Why, former “Jane the Virgin” star Justin Baldoni writes in his new book “Man Enough: Undefining Masculinity,” can’t men embrace — and be supported for — being emotional, empathetic and sensitive? Using his experiences to explore the question, Baldoni wants men to know that vulnerability doesn’t equal weakness or make them less than. Variety caught up with the 37-year-old actor, director and producer from L.A., where he runs Wayfarer Studios, his production company that focuses on inspirational storytelling. Last year he produced and directed “Clouds,” a Disney Plus film about the story of a real-life teen who fulfills his dream of recording an album while battling terminal cancer.
Do you think you’re man enough?
Before I started doing this work and talking about “Man Enough,” what I would think of was this negative connotation of “enough.” It’s the phrase that’s been used to put all of us men in a box and remind us that we are not enough. But now when I think about it, it’s the opposite. It’s about compassion. My heart aches when I think about all the men who are suffering and silenced, who have so many things to offer the world, who have huge dreams and feel deeply, who are sensitive innately, but pop themselves off from that part of themselves in order to fit in.
I’m sure there are people who are thinking, “Really? Do men have such problems? They’ve been the oppressors for so long.”
I would say, “Yes, and …” I would say yes, men have been and are the oppressors, but we’re also hurting. One can deduce that we hurt others because we’re hurting.
What role can Hollywood play in redefining masculinity?
Cameras are empathy machines. We have the ability to help people see themselves and see others in ways that maybe their privilege or the culture they’ve been born into haven’t allowed them to see or feel.
When do you think we’ll see a “Jane the Virgin” reunion or reboot?
It’s only been two years! A lot of shows have been gone a lot longer than “Jane” that I think need to come back.
What’s one of those shows?
I’ve been trying to get the rights to “Quantum Leap” forever. It’s the ultimate empathy machine. You have a straight white privileged man literally jumping into the bodies of people who look the opposite of him and getting to experience firsthand what oppression looks like. Think about how ahead of its time that show was.
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