Interview with Chris Bashinelli
Why did you leave you acting career behind?
I can vividly remember the day I was on set filming an episode of The Sopranos for HBO. It was the culmination of nearly one decade of acting classes, never ending rehearsals and countless rejections. Although it was the culmination of my career to the point, I felt completely unfulfilled. I’d heard whisper in my heart since childhood that urged me to travel the world and experience other cultures, but I pretended I didn’t hear it up until that point. This was the day I decided to go for my heart’s calling, and six months later I was on a plane to Tanzania.
That first trip to Tanzania shifted my perspective to a completely self-centered universe, to one that at least began to think about other human beings. (Namely due to a man named Pete O’Neal, a former Black Panther who, after being exiled to Africa, created a non profit community center with his wife). Two days after returning to New York my father was diagnosed with cancer. Two years later, he passed away. It was only upon seeing death face to face that I fully began to live my passion. With my father as my sparkplug of inspiration I have since traveled to over thirty countries, had my TV series air on PBS and Nat Geo International, and spoken in the UN General Assembly Hall. I could say ‘how’, but the more relevant question is always ‘why’, and that is personal for each of us.
Can you please explain your concept of the “Stoop”?
A stoop is any place where people can come together and have an intercultural, intergenerational, international dialogue free of judgment in order to work out solutions to problems. The term “Stoop”, although originally a Dutch word in use in the Northeastern United States, can refer to any place of coexistence where open dialogue is paramount. Sometimes a stoop is a set of stairs, sometimes it’s a wrestling dojo in Mongolia, and sometimes it’s a laundry mat in Wisconsin.
The most important thing to remember is that a stoop is not only a physical place, it is a mentality that we carry with us in our heart wherever we go, and it will strengthen any relationship. The three rules on the stoop are: Listening, Non Judgment, and a Willingness to Step Outside of our Comfort Zones.
How would you describe the ideal Global citizen of the 21st century?
My idea of a Global Citizen will likely not match what you find in an academic journal. To me, a global citizen is not a title or certificate that someone can give to you. It is a state of mind that looks at other living beings (whether human or animal) and acknowledges that their lives are just as, or even important than my own. It’s the recognition of equanimity and equality- and then the actions that arise from that mindset. You don’t need to travel the world to be a global citizen. You can do it right in your own backyard.
How are your keynote presentations unique?
Keynotes are not presentations, nor are they speeches; they are dances with the audience present in that room at that moment. Uniqueness is inevitable at every event because you can never have the same audience at two events. Even if you literally have the same exact people at two different events, those people change so much from moment to moment that they are no longer the same. Any powerful speaker feeds off their audience, feels the energy, and plays with it. My intention is to always be present to the needs of the person I am in front of in that moment.
Do you have a favorite experience from your speaking career?
One of my most memorable speaking engagements happened last year. I had the good fortune to present for the Entrepreneur’s Group in Saudi Arabia, directly next to a mosque. During the speech the “Adhan” or “Call to prayer” began. I paused the speech, allowed for a moment of silence to respect the present moment, and after checking with the audience for permission, continued the presentation.