Meet the host and guests of Into the Mix — a Ben & Jerry’s podcast about joy and justice, produced with Vox Creative. In conversation with host Ashley C. Ford, they’ll dive deep into their art, activism, and their fight to build a more equitable world.
Meet the Host: Ashley C. Ford
Ashley C. Ford is an Indianapolis-based writer, podcaster, and educator whose work explores themes of identity, race, sexuality, and all the other things that make up who we are.
In 2021, Ford published her first book, Somebody’s Daughter, a memoir about coming to terms with her relationship with her father, who’d been incarcerated for 30 years. It became an instant New York Times best-seller and critical success.
Episode 1: John Legend
John Legend is an artist and activist who made history as the first African American man to join the prestigious EGOT club (for people who have won all four of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards). The 12-time Grammy Award-winner released his seventh studio album, Bigger Love, in 2020. Recently, Legend announced his first Las Vegas Residency entitled, “Love In Las Vegas” which will begin in April 2022 at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Legend joined the Emmy-nominated show, The Voice, for Season 16 (2019) and most recently wrapped Season 21 as a coach.
As an activist, Legend initiated the FREEAMERICA campaign to change the conversation surrounding criminal justice policies and to end mass incarceration and HUMANLEVEL, which is igniting systematic change and building racial equity across American cities and communities.
Episode 2: Favianna Rodriguez
Favianna Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and social justice activist based in Oakland, California. Her art and praxis address migration, gender justice, climate change, racial equity, and sexual freedom.
Favianna’s work serves as a record of her human experiences as a woman of color embracing joy and pleasure through personal transformation and psychedelics. Favianna’s practice includes visual art, public art, writing, cultural organizing and power building. In addition to her expansive studio practice, she is the co-founder and president of The Center for Cultural Power, a national organization that empowers artists to disrupt the status quo and ignite change at the intersection of culture and social justice. She has received awards such as the Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship, the Atlantic Fellowship for Racial Equity and the SOROS Equality Fellowship.
Episode 3: Andrew Aydin
Andrew Aydin is creator and co-author of the graphic memoir series, MARCH, which chronicles the life of Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis. Co-authored with Rep. Lewis and illustrated by Nate Powell, MARCH is the first comics work to ever win the National Book Award.
In 2019, Andrew joined with Kelly Sue Deconnick, Matt Fraction, Valentine DeLandro, and Vaughn Shinall to found Good Trouble Productions to produce innovative nonfiction graphic novel and multimedia projects, including RUN, a sequel series to the March trilogy, and Registered, a comic book for the New York City Department of Education about youth voting and distributed as part of the NYCDOE’s “Civics for All” curriculum, as well as “The Long March,” a large-scale custom art installation and online experience for Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont.
Episode 4: Big Freedia
Known as the larger-than-life ambassador of New Orleans Bounce music, Big Freedia is a nationally recognized hip-hop artist, performer, and TV personality. In addition to releasing her own critically acclaimed EPs, ‘3rd Ward Bounce’ (2018) and ‘Louder’ (2020), Big Freedia has appeared on several high profile projects, including her cover of ‘Judas’ on Lady Gaga’s Born this Way The Tenth Anniversary album (June 2021). She also appeared on Beyoncé’s Grammy award-winning, Formation and on Drake’s Nice For What, always bringing her distinctive voice and signature catchphrases to all her work.
In 2011, her ascension in the music industry was chronicled on the highly rated reality show, Big Freedia Bounces Back. She was the official host for the 2019 Met Gala IG live stream red carpet event and a host on 2021’s Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve TV Show. Known by her fans as the “Queen Diva,” Big Freedia is a loud and proud advocate for racial and gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights.
Big Freedia’s highly anticipated EP Big Diva Energy will be released in July of 2021.
Episode 5: Jeffery Robinson
Jeffery Robinson is the founder and CEO of The Who We Are Project, which aims to become one of the central voices in correcting the American narrative on our shared history of anti- Black racism.
Since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1981, Jeffery has four decades of experience working on criminal and racial justice issues. Initially, he represented indigent clients in state court at The Defender Association and then in federal court at the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Seattle. In 1988, Jeffery began a 27-year private practice at Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender, also in Seattle, where he represented a broad range of clients in local, state, and federal courts on charges ranging from shoplifting to securities fraud and first-degree murder. He has tried over 200 criminal cases to verdict and has tried more than a dozen civil cases representing plaintiffs suing corporate and government entities. Jeffery was one of the original members of the John Adams Project and worked on the behalf of one of five men held at Guantanamo Bay charged with carrying out the 9/11 attacks. In 2015, Jeffery left private practice to become of the ACLU National Office’s Deputy Legal Directors and the Director of the ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality. However, after six years, he left the ACLU and launched the non-profit organization The Who We Are Project. Jeffery continues to be a nationally recognized trial attorney and respected teacher of trial advocacy. He is a faculty member of the National Criminal Defense College and has lectured on trial skills all over the United States. He is past president of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a past member of the board of directors and life member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Jeffery is also an elected fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Episode 6: Rashad Robinson
Rashad Robinson is President of Color Of Change, a racial justice organization with more than 7 million members who demonstrate the power of Black communities every single day. Color Of Change uses innovative strategies to bring about lasting change in systems and sectors that affect Black people’s lives. Under Rashad’s leadership, Color Of Change has developed winning strategies for leading the $7 billion advertiser boycott of Facebook, changing how crime, policing and race are represented on TV, winning net neutrality as a civil rights issue, and holding decision-makers accountable to Black communities — from local prosecutors to multinational corporations.
Rashad’s analysis, advocacy and activism are featured frequently in a wide range of major media and community media. He also regularly serves as a keynote speaker at events across the country, has been a speaker at roundtables convened by both Oprah Winfrey and President Obama, has received several other awards and has authored several published works related to social change. He testified to Congress about regulating Big Tech corporations, and about ensuring racial equity in banking, housing and education. He also served as a co-chair of the Aspen Commission on Information Disorder and sits on the board of the Marguerite Casey Foundation.
Episode 7: Patti Smith & Bill McKibben
Patti Smith, born in Chicago and raised in South Jersey, migrated to New York City in 1967. Her extensive achievements as a performer, author, recording and visual artist is acknowledged worldwide.
Released in 1975, Smith’s first recording, “Horses”, was inducted into the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress in 2010, and she has since released twelve other albums. She is a four-time Grammy® nominee and a Golden Globe nominee. Steven Sebring’s 2008 documentary, Patti Smith: Dream of Life, received an Emmy nomination. Smith was awarded the 2010 National Book Award for her bestselling memoir, Just Kids, chronicling her friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Her books include Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, Auguries of Innocence, M Train, Devotion, and Year of the Monkey.
Smith has received much recognition for her achievements, including the honor of “Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres” from the French Ministry of Culture. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. She was honored with the ASCAP Founders Award in 2010, and was the recipient of Sweden’s 2011 Polar Award. In 2016, she was awarded the Burke Medal for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Trinity College, Dublin. Smith received the Laurea Magistrate causa from Parma, Italy and an honorary doctorate from Padova University. In 2020, she received the literary service prize from PEN America and the Wall Street Journal acknowledged her as a Literature Innovator. Smith resides in NYC, and currently writes, performs, and lends support for human-rights issues and environmental groups, primarily Pathway to Paris. She is a featured writer on Substack, where her twice weekly writings and readings can be subscribed to online.
His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He’s gone on to write 20 books, and his work appears regularly in periodicals from The New Yorker to Rolling Stone. He serves as the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he has won the Gandhi Peace Prize as well as honorary degrees from 20 colleges and universities. He was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the alternative Nobel, in the Swedish Parliament. Foreign Policy named him to its inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers.
McKibben helped found 350.org, the first global grassroots climate campaign, which has organized protests on every continent, including Antarctica, for climate action. He played a leading role in launching the opposition to big oil pipeline projects like Keystone XL, and the fossil fuel divestment campaign, which has become the biggest anti-corporate campaign in history, with endowments worth more than $40 trillion stepping back from oil, gas and coal. He stepped down as board chair of 350 in 2015, and left the board and stepped down from his volunteer role as senior adviser in 2020, accepting emeritus status. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors. In 2014, biologists credited his career by naming a new species of woodland gnat—Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.
Episode 8: Phil Agnew
Phillip Agnew co-founded the Dream Defenders in 2012. His work in community organizing and art is frequently cited and highlighted nationally. He is a nationally recognized educator, strategist, writer, trainer, speaker and cultural critic. In 2018, he transitioned from his role as co-director of the Dream Defenders. In July 2019 he joined the Bernie Sanders campaign as a National Surrogate and was later named a Senior Advisor. Agnew currently is a Co-Director of Black Men Build an organization dedicated to transforming Black Men and engaging this country as an organized force.
Agnew is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and graduate of Florida A&M University.
Episode 9: Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield
Ben Cohen was born in 1951. In 1978, he and his childhood friend, Jerry Greenfield, opened a homemade ice cream parlor in an old gas station in Burlington, Vermont, on an initial investment of $8000.
Ben & Jerry’s ice cream pioneered many unusual flavors and an equally unusual business philosophy that sought to integrate social concerns into their day to business activities. In 1984, the company went public, initially only in the state of Vermont. In 2000, despite his best efforts to keep the company independent, Ben & Jerry’s was acquired by Unilever.
Currently Ben divides his time between AssangeDefense.org, @DropTheMic2020, working to end qualified immunity, and eating ice cream.
Jerry Greenfield and his long-time friend and business partner, Ben Cohen, are the men behind one of the most talked-about and least conventional success stories in American business. Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., Greenfield has helped to build a store front venture into an ice cream and business marvel by making social responsibility and creative management strengths, rather than weaknesses.
Today a model for American business success, Greenfield and Cohen have been recognized for fostering their company’s commitment to social responsibility by the Council on Economic Priorities and by the U.S. Small Business Administration. They have also received the James Beard Humanitarians of the Year and the Peace Museum’s Community Peacemakers of the Year Awards.
Presently, Greenfield’s official title at the company is Co-Founder. He is involved in promoting the social and environmental initiatives that Ben & Jerry’s undertakes. He is also Vice President of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.
Episode 10: Laci Jordan
Laci Jordan is a multidisciplinary designer, illustrator, Creative Director and the true definition of a modern-day renaissance woman. Laci’s work concentrates on color, pop culture, the representation of marginalized people and the intersectionality that exists amongst all of these spheres.
Her works act as a portal into the world as she sees it. From her use of vibrant colors to her exploration of a world filled with captivating people of color, her work reflects her deep commitment to creating authentic and unapologetic portrayals of contemporary culture. As a result, throughout the course of her career, her art has been commissioned by brands such as Bentley, Ben & Jerry’s, Disney, Google, Jordan Brand, Motown Records, Nike, Refinery29, REI, Spotify, Sweetgreen, Ulta, United Airlines, and many more.
Laci was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama but currently resides in Los Angeles.
Episode 11: Erika Alexander
Erika Alexander is beloved for her iconic acting roles as Maxine Shaw (Living Single; garnering two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actress/Comedy Series), “Detective Latoya” (Get Out), “Cousin Pam” (The Cosby Show), “Perenna” (Black Lightning), “Linda Diggs” (Wutang: An American Saga), “Barb Ballard” (Run The World; nominated for NAACP Best Guest Actor), and most recently as “Meredith Lockhart” in (Swimming with Sharks), the critically acclaimed Apple+ series starring Elisabeth Moss, Shining Girls as “Abby Keegan.” Upcoming projects for Alexander include the independent films WILDFLOWER (set to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival starring alongside Jean Smart, Kiernan Shipka and Alexandra Daddario), EARTH MAMA for A24, and T-Street / MRC’s “THE UNTITLED NOVELIST” project, directed by Cord Jefferson; with Jeffrey Wright, Tracy Ross and Sterling K. Williams.
Erika wears many hats; actress, trailblazing activist, entrepreneur, creator, producer and director — and is one of the country’s boldest, most daring, and powerful voices. As a creator, she recognizes the power of storytelling. And she believes that though content must be entertaining, when carefully constructed, stories have tremendous capacity to create impact and meaningful social change. As co-founder of Color Farm Media, she is on a mission to bring greater equity, inclusion, and diverse representation to both media and electoral politics.
Erika has boldly stepped into the arena of film director, with her debut film The Big Payback co-directed with Whitney Dow. The documentary chronicles the story of the first reparations bill in American history for African Americans.
A critical thought leader on racial and gender equity and leadership, Erika’s work in content reflects her deep commitment to social activism. She serves as a board member for One Fair Wage and Exponent, and is highly involved with many other social and racial justice orgs, including; The Poor People’s Campaign, Color of Change, NAACP, UNCF, and others.
Episode 12: Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay is the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award as a director in any feature category. Winner of multiple Emmy, BAFTA, NAACP and Peabody Awards, her feature film directorial work includes the historical drama “Selma,” the criminal justice documentary “13th” and Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” which made her the highest grossing Black woman director in American box office history.
DuVernay is currently writing, directing and producing the narrative film adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson’s bestseller “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent.” Through her company ARRAY Filmworks, she has created and produced the television projects “Queen Sugar,” “Colin in Black and White,” “Red Line,” “DMZ,” “Cherish the Day,” “Naomi,” “Home Sweet Home” and “One Perfect Shot.” Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s Best Director Prize for her micro-budget film “Middle of Nowhere,” DuVernay amplifies and distributes independent films for women filmmakers and directors of color through ARRAY Releasing.
In addition to ARRAY Filmworks and ARRAY Releasing, her ARRAY organization also includes ARRAY Education, ARRAY Crew, ARRAY Public Programming, the ARRAY Creative Campus and the Law Enforcement Accountability Program known as LEAP. DuVernay sits on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, representing the directors branch. She is also a Vice-President of the Directors Guild of America and an advisory board member of the American Film Institute.