bringing together diverse voices

A conversation with kareem rahma

Kareem is a self-described “Egyptian-American polymath”. He acts, produces, writes films and poetry, has past lives at VICE and The New York Times, and doesn’t stop. You People is the name of Kareem’s latest podcast project, intended to reclaim the phrase as one of power.

Hi Kareem! With no introductory set up, tell us about You People in your own words. What’s the idea that’s driving you?

I started having this idea of doing an interview-style podcast focused on bringing together the diverse voices shaping modern America today. This idea is kind of a derogatory term: You People. As in, “You People are taking our jobs”… Being a first generation immigrant myself I wanted to take that phrase and make it a positive: You People are changing the world.

The whole point of the podcast is to be super open about where you came from. Not just physically, like Egypt, but to ask questions like: What were your parents like? Were they traditional or liberal? What was college like for you? How did you find your way, your “big break”? When I’m talking to my guests it’s almost like a live therapy session. My hope is that young people will listen and be inspired to be themselves in any way, shape, or form. The idea is to find commonalities. At the end of the day we all have the same kind of struggles and desires to fit in. We’re a lot more similar than we think.

3 hours ago you tweeted, “I’m very sensitive today.” What’s up?

Haha! Nothing bad! I just woke up and am having an emotional day in terms of feeling extra sensitive. I felt happy, sad, nostalgic, content, all of those things before 10am! I’ve always been a very sensitive boy and now I’m a very sensitive man and I’m totally open with it. I see it as an asset. A lot of my work is about changing this form of masculinity that, you know, has shifted over the decades. And trying to get other people to connect and be open with me, and it works.

How would your best friend describe the vibe of your home?

Really, really, really, really eclectic and really, really homey. I feel like the world today has this super clean, super modern, super industrial aesthetic and you know, I just made my home really warm and it feels almost like a very messy museum of stuff. A collection of my objects that I live with. A lot of browns, maroons, Arab influences – not on purpose, it happens to be that way. It feels Middle Eastern but also like a house in the Midwest because I grew up in Minnesota.

What brings the most joy to you?

My community. I feel I hit the jackpot with all the people in my life.

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