NPI's Caya Berndt interviews Abigail Disney
NPI's Caya Berndt interviews Abigail Disney at Netroots Nation 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Photo: Rich Erwin/NPI)

Wel­come to the ninth and final install­ment of NPI at Net­roots Nation 2022, a spe­cial lim­it­ed pod­cast series record­ed live from the David L. Lawrence Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Pitts­burgh. NPI staff jour­neyed to Steel City this past week to par­tic­i­pate in the nation’s largest annu­al gath­er­ing of pro­gres­sive activists.

As part of our con­fer­ence cov­er­age, we’re bring­ing you a series of con­ver­sa­tions with key move­ment lead­ers and elect­ed officials.

In this install­ment of NPI@NN, we’re hon­ored to be joined by Abi­gail Dis­ney, activist and film­mak­er. Press play below to lis­ten to the audio, or read the tran­script below.


Read the transcript

(Note: this tran­script has been edit­ed light­ly for clarity) 

CAYA: Wel­come to NPI at Net­roots Nation 2022, a spe­cial lim­it­ed pod­cast series from the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, record­ed live from the David L. Lawrence Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia. I’m your host, Caya Berndt. We’re glad to have you with us for this installment. 

We are excit­ed to be joined by film­mak­er Abi­gail Disney!

Abi­gail, thank you so much for join­ing us!

ABIGAIL: Thrilled.

CAYA: And we’re real­ly thrilled to have you, too. So, can you tell us a lit­tle bit about your­self? Who are you, and what do you do? 

ABIGAIL: Well, my name is Abi­gail Dis­ney, and that’s usu­al­ly the first thing peo­ple notice about me, is I have this very funky last name.

My grand­fa­ther was Roy O. Dis­ney, who co-found­ed the Walt Dis­ney Com­pa­ny with his broth­er, Walt. They called it the Dis­ney Broth­ers Com­pa­ny for a few years at the begin­ning there. My father worked at the com­pa­ny for fifty years. So, you know, I kind of grew up under the shad­ow of the Walt Dis­ney Company.

CAYA: And tell us about this film that you are mak­ing. We had that screen­ing at Netroots. 

ABIGAIL: Yeah, we just had a great screen­ing at Net­roots, I’m very hap­py to say. Stand­ing ova­tion. A lot of appre­ci­a­tion for the film, which is… I can’t tell you how much that means to me. I grew up going with my grand­fa­ther to Dis­ney­land. That was one of the perks of being a “Dis­ney Princess.” 

And we used to go through the back entrance, the employ­ees entrance. So when he parked in the employ­ee park­ing lot, or the cast mem­bers, as they call him at Dis­ney­land, he would get sort of mobbed by employ­ees who were so hap­py to see him. He was a real­ly, real­ly nice man. And, and I know that I’m say­ing this, I’m very con­scious that I’m say­ing this, about a guy who belonged to the John Birch Soci­ety, right? So it’s a lit­tle hard to you know, rec­on­cile one thing with the oth­er. I under­stand that. But I only knew him as this love­ly man. It was­n’t until, as an adult, that I began to put into a per­spec­tive his polit­i­cal ideas.

But I knew him as this man who was sweet and kind and warm, and who real­ly cared about every­body. The expe­ri­ence of walk­ing into the park with him was that he remem­bered every­body’s name. He cared. He asked about their kids. 

He hat­ed when they called him “Mr. Dis­ney,” he hat­ed it. He did­n’t see him­self at the top of a hier­ar­chy. He was just a guy. And when we’d come in, and the rea­son I know this, is because when we’d get inside the park, with­in about a hun­dred feet, he would always find a piece of garbage and pick it up off the ground. 

And I asked him one time why he always did that. And he said, “because nobody’s too good to pick a piece of garbage. And I want you to know that. And I want every­body who works here to know that.” 

That real­ly shaped me a lot. And he was real­ly strong with me about like, “you treat these peo­ple with respect, they work hard. There’s no bad behav­ior for the employ­ees here, you treat them well.” So he, in spite of what we know to be his pub­lic pol­i­tics, the per­son­al side of him was very human, very car­ing, and he taught me that. That was the lega­cy he left behind for me. 

CAYA: And can you tell us about the con­tent of the film, and why you made it? 

ABIGAIL: Yeah, so I kind of answered the first half of the ques­tion and not the sec­ond! It’s kind of some­thing I do. 

CAYA: It’s all good!

ABIGAIL: Yeah, so, flash for­ward many, many years. I’m in my six­ties, and I get a Face­book mes­sage from a guy who works at Dis­ney­land. And what he says is: “For years we’ve been fight­ing for bet­ter pay at the parks and bet­ter treat­ment. It’s real­ly bad here. And I won­der if you would help us.”

So my first reac­tion to that was, There’s noth­ing I can do to help. I don’t have a posi­tion at the com­pa­ny. I don’t even own that many shares. Like, what can I pos­si­bly do? And then my sec­ond reac­tion to it was, Well, you know what? Just say­ing “no” isn’t real­ly a sat­is­fac­to­ry answer.

So I went out to Ana­heim, and I sat with him and some of the oth­er folks who worked at the com­pa­ny, and lis­tened. And what I heard real­ly just made me so angry, because of the way it came into con­flict with my every mem­o­ry, every good mem­o­ry, I had of the way that place started. 

In the 1950s and 60s, as a cus­to­di­an at the Walt Dis­ney Com­pa­ny, in the Dis­ney­land, you could afford a mid­dle class life. You could afford a house, a car, and food in the fridge. You could afford these things. Now, two-thirds of work­ers are on food stamps. Two-thirds of the hourly work­ers at Dis­ney­land in Cal­i­for­nia are on food stamps. One out of ten of them has been home­less in the past year. 

That just made me livid, and I came away think­ing, “Well, what can I do? What can I do?” And that’s how I made this film. I guess I could maybe try and make a film about it, and see if I can get peo­ple to watch because it’s not a Dis­ney sto­ry. It’s real­ly, every­thing Dis­ney has done to destroy the work envi­ron­ment for peo­ple at that park, has been done by every com­pa­ny in America. 

They’re just being typ­i­cal. I’m dis­ap­point­ed in their wish to be typ­i­cal, of course, but more than any­thing, it seemed impor­tant to track, because when it hap­pens at Dis­ney, it hurts more. You know? Because Cin­derel­la is sleep­ing in her car, for God’s sake. It just, the feel­ing of that gets you in the gut, when you know that, it’s real­ly impor­tant, and you should take that with you into your encoun­ters with every sto­ry you hear from Ama­zon, and Star­bucks, and every­where else. 

So it just seemed like if I could tell the human sto­ry of what’s changed, and how it’s changed, and why it’s changed, and real­ly con­nect with peo­ple’s hearts at the Walt Dis­ney Com­pa­ny, and tell it in a way that real­ly shows that this is a broad prob­lem, that it was man-made, and caused by indi­vid­ual peo­ple with a plan… then maybe we could try to start to imag­ine our way out of the situation.

CAYA: Yeah. And going back to what you were say­ing about the gut punch: I think the greater the cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance between what you’re see­ing and the back­stages, and espe­cial­ly for some­thing as emo­tion­al­ly charged as Dis­ney­land. A lot of peo­ple have real­ly strong feel­ings around Dis­ney. This is nos­tal­gia. This is fam­i­ly. And when you real­ize that per­haps your enjoy­ment is at the expense of oth­er peo­ple’s liveli­hoods, or that it’s built on the backs of some real­ly inhu­mane prac­tices, that is painful.

ABIGAIL: It’s very painful. And also, one of the rea­sons we’re where we are is because it hap­pened grad­u­al­ly. And I think Amer­i­cans are not very good…they’re good at the sud­den, trag­ic dis­as­ter. Every­body shows up with mon­ey and blan­kets and all the rest of it. But when it hap­pens slow­ly? Actu­al­ly, we’re ter­ri­ble at it. 

And we were warned! Every­body said, “this is what’s gonna hap­pen.” And here it is, hap­pen­ing. And look, I’m telling you, this is hap­pen­ing. We have a mil­lion Cas­san­dras lit­ter­ing the road behind us, try­ing to warn us. So we’re at a place that we could eas­i­ly have known, and pre­vent­ed, had we had the will, or the resources, or any­thing else. And that’s a whole oth­er story. 

So now that we’re here, let’s have a look at where we are.

Let’s real­ly, sud­den­ly, stop the train that’s been mov­ing this slow­ly, and take stock of where we’ve land­ed, and ask our­selves: is this real­ly the soci­ety we wan­na live in? Is this real­ly a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of our values? 

Are humans being pri­or­i­tized here? And if the answer to any of those ques­tions is “no” … well, then how do we go about mak­ing it better? 

CAYA: What are the biggest pri­or­i­ties that the Dis­ney Com­pa­ny can do in order to cre­ate a more equi­table, bet­ter work envi­ron­ment for its employees?

ABIGAIL: It needs to start… I mean, for me, what’s formed at the Dis­ney Com­pa­ny is typ­i­cal of any cor­po­ra­tion in Amer­i­ca, which is there’s a C‑Suite class. So the peo­ple in the C‑Suite are the exec­u­tive suites, the top man­age­ment at the com­pa­ny. What hap­pens in cor­po­ra­tions is they are so sep­a­rat­ed from the work and life of the peo­ple who are employed there, that they cease to feel they have any rela­tion­ship to it at all, which is why one set of reporters will call me to talk about work life at Dis­ney and a whole sec­ond set of reporters, total­ly unre­lat­ed to each oth­er, will call me about CEO pay. 

I nev­er get a call from some­body who wants to ask those ques­tions togeth­er, because they’re not seen as hav­ing any rela­tion­ship to each oth­er! That is how thor­ough­ly the cul­ture has swal­lowed the idea that the peo­ple who inhab­it the top have noth­ing to do with the peo­ple who inhab­it the bottom.

I hate call­ing it “the bot­tom” for nor­ma­tive rea­sons, but I’ll just use it for now. So the first thing that needs to hap­pen is the nobody’s too big to pick up a piece of garbage thing. Which is that the CEO needs to under­stand he’s no bet­ter than any­one else. He’s no more deserv­ing than any­one else. That the peo­ple who break a sweat every day aren’t being paid for their sweat. While I know he works hard, there’s no plan­et on which he works hard enough to jus­ti­fy that difference. 

CAYA: I’m curi­ous to know a lit­tle more about your expe­ri­ences, if you’d be will­ing to share them: you men­tioned that when you intro­duce your­self to peo­ple, the first thing that peo­ple notice is your name. And you were talk­ing a lit­tle bit before we start­ed record­ing about how that pres­ence has shaped [you]. How do you think going, mov­ing through life, with such a rec­og­niz­able name has shaped you as a per­son, and as a film­mak­er and artist? 

ABIGAIL: Well, you know, like any­thing you’re born with, whether it’s that you’re breath­tak­ing­ly beau­ti­ful or that you have a hor­ri­ble, hor­ri­ble prob­lem of some kind, what­ev­er it is you reck­on with it, or you live in per­il of, liv­ing a very, well…not well-formed life. I have spent a lot of years reck­on­ing with it, and when I was in col­lege, it was every­body was like, Oh my God, have you met the Dis­ney girl yet? Oh my God, what’s the Dis­ney girl like? So that hap­pened. That was the first time in my life that hap­pened, real­ly. And I was a lit­tle shocked by how much peo­ple cared. It was my first glimpse into just how big a thing it was. 

And as I began to trav­el inter­na­tion­al­ly, just how big a thing it was, was a lit­tle over­whelm­ing, because there isn’t a coun­try I can go to, or a cor­ner of a country…I mean, in the Con­go, they asked me if I’m related. 

So, it’s a moment that you have at the begin­ning of every inter­ac­tion with every per­son when they find out your last name. You have to make a deci­sion about whether or not you’re gonna lie when they say, are you related? 

For the first many years after col­lege, I lied and said I was­n’t relat­ed, and it seemed eas­i­er. But you know, I used to watch a lot of “I Love Lucy.” 

She was always lying, and then always wound up being the worst thing. I kind of form my ethics from Lucy! But I did real­ize it was actu­al­ly com­pli­cat­ed to lie, and there was some­thing. When it came time to be mar­ried, I of course had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to change my name. And I had always said I could­n’t wait to change my name! And I did­n’t. And I did­n’t, because part of me under­stood that some­thing was being asked of me by it, and that to just duck it like that would be… I’d miss some­thing impor­tant. That some­times felt like a bur­den, but was tru­ly, in fact, an oppor­tu­ni­ty. And I had to admit that I loved it in a cer­tain way. 

So the rest of my adult life, I’ve been try­ing to fig­ure out what’s being asked of me by it. I car­ry a respon­si­bil­i­ty and a lega­cy. And it’s a lega­cy that is com­pli­cat­ed, espe­cial­ly if you’re a pro­gres­sive, it’s a real­ly com­pli­cat­ed lega­cy, ‘cause, you know, Walt picked up the phone and called Joe McCarthy and said, “May I please tes­ti­fy?” And you could find him on YouTube tes­ti­fy­ing, and not only nam­ing names, but spelling them, and giv­ing home addresses! 

I mean, he was not kid­ding! He was a seri­ous busi­ness right-wing dude! 

And what we know about how the Song of the South was made, and every­thing. So there’s all kinds of stuff in there that’s so yucky and hard… and yet, you love your fam­i­ly, you know? So you have to find a way to make one thing mesh with the oth­er thing. And that’s what I spent my adult life doing, is try­ing to find a way. And there is a lot to be proud of. 

One of my favorite moments with my name was meet­ing Medgar Evers’ daugh­ter in Jack­son, Mis­sis­sip­pi, and she was tak­ing us on the tour of the fam­i­ly home. And I noticed there were a lot of Dis­ney books on the book­shelf, because it’s been kept exact­ly as it was when he was shot.

And I asked her, “So, were those impor­tant to you? Did you read them?” And she said, “Oh my God. I read them con­stant­ly. They were every­thing to me.” 

She said, “after my father was shot and we had to leave, the harass­ment did­n’t stop just because my father had been killed.” And so they moved to San Bernardi­no Coun­ty and she said it was worse there than Mis­sis­sip­pi for one thing, which is… kind of an amaz­ing thing to know.

And she said, “My moth­er worked so hard as a maid, [she] raised the five of us, and she saved and saved and saved and saved, and every chance we got, we went to Dis­ney­land. And the rea­son we did that was because we felt so whole there, we felt so seen and wel­comed. So in spite of all that we know about Walt’s his­to­ry and all of that, what he cre­at­ed there did­n’t have that. Or at least not inso­far as many, many, many peo­ple expe­ri­enced it.”

And when I stand at the gate of that park and watch peo­ple com­ing out of it, I mean… it’s a cliche, every descrip­tion, every race, every nation­al­i­ty… but that’s what you see com­ing out of Dis­ney­land. And they’re all homog­e­nized in a way by the fact that they’re so hap­py. That these fam­i­lies came togeth­er, that they made mem­o­ries togeth­er, that they were joy­ful, bond­ing mem­o­ries. I don’t want that not to exist in the world. I don’t want that not to exist in the world. I real­ly don’t want that not to exist in the world. I feel like, and espe­cial­ly, of all the awful things this coun­try has had to offer the world, this is actu­al­ly the good thing.

We should remem­ber that we offered this to the world too. And I don’t want greed and short­sight­ed­ness and all the prob­lems that come with mod­ern cor­po­rate cul­ture to eat that alive, too. Along with all that it’s eaten. 

CAYA: Yeah, it sounds like… I think the cog­ni­tive dis­tanc­ing is the part that I keep com­ing back to. You know, you have some peo­ple who could just as eas­i­ly argue, well, as long as the end prod­uct is cre­at­ing this illu­sion, or this world for peo­ple to kind of come in, and exit, and just feel those hap­py moments, then who cares about what goes on behind the scenes?

ABIGAIL: Yeah. And there are plen­ty of peo­ple who come and go from the park feel­ing that way, and know per­fect­ly well what’s going on behind the mag­ic cur­tain. There will always be peo­ple like that. 

But I think that one of the spe­cial things about Dis­ney­land, espe­cial­ly, is that a real rela­tion­ship forms between the peo­ple who work there and the peo­ple who come there, because from the begin­ning, those peo­ple who work there were seen as part of the expe­ri­ence of being at Dis­ney­land. They help you take pic­tures, and they help you find a bath­room, and they help calm your cry­ing baby. I mean, they’re very much woven into the ide­al expe­ri­ence of a vis­i­tor to Disneyland. 

So there’s a nat­ur­al affin­i­ty that forms between the peo­ple who work there and peo­ple who come there, espe­cial­ly the peo­ple who have scrimped and saved for so long because the prices have got­ten so high.

So I think that mak­ing sol­i­dar­i­ty between the peo­ple who come there, and peo­ple who work there is a pret­ty easy task. 

CAYA: Actu­al­ly, fun fact: I have nev­er been to Dis­ney­land. I have nev­er been to Dis­ney­land! I have nev­er been to Dis­ney World. I’m at the age now where I don’t want to go to Dis­ney­land. Not because I feel like I’m too old for kids movies, because I’m absolute­ly not, but because I’ve heard too many sto­ries from for­mer employ­ees, from back­grounds and I could not, in good con­science, walk into the hap­pi­est place on earth and know that that hap­pi­ness does­n’t extend to everybody.

ABIGAIL: Right. And that’s exact­ly why it needs to be saved from itself. That’s exact­ly why it needs to be saved. You can hide that infor­ma­tion for only so long. 

CAYA: And it’s real­ly encour­ag­ing because I feel like our pub­lic’s appetite for that is grow­ing, espe­cial­ly with [the] renewed labor union orga­niz­ing that’s been hap­pen­ing across the country. 

ABIGAIL: Absolute­ly. And in 2018, when I start­ed film­ing, the unions had come togeth­er for the first time, because, you know, it’s almost sur­pris­ing that there are unions at Dis­ney­land, because it opened in 1955, and they were both such anti-union guys that you wouldn’t have expect­ed… but of course, in 1955 the gov­ern­ment was pow­er­ful, and it sup­port­ed unions. And so you could­n’t open that park with­out unions! Those unions were lit­er­al­ly grand­fa­thered in, so you can’t get rid of them, which is great, but they were pit against each oth­er, and they just con­stant­ly used a divide-and-con­quer strat­e­gy to keep wages low.

And so it was final­ly in 2018 when they said, “Oh no, we’re not doing that any­more. We’re not just nego­ti­at­ing this con­tract and that con­tract, we’re gonna come togeth­er and we’re gonna make a case for… there used to be one base pay, and it can’t be as low as it’s been.”

When I start­ed talk­ing to peo­ple, it was $11.25, $11.15, maybe. 

In 2018 or 2017, I can’t remem­ber which year, by the time we start­ed shoot­ing, it had gone up to $15, which felt like a vic­to­ry, but it was­n’t a vic­to­ry, because the liv­ing wage in Ana­heim is $24 an hour. So a lot had to be done, and a lot of ground has to be made up. I will say that, and I’m very proud of this, there are nois­es com­ing out­ta the union. The nego­ti­a­tions are still qui­et right now, but the nois­es are that there’s gonna be a big move by Disney. 

A big move, in offer­ing a sub­stan­tive­ly large raise to the hotel work­ers, the cus­to­di­ans and jan­i­tors at the hotels. So if that’s true, and God, I hope it’s true, that means that the unions have fig­ured out exact­ly what’s the right com­bi­na­tion of noise and nego­ti­a­tion, and they have come togeth­er in sol­i­dar­i­ty, and worked togeth­er to enhance their pow­er. And I hope that this film had some effect already, even before it’s out. And that feels like a dream come true. 

Talk about a Dis­ney story!

CAYA: I wan­na see a Dis­ney movie about a union organizer. 

ABIGAIL: Yeah, exactly!

CAYA: So, we are just about at time. I just have a cou­ple more ques­tions for you. One of the things about union­iza­tion is that both employ­ers and employ­ees can fall prey to dis­in­for­ma­tion, mis­in­for­ma­tion, and anti-union pro­pa­gan­da, even though, his­tor­i­cal­ly, unions ben­e­fit employ­ees as well as employ­ers. What can peo­ple do to con­vince man­age­ment, or have those con­ver­sa­tions, to con­vince them that union­iza­tion ben­e­fits everybody? 

ABIGAIL: You know, I’m all over the place about this, because I real­ly think that the anti-union belief sys­tem is so deeply wired into the con­tem­po­rary crop of CEOs, who are all of one par­tic­u­lar gen­er­a­tion, and who real­ly cut their teeth on an ide­ol­o­gy that came from Mil­ton Fried­man. They were told not only that unions are evil, but that if they weren’t mak­ing as much mon­ey as pos­si­ble, they were bad peo­ple. They were giv­en moral cov­er for bad behav­ior, and they cling to that like it’s the last life­guard on the boat that’s sink­ing. I some­times won­der that they’re a lost gen­er­a­tion, and that there needs to be a new generation. 

What I’m hear­ing from busi­ness schools, espe­cial­ly my friend at the Har­vard Busi­ness School, who teach­es the ethics class, which, when she start­ed, was an option­al class that was three weeks long and nobody paid any atten­tion to it. 

It’s now a required two-semes­ter class, and it’s one of the most pop­u­lar class­es at Har­vard. And what she says is, what she’s teach­ing is, it’s pos­si­ble to do this well. It’s pos­si­ble to do this with­out destroy­ing peo­ple, and let me show you all the ways. And she said half of the first year busi­ness stu­dents are already there. 

She does­n’t have to per­suade any­body of any­thing.

And that’s real­ly heart­en­ing, because busi­ness school class­es are self-select­ed groups of peo­ple who are very com­mit­ted to cap­i­tal­ism, but at least, regard­less of what you think of the future of cap­i­tal­ism, at least it will be pop­u­lat­ed, at least at the high­est lev­el from the Har­vard Busi­ness School, by half of them, peo­ple who are deter­mined to do it dif­fer­ent­ly and better.

I don’t count on the idea that the kind­ness of CEOs, every­body just lock­ing arms and singing “Kum­baya,” it changes any­thing. But I also don’t think lock­ing arms and “Kum­baya” singing is to any­body’s detri­ment, and it would­n’t hurt for peo­ple to expect bet­ter behav­ior from them­selves, and from every­one around them, in the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty. That will get us halfway there.

CAYA: I’m sure you’ve got­ten this ques­tion quite a bit, but what was the most chal­leng­ing part of mak­ing this film?

ABIGAIL: I got shad­owed by the pub­lic­i­ty depart­ment at Dis­ney every step of the way. As an exam­ple, when I went to speak before Con­gress, I found out that the Dis­ney lob­by­ists had per­son­al­ly called and harangued peo­ple on both sides of the aisle to pre­vent me from speak­ing at all. This is a very pow­er­ful com­pa­ny. This is the largest media com­pa­ny in the his­to­ry of the uni­verse, and how much they own, and how much they con­trol, and how much they con­trol just by being scary is… if we were at any oth­er time in his­to­ry, we would be talk­ing about antitrust laws. Because they should not have the pow­er they have.

So there’s been, for me, a cer­tain amount of fear. That I might get smeared, that I’ll get attacked. And I prob­a­bly still will, I think they’re wait­ing for the film to come out to do that. And then, deal­ing with the fear of oth­er peo­ple who don’t wan­na piss them off, in terms of dis­tri­b­u­tion, get­ting trail­ers cut, and all that kind of thing. I had five dif­fer­ent ani­ma­tors say, “I would love to work with you, but I’d like a future too.” So, there’s… I have to deal with that. And I knew I would, and it’s not the worst thing, but it does make me sad. 

CAYA: Yeah, it’s sad to con­front that in real time. I mean, I’m, kind of feel­ing like, my palm start­ed sweat­ing just a bit while you were talk­ing about hav­ing this big cor­po­ra­tion loom­ing over your shoul­der, and hear­ing from peo­ple, “Hey, I want to help you, but I can’t because I’m afraid, too.”

ABIGAIL: Yeah. And I can’t tell you how many times that’s been the case. So, that is a chal­lenge. And it only makes me mad­der. So, that’s actu­al­ly kind of, like a supercharged…

CAYA: It has the effect of actu­al­ly get­ting you going even fur­ther. Like, “that’s why I need to put this film out!” 

ABIGAIL: Yeah, exactly.

CAYA: I just real­ized we nev­er actu­al­ly said what the film was called!

ABIGAIL: Oh! Let me just sum it all up for you. It’s called “The Amer­i­can Dream and Oth­er Fairy Tales,” and it opens on Sep­tem­ber 23rd. 

CAYA: That was gonna be my next question.

ABIGAIL: And it opens, well, it’s gonna play in Orlan­do first, and then in Ana­heim night, one night, and then the next night, because I want to put out a red car­pet, and I want the work­ers to walk the red car­pet. That’s been my fan­ta­sy since I start­ed this freak­ing film! And then on the 23rd, we’re gonna open in, I think, eight cities, and on the online plat­forms that charge TVOD – it’s called trans­ac­tion­al video on demand – so, unfor­tu­nate­ly, one of them is Amazon. 

I’m sor­ry, I’m sor­ry, I’m sorry….

CAYA: I mean, you got­ta do what you got­ta do! 

ABIGAIL: But it is what it is. I can only get out­side the sys­tem so far. I’m a salmon swim­ming alone up the stream. So, it will be avail­able. And if you come to our web­site, which I can­not remem­ber, come to the Twit­ter page or what­ev­er, we’re @amer­i­can­dream­doc, and you can find a place where you can sign up to host screen­ings. We’re gonna have a dis­cus­sion guide. We real­ly encour­age peo­ple to host screen­ings because the con­ver­sa­tion after the screen­ing is real­ly, real­ly impor­tant. And we real­ly wan­na screen as much as pos­si­ble in the run-up to the elec­tions because peo­ple like Cather­ine Cortez Mas­to in Neva­da and oth­er places, they need all of the bod­ies to show up at the polls.

This is huge. We can’t let Neva­da go down the rat hole. 

We can’t let Flori­da go any fur­ther down the rat hole. We want every­body to come stream, host, sign up, what­ev­er it is, please, please. 

CAYA: Thank you very much. And I will put the infor­ma­tion in our post on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate for our lis­ten­ers. So if you’re inter­est­ed in check­ing out, more about this film, how to sign up and host your own screen­ing, if you have any local indie movie the­aters at home that you want to maybe kind of nudge and say, “Hey, have you con­sid­ered this?”

ABIGAIL: And I should tell you, we just got a stand­ing ova­tion here at Net­roots Nation.

CAYA: That’s so amazing. 

ABIGAIL: I’m very proud of that. 

CAYA: You should be proud! You have a lot to be proud of! So my final ques­tion, I end all my inter­views this way, is: what is bring­ing you joy lately?

ABIGAIL: What is bring­ing me joy late­ly? This con­fer­ence is bring­ing me actu­al­ly some of the first gen­uine joy that I’ve had in a while. 

I’m an extro­vert. And there was a peri­od dur­ing the pan­dem­ic where I was think­ing, “Oh my God, have I been trans­formed into an intro­vert? This is ter­ri­ble!” And I was like, even for a long time after we were set free, I was kind of hat­ing being in pub­lic. And this con­fer­ence is the first time where I’m gen­uine­ly in heav­en being among peo­ple, my peo­ple, peo­ple I love, peo­ple I admire. And I’m feel­ing this new ener­gy com­ing back, and it’s great. 

CAYA: That’s fan­tas­tic. Thank you very much for join­ing us, Abigail. 

ABIGAIL: Thank you. That was Abi­gail Dis­ney at NPI at Net­roots Nation 2022. Thank you very much for join­ing us again! Stay tuned for all of our install­ments. You can find them on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate. Again, I will be drop­ping the infor­ma­tion about the film in our post. 

So, for NPI, I’m Caya Berndt, we’ll see you next time! 

For more infor­ma­tion about The Amer­i­can Dream and Oth­er Fairy Tales, check out the film’s web­site. The trail­er is avail­able to screen here

About the author

Caya is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor based out of Spokane, Washington, writing about Lilac City politics, the Evergreen State's 5th Congressional District, and related politics. She previously hosted the inaugural episodes of NPI's PNWcurrents podcast. She works at the Unemployment Law Project and is a graduate of Central Washington University, with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts and sciences. Caya also has a minor from CWU in law and justice.

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