in this course that are gonna be on the final exam. But if you make the horizon the rest of their lives, you can help students understand how even studying for an exam has a utility.
Hear the full interview, with more active-learning techniques, on the podcast.
Less than 15 minutes into a coffee date at the Hungarian Pastry Shop in Morningside Heights in Manhattan, Rachel Brosnahan is spotted. “Is your name Rachel?” asks the waitress bringing her an apple strudel.
“Yes,” Brosnahan says. She says it softly, a little uneasily, so different from Midge, the brash character she has played to much acclaim on Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for four seasons. Outside of her constricting costumes, Brosnahan looks different, too—more demure. Today her light brown hair is swept back, and she’s wearing jeans and an oversize beige blazer. “Oh my god, I love your show,” says the waitress, who introduces herself as Jess.
She used to say no when people asked her if she was Rachel Brosnahan or if they knew her from somewhere, until a friend told her she was trying too hard to be unassuming and that it came off as rude. Now she says yes and thank you. New York is a city where Brosnahan feels she can lie low, and the masks of the pandemic helped her have an extra layer of anonymity. Since public life has returned, she feels flattered to be recognized, but it’s awkward. “I became an actor because I didn’t want to be myself all the time,” she says. “Being yourself takes a lot of hard work.”
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been a phenomenon since it debuted in 2017. It’s hilarious and nostalgic, the costumes are eye candy, and the ensemble cast has the kind of zany chemistry that is hard to create. But the core of the show, and the reason for Maisel mania, is Midge, who is complicated, opinionated, and ambitious in a time when women still had to get their husbands’ signatures for credit cards or leases. And Brosnahan has given the character the special sauce that allows her to be all of those things—multidimensional, demanding, difficult—and also supremely sympathetic and entertaining.
Brosnahan has had six years of being Midge. “She’s so unapologetic and confident,” she says of the character that made her recognizable. But the show that won Brosnahan both Emmy and Golden Globe awards is coming to a close—she’s currently filming the final season—and now its star is grappling with what’s next.
She could easily score talky roles like Midge, playing iterations of smart girls in comedies for the rest of her days. She would be great at it. But instead Brosnahan, 32, has decided to step out of the gilded cage of prestige comedy to do something unexpected: a western, set in 1897, called Dead for a Dollar. The film co-stars Christoph Waltz and Willem Dafoe and is directed by Walter Hill, who is known for being a master of the western and action genres (Deadwood, 48 Hours, The Warriors). Its premiere at the Venice Film Festival garnered a healthy dose of buzz.
Brosnahan plays the allegedly kidnapped wife (also named Rachel) of a rich man who is being trailed by a bounty hunter (Waltz) and a horse thief (Dafoe). It’s a part that has shades of Old Hollywood, in that she gets to wear gauzy nightgowns and slap people and say things like, “I’ve always resisted traditional morality.” It’s a stark movie, one in which the themes of independence and trust resonate particularly strongly right now. Brosnahan is so good she’ll likely add some new trophies to her collection.
“I had to get curious about the west and that moment in time, and learn to shoot and ride and use a parasol,” she says. “A western was something I’ve never done, and a type of role that hasn’t been offered to me before. I wouldn’t have thought I was hungry for it, but it was in fact what I was looking for.”
The film was shot on a ranch in New Mexico, about 30 minutes from Santa Fe, a city she fell for eight years ago, when she was filming the TV series Manhattan, in which she played the young wife of a physicist involved in the development of the atomic bomb. Now she and her husband, the actor Jason Ralph, try to go every year. (Pro tip: She recommends the spa Ten Thousand Waves on the edge of town for hot springs and Japanese fusion food.)
She and Ralph have been together since 2013, when she was 23. They met while filming an indie movie called I’m Obsessed with You, which is about a group of college friends, and all the actors lived in a dorm together. She was so committed to her role that she wouldn’t date him until after filming. “It was a hard no for me.” She adds theatrically: “Stay away, stay away. Okay, fine.”
Now she and Ralph and their dogs live in Manhattan, close to where Maisel is set yet not exactly the fictional New York midcentury escapist world of classic-six apartments and fast-talking, loving but dysfunctional upper-middle-class Jewish families that Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel Palladino created for the show.
Maisel was her first comedic role, and a visit to soundstage 30 at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn reveals an actress who is impressively focused while working. I watched Brosnahan do a scene set at the Queens home of Moishe and Shirley Maisel, Midge’s former in-laws, played by Kevin Pollak and Caroline Aaron; the scene also featured Marin Hinkle, who plays Midge’s mother, and Midge’s two children, Esther and Ethan. The child actors who played them were restless as they filmed take after take; I lost count at 13. In the maybe 90 minutes of rat-a-tat dialogue, I saw Brosnahan flub a line only once.
Remarkable also was how much Brosnahan played team captain on set, teaching the kids the sign language alphabet between takes, or asking, “Can you draw me a big pony with six heads?” Hinkle said that once, after a particularly grueling run toward the end of a season, Brosnahan arranged for someone to bring piglets to the set.
“She’s a mother hen. She’s the best with the little ones, and us, too, making sure everyone is having a good day,” Pollak says. “You know that saying, ‘The fish stinks from the head’? In this case the fish smells beautiful.” As someone who started his career in standup, Pollak has put some thought into Brosnahan’s own evolution toward playing a credible comic. “What makes her so flawless is she’s treating standup like a dramatic piece, making it real and not trying to make it funny. That great dramatic work is why she’s so great on the show.”
Brosnahan is around the same age as Midge, both about 25 when the series started and in their early thirties now. The actress is a product of the Midwest, born in Milwaukee and raised in Highland Park, near Chicago. (Her father worked in children’s book publishing; her British mom raised Brosnahan and her brother and sister.) She wrestled, snowboarded, and played lacrosse, and started acting in school plays while in kindergarten. When she got into the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU for college, she enrolled.
She landed small roles on TV shows like The Good Wife and Gossip Girl, but her success didn’t come immediately. She worked at a downtown restaurant called L’Express, which had a colorful clientele. “This dominatrix would come in after midnight on Thursdays or something. We had one table that was always reserved for her, and she’d order the escargots,” Brosnahan recalls. She roomed with two friends in Chelsea in a two-bedroom that they jerry-rigged into three. In 2009 she auditioned for Gus Van Sant’s Restless, a role she wanted so badly that she flew to L.A. at her own expense—money she definitely didn’t have—and didn’t get it. A picture from that trip is the very first photo on her phone. She finds it. She’s 18 but looks even younger. “I sobbed,” she says, when she learned she hadn’t gotten the part. “All over New York.” She walks around a lot when she’s sad.
At one point she moved to Los Angeles on the advice of a studio executive. “He told me that you can be an actor in New York, but you can only make a living as an actor in L.A. I got scared, so I moved,” she says. “Turns out that’s not true. It was not for me. I’m glad I did it; I’m glad I tried it.”
Arguably her first big break was on House of Cards, the adaptation of a British series directed by David Fincher that gave Netflix its first original TV hit. Her sex worker character Rachel Posner didn’t even have a name initially, just a few lines. “Everyone was like, ‘Whoa.’ Rachel just blew everybody away,” says Michael Kelly, who played creepy henchman Doug Stamper on the show. Their chemistry together prompted the screenwriter Beau Willimon to expand her role into a longer character arc for the second season, and Brosnahan came away with an Emmy nomination. Kelly thinks she could do anything next. “She’s done drama and comedy and a western, so what’s left, an action movie or play a superhero? She has achieved that status in the industry where I truly believe there’s nothing she can’t do with a work ethic and a talent like that.”
If you ask Brosnahan what she wants her career to look like, she mentions Frances McDormand and Emma Thompson. “I admire how versatile they are and how they continue to push themselves and take risks,” she says. “It feels like they never do the same thing twice. I would be thrilled if my career gave me the same opportunity.” Brosnahan is a planner, though; she’s not content to sit back and hope that Maisel was enough to launch her on such a trajectory. And so, like Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington and Jessica Chastain and other actresses who have noticed that producing allows one to circumvent Hollywood’s often stale notions of womanhood, she has started her own company, Scrap Paper Pictures. (“I asked Rachel, ‘If I don’t get a job for a while after Maisel, can I work at your production company?’ ” Hinkle joked.) Through it she has already produced two podcasts, The Miranda Obsession and Listening In, the feature film I’m Your Woman, and two editions of the Amazon original special Yearly Departed.
After watching her on set, I meet up with Brosnahan in a nondescript dressing room, where she’s still in full hair and makeup but wearing a pink robe and eating a spinach salad and some kind of superfood truffles from Provenance, a meal delivery service. For some actors the idea of striving is an insult, but Brosnahan is wholly aware of how hard she tries. “I know it’s mostly used in a derogatory way, but I spent so many years wishing I could claim to be a theater kid,” she says. “I wanted to be in that crew and be a part of that, and I felt like the outsider,” she says.
For her next starring role, Brosnahan ventures far from the Upper West Side.
It may seem that little more than a cinched waistline links Midge Maisel to Brosnahan’s existing character, Rachel Price, the missing wife of a 19th-century businessman in the Wild West who hires a famed bounty hunter to find her in Dead for a Dollar. But there’s a throughline: “This character has always felt that she didn’t quite fit into the narrow definition of what it means to be a woman in her world,” Brosnahan says. Writer-director Walter Hill is not only premiering the film at the Venice Film Festival, he’s being honored there with this year’s Cartier Glory to the Filmmaker Award.
This self-awareness (achieved with the help of regular therapy and visits with an acting coach) means that she knows what she wants—and what she doesn’t. The past few years have been breakneck, and she’s looking forward to some post-Maisel time to let her mind wander. “I want to be curious again and absorb other artists’ work and go to the museum and travel and become a richer person again,” she says.
It’s a safe bet that she will not meander for long. She is eager, now, for the opportunity to show her range. “I feel like I’ve been told for a long time to pick a lane and stay in it.” Choosing her next parts, she says, is akin to stretching and reaching into corners she hasn’t been in before. It’s scary but enticing. “I’m utterly terrified and thinking I’ll have an ulcer,” she says. But also, “I’m addicted to that feeling now.”
Photographs by Pamela Hanson
Styled by Anne Christensen
Hair by Sally Hershberger 24K. Makeup by Mary Wiles at Walter Schupfer Management. Nails by Gina Eppolito. Set design by Will Kahn. Production by Jean Jarvis/Area1202.
In the top image: Brunello Cucinelli cardigan ($7,800); Lfrank slip dress ($595); Buccellati cuff bracelet ($31,500)
This story appears in the October 2022 issue of Town & Country.SUBSCRIBE NOW
Marisa Meltzer is a writer in New York who has contributed to The New York Times, the Washington Post, Elle, and many other publications.
The culture wars have turned schools into political battlegrounds, as few things spark voters’ passions more than the future of their kids and, by extension, the future of our state. In Texas, the State Board of Education has the final say on curriculum standards, veto power over new charter schools and shared responsibility for managing the permanent fund that backs the debt schools take on.
CLEVELAND, Ohio – At the height of the pandemic, while students everywhere grappled with remote learning, Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon noted that well-meaning outsiders were recognizing, for the first time, the deep inequities and barriers to education that a childhood in poverty imposes.
Until then, they could easily look away. They could ignore the food scarcity, lack of internet access, housing instability, neighborhood violence and other trauma that many Cleveland kids face outside the classroom. They could overlook the commitment of educators, who must innovate around those challenges.
But Gordon says he could not let the world turn its back on his kids again.
In a latest interview, Gordon – who is in his final year leading the district – spoke about what he calls the widespread and misguided “mythology” about educating kids in urban environments, and his belief that two reporters from cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer, embedded at Cleveland’s Almira Elementary School for a special project called “Cleveland’s Promise,” can help dispel those myths.
The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Q: You’ve spoken about the importance of telling the true stories of education in Cleveland. Did there come a moment when you thought, ‘We have to do this project?’
Gordon: It wasn’t something I deliberated. We have this remarkable story to tell of these hidden people who are treasures in our community that are looked over and looked past and assigned value by others by what they perceive of a school district. And what you’re doing, by doing this embedded project and telling these stories, is uncovering these hidden gems of people that deserve their story to be told and deserve to be celebrated for what they’re able to accomplish, despite some just incredible circumstances. So, there was actually not a moment when I was in — there was never a moment that I wasn’t in on this project…
You know, I’ve been here 15 years, and in those 15 years I’ve come to believe that people fully underestimate my kids and their families and how much they go through to get the education that they get. And so, giving cleveland.com the opportunity to embed in a classroom for now more than a year and see in real time these remarkable young people and their families and the great work our teachers do, it was an opportunity that I’ve been waiting, frankly, for years to show the truth about who my kids and families actually are.
Q: Many people in our seven-county region haven’t spent much time in Cleveland. This project has the potential to show people the city through the eyes of its youngest generation and the people who are working to raise them. What do you think readers can learn from this series?
Gordon: I think this has seven-county regional impact for an important reason. No one wants to eat an apple that has a rotten core, right? If we do not have a strong Cleveland, we do not have a strong region. So, it is in the best interest of readers, way out in those seven counties, to make sure that we have a strong Cleveland.
The good news is, when you peel back all of the mythology, over a year, and you look at these wonderful people, these wonderful kids and their families and their educators, it’s clear that we do have a strong Cleveland. We just have to stop telling a false narrative about urban communities as fundamentally bad places, just because they’re urban, and start actually telling real stories.
Q: Educators have been in the crosshairs of the culture wars, spurred by opponents of critical race theory and social emotional learning. How do you think this series can help influence the perception of educators and education?
Gordon: Well, unfortunately, we are a really devalued profession in this country. I know what (readers) are going to see in this series is that we have incredible people working really hard every single day, making moves in ways that people don’t even contemplate. I mean, people don’t appreciate that, pre-pandemic, we taught Advanced Placement Computer Science, with teachers sending home computer science homework to kids who don’t have computers. And we found creative, low-tech computer science homework so that they could pass the same Advanced Placement course that kids in the suburbs were taking on their computer at home.
During the pandemic, I had teachers teaching their class on Instagram Live when we shut down, because that was the tool that everybody had. There is more innovation and creativity and just incredible work going on in communities like ours with the kinds of needs that our kids and families face.
Q: In the post-pandemic era, what do you think CMSD has improved upon, and where do you want to see the district go next?
Gordon: I feel like our educators have embraced the notion that we just don’t have to get back to normal, but that we can build something better. And so, we’re really working on a lot of problem-based learning, inquiry kinds of learning, where kids have more voice and choice about their work — where they’re demonstrating authentic pieces of their learning, instead of simply taking a test. Not that tests aren’t important. But if you can produce content, you will pass your language exam.
Also, our teachers are returning to school with incredible energy and enthusiasm in this very tough environment. There’s a national teacher shortage, and yet, thousands of our educators showed up super excited to welcome kids back into classrooms for another year. We hired about 300 teachers, and I was at our new teacher orientation and asked those who are new to the profession to stand up. Only a third were. That means that two-thirds of the people we hired came to Cleveland from another job to teach here. That tells you something about our teacher core.
Q: What’s the number one thing on your mind for the 2022-23 school year? What do you want the district to focus on?
Gordon: I want our educators to start by taking the time to really get to know their kids well. Know their full identity, what they care about, who they are, not just their role as a student. I know you saw that in your reporting — the importance that the teachers place on that space. And then, I want our teachers to use that to really accelerate this move into what we’re calling “Get More Experiences,” where we’re doing more authentic things inside the classroom. It’s the expansion of art, music and physical education — the out-of-school time activities that make school a joyous and adventurous place.
Conversation with Gordon about nurturing college ambitions while kids are still in elementary school and the importance of parental support led Gordon to share this story. …
Gordon: When I was in high school, my eleventh-grade counselor told my mother that I was not college material and that I better start thinking about a trade. My mother, who worked two jobs to put food on the table for our family, never participated in school. She was a very engaged mother. She made me do my homework, all that stuff. But she didn’t have the time or capacity to participate in school. And so that got her mad. She went to the school and said, ‘My son wants to be a teacher, and you’re gonna make it happen.’
I know some of the experiences of our kids, because I’ve lived them. And I know how untrue it is when people say, ‘These parents don’t care, because they don’t show up.’ Well, caring and showing up are different things. My mother was working as a short order cook in a bar in the evenings, so she wasn’t going to be at parent conferences. That didn’t mean she didn’t care.
I can tell you in my 31-year career, I would be hard-pressed to find a parent who really didn’t care for their kids. They’re doing the best they can with the resources they have for the people they love desperately. And our job is to provide more resources — both the tangible stuff and the intangible, the mentorship, the social capital — that middle-class communities just experience on a daily basis.
For this innovative series called Cleveland’s Promise, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District gave two reporters unprecedented access to a classroom at Almira Elementary School to show readers the challenges of educating children in poverty and what the school district is doing to overcome them. Students’ names have been changed to protect their identity. Read more about this project here.
©2022 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit cleveland.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Julia Skinner had been fermenting food for over a decade when the idea to write a book telling the history of humans’ relationship to fermentation came to her. Skinner had completed a residency with DIY food activist and fermentation guru Sandor Katz, and she wanted to braid together her love for historical research with the fascinating, fizzing art and science in which she had immersed herself—all with home cooks in mind.
“People around me had been talking about it for years, but it didn’t exist in book form,” recalls Skinner, who has a doctorate in Library and Information Studies and has worked as a chef, food historian, fermentation teacher, consultant, and event planner, among other things. This month, her book, Our Fermented Lives: A Story of How Fermented Foods Have Shaped Cultures and Communities, will be released into the world. And it doesn’t disappoint.
In it, Skinner presents a range of history, analysis, and recipes that together tell a detailed and compelling story about the way fermentation has made us who we are today. She writes:
“Our fermented foods are of course filled with their own communities, teeming with bacteria, yeast, and fungi that intersect with our senses and our own microbiomes. But they connect us to macro communities as well. As one of our most ancient preservation methods and one that has not changed over time, fermentation gives us direct access to a lineage of food shared by humans all over the world for thousands of years. Our food offers a map of the abundance and shortages they faced, as well as what stories were passed down through history versus what history has been lost or buried . . . . Ferments are a direct tether between our ancestors and ourselves.”
Civil Eats spoke with Skinner—who also writes a newsletter and runs Root Kitchens—recently about her new book, mushroom ketchup, and the way that fermentation might help prepare us for the climate crisis.
The practices and foods you describe in the book were integral in just about everyone’s lives for thousands of years. Yet for folks eating the standard American diet today, fermented foods are rare to nonexistent. How did we get here?
I think it’s important to make a distinction between food that’s fermented that we consume as an end product—like coffee, tea, wine, and beer—and probiotic foods. We were all making or eating probiotic food for hundreds and hundreds of years and now it’s less of a thing. It’s ramping back up and we have a lot more interest in fermentation. But it is separate from our diets in a way that is unique in history.
It seems like there was this kind of inverse relationship between the rise of refrigeration and food processing and the loss of fermented foods.
There’s a really good book called Food for Dissent by Mariah McGrath that helped me think about the ways that fermented food’s popularity has fallen and risen in the 20th century in the U.S. Because we had new processing technology and different ways to make many foods more shelf stable—new preservatives, different colorings and flavorings, and all the different things that changed entirely how we eat—but then we also saw pushback to that at various points—the natural food movement in the ‘70s being an example.
Seasonality is a great place to start thinking about this. For most of history, nearly all of it, people weren’t able to go to the store and buy out-of-season vegetables. In wintertime, at least in places where it gets cold and you can’t grow things, you had to plan ahead for the fact that there’s not going to be ready sources of food. And even in warmer climates you had to think about the fact that food spoils quickly. Fermentation was really helpful for extending the shelf life of foods and getting our bodies the nutrients that we needed but otherwise weren’t available. We’d dehydrate food, smoke it, and ferment it. But fermentation became important because it was so accessible. I can ferment something with just a jar or a crock in my house and some salt; I don’t need a lot of resources. Historically, we haven’t been the wasteful creatures we are today; we had to be very mindful about stretching our food stores. And that’s how we got yogurt and cheese. Somebody had their milk curdle and instead of being like, “Oh, it’s bad and throwing it away,” they were like “Well, I still need to eat it.”
I’m interested in eating like our ancestors did. They ate in season, they preserved things. They shared food with their communities, they made food with their communities.
You write about fermented foods that have nearly disappeared because technology or culture has come close to making them obsolete. Can you talk about some examples of this phenomenon?
Yes, this is why I tell people to record the food stories happening in their lives, record the recipes, record the processes, because a lot of the challenge of writing the history of food is that there are so many gaps. And there are many foods [that were eaten throughout history] that we just don’t know about today.
Salt-rising bread is a great example. Instead of a sourdough, which requires a long-standing starter, salt rising bread uses a new starter each time. We think they call it that because people were burying the warm little jar of starter in salt to help temperature control it, because it needs to be around 110 degrees. It ferments overnight, and you get this really active starter, and then you bake bread with it. It was made in Appalachia and almost went extinct but thankfully, there were a handful of people dedicated to preserving the tradition.
Acarajé is another good example. It’s a fermented black eyed pea fritter made in Brazil and I wouldn’t call it threatened per se, but its vendors were almost pushed out of business. It comes from a West African food called akara. When people were enslaved and brought to Brazil, they carried these food traditions forward. And in Bahia there have long been women vendors who wear all white and sell the acarajé on the street. A few years back, the vendors were being pushed out by a food producer that was trying to sell it commercially. But eventually [in 2012], it became registered as part of their intangible cultural heritage.
There are so many foods and drinks in this book that the average person has probably never heard of, like fermented ketchup, for example. You write that it was common to make it out of everything from mushrooms to fish.
The commercial ketchup you buy today isn’t fermented; they add in vinegar instead. What I find interesting about it is that ketchup was made as an attempt to capture a flavor that was desired, but unfamiliar to the English palate. When trade started between Europe and China, suddenly people in Europe had access to fish sauce. And soon they wanted other umami rich sauces. In addition to mushroom ketchup—which is really good!—there were dozens of different fermented kinds. Walnut ketchup was another popular one.
You write about including microbes as a key element of our ideas about biodiversity. Can you say more about that?
I believe it's a mistake to continue to categorize Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) as an electric vehicle ("EV") company because that undervalues the three major characteristics of the business that can be applied to a variety of sectors and segments of the market that have the potential to drive billions of dollars in sales.
The three things I'm referring to are machine learning, AI, and iteration. When combined together, these are powerful forces with the potential to disrupt numerous markets, or create new ones, as evidenced by the push by Tesla toward self-driving vehicles.
In this article, I want to explore the extraordinary potential Tesla has because it has already worked much of this out via its AI, associated with the millions of hours it has had getting feedback from its EVs. As it continues to Excellerate on the process, Tesla is able to rapidly bring products from an idea to a prototype, to a completed product far quicker than its competitors. This is a tremendous moat when thinking of how Tesla has the expertise in hand to apply this to a wide variety of products and services.
Before I get into specific products and possibilities, I want to show readers how they should view the company long term, based upon similarities between Tesla, Apple (AAPL), and Amazon.com (AMZN).
Like mentioned above, I think it's a mistake to consider Tesla solely as an EV company, even though in the near term that will continue to be the major generator of revenue. The reason why is it limits the growth possibilities inherent in the development of AI and machine learning, combined with failing fast and iteration.
For example, when Amazon was launched as an e-commerce solution for selling books, the thought never entered anybody's mind that the knowledge it would gather through its growing customer base and its supply chain would result in it expanding to AWS and other products, which would be significant in improving the performance of the company.
In other words, Amazon is far more than an e-commerce company, by virtue of its own processes which turned it into a tech company competing on various fronts. To consider Amazon an e-commerce company would only represent a piece of the puzzle that makes Amazon what it is.
The same is going to be true with Tesla in my opinion, as it leverages its strengths to apply them to products and services that have the potential to generate multi-billion dollars in revenue.
Apple is similar when considering its core business of iPhones. A number of years ago investors and analysts expresses concern of the vulnerability Apple had because of its heavy reliance on its iPhone line for growing revenue and earnings.
While the iPhone remains its flagship product, Apple has expanded to a variety of products and services, that together provide a significant addition to revenue and earnings that complement the iPhone, providing a cushion if sales slowdown.
The difference I see between Tesla and Apple is, I believe, that Tesla has the potential to outperform Apple with its future ancillary products, although it has a way to go before it can compete with the iPhone as a core product. An argument could easily be made that the EV market will eventually vastly outperform the smartphone market, and that will be true, but I don't think the EV market is going to go up in the straight line that many adherents and fans of the sector think.
The reason why is there is a huge electrical grid problem that is struggling as green tech is increasingly being used as a higher percentage of the grid. The challenge is, there are already weaknesses being experienced by some grids that have to engage in rolling blackouts in order to allow customers to have access to energy. Picture what that will be like as the number of EVs grow in the market and demand for energy expands in response to the need to charge vehicles. That is a major problem that is just beginning to be realized.
The point there is it's almost certainly going to take a lot longer to meet goals set by governments, which suggests to me the EV sector is going to eventually slowdown in order to allow the electric grid to catch up.
And in the worst-case scenario, people could rise up in anger if they're forced to go without electricity at times, they really need it, putting pressure on politicians and leaders to solve their energy problems by incorporating more fossil fuels into their energy demands.
As it relates to Tesla, this could be a problem in the not-too-distant future that results in a slowdown of demand and sales because of the possible inability of EV owners to charge up their vehicles without putting huge strains on the grid.
Looking ahead, I think Elon Musk understands the vulnerability of Tesla in relying on one sector to grow its business, and in my opinion, is positioning itself to target other growth markets that will move the revenue needle.
My thesis is Tesla, in the years ahead, is going to be an AI company that leverages its tech and data to launch wide variety of products and services that have the potential to catch competitors by surprise, not only from early mover advantage, but by the rapid pace it's able to bring a product to market.
A latest example of that is its Optimus robot.
If you remember last year at Tesla's AI day, it revealed its plans for a robot that had the appearance of a human being. The announcement was accompanied by a person dressing up like a robot and jumping around on the platform; some people, at first, actually thought it was a robot doing it.
While Elon Musk enjoys doing stuff like that, it was apparent he was serious about the idea behind the robot, understanding it was in fact, at the time, only an idea.
Fast forward to today, and the introduction of Optimus at its most latest AI Day, underscores the ability of Tesla to rapidly develop a product over a period of several months, reinforcing the fact Tesla can fail quickly and make adjustments to Excellerate a product, bearing in mind Optimus is still in its prototype stage.
The purpose of Optimus is to provide a robotic worker that can be used in the home, office or industrial settings that can help with various needs of the particular environment it's working in.
Not only can it bend down and lift up things that have some weight, it also has the dexterity to hold onto smaller tools.
Assuming the potential scale is there based upon demand, Tesla wants to bring the cost down to under $20,000 in order to appeal to as wide a customer base as possible. That means it's working on a variety of skillsets the robot can use to perform a variety of tasks in different settings.
The significance of this isn't Optimus itself, but the underlying AI used to quickly build it. In other words, building the body of the robot is the easy part, designing the software to operate it is the hard part. Being able to do it in a very short time confirms Tesla is able to leverage the AI it is using in its EVs and apply it to other products.
Again, when thinking Tesla can apply this to other products shows the future potential of its AI that goes beyond electric vehicles.
That said, it appears Tesla could have a big winner on its hands as it improves Optimus in a similar way it has been improving its self-driving vehicles. It will probably take several years before we begin to see what type of demand and potential for the robotic worker is.
Concerning competition, other companies like Boston Dynamics and its Atlas robot is far more advanced than Optimus, as it has the ability to perform a variety of acrobatic exercises. Another is Agility Robotics' Digit, which can avoid obstacles (important in environment humans are present in), pick things up and put things down, and walk across different terrains, among other skills.
This isn't surprising when considering Optimus went from idea to prototype in only a few months. Going forward, if Tesla's AI is going to become as powerful as I think it is, it's going to catch up with and surpass its competitors. The fact there are robots more advanced than Optimus gives investors a good benchmark to analyze the progress and capability of Tesla's AI when applying it to designing and building products like Optimus.
One final thing to say about Optimus is, in the near term its primary value will be to attract new workers that like to work on cool things. The battle for engineering talent is huge, and companies providing interesting things to work on will be the winners in the competitive job marketplace.
Another important development for Tesla is its supercomputer Dojo.
Dojo is a supercomputer built in-house by Tesla for the sole purpose of teaching its AI. This behind-the-scenes tech is the secret sauce behind the ability of Tesla to quickly make so much progress in the tasks it's working on.
As part of Dojo Tesla has been develop what it calls ExaPOD, which is a way of scaling the supercomputer to Excellerate its performance. The company stated the Dojo ExaPOD includes a spec of 1.1 EFLOP, which translates into a mindboggling one quintillion operations per second. The first ExaPOD or cluster is on schedule to be available by Q1 2023. Below is an example of the ExaPOD.
The company has a goal of building seven ExaPODs. That will make the Dojo the leading supercomputer in the world.
What needs to be considered here is Tesla could have more than enough computer power for the purpose of developing self-driving vehicles. So the obvious question is, why does it need so much computing power? My opinion is it has a number of products and services in mind that we have no idea about.
The most important takeaway is Tesla will have an extraordinarily advanced AI and machine learning system as a result of that type of computing power, that it will be able to fail even faster, giving itself even more of a competitive edge for markets it wants to compete in.
Concerning the near term, when Dojo is fully deployed in 2023, it will have the capacity to accelerate the development of Tesla's FSD models, which will help the company widen its lead against competitors.
While we're talking about extraordinary future potential for Tesla, we still need to look at where the company stands today in order to manage near-term expectations.
As the company stands today, I think it's valued at close to where it should be. When the company starts to roll out new products based upon its AI expertise and its leading supercomputer, that will change, but it will take some time.
Based upon its EV business, Tesla trades at a huge premium against its competitors, but at 56x forward earnings, it seems to me it's fully valued. That's also reflected in its P/S of 8.9x; which is a hefty number.
With the supply chain working itself out, Tesla shouldn't have too much trouble in gaining the parts it needs to supply the market. The one issue going forward is this: as the interest rates rise, will it end up having a negative impact on demand, based upon affordability?
In other words, as supply issues resolve themselves, the company may be heading into slowing demand. If that's how it works out, it'll probably continue on through the middle of 2023, depending upon how much interest rates fall and if the Fed signals it's done increasing rates.
On the other hand, there is pent-up demand from the supply chain issues, so there could be some decent momentum that higher costs may not have an impact on in the near term.
I've read some thoughts on what investors think Tesla is boosting Dojo for, but it really doesn't matter. Since one ExaPOD is more than enough for its self-driving segment, it's plain to see that Tesla is boosting its supercomputer power in preparation for something big in the future.
What this confirms is Tesla isn't just talking about being more than an EV company, but is taking visible steps to Excellerate its AI and machine learning in order to empower the company to take an idea from concept, to prototype, to a functional product or service quicker than its competitors.
The bottom line is, even though Tesla's EV business has been under pressure lately, it has a lot more in mind for the business than limiting itself to that market, even though it is a very large one that will continue to grow for many years into the future.
It'll be the bread and butter of the company for the next several years, but I'm expecting announcements in the months and years ahead that will provide more clarity concerning what it plans on using its advanced AI and machine learning for.
Since it will end up with the most powerful supercomputer in the world teaching and training its AI, the possibilities are endless, although the company will without a doubt focus on large enough markets that will significantly move the needle of the company.
In the present, Dojo will further advance Tesla's already formidable AI expertise, accelerating the advancement of its FSD models and other EVs it's developing.
Once the economy improves, even higher interest rates are unlikely to dampen the pent-up demand with its EVs, and ultimately, its FSD vehicles. There will probably be more short-term pain for Tesla shareholders, but over the long term I believe they're going to be strongly rewarded once sentiment turns positive.
As a small business owner, you probably know that Instagram is a powerful tool to reach new customers and grow your brand. But how do you create an Instagram bio that stands out and captures the attention of potential customers?
Here, we’ve collected 30 of the best Instagram bio examples to inspire you. So, if you are looking for Instagram business ideas to jazz up or create your own Instagram bio, the ones listed in this post will inspire you and get you started on the right track.
A bio for Instagram is the small area under your Instagram handle name. It’s also a place to share some pertinent details about yourself or your brand with your followers. It can include self or brand descriptions, copy and paste emojis, contact information, hashtags and more.
Your Instagram bio is also the first thing potential customers see when they click on your profile, so you’ll need some excellent Instagram bio ideas to stand out. An Instagram bio contains a 150-character summary of who you are and what you do. Therefore, yours should be creative and exciting, and it should capture the attention of potential customers.
Anyone from Richard Branson to fashion companies like Iris Van Herpen understands the importance of a good Instagram bio and innovative Instagram bio ideas. They simply cannot be ignored. If you want to create the perfect Instagram bio, here are some novel Instagram bio ideas to use:
Now that you know how to create the perfect bio for Instagram, it’s time to take a look at some of the best Instagram profiles out there. This activity lets you benchmark the best Instagram bio ideas, so you can be inspired and create your own killer bio.
Below, we’ve put together 30 of the best Instagram bio examples for small businesses. These bios are creative, engaging, and most importantly, they generate results!
1. Richard Branson
For many small business owners who look up to entrepreneur Richard Branson’s business acumen and adventurous spirit, “Dr. Yes” needs no introduction. However, his cool bio introduces us to some intriguing facts about him and includes a link to his business handle.
Boundary-pushing Dutch fashion designer Iris Van Herpen has outfitted celebrities like Rihanna, JLo, Cara Delevingne, Lady Gaga and more with her lovely designs. Her Instagram bio discusses how her company elevates Haute fashion to new artistic heights with its 3-D printed pieces.
National Geographic’s Instagram account is a visual feast of arresting photographs from all over the world, covering Topics like history, science, culture and more. Their Instagram bio succinctly sums up what you can expect to see on their Instagram feed.
John & Kira’s make beautiful and delicious gourmet chocolates and confections, which you can clearly see in their Instagram bio right away. Many of their chocolates use liberal amounts of gooey honey that gushes into your mouth when you bite into them. Honeybee colonies have been declining for several years, so the candymaker listing that they use sustainable efforts for farming is a great touch.
Real Dope Coffee is an Atlanta-based black, women and veteran-owned small business. Their Instagram bio does a great job of summing up their brand in just a few words that should be good enough for any caffeine-dependent life form. Offerings like their SPINACH Ethiopian Iced Coffee show what sets them apart from a sea of other coffee companies. Lastly, hashtags are one of the best Instagram bio ideas around, helping customers find Dope Coffee’s profile more easily.
As a world-renowned motivational speaker, Tony Robbins knows a thing or two about inspiration. He changes his account up with new Instagram bio ideas regularly too. His latest Instagram bio illustrates how he plans to spread more of the word with a simple but effective call to action to buy his new book “Life Force.”
If you are a big ice cream eater, you probably know about the Ben & Jerry brand. It’s famous for its human ice cream, but you probably didn’t realize that they also make all-natural, healthy dog food inspired by the iconic ice cream flavors from Ben & Jerry’s. For cool Instagram bio ideas, look to theirs, as it tells you everything you need to know about the groovy brand in just a few words. Plus, they include a link to their website so you can learn more about their products. Whoof!
Synergy Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is packed with probiotics. Their Instagram bio does a great job of highlighting the health benefits of their product. They also discuss when they started handcrafting the brew in 1995 and how the company is family-owned and operated, something that’s important to many customers. They also utilize their Instagram stories to highlight two other of their drinks: Alive and Agua Kefir. If you are a business with several products, this is one of the better Instagram bio ideas to utilize.
Logistics company UPS is known for its brown trucks and uniforms. Lately, though, they’ve been using their huge online presence and short Instagram bio to bring attention to its limited-edition collection of Unstoppable Gear. When you make a purchase, 100% of the proceeds from the collection will be donated to IN THE BLK, a non-profit dedicated to helping up-and-coming African American designers.
For one of the more funny Instagram bios we’ve seen lately, we have artist, actor and chef Daniel Victor and his one-person bid to be the next Wolverine to thank. We’re not sure his efforts to be the X-Man are entirely serious, but the word “Wolverine” is set off with bold Instagram bio fonts on his Instagram bio. He also uses Wolverine Instagram filters throughout his pics, and it’s one of the better and more amusing Instagram bio ideas out there. Surely, Ryan Reynolds or Hugh Jackman will notice his account and start riffing on him one day.
If you are unfamiliar with Khaby00, he is an Instagram and TikTok influencer who rose to Internet fame with funny videos he’s made of himself teasing social media influencers that have ridiculously challenging lifehacks. His Instagram bio ideas are short and sweet, and he uses emojis to great effect. He also promotes things like his clothing store and agency on his Instagram.
Chirps makes sustainable cricket protein products that we all might be eating someday. Their Instagram bio features how they landed their deal on Shark Tank, while also plugging their children’s book “Pitch Partners #2 (Eat Bugs)” the founders penned themselves. Their pictures of tasty bug-derived fare will have you ready to eat avocado toast with a little dusting of alternative protein powder, too.
Phaedra Barratt is the President of The Balam Foundation, a non-profit named after her very vocal oriental shorthair cat, Balam. She uses the appeal and popularity of Balam and his brothers and sisters, along with Balam’s Instagram bio, to garner donations that bring free spay and neutering services to stray and wild animals in Mexico.
The official Instagram bio for everyone’s favorite childhood modeling clay showcases how proud they are to be in business for six decades. It also features their slogan, “Fun to play with, not to eat.” Don’t try it at home, but take it from this author; Play-Doh clay tastes like salty yuck!
Besides sharing recipes and mouth-watering pictures of food with their fans, Food Network has used several effective Instagram bio ideas over the years to promote itself. Their latest endeavor cross-promotes their other channels and directs you to their @discoveryplus app, where shows like Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman are available to watch.
The eyeglass company Warby Parker has a quirky and fun Instagram bio that often features its employees in goofy poses or ridiculous costumes. Like UPS and Balam_Says, they also use their Instagram bio to show they are giving back by partnering with charities.
Kylie Jenner uses Instagram girl font throughout her Instagram bio. The hearts, stars and other cute copy-and-paste wingdings scattered all over their cool bios are part of her appeal and have helped build her successful brands. You can see the power of the Instagram link in how she linked her 3 brands to her profile, too. There are tons of pages like QuotePrince’s Trendy 1001+ Instagram Bio For Girls 2022 devoted to teaching you the language of girly emojis if you want to try them out.
At 27.2m followers, Apple is one of the most followed brands on Instagram (although they can’t hold a candle to Kylie Jenner’s 316m followers). They use their account to show off new products and features and share tutorials and beautiful photos and videos taken with iPhones and iPads.
This athleisure company’s Instagram is all about the active lifestyle. From yoga to running to surfing, Lululemon wants you to think of them as the go-to brand for all your athletic needs. It’ll definitely capture the attention of potential customers in their niche.
With over 2m followers, Barbie is one of the most popular Instagram accounts. And it’s not just because she’s a pretty face—Barbie is also known for her inspiring quotes and posts about body confidence in her You Can Be Anything (YCBA) initiative.
Queen Latifah is a successful actress, singer, and rapper, and she’s also got an amazing Instagram account. She often uses one of the most effective Instagram bio ideas we suggest using in this article, which is posting motivational quotes on her Instagram Bio. She also posts pictures of her travels, and her blue verification sticker shows that you are on her official Instagram account vs. one that may be her fan club or something else.
Nike is one of the most popular brands on Instagram, with over 204m followers. They also bring awareness to social causes, like #BlackLivesMatter and #StopAsianHate. Additionally, their Instagram bio features their latest campaigns, like the spotlighting athlete campaign.
Conde Nast Traveler is a travel magazine, and its account, along with its colorful Instagram bio, is extremely popular. They often post Instagram videos and photos from around the world that are informative and jaw-droppingly beautiful. In addition, interesting facts often accompany the travel destinations.
If you want inspiration from the best of the funny Instagram bios, look no further than Old Spice. It has a mix of wacky photos and videos, as well as posts about its products. They also use their bio to show off their sense of humor, with lines like “Giving sweat and odor a roundhouse kick to the face with @dolphlundgren.”
Cat food company Friskies has a playful Instagram bio. And what better way to represent those wonderful, mysterious creatures that let us think we own them instead of the other way around. As for funny Instagram bio ideas, Friskies gives Old Spice a run for their money with the slogan, “Buying your cat’s love just got cheaper.”
As far as cool Instagram bios go, Aubrey Plaza’s is pretty funny and relatable. The actor, who is known for her roles in Parks and Recreation and Legion, says she’s “like a hot knife through butter.” We’re not sure what that means, but we’re intrigued!
Another idea that is good for personal brands is swag Instagram bios. They convey a little sassiness with quotes like, “I’m a scuba diver in a sea of idiots” or “My status is already high….” Malaysian graphic designer Aaron Gatapia (@optikpop) has a good swag bio for Instagram. He conveys a serious sense of serious swagger with sayings like, “Cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream,” and “Aaron, worldwide handsome.” As we previously saw in Aubrey Plaza’s case, we want to hear more about optikpop.
When it comes to cute Instagram bios, Anna Kendrick’s has them all beat. The actor, who has starred in movies like Twilight, Up in the Air, Pitch Perfect and Into the Woods, is one of the reigning queens of this style. Here, she describes herself as an “emotional eater,” which most of us can definitely relate to. Another cute Instagram bio example you can use for brand inspiration is Matt Adlard: Topless Baker whose funny and self-deprecating Instagram bio quote at one time was, “Exploring the world of pastry and often failing as I go!”
Last but certainly not least is Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo is a world-famous soccer player who is widely considered to be one of the best players in the world. His Instagram bio reflects that, and according to Statista, Ronaldo, with 410m followers, has the most Instagram followers globally. His Instagram bio illustrates the power of simplicity, and the only thing he has on the bio portion, besides photos of his family, is a link to his website.
Often, the best way to set your brand apart is to quote other greats that have gone before you. Instagram bio quotes are an effective business tool, and the ones that follow range from inspirational to some tongue-in-cheek humor.
For your small business, Just copy and paste one of the Instagram bio quotes below into your bio:
“If your mind can conceive it, and your heart can believe it, then you can achieve it.” -Muhammad Ali, professional heavyweight boxer and activist.
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” – Albert Einstein, developer of the theory of relativity and contributor to the development of the theory of quantum mechanics.
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” -Milton Berle, comedian and actor.
“Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is.” – Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and TV personality.
“If you’re not first, you’re last.” – A.J. Foyt, retired professional race car driver.
“If someone likes you, they’ll buy what you’re selling, whether or not they need it.” Gene Simmons, rock musician and entrepreneur.
“If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs, Apple founder, and business magnate.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney, pioneer of the animation industry, developer of Mickey Mouse and former president of the Walt Disney Company.
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill, former British prime minister and prominent public figure during WWII.
“Play by the rules, but be ferocious.” – Phil Knight, American businessman.
One easy way to make your business stand out is to use Instagram bio symbols in your profile. Symbols can help you communicate more with less text, and they’re also eye-catching and fun. Plus, they can convey complex concepts quickly and crank up the wow factor on your Instagram profile,
Here are 6 of our favorite symbols to use for creating a killer Instagram bio:
So, where do you get the symbol font? At CoolSymbol, they have handy tools that let you easily find and copy symbols and fancy text. If you want to get creative, try using different symbols to create shapes or patterns in your bio.
One of the best Instagram post ideas you can use to make your account stand out, besides adding quotes and symbols, is adding vibrant bio fonts to your Instagram profile. When you copy and paste these fonts to your Instagram bio space, it helps you communicate more with less text, and it’s also eye-catching and fun. There are several online font generators and apps that work well and are sure to impact your audience.
Here are 7 Instagram bio font styles you can copy and paste from a font generator to your Instagram profile:
Combining a few font styles often work wonders for your bio for Instagram, but don’t get carried away. The less is more approach applies here, and getting the right combination of fonts takes time and practice to get things right.
We hope you enjoyed our roundup of Instagram bio ideas. Just remember to keep it simple, using only a few symbols or fonts, and make sure they represent your brand in the best possible way.
You’ll find it’s very easy to take all these Instagram bios’ best practices to create one of your own that’s instilled with your own personality and pizzazz. These elements can help you convey complex concepts quickly and really crank up the wow factor on your Instagram bios.
Lastly, bear in mind that the Instagram bio examples here are a brilliant resource to get you started. Meanwhile, don’t be afraid to experiment with creative Instagram bio ideas until you come up with an Instagram bio that truly represents your brand and personality.
The A Plague Tale series from Asobo Studio and Focus Entertainment reimagines 14th-century France and the Black Death with an alternative history featuring more tragedy, supernatural elements, and danger. In 2019, A Plague Tale: Innocence began the journey of siblings Amicia and Hugo de Rune as they scrambled to survive a hostile and unfriendly world. Now, players can continue the story in A Plague Tale: Requiem, set months after the events that transpired in its predecessor.
As it has been years since many players explored the world created in A Plague Tale: Innocence, necessitating a summary of all that happened in the first half of this incredible story. A Plague Tale: Requiem is the conclusion of Amicia and Hugo's journey, and requires knowledge of their past to make sense of their present.
Being a recap of everything that happened in A Plague Tale: Innocence, this guide is packed with spoilers. If you still intend to play Innocence or have yet to finish it, I suggest avoiding memorizing further in this guide. A Plague Tale: Innocence is still one of the best games on Xbox, even if Requiem improves and expands on it in every way. Without further ado, here's everything you need to know about the story of A Plague Tale: Innocence, and where the long-awaited sequel picks up.
A Plague Tale: Innocence and Requiem follows the stories of Amicia and Hugo de Rune, siblings of a minor noble family in 14th-century France. Amicia is the eldest daughter of the de Rune family, and is the apple of her father Robert's eye. Hugo, Amicia's younger brother, is confined to his rooms due to a mysterious illness that has afflicted him since birth and causes regular seizures. Amicia and Hugo's mother, Beatrice, is often close to Hugo to care for his needs and research how his illness may be cured.
During this period, the 100 Years War between England in France is ongoing, while the stories of the terrible Black Death plague have reached even the noble family of a modest French town. Innocence begins with Amicia and Lord Robert de Rune embarking on a friendly adventure through the forests surrounding their estate, with Robert teaching Amicia how to perfect her use of the sling and use it to hunt. Unfortunately, this peaceful time doesn't last long before disaster strikes.
Amicia's hunting dog and faithful companion, Lion, is killed in a horrific manner by the earliest signs of A Plague Tale's infamous ravenous rat hordes. Lord Robert and Amicia quickly hurry back to the de Rune estate, where Amicia is commanded to check on Hugo and Beatrice while he prepares to investigate the ominous threat occupying his lands.
Shortly after Amicia is reunited with her brother and mother, the Inquisition appears at the de Rune estate under the command of the brutal Captain Nicholas. Without remorse, the Inquisition executes Lord Robert de Rune and begins slaughtering the servants of the de Rune estate in search of Hugo. Beatrice, Amicia, and Hugo must flee their family estate to escape the Inquisition, but Beatrice is left behind and believed to be killed in the process. Suddenly, Amicia and Hugo are orphaned in an impossibly large and hostile world, beset on all sides by Inquisition soldiers and the continued arrival of murderous rat hordes.
So the tale of Amicia and Hugo de Rune begins in A Plague Tale: Innocence.
Hugo's biggest challenge throughout A Plague Tale: Innocence is dealing with his separation from the safety and familiarity of his home and mother, while Amicia struggles with the realities of the world outside her home. In a matter of hours, the 15-year-old girl loses her family and home, is saddled with the responsibility of caring for an ill brother she barely knows, witnesses terrible atrocities, and is forced to kill and fight to survive. Both Amicia and Hugo are tested by their ordeals, and must learn to rely on each other to have any hope of success.
At the beginning of their journey, Amicia and Hugo follow the only lead they have available to them, given before their separation by their mother, Beatrice. The duo search for a local doctor, Laurentius, who may be able to help Hugo manage his worsening condition. During this search, Amicia and Hugo discover that the Black Death plague has reached the settlement their family oversaw, and has resulted in a mob-like mentality from the locals. Amicia and Hugo are inadvertently separated, and Amicia is forced to take a life for the first time in order to reunite with her younger brother.
After learning that the plague-riddled rats that are now swarming over France avoid light at all cost, build nests out of human remains, and will voraciously consume any flesh they can find, Amicia and Hugo finally track down the whereabouts of Laurentius. Unfortunately, Laurentius has contracted the plague due to his proximity to the rats' victims, and is on his deathbed. The duo instead meet his apprentice, Lucas, who suggests that the besieged siblings search for Château d'Ombrage, the ancient ruins of a castle that may provide safety from the Inquisition.
Lucas joins Amicia and Hugo after rats destroy the farm where he and Laurentius lived, showcasing that the danger of the rats is far more than their bite. While they journey to Château d'Ombrage, Lucas teaches Amicia and Hugo that the name of his crippling illness is the Prima Macula, although he knows little about the nature of the disease. Shortly after, the group comes across a pair of thieves looting a battlefield they were crossing, and Amicia and Hugo are arrested by English soldiers. The English intend to sell the siblings to the Inquisition.
Fortunately, Melie and Arthur, the thieves responsible for Amicia and Hugo's predicament, are convinced to help them escape by Lucas. The freshly expanded group head to Château d'Ombrage, which appears to be a suitable and fortified home capable of repelling the rats. In order for Lucas to work on a cure for Hugo, though, he'll need an ancient book known as the Sanguinis Itinera.
Amicia travels to the nearby city of Guyenne, home to a University possessing the Sanguinis Itinera and information on the Order, a mysterious organization of alchemists that are linked in some way to Hugo's disease. It's also home to the Cathedral, where the Inquisition is based. While traveling through the city, Amicia learns that the Inquisition is after Hugo because the Prima Macula is intrinsically linked to the rats and the plague.
While searching for the Sanguinis Itinera, Amicia meets Rodric, the young son of a blacksmith, who helps her find the book. As they escape, they learn that Vitalis, the leader of the Inquisition, intends to use Hugo and the Prima Macula to dominate the world, although it's still not clear at this point how Hugo's condition has the power to do this.
Weeks pass with the group — now six strong — safely resting at the Château d'Ombrage. When Amicia and Hugo learn that their mother is still alive, however, and is being held prisoner by the Inquisition, it causes Hugo's condition to dramatically worsen nearly to the point of his death. Pushed to find more answers not provided by the Sanguinis Itinera, Amicia and Lucas return to the de Rune estate to follow Beatrice's footsteps.
At the de Rune estate, Amicia and Lucas discover Beatrice's secret alchemist laboratory, where they learn that the Prima Macula is an ancient disease that is directly responsible for the onset of the plague and its incredibly powerful, terrible rat swarms. In Hugo's blood is the power to change the world with the plague, and potentially the power to end it as well. The duo learn about the Justinian Plague, which strongly resembled the modern Black Death and was also caused by a Carrier of the Prima Macula. With Beatrice's research and lab, Lucas is able to create an elixir to help Hugo combat the progression of the disease.
After Hugo is saved, he flees the Château d'Ombrage in a desperate attempt to rescue his mother, leaving Amicia and the group behind. During his rescue attempt, Hugo learns that the Prima Macula gives him the ability to summon and control rats, although he is captured by the Inquisition and fails to rescue his mother. Weeks later, Captain Nicholas of the Inquisition attacks the Château d'Ombrage with Hugo's deadly abilities, killing Arthur in the process. Fortunately, Amicia is able to get through to Hugo and works together with him to defeat Captain Nicholas.
Château d'Ombrage has been overwhelmed by rats, but the group already has a plan in mind. Amicia, Hugo, Lucas, Melie (distraught by the death of her brother), and Rodric set out to defeat Vitalis, stop the Inquisition from using Hugo and the Prima Macula, and rescue Beatrice de Rune from their grasp. On the way to the Cathedral, Rodric gives his life to protect Amicia and Hugo.
Finally, the conclusion to the weeks-long battle with the Inquisition comes to a head when Amicia and Hugo confront Vitalis. It is revealed that Vitalis used Hugo's blood to obtain the power of the Prima Macula, and intends to use the disease to unleash rats on the world. Amicia and Hugo work to defeat Vitalis, with Hugo battling Vitalis' rats while Amicia uses her sling. In the end, Vitalis falls, the rats retreat and the plague quiets, and Beatrice is saved. Guyenne is all but destroyed, but the Inquisition has been defeated and Hugo is no longer in immediate danger from the Prima Macula.
Melie chooses to leave the group and find her own way, bereft of her brother's companionship. Amicia, Hugo, and Beatrice de Rune, along with Lucas (who intends to learn from Beatrice as an alchemist), set off to leave Guyenne and the past events behind in search of safety and answers for Hugo. Innocence is left behind as well, and the first half of Amicia and Hugo's story is concluded.
A Plague Tale: Requiem is set six months after the ending of Innocence. Amicia, Hugo, Beatrice, and Lucas are traveling to find Magister Vaudin, a respected member of the Order. Beatrice is also involved with the Order, a group of alchemists that specialize in the research and treatment of the Prima Macula. Beatrice believes that the Order will be able to help Hugo and find a cure, although Amicia is not as confident.
For weeks, Hugo has been afflicted by a recurring dream showing an island possessed of two mountains, a fiery bird, and a mysterious pond at the foot of a giant tree, the waters of which capable of reversing the effects of the Prima Macula and healing him. Amicia will have to decide how best to help the brother she has grown to fervently love, who continues to be negatively affected by the persistent progression of the disease with which he was born.
During A Plague Tale: Requiem, players will meet new characters like Sophia and Arnaud, and will need to unravel the final mysteries behind the Prima Macula and its history. This is the final chapter of Amicia and Hugo's story, with the duo traveling to all-new lands in search of peace, safety, and an end to the violence, death, and destruction that trails them wherever they go.