Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert on inspiring and ‘radical’ leaders

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Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Photo credit: A24

After sweeping the Oscars last week with their crowd-pleasing, genre bending  “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert look outside of Hollywood for inspiration. 

Kwan cites the graphic novel “Radical: My Year with a Socialist Senator” by Sofia Warren as an example of a way forward during a divisive time. After embedding herself into the office of New York State Senator Julia Salazar, Warren wrote an up-close and personal story about the freshman senator, who went from being a community organizer to operating inside her legislature’s body to affect change. Kwan says the book is only educational, but also can be used as a blueprint for those disillusioned with politics.  

Meanwhile, Daniel Scheinert talks about his favorite city councilwoman, newly elected Eunisses Hernandez, who represents LA City Council District 1. Scheinert says he has been moved by Hernandez’s rise. 

Both politicians are members of the Democratic Socialists of America party. 

More: Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert on pushing the reset button 

This segment has been edited for length and clarity. 

Daniel Kwan: I just really was taken by [“Radical: My Year with a Socialist Senator”] because, beyond the story of following around Julia Salazar — the New York State Senator — for a year, the main story underneath it all is Sofia [Warren], the cartoonist, [who by] just being a regular human being suddenly felt very concerned with the world, with politics, and wanted to find a way into it, but didn't know how. So she did what she knew, which was draw. But she decided to take that energy and take that talent and dive headfirst into following around Julia Salazar and her team as they figured out how to do state-level politics.

[The book] is incredibly educational, but also, I think, it's a beautiful blueprint for anyone out there who's feeling lost, like they don't have anything to offer the political climate. I'm a firm believer that everyone has something to offer, and finding that intersection is going to be very fulfilling. I really love the book, and I learned so much. It's great.

“Radical: My Year with a Socialist Senator” cover. Courtesy of Penguin Random House 

Daniel Scheinert: I work with Daniel Kwan, and I'll piggyback off his favorite book and talk about my favorite city councilwoman: Eunisses Hernandez. She just got elected. Since this is a Los Angeles show, and I listen to KCRW all the time, if you read “Radical” and get inspired, there's a lady you can go support that fits in with those values a lot. I've just been so moved to watch her fight the good fight and start making a difference.

I'm really hoping that Kevin de León hurries up and just resigns, so that the city council can head in a new direction.

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Rebecca Mooney