…I truly think it is the concept of the “Us/We.” I feel like I think it and say it often. If people remember that we are all part of the same group, even though we are all different, we can help each other. It is the power of acceptance even if we disagree. If we help each other on the grand level, we can help each other on the smaller levels. And, if we help each other on the smaller levels, we can affect greater things on a grander scale. As a unified group, we are stronger.
“The self-expression of the creative and genuine artist resonates with the collective consciousness. Artistic expression is vividly imaginative and ingenious when created and shared. Art is a reflection of society. The artistic and creative representation of society is vital in the process of society moving forward, developing, and progressing.” “And, ultimately, art is a vehicle for social change.” Yuval David describes this as he describes his own process. Award-winning actor, host, filmmaker and producer Yuval David has become acclaimed for his own work, including evocative and sometimes provocative performances on screen and stage. Each role Yuval brings to life he treats as a masterclass in using art as a fundamental agent for social change. Whether he’s appearing in CBS’ hit political drama ‘Madam Secretary’ or ABC’s long-running primetime hidden camera show ‘What Would You Do?’ his appearances not only entertain with heart but explore the human experience. No role is squandered as Yuval always uses his robust platform to embed a vital element of using his art for social change, engaging his viewers and inviting them to take an active role in improving the world around them, while simultaneously empowering them, making them feel deeply appreciated. The charming, sharp-witted, captivating and funny powerhouse of energy is frequently invited to emcee and speak on behalf of countless cultural, humanitarian, philanthropic, social and political initiatives, including the Israeli Consulate in New York, most recently hosting Israel’s 70th Anniversary Celebration in Times Square, in front 30,000 at the event and millions of live viewers around the world. He has become a go-to host and narrator for short- and long-form video content and documentary features for Jewish, Israeli, LGBTQ, Arts, Cultural and Humanitarian Organizations and Initiatives, including The National LGBTQ Task Force, the Jewish National Fund (JNF USA), and Stand With Us. In addition to “Madam Secretary” and “What Would You Do?” Yuval’s on-screen credits also include “The Michael J Fox Show,” “Unforgettable,” and “Days of Our Lives;” leading and supporting roles in films such as “Incipient,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Nephilim,” “Awakening of Spring,” “You,” and “The Fifth Estate;” and lead roles in contemporary and classic theatrical works, including: Broadway in “The Game;” Off-Broadway in “Daddy Issues,” “Bunburry,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and “In The Swing.” As much as possible, Yuval enjoys performing in regional theatres across the United States and abroad. Yuval regularly does voice overs for animation, commercials, narration, documentaries, and industrials. As a TV host, Yuval specializes in human interest, environmental, travel, foodie, culinary, and lifestyle shows. He is the host of multiple shows on television and online.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Yuval! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I feel like I have been on this career path for my entire life.
I was born a storyteller and performer. I have always enjoyed bringing people together as a collective and taking them on a journey. I always knew I wanted to be an actor, and started doing theatre as a child, and began working professionally as an actor as a teen. From there, my career blossomed, doing theatre, voice overs, and eventually into television and film. Throughout it all, and still today, when doing theatre, film, or television, I still deeply care about bringing people together as a collective. Bringing an audience into my world, and making my world theirs, too. That is the magic of this creative process of being a storyteller. With the countless characters I have played, I always bring myself into the characters, since I obviously am the person playing the characters. As I boldly express myself, fusing vulnerabilities with strengths, I express things that resonate with others — thus bringing others (the audience) into my life, my characters, my narrative, and connecting to their lives, their characters, their narrative — it is a magical connection.
Concurrently, I have focused on making this world a better place, both through my artistic and creative expression and through my advocacy and speaking. Since my early-teen years, I have been speaking out on behalf of humanitarian and environmental causes, with a special focus on Jewish, Israeli, LGBTQ, arts, and US humanitarian causes. That has led me to be on the speaker’s bureau of multiple organizations that focus on the same causes.
As my activism and advocacy have grown, so has my acting career. And, as my acting career has flourished, so have my activism and advocacy.
I create my own content regularly, thus adding an element to my career, being a content creator. I write, produce, direct, and perform my own theatre, film, and web content. My creative work and my advocacy work merged when my speaking engagements led me to host shows and emcee live events.
All of this is what I have done, what I still do, and the path I am on. Exploring and expressing my creative process, using my art as a vehicle to spur social change, and advocating for those whom I speak and can aid. Throughout it all, I bring people together, as a collective, and take them on a journey.
As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, who are recognized heroes of the war, and as the child of immigrants, I have always understood who I am and from where I come. I understand that I have the precious gift of life and choose to maximize all of my time here. And, while doing so for myself, it is just as important to do so for my communities and others.
We are living in a turbulent time. Life seems to be very complicated, especially from socio-political and environmental perspectives. Too many put the majority of their focus on being on the attack or on being victims. And, many fail to take the next step, to move forward, to try to be resilient…to do our best, and help others to do so, as well. We must support those who need the support. We must keep moving forward towards the greater good. But, when facing challenges, many prefer to end the conversation with “Well, it’s complicated.” I like to face the challenge and continue the conversation by responding, “What makes it complicated to you?” I want to engage others and unify them in the conversation, no matter on what side of the conversation they are. We cannot focus on the “us/them” paradigm. We must focus on the “us/we.” Together we can make this world a better place. Together we can improve society. Together we can help others and ourselves. Mutual acceptance and respect will move society forward and evolve into a better level of consciousness.
That is what I aim to do. That is how I aim to guide people. That is my chosen path, and I invite others to join me on it. It is a journey, filled with greatness and challenges. The journey must keep moving forward.
My creative work and advocacy work are inclusively welcoming, taking people further along the journey, to consistently become better versions of ourselves and to do better, to be better.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Once I created my own production company, I noticed even more how I empower others through my work and through sharing a narrative in a creative format. My personal brand is that I am an actor, host, and filmmaker, who aims to entertain, uplift, and inspire. My production company does that, as well. It is exciting to do so, as results are seen in the audiences, the people impacted by my efforts, and those who follow across social media. The feedback is wonderful, where people directly express how they have been entertained, uplifted, and inspired by my work and creative and artistic expression. I receive messages daily from those around the world. It is that feedback that adds more fuel to my passion-filled career. While I love doing what I do, and enjoy how it affects me, I also love sharing in the journey, and seeing how others are changed by it.
In my web-series “Better World,” I focus my camera on everyday people, interviewing random individuals on the street to see what they each do to contribute to making this world a better place. This series proves that everybody has a duty to make this world better, that everyone can do so from small gestures to large acts of goodness. It is an inspiring show, as it proves that we are all important and we are all important for each other. Making the world a better place is our choice, it is in our hands.
In my series of short films, “One Actor Short,” I go out onto the streets of New York with my film crew, and invite random strangers to play a role in a short film. It is a highly improvised process, where I do not know what will transpire. Each person who agrees to be in the film and play a character is part of what creates the narrative, and further feeds the overall narrative arc of the film. Even in this very fun and engaging film format, the people who take part are empowered. Through the playfulness of it all, they leave feeling important and good about themselves. They are all non-actors who randomly get a chance to be in a film. It is very fun for those who take part and equally for the audience. Even this film series of mine is a social experiment, and shares positive energy all while still embedding a social commentary as we see specific people playing specific characters. It is one of my favorites.
I have many other series that are social commentaries, but leave the commentary to the audience. My content welcomes people in, includes them, all equally important. And, through the power of entertainment, reveal people’s natures and truest selves. Even in my “subway series,” like when I played an immigrant trying to marry a stranger on the subway in order to become a citizen, there is a social commentary there. And, it still leaves people ultimately feeling good and happier. (This one can also be seen on my YouTube channel.)
This is the power of the narrative, of creatively sharing stories, characters, and situations. It is the power of art for social change.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake…well, I have had a few.
One lesson I learned is to never trust that your microphone is off when the sound person is supposed to turn it off. I was playing the lead in a major theatre production, and I only had one moment during the entire show when I was not on stage. It was that short scene which was my only bathroom break. That is an important break, as I drink a lot of water. Well, in one particular performance, my microphone remained live during that break — that scene was accented by the sound of me peeing in the bathroom. I am just glad I did not talk to myself at that moment. Because when I am alone, I often find myself speaking out-loud to myself, singing, or practicing character voices.
Can you describe how your organization is making a significant social impact?
As I previously mentioned, throughout my creative career in theatre, film, television, web, and radio, I have always remained focused on the concept of “art for social change.” I use my creativity to make the world a better place, to affect social change, to improve my communities, nations, and the world as a whole. That is a big task, but a necessary one. And, when focusing on social change from a creative and artistic perspective, I find that I have a different impact. When not working on another production, I regularly create my own content and content for organizations and causes I support.
Whether it is in the film, theatre, television, and web content I create, or in the advocacy work and speaking engagements I have, I always focus on the effort from a creative and artistic perspective. Focusing on the narrative, taking the audience on a journey, and unifying the audience into a community — the social impact from the creative and artistic approach is great, as it welcomes people with inclusivity, creating not only a safe space, but a brave space in which the audience can be vulnerably affected.
I create content, such as web videos, short films, theatrical pieces, and documentaries, with the aim of affecting social change. The content is a creative way to raise exposure for a cause needing attention, to reflect society and express where it needs to go.
And, when it comes to the outreach that various organizations do, the expression of their impact, and relaying the importance of their causes, I have found that many could use a more creative approach. So, I come in and work with them on a creative way to share their work, the causes they support, and ways to bring exposure to their initiatives. Ultimately, I am a storyteller, I focus on the narrative — and, utilizing that approach, I create content for organizations that creatively share the work and initiatives of the organization.
This is my art for social change.
People ultimately respond differently to the creative expression. Concepts affect the audience differently when presented in a creative way. People respond to creativity. Artistic creativity penetrates the minds and hearts of the audience differently than when a message is conveyed otherwise. There is something safe about art, people can respond to it in a more vulnerable way. That is the power of using art for social change.
So, I bring that approach to my work as an advocate for humanitarian and environmental causes, and for my work as an advocate of LGBTQ, Jewish, Israeli, and American communities and causes. I bring that approach when I speak at events and gatherings, and when I produce filmed or live performances about the topics.
Wow! Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted this cause?
The efforts of my artistry and advocacy are not just for me. I create and strive to do something for others. I aim to entertain, uplift, and inspire them throughout my process. Because of this approach, I get to see and interact with individuals who are impacted.
On a daily basis, I get messages across my social media platforms from those whom have been affected by what I do. Admittedly, it is a very gratifying feeling for me — knowing that what I do has a positive effect on others — and inspires me to keep doing it and better.
I am outspoken about who I am, the elements of my identity. And, because of my platform to be able to share that, I connect with those who resonate with it.
Among those impacted by my work are LGBTQ people in communities and countries where they are not accepted. They either need to hide who they are or they get bullied and attacked. A large percentage of these individuals who connect with me are based in Arab countries. I have some who communicate with me on a regular basis across social media. They say I express a fantasy life for them, a life that they are not able to lead themselves, and a life many of them did not know was even possible.
That is why we must live our best lives when we can. And, we must live our best when others cannot, because living our best helps guide others to live their best.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
In this complicated time, we are surrounded by divisiveness, partisanship, and bigotry. Socio-politically, many choose their group or political party over their nation. People need to begin focusing on putting the nation over their party. We all must focus on the “us/we” instead of the “us/them.” If we unite, and see each other as part of a greater and much more diverse community or nation, we can help each other. But, trying to help one group or community by hating others is not the answer.
Throughout my work, I aim to empower the character, the individual. I aim to express the vulnerability and the truth as part of a sincere narrative, which is unique but resonates universally.
We need our leaders to focus on this, unifying us to help each other. That is how we can have social impact for the greater good.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership requires the bravery to try to succeed and understanding that failure is a possibility, but not a deterrent. Leadership requires the boldness to live and act as an example of what others can do. Leadership requires vision, and the ability to change course. Leadership requires forward movement and welcoming others into that movement. Leadership requires the creation of a safe space and a brave space.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- “Keep your name and don’t change it.” As I began my career, people told me that my name was very different. They said my name, Yuval, would make it hard for me to be mainstream. Many recommended I change my name. But, I always felt connected to my given name. It shaped who I am, and I really like it. So, I stuck with it. And, now we are in a time when different names are ok in the mainstream, well, at least in part of the mainstream.
- “Your being gay and bi is fine.” As a young boy immersed in the world of the performing arts, I actually saw the AIDS crisis killing some of my mentors, killing some of my mother’s dance partners in her dance company, and killing a large portion of the audiences and patrons of the arts…. So, I had a great fear when I realized that I was bi, gay, or queer (I transition between which fits me most). Sexuality was tainted with the fear of what I saw happen to so many. So, I was a late bloomer, so to speak. Also, as an actor, I was told that I should not be “too gay,” as that would not make me castable. Being gay was not mainstream and would be a detriment to my career. I was not comfortable with hiding who I am in order to appease others. But, I kept so much about me very private. Eventually, I grew empowered by who I am. Who I am colors and supports everything I do. So, how could I hide who I am. People will either like me for who I am or they won’t. And, that is that.
- “You are Jewish enough.” My being Jewish is yet another element of who I am that makes me a minority, part of a people who have been marginalized and victimized. But, I always celebrated my Jewishness, and knew to be proud of it. I always loved my people’s history, as the narrative of the Jewish people resonated within the narrative of my family history. I knew I should be proud of it. Yet, when my professional career began, I was often told that I was either “too Jewish” or that I “did not look Jewish enough.” How confusing is that?! At a time when people focused on what was supposedly mainstream and consumable by the mainstream, Jewishness was something that was comical or something un-cool. But, my being Jewish, connects me to a nation, a spirituality, a people. And, that influences everything I do. So, instead of hiding it, I lived it. While I did not hide it, I had internal and sometimes verbal struggles with those who told me to hide it or change it. That was not a decision for them to make.
- “Live the life you want.” This eventually became one of my many mantras. But, it was not at first. I tried to achieve the life I wanted. I hoped to eventually live it. But, as life went on, I learned for myself that I must be who I am and be who I want to be. I must live the live I want, as that means I have the life I want. It is akin to “the journey is the destination,” because the journey is part of the process and the process is part of the outcome.
- “Learn to say no.” Each of us is our own Number 1. If you are not your own Number 1, if you do not help yourself, you cannot help anybody else. Sacrificing all of yourself is not always what other people need, especially if you are in this for longevity. Just like they say on the airplane, “If in an emergency situation, the air-masks descend, place the mask on yourself before helping others.”
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I truly think it is the concept of the “Us/We.” I feel like I think it and say it often. If people remember that we are all part of the same group, even though we are all different, we can help each other. It is the power of acceptance even if we disagree. If we help each other on the grand level, we can help each other on the smaller levels. And, if we help each other on the smaller levels, we can affect greater things on a grander scale. As a unified group, we are stronger.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One that has stayed with me for most of my life is the Rabbi Hillel saying: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And, if not now, then when?”
I feel like that is life lesson quote that requires no further explanation.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Ellen DeGeneres has inspired me by living her truth and focusing on people being kind to one another. Ellen entertains people and makes them feel good about themselves. And, Ellen is not afraid to reveal the hardships of life, because she presents and believes in revealing and creating hope. She is an entertainer, a leader, a creative, an artist, a motivator. I am deeply inspired by her. And, her struggles in being a closeted lesbian woman eventually led her to recognizing that not only did she need to live and expose her truth, other people needed her to live and expose her truth, because as a leader, she must lead by example.
Oprah Winfrey lived her struggles and faced them throughout her career. But, she believed in herself even when others did not. She faced challenges and criticisms, but she believed in herself. She continuously moved forward and grew as an individual just as her career grew. She does so much and does it well, as a journalist, host, actor, producer, director, writer, content creator, leader, speaker…I mean, she does it all. She is an inspiration.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
It is easy to find me on social media. There are not that many Yuval David’s out there.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!
Thank you for this great opportunity! I am honored, grateful, and inspired.