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  • Audrey Cleo

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    Words + video.

    A much-needed update here, with words and video, to boot.

    I interviewed 5x Olympian volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, her partner in Rio and with whom sh nabbed a bronze medal. I also wrote about Paralympian Alana Nichols and what she fuels up with before and after her rigorous parakayak workouts.

    For NBC Asian America, I interviewed LA-based Bollywood dance instructor and USC lecturer Achinta S. McDaniel, filmmaker Lulu Wang and YA author Aditi Khorana.

    I also hung out with Karen Fukuhara (“Suicide Squad”), Michelle Rodriguez, Snoop Dogg, Tyler Posey and Harley Quinn, Lauren Conrad, Zachary Quinto, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Scott Eastwood and more (below).



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    On Ryan Lochte and pitchforks vs. tissues.

    So, about Ryan Lochte.

    This is not a post defending Ryan Lochte. This is a post to make you think about how you think about Ryan Lochte.

    I will be the first to admit that I have always had a soft spot for Ryan Lochte. Like dozens of people, I watched his reality show when it was on. He has that kind of oaf-ey jock charm that I was susceptible to in high school and the first half of college, so there’s some nostalgia there. By most accounts, he’s a good guy and, undeniably, a spectacular athlete.

    I have made a living, in different capacities, talking to famous people and about famous people. Being six inches away from someone — anyone — and having a conversation can be a humanizing experience.

    Which is why I find the public indictment of Lochte and the non-robbery/over-exaggeration/lying/international incident that happened in Rio so troubling. When news came out that he lied about whatever went down — and if you read some reporting by USA Today, it’s still kind of unclear — the character assassination by the court of public opinion was immediate and unrelenting, as most character assassinations are of people who were once held in high regard and suffer the grave misfortune of revealing their mere mortal status. The ugly moments we’ve all had, his made uglier because he (I’m going to guess unwittingly and perhaps while still slightly intoxicated) fell back on a nasty narrative about Rio and Brazil in general and one that was, at first blush, too easy to believe.

    So, he lost lucrative sponsorships and the mercurial nature of good will from a public who is always ready to attack and opine. There were discussions of white privilege, the stereotype of the ugly American, that at 32, he’s too old to be acting this way.

    Well, consider this: Those who reap the benefits of privilege usually don’t examine what those benefits are. Not being required to do that kind of deep introspection is, like, the definition of privilege. That’s no excuse, but consider that if you’re ignorant of something, you’re ignorant of something until someone — or, you know, life — educates you about it. And I’ve found trying to teach someone about privilege is a fool’s errand.

    If you think no other thirtysomethings party and do stupid things, then you must not know a lot of thirtysomethings. If you think no other thirtysomethings party and do stupid things and lie about them, then you might just not know a lot of people.

    And yes, most thirtysomethings are not 12-time Olympic medalists wrapping up the Games in a foreign country. I get that.

    When artists (actors, directors, musicians) do or are accused of doing horrible things, we are often asked if we can separate the art from the artist. You need look no further than Nate Parker for that cognitive-emotional dissonance casserole. It’s a question I still struggle with. In many instances, I have to say “yes” because the inability to do so would actually prevent me from doing my job. And I love my job.

    In this case, then, can we separate the athlete from the act? And in all the discussion of how “terrible” Lochte is, where and what are the solutions?

    People applauded his sponsors for dropping him. They called him insincere in his teary interview with Matt Lauer. But he was never set up to win with either. Lochte was damned to lose before and after Rio. And there are not enough primetime TV minutes, not enough rotations in the spin cycle, in the world for him to acknowledge his “tantics” or apologize that could have satisfied anyone — because it’s way easier as a judging public to grab our pitchforks than our tissues.

    And still, the tide turns. Now that Lochte is facing charges in Brazil that could land him up to six months in jail, there is a sudden shift to be back on Team Lochte, it would seem. “Brazil needs to let this go” or variations of this are a common refrain in the avatar-less comment sections of news articles.

    So, which is it now? Burn him at the stake for being granted a spot on “Dancing with the Stars”? Or chill out on the hot dumb jock because Brazil, wow, man, you’re overreacting?

    We are a forgiving society. I think it’s in our American DNA to not only forgive someone but also embrace a good comeback. I’m pretty convinced that “Dancing with the Stars” was actually created for that. But I do think how you think about Lochte, his fallout and what will be his ultimate redemption says a lot about the self-righteousness we have yet to examine within ourselves.

    You don’t have to have sympathy for Ryan Lochte. He’s getting/going to be punished for awhile. But what people seem to have lost sight of is whether you are required to have a little — even an ounce — of empathy, a bead of sweat’s worth.

    Because think about your darkest, crappiest moment — the moment you’re least proud of. Maybe it’s a moment from your entire life; maybe it’s the worst moment from last week, the last hour. And then think about the faceless, nameless judge-y masses examining that under a microscope. Are they holding pitchforks or tissues? I can guess which one.

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    WATCH me feed Eric Andre cheeseballs, get super weird.

    Before he was epicly trolling the RNC, Eric Andre stopped by the Young Hollywood couch so I could feed him cheeseballs. Things got more weird-larious than I could have ever expected from the charming actor/comedian and host of “The Eric Andre Show.” And what made it into the final edit isn’t half as crazy as what ended up on the cutting room floor!

    Consensual hugging times with Eric Andre.

    I’ll write about it one day in my memoir, or at the very least, my feelings journal. In the meantime, please enjoy watching this interview as much as I (think I?) enjoyed doing it.

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    WATCH my latest on Access Hollywood Live.

    I’ve been guesting on Access Hollywood Live this week with the incomparable George Lopez and Kit Hoover at the hosting helm! See me weigh in on Kim Kardashian putting Taylor Swift on blast (all in the name of Kanye) and on Donald Trump’s and Mike Pence’s interview on “60 Minutes.”

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    WATCH and READ: New video interviews + articles.

    Hollywood triple threat Jordan Fisher recently sang live for us in the Young Hollywood studio (that falsetto is faint-inducing).

    Not too long ago, I also toured the Phoenix1 team house; they’re pro-gamers who compete in the North American League of Legends Championship Series. Now unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that eSports has taken off in a huge way over the past year — it’s poised to surpass $1.9 billion in global revenues as early as 2018.

    I also recently profiled Hmong-American dance sensation Aidan Prince Xiong and Olympian foil fencer Lee Kiefer for NBC News here and here, respectively.

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    WATCH me hang with pro cosplayers the Spiral Cats.

    I hung out with pro cosplayers the Spiral Cats at Anime Expo, decided I’m the worst cosplayer ever.

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    Otaku come out to cosplay at Anime Expo.

    Some 100,000 otaku descended on LA’s Convention Center for Anime Expo, and I took it all in for Young Hollywood. Watch below!

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