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Crisis Manager & Public Relations Practicioner
Howard Bragman is a titan of the American entertainment industry, highly regarded for his decades-long career as a public relations practitioner and crisis manager. His clients have included Cameron Diaz, the Lewinsky family, Sharon Osbourne and Stevie Wonder.
Howard grew up gay in the Midwest and has dedicated much of his life to advancing LGBTQ+ causes. In 2021, he created a million dollar Coming Out Fund, through the University of Michigan, to provide access to services and support for Queer students.
Q: As a child, what did you want to become more than anything else?
A: I wanted to be straight, and I wasn't. I desperately wanted to be straight because it was such a scary time to be a young gay man in the 60s. I then realized that it was my true, authentic self, and I embraced it. It now makes me happy: I have a wonderful husband, a very wonderful career, and respect from my family. Yay for authenticity!
Q: Is it okay to compromise yourself?
A: I think we all do that. When you're out with a bunch of friends on a Saturday night, you're going to act very differently than you would with your family around the dinner table on Thanksgiving.
Q: Has observing the lives of celebrities influenced who you are?
A: I think so. Like every human being, there are good and bad. Actors and musicians happen to be creative, interesting and intelligent people who test boundaries, create new limits, and enable society to think in new ways. I certainly have to respect that.
Q: Is there an authentic self?
A: I believe each person has a true, unique authentic self. Does that mean everyone can tap into that? No. But I do believe each of us has a certain air of authenticity. Some people don't live it, some people can't access it, and some people aren't sensitive enough to be aware of what their authentic self is. For some people, it's a journey to find their authentic self. I think for most of us it is. But if you peel away all the layers, yes, there is an authentic self.
Q: Is the public responsible for preventing celebrities from expressing their authentic selves?
A: Yes, I think they're judgmental. The media is often responsible too. We rush to judgment. We live in what I call the feedback society. If we see something that we don't like, it's not enough to change the channel or not go to the movie; we have to write a letter, post it on Facebook, and tell everyone we know. It's a much more aggressive and judgmental world than we've ever been exposed to before.
Interview Recorded: 2012. | Updated: 2022
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