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Interview with "Passing" writer and director Rebecca Hall; Interview with "Restart" Author Psychologist Doreen Dodgen-Magee; Imprisoned in Saudi Arabia; Interview With Rebecca Hall. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 26, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am here to sound the alarm about a psychopath killer in the Middle East with infinite resources.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): A former Saudi spy chief comes forward with a desperate plea for help. I speak exclusively to his daughter who fears that
her father and family could be the next victims of the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
RUTH NEGGA, ACTRESS: So you haven't ever thought to?
TESSA THOMPSON, ACTRESS: What?
NEGGA: You ever thought of passing?
THOMPSON: No. Why should I? I have everything I have ever wanted.
AMANPOUR: Actress Rebecca Hall uncovers racial secrets in "Passing," her directorial debut, while exploring unanswered questions about her own
DOREEN DODGEN-MAGEE, AUTHOR, "RESTART: DESIGNING A HEALTHY POST-PANDEMIC LIFE": With complicated grief, we see a lot more long-lasting mental
health concerns and a lot longer grieving process.
AMANPOUR: Hari Sreenivasan talks about COVID and grief with psychologist and author Doreen Dodgen-Magee.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
The global investment conference known as Davos in the Desert kicks off today. The big show is part of the P.R. campaign by the Saudi crown prince,
Mohammed bin Salman, to promote the kingdom and himself and also to seek international legitimacy three years after the brutal murder of the
journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
According to a U.S. intelligence report, bin Salman, known as MBS, personally approved the killing, which he and the Saudi Foreign Ministry
denied. Now a former top Saudi intelligence official named Saad al-Jabri fears he or his family may be the next victims.
Al-Jabri has deep ties to the American intelligence community. And he told "60 Minutes" this week that a former Middle Eastern colleague warned him in
2018 that a hit Saudi squad was on its way to Canada, where he now lives in exile.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAAD AL-JABRI, FORMER SAUDI INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: And the warning I received, don't be in proximity of any sort Saudi mission in Canada. Don't
go to the consular. Don't go to the embassy.
I said, why? Said, they dismembered the guy. They killed him. You're on the top of the list.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Saad al-Jabri wants help from the Biden administration to get two of his children and his son-in-law released from prison, claiming
they're locked up as a way to lure him back to Saudi Arabia.
For its part, the kingdom accuses al-Jabri of financial crimes and corruption and says that his accusations are an attempt to distract from
his own misdeeds.
Last November, Human Rights Watch says the Saudi government convicted two of al-Jabri's children in a rushed and unfair trial for money laundering
and attempting to escape. Those were the charges.
I spoke with his oldest son, Khalid, about that last year. And, tonight, we speak exclusively to another of al-Jabri's children, Hissah al-Muzaini. Not
only does she fear for her father's life and for her brother and sister still in detention, she's also seeking freedom for her husband, Salem, whom
she claims was kidnapped, tortured, and imprisoned by the kingdom in a further attempt to force Saad to come home.
And Hissah al-Muzaini is joining us now.
Welcome to the program from Washington.
Let me first ask you, what has this last four years been like? And now we see more and more of your family members who are out, like yourself, your
father, your brother and yourself, ratcheting up the public pressure on the Saudi government.
HISSAH AL-MUZAINI, CALLING ON SAUDI CROWN PRINCE TO RELEASE FAMILY MEMBERS: Well, we have been living a real-life nightmare for the past four years.
It's been terrible.
AMANPOUR: Tell me in what way. What has happened? What is the nightmare?
AL-MUZAINI: The lack of security and safety.
Imagine yourself, your dad has been targeted with hit squads, your siblings, they're being imprisoned and accused of things they have never
done. My husband, your husband been imprisoned, kidnapped and then tortured.
I fear for my kids. I fear for waking every morning just to check everybody's fine and what's the new bad news.
AMANPOUR: Hissah al-Muzaini, let me just ask you to describe how and when your husband was taken and how he ended up in jail and what's been
happening to him for the last several years. What were the circumstances under which that happened?
AL-MUZAINI: We used to live in Dubai.
In the airport -- he was banned from traveling when we were visiting friends. That moment, we had to separate. I took my kids to shelter them,
because I hesitated whether to stay with him or not. A month later, he was kidnapped. He was in enforced disappearance for a couple of months. Later
on, when he came out of the Ritz-Carlton, we knew that he was imprisoned in several prisons. He was brutally tortured.
I saw the marks on his body. He told me a lot of things you can't imagine that.
AMANPOUR: You mentioned the Ritz-Carlton, and that famously was the place where a lot of the opponents basically were rounded up several years ago,
in terms of they were accused of incorrectly and unfairly accumulating massive wealth, and the crown prince wanted that wealth to be given back to
Is that what you're talking about? Is that the Ritz-Carlton you're talking about? And is that why your husband was brought in?
That's the Ritz-Carlton where my husband was, and he was forced under torture to sign off all his assets and wealth in order for his freedom. But
that's not the main reason. We all know the main reason is targeting my dad, because he was there. He was taken again last August 2020. And he's
under enforced disappearance.
I don't know where he is. I don't know how he is. I don't know if he's been tortured again.
AMANPOUR: So, let me you -- say that you're absolutely sure that's the reason he's been taken in.
The Saudi government, as we read and as I'll reread now for you say that Sarah and Omar -- those are your siblings, and we will talk about them in a
second -- charged and tried with money laundering and conspiracy to unlawfully escaped the kingdom. And your husband, Salem, was made to sign a
settlement to handover his assets in an anti-corruption effort.
You sort of talked about that. But that's why they say, the kingdom, that your relatives have been rounded up, because of alleged crimes they have
AL-MUZAINI: That's not true. That's a lie. They're innocent. All of them are innocent, my husband, my sister, and brother and my father.
They just -- it's a personal vendetta that MBS has against my father, and it's involving family members in it.
AMANPOUR: So can you explain to me why he would have this vendetta against your father? What is it about your father? We know he's a former
intelligence official for the kingdom. But what is it about him that you feel has attracted this kind of attention from the kingdom?
AL-MUZAINI: Well, my dad spoke out. And he said that he fears of what he knows, what my dad knows that would affect him and be a way to the throne,
like be a barrier for him.
AMANPOUR: For MBS?
AMANPOUR: And why? I mean, what was your father's position? Just fill in a bit of those details for the audience.
Who did your father -- I mean, how did he fall afoul and when did he fall afoul of the man who's now crown prince and de facto ruler of your nation?
AL-MUZAINI: My dad used to work for -- with the previous crown prince. He was his personal adviser. He helped in anti-terrorism attacks, preventing
those attacks and saving a lot of lives, Saudis, Americans, Europeans, all over the world.
And when the palace coup happened back in 2000 -- 2017, and MBS rose to throne, his first order then was to prevent Sarah and Omar from taking
their plane and traveling to the U.S., where they were supposed to continue their studies.
So he started targeting family members since then in order to lure my dad back to Saudi.
AMANPOUR: So, the two who you have mentioned are your siblings, right, your sister and your brother, who are detained in Saudi Arabia, as you say.
What kind of proof of life, evidence that they are alive, or where they -- where are they? What kind of information do you have about them?
AL-MUZAINI: We don't know a lot. They're imprisoned in Riyadh.
They call family members there once in a while. Sometimes, we're lucky to hear them through the speaker. But, other than that, we don't know any more
details. What we know is that they are innocent and they should be out. This is not a way to get innocent people and family members, imprison them,
take their basic human rights away from them.
They're innocent kids that shouldn't be studying now and living their young lives.
AMANPOUR: Now, you touched a few moments ago during a previous question on how your father saved American lives, Saudi lives, lives, basically, when
he was involved in anti-terror, in intelligence operations for the previous crown prince, who also was the intelligence minister, if I'm not mistaken,
Mohammed bin Nayef.
Now, the former acting and deputy head of the CIA told our colleagues at CBS "60 Minutes" that he knew your father. He calls him Dr. Saad. He
vouches for him as a bright, loyal and honorable colleague in an allied country, in an allied intelligence department.
And he also said this to CBS, basically doubling down on what you have just said. He said that, yes, indeed, he did save American lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Is it too much to say that Saad may have saved American lives?
MICHAEL MORELL, FORMER DEPUTY CIA DIRECTOR: He absolutely -- Dr. Saad absolutely saved American lives. He saved Saudi lives, many of them, and he
saved American lives.
QUESTION: Can you name any of those cases?
MORELL: The one I can talk about is the so-called printer cartridge plot.
QUESTION: Are there any other examples of times that Saad had saved American lives?
MORELL: There are?
QUESTION: What are they?
MORELL: I can't talk about them because they're still classified. Are there several?
MORELL: There are many, many.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that is the former highest official at the CIA vouching for your father and for his integrity.
So you're in Washington, D.C., now. You and your family, those of you who are not in Saudi Arabia, live in exile in Canada, including your father,
including your brother. What are you doing in Washington, D.C.? And can you tell us a bit of what your father hinted at? He's trying to get this
administration, the Biden administration, to do something to help himself, to help you all and to keep -- and to get your other siblings and relatives
out of jail.
Tell us what your plan is in this regard.
Well, it's hard for me to leave Toronto, leave my two little boys there. And they were terrified that I would go and never come back. But I came
here for a reason. And it's to advocate for my siblings and my husband, to talk to the American government, and make them aware of what's happening,
to call on President Biden, who himself endured a lot of family trauma and understand how family loss means and pain means.
We ask him to intervene and help us save and reunite our family.
AMANPOUR: Again, we have -- since we knew we were interviewing you, we have been calling Saudi officials both in the United States and elsewhere
to try to get a response.
And, unfortunately, we have not heard back at the time of our broadcasting, and we're not sure whether we will.
So, I'm going to read what they told our colleagues at "60 Minutes" regarding your father.
So the Saudi government said: "Saad al-Jabri is a discredited former government official with a long history of fabricating and creating
distractions to hide the financial crimes he committed, which amount to billions of dollars to furnish a lavish lifestyle for himself and his
family. He has not denied his crimes. In fact, he implies that stealing was acceptable at the time, but it wasn't acceptable or legal then, and it
So, Hissah al-Muzaini, they are determined that this is the reason he's making these allegations against the kingdom, the reason he's fled, and
this is the real story. And he was asked by "60 Minutes" about his wealth.
So, tell me a little bit about that. How do you react to that Saudi statement?
AL-MUZAINI: Well, I know that my dad is innocent from whatever they're accusing him. I'm a proud daughter.
And what I know is that the method that they are taking by involving family members, kidnapping, torturing, imprisoning, is not the right way that
governments should act. That's what I know.
AMANPOUR: So why do you think Canada, which is the country that's giving you exile and given you asylum there -- there's dueling lawsuits. as you
Your father filed a lawsuit in Washington alleging the assassination squad traveled from Saudi to Canada to try to kill him just days after Jamal
Khashoggi, our colleague, was murdered and dismembered.
Saudi state-owned companies have now sued in Canada your father, claiming that he's stole nearly half-a-million dollars from the counterterrorism
budget. And we understand that the Canadian judge has said -- quote -- "There's overwhelming evidence of fraud," and they frozen your father's
What is going on in the legal sphere here? How do you respond to that?
AL-MUZAINI: Well, my dad denied all the allegations and the lawsuit is still ongoing. So we would know when this ends. At the end, we will know.
AMANPOUR: Say that again.
AL-MUZAINI: I mean, the lawsuit is still an ongoing process. I'm not a lawyer to comment on that. What I know is, my dad denied all the
AMANPOUR: In the meantime, are you getting protection? Are you being protected by, I don't know, private security, Canadian security, because of
all of this?
And do you fear that your father or any of you could become victims? He said categorically to "60 Minutes" that he could become the next Khashoggi,
that MBS would not rest until he's silenced, and that he is prepared for one day the assassin's bullet or whatever reaching him.
AL-MUZAINI: Yes, we live in fear. We always look off our shoulders. We don't feel safe.
I don't know how we can feel safe and people are like this are chasing family members and hit sending hit squads and killing people in embassies
and consulates. I mean, so, of course, we don't feel safe. We have been targeted.
I personally also have been lured to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. They tried to encourage me to go there. And I'm lucky that I didn't go, or else
my kids wouldn't have a mom and a dad. So, yes, we feel unsafe. And we will only feel safe when MBS has been prevented from doing what he's doing.
AMANPOUR: What you just said is pretty shocking. We don't have any independent way of corroborating that. We don't know that you have been
lured to any Saudi installation. But what you say is chilling. And we seen what happened, as I said, to our colleague Jamal Khashoggi in that very
same one that you're talking about.
What is your life plan? And how do you -- you indicated that your children are very scared. They see -- saw what happened to their father. They don't
want you traveling out of sight. They think you're never going to come back.
How do you live a life as a mother trying to bring them up without a father and trying to give them at least a semblance of the feeling of safety and
AL-MUZAINI: Well, I was forced to be a single mom. I never chose -- Salem didn't choose to leave us.
It's hard. Being a single parent isn't easy, raising the kids, seeing -- having to endure every day they're asking their -- about their dad and for
a simple phone call. They're begging me. And I can't even do that. They can't even call him. It breaks my heart to see them missing their dad this
And it is really hard being a single mom.
AMANPOUR: Let me just play again a little bit of the interview that I conducted with your brother just over a year ago, when the story started to
come out. And he was the first to come out and talk about these threats.
But he also spoke about the efforts to protect all of you and the protection that he was seeking for you all. Let's just play this little
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHALID AL-JABRI, SON OF FORMER SAUDI OFFICIAL SAAD AL-JABRI: I think anybody in my position will go to the extreme to secure the safety of his
dad and to release his brother and sister from this unjustified imprisonment and disappearance.
It's been really tough to adapt. We are dealing with active threats as recent as a couple of weeks ago. And I have to say, I'm grateful for the
vigilance of the security agencies, both in the U.S. and in Canada, who have been forthcoming and engaging with us in context of duty to warn as
early as January 2018.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Hissah, I don't know whether you feel less or more protected since then. But I just wonder, how do you think this story will end? Do you
think you will see your husband again?
AL-MUZAINI: That's a really good question that I don't know the answer to.
I wish, I visualize, try to be positive, Sarah, Omar, Salem coming through the airport gate. But I don't know if I'm ever going to see him.
AMANPOUR: Well, we're glad that you were able to talk to us.
And, as I said, we have tried over and again to get the Saudi government reaction. And they have not done so.
Hissah al-Muzaini, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
And we turn now to a highly charged issue, the one of race and identity, of course, as explored in a new film by the acclaimed actress Rebecca Hall.
The film is called "Passing." And it's based on the classic 1920s novel of the same name. And it premieres on Netflix in November. Now, "Passing"
tells the story of light-skinned, mixed-race childhood friends who reunite later as adults, one firmly ensconced in the African-American community of
Harlem, the other now passing, living her life as a white woman married to a white man ignorant of her true heritage.
It is a challenging subject for a first film, but Rebecca Hall felt driven to make this movie because of her own family's history of racial secrets.
Rebecca Hall, welcome to the program.
I mean, it is an extraordinary set of circumstances that we have just outlined in that intro, first the novel and its story, and, secondly, your
own history and secrets or family trees that you then became aware of and explored.
First, I mean, I know I have -- I have sort of summed it up a little bit. But can you just tell a little bit more for our audience about the story
that you filmed and you're trying to -- you want the world to see?
REBECCA HALL, WRITER AND DIRECTOR, "PASSING": Yes, I can.
It was -- well, the book was written in 1929. And, like you said, it telegraphs that it's telling the story of this one woman who's hiding her
racial identity. But, in many ways, what makes it incredibly timeless and president for now is that it's -- it actually becomes about her effect on
the other woman who's not hiding her racial identity, but is in many ways hiding many other things about herself.
So, in a sense, it becomes about how race intersects with gender and sexuality and class and any other thing that you can think of, honestly.
AMANPOUR: So -- sorry. I interrupted, but I'm going to play -- I want to play a clip.
AMANPOUR: And the two women are called Irene and Clare.
And here they are in this scene of your film reconnecting after many, many years of not seeing or knowing how each other were, what they were doing.
So let's just play this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEGGA: Pardon me. I don't mean to stare, but I think I know you.
THOMPSON: I'm afraid you're mistaken.
NEGGA: No, of course, I know you, Reeny. You look just the same.
Tell me, do they still call you Reeny?
THOMPSON: Yes. But no one's called me that for a long time.
NEGGA: Don't you know me? Not really, Reeny?
THOMPSON: I'm afraid I can't seem to place.
NEGGA: That's right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Clare and Irene. And it is. I mean, it's intriguing.
Tell us a little bit in more full detail what passing is.
HALL: Well, passing refers specifically to -- well, not specifically, but it's more commonly -- became common parlance during the Jim Crow era, when
the one-drop rule, et cetera, et cetera, became as it was, and people who were could -- it doesn't necessarily refer to white-passing specifically,
but African-Americans who were capable of crossing the color line and could be under the guise of being Spanish or even sometimes indigenous.
But passing was the colloquial term used for those people who crossed the color line.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to know, because, again, it's kind of fascinating that I guess it triggered something when you read the book, or I can't -- I
don't know when you knew about your own family's lines.
And your father, Sir Peter Hall, is an incredibly famous director and producer of theater, founded the Royal Shakespeare, was -- a company in
London, in England, and was for a long time director of the National Theatre.
AMANPOUR: Your mother equally famous in her own right as an opera singer, Maria Ewing. And yet you seem to have been aware at some point that there
was some part of your background certainly on her side that you didn't know the full story about. Tell us about that, how you -- what you thought, what
you came to know.
HALL: Well, it's a sort of difficult story to pin down.
But, essentially, the 13 years since I read this book -- and I wrote the first screenplay in 10 days after reading the book, and then was a little
bit intimidated by the prospect of making it into a film, so I'm ashamed to say it sat in a drawer for many years.
But the 13 years that it's taken me to make this film in many ways parallels my understanding and uncovering of this aspect of my family
history. Growing up, I was always acutely aware of some mystery surrounding my mother's family.
She was initially born in Detroit, Michigan. And her father passed away when she was pretty young. And there was -- from her perspective, there was
a lot of mystery around his racial identity. At the time that someone handed me the book, my understanding was that there was a strong
possibility that I was mixed race, but didn't have access to that because it had been hidden by something.
But I didn't have words like passing. And at the time of reading the book, I remember looking at the title and thinking, passing, what on earth does
that mean? Now, 13 years later, I understand that my grandfather was indeed African-American. Both his parents were black, and he was racialized,
socialized black, and then, at a certain point, made the decision to pass white and lived his life like that, and raised my mother and her sisters in
a white environment.
AMANPOUR: So you didn't know for a while that your mother was biracial.
AMANPOUR: And I just wondered. I wonder, once you found out and now you know, how does that affect your view of yourself, your history, the past
that you may have missed out on, anything about yourself?
HALL: Well, it's huge, to be honest. There's not a sort of -- it's huge.
I mean, the truth is, of course, I am a Hall and all that that legacy brings with it, the theatrical lineage and Britishness, but also there's
this other part of me that is a Ewing, which is the name of my mother, and the name of her father, and the name of his father, and the name of his
father, who owned his mother.
And I -- that -- knowing that now is, of course, huge, and does bring up questions and also solutions. But I suppose that the short answer is that I
have uncovered that there's an awful lot to be proud of that was erased, because that is necessarily what happens with any family that has a history
of passing, is a family crowds down and protects the wishes of the parent or the grandparent or whoever it is that passes.
And so much narrative, so much of your own heritage gets disappeared. And I feel tremendously happy that I have been able to uncover a lot of that and
also not be secret about it anymore.
AMANPOUR: Let's play another clip of when they -- Irene and Clare continue this conversation. And they realize just all that's at stake, and all
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMPSON: What have you told him of your family?
NEGGA: I haven't had to worry as much as you think.
They were my aunts. You see, they took me in after father died and gave me a home of sorts, very white, very respectable, very religious. I met John
not long after, and, as soon as I turned 18 and legal, we got married, and, well, went off and left for good.
THOMPSON: And you're happy?
NEGGA: Of course, Reeny. As you say, I have everything I ever wanted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that's really a very sort of full line there. I mean, it just opens up so many, many questions. I'm happy. I have got everything I ever
First, I want to know, though, about the -- you're a Hall, as you said. Your father has a great theatrical tradition. You obviously have inherited
that. It's in black and white, and the ratio is different than in normal film. What does that all mean? What are those devices used for in this
HALL: Well, these were the ideas that occurred to me, honestly, 13 years ago, when I first read the book.
The aspect ratio of 4:3 that you talk about, which makes it look sort of boxy in that way, is really a sort of way of pushing the themes into the
narrative in a sort of -- drawing attention to the metaphorical nature of the piece.
And I suppose, thematically, if this is -- Nella Larsen in her book draws attention to all the binaries in her world, black, white, gay, straight,
man, woman, the boxes, the categories that people are put in and the limits of reducing someone to one aspect of their identity.
So, in that sense, I was literally putting them in a box, so that you can feel some of that constraint on the screen. And the black and white, at
first blush, it appears to be something that is literal, as in, this is a black-and-white world, but it's really about all of our perception of that
literalness, because black and white isn't black and white.
It's gray. It's 1,000 shades of gray, just like the subject matter of this movie.
AMANPOUR: So, obviously, there's a massive global conversation, obviously, it's particularly acute here in the United States where it matters so much
about these issues and many, many stories that may not have been talked about before, may have been hidden in family vaults before, you know, are
starting to come out.
And this one has now sparked a conversation again about the issues of colorism, of privilege, of all the issues that we've just been talking
about. How has -- how have you -- you know, how have you digested that conversation? What is going on within your own family, if anything, about
you putting this out, you know, for the wider world to see now?
HALL: Well, my mother for one is extraordinarily proud, and I think that it's given her -- I think she feels it's given her father a sort of relief,
that it's the thing he could never speak about, he couldn't even speak about to his own children, even though they had inkling, even though they
experienced racism is now something now that can be digested and conceptualized and understood.
As far as the conversation happening on a larger level, from my perspective, that's why we make art. You know, I -- there's something about
this movie that always struck me as the final piece of the puzzle was that people were going to watch it and have their interpretation, because there
are -- it's a subtle movie and it's full of ambiguity, just like the book. And in many ways, whatever you were bringing, what aspects of your identity
are showing up to interact with the movie are going to be how you'll respond to it and there are going to be many, many, many different ways and
things that you will take from it.
I already know of many different interpretations and the idea that two people can have, in some ways, different experiences and come out and
generate a conversation with each other I think is exciting and what I do it for, honestly.
AMANPOUR: So, as well as the -- you know, the critical reviews, in other words, the good reviews and you showed it, I think, correct me if I'm
wrong, at the African American Film Festival in Martha's Vineyard and it got very warm welcome and good reviews, right?
AMANPOUR: So, when Netflix posted the trailer on Twitter, there was a discussion about whether your two principal actors, Irene and Clare
playing, could actually pass as white. Did you anticipate that? Did you -- were you surprised by the reaction? Do you agree with the reaction?
HALL: No, I wasn't surprised by it and I did, on some level, anticipate it. I think it's sort of interesting that we are so interested in
scrutinizing how -- what we see. You know, I find it fascinating that people watch the movie and they say, I see this with absolute authority,
and then, someone else comes along and says, but I see this with absolute authority.
And I sort of quietly thinking, well, none of you is seeing how the world looks because the world isn't black and white in this movie and the world
doesn't look like that. Now, for me, it was imperative to always, always, always cast two identifiably black actresses in these roles. And I think
that's -- you know, and the only way I could do that was in black and white where, you know, we can play with lighting stage, we can move shadow and
tone and these sorts of things.
But it was imperative to me for a couple of reasons. First of all, there was a balance that needed to be redressed. There are passing movies in
Hollywood history where white women -- exclusively white women have played those roles. And, secondly, it was really about forcing the audience into a
black perspective. I think if you are -- the best way I can illustrate what I'm saying is, if you are a black family and someone crosses the color
line, as a member of that family, you don't look at that person and accept them as white. You always see them as black.
And for me, that was the exact place that I wanted the audience to be. And I wanted them to see them -- both of those women as black. And also, to
have a fixed idea of their identity, gives me something as a filmmaker from which to destabilize it, which is really what the film is playing with.
AMANPOUR: So, I just want to ask you how you identify now, whether that's changed at all by discovering your total family lineage and just give me
one or two -- not anecdotes, but how did your grandfather or the two girls -- it must have been really burdensome to pass as white and to just live
your whole life trying to be something that you were not. It must have been scary.
HALL: Yes. Oh, very scary. And I think that that atmosphere of fear is a difficult one to grow up within, which is the experience of my mother. And
I -- I mean, look, there are many, many questions that I would like to ask me grandfather and will sadly never be able to. I think I understand now
that I know a lot more about his parents and their parents and some of the stories within that history, I have nothing but tremendous compassion for
him and for the choice that he felt he had to make, which must have been one made under fear and many other aspects.
You know, I think it's a complicated inheritance because you don't have access to a lot of the pride of being black when it has been hidden from
you. And I think that has been my mother's experience and that experience was also passed on to me. You ask me how I identify now. Well, I don't
identify entirely as white. I think my understanding of it is that I -- and, you know, I don't think that I can say wholly that I identify as black
either because I am not living in a black body, I don't go through the world experiencing what that means, but I have a sense of honor and
understanding of my heritage that I didn't have before. And I want to -- and I guess this is why I'm making this film in part is to honor that. It's
the only thing that I can do.
So, I suppose I -- if you ask me specifically how I identify, I suppose somewhere along the spectrum of mixed race and probably white passing,
AMANPOUR: Rebecca Hall, director, first time, of "Passing." thank you so much indeed.
Now, many countries around the world are trying to get back to pre-COVID life and navigating this just become perhaps a whole lot easier with the
release of our next guest's new book, "Restart: Designing a Healthy Post- Pandemic Life." In it, Psychologist Doreen Dodgen-Magee lays out how we can create better relationships with ourselves, our friends and our tech. And
here she is talking to our Hari Sreenivasan about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thank. Doreen Dodgen-Magee, thanks for joining us.
In this book, which is almost like a manual on how to get into this post- pandemic life, one of the first ideas that you touch on is this notion of complicated grief. I mean, just kind of break that down for us
DOREEN DODGEN-MAGEE, AUTHOR, "RESTART: DESIGNING A HEALTHY POST-PANDEMIC LIFE": Complicated grief is tricky in that it involves the normal process
of grieving so when a person experiences a traumatic or complicated loss, they're going to go through the normal stages that we would imagine,
sadness, kind of a difficult time not wanting to be in acceptance, being in denial.
But complicated grief is a little tricky because frequently it involves human error and/or kind of a very high amount of regret. You know, we
think, oh, maybe I could have done something differently or this could -- I could have prevented this from happening. So, complicated grief adds this
level of kind of personal agony in some ways or personal kind of an ambient sense of what if that adds to the already very difficult process of
With complicated grief, sometimes you will find people stuck in things feeling a great sense of pain maybe in a part of the body that a person who
has died may have felt. A lot of the same things that we would see with trauma. We'll see a very easy kind of picking of the sense of loss whenever
you're in proximity of a situation was kind of associated with the person you've lost.
So, now, for COVID survivors, perhaps whenever they go by a store and they're someone not masked, that trauma, that complication and their grief
some up. And it doesn't just live in the past, it lives with them. So, their whole body is reactive in that moment and their essentially nervous
system really pays a price. So, with complicated grief we see a lot more long-lasting mental health concerns and a lot longer grieving process.
SREENIVASAN: You know, I brought that phrase or that idea up first primarily because it seems like kind of by that definition, all of us
almost globally, depending on where the pandemic has ravaged through the population, have some level of this. I mean, it is some sort of a -- and I
know the word trauma gets overused and I'd like you to explain the definition of that, too, and how that fits in to what we're collectively
feeling as we try to get to the next phase.
DODGEN-MAGEE: Yes. I think that is such a great point. And the way that psychologists think about trauma often is kind of like life before trauma
is like walking through a field and you feel the green grass, you know, against your ankle and you see the blue sky. You're not really thinking of
anything, you are kind of just caught up in the moment. And you might see a small coiled object down on the ground and not think much of it.
You keep walking and suddenly you feel a sharp pain in your ankle and you've got adrenaline coursing through your body. You've got cortisol
bathing your system. You're in kind of a hyper fight, flight, freeze or faint mode. And then, you look down and you realize that small coiled
object was a snake. Well, your body has encoded that respond to small coiled objects. That's kind of what trauma is. It's this encoding in the
system of a situation where you feel as though there is life-threatening or life altering experiences that are occurring.
Then later, when you find yourself walking through, let's say, a neighborhood and you see a small coiled object, your body immediately goes
into that fight, flight, freeze or faint trauma space even though when you look down it's a hose and you can clearly see it's a hose but your body has
associated this experience. And so, now, just like you said, we have all had our own unique traumas, whether that be, you know, changes in the
workplace or changes for our children in their school settings, whether it be the loss of life or health due to COVID or long COVID.
And so, we all are walking around sort of waiting for that small coiled object to trip us up. And whatever our story of COVID is, we likely have
those points that are going to kind of create a sense of emotional dysregulation and make it more difficult for us to be kind of steady and
grounded and able to communicate and relate well to others and with ourselves.
SREENIVASAN: So, what is the cost to us personally but also collectively if we don't take time to process where we're at?
DODGEN-MAGEE: Yes, I think it is immense. So, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talked about in her TED Talk, "The Danger of a Single Story" and I think
that is really fitting at this time in history that each of us has our own story of how COVID impacted us. And it's very likely, it's human nature for
us to assume that everyone else's experience is just like ours.
And so, if we were able, for privilege and have the ability to kind of weather this time without much consequence, you know, we have the financial
resources, the space resources, the time resources, then very likely we're going to expect it's been the same for others and we're going to be unaware
of the immense loss for other people, of individual time and space, of money, of health care, whatever it may be.
And so, it is so important that we widen our understanding and that we inform ourselves about what this has been like for others, we inform our
single story with the very true and real stories of others to expand, again, our empathy and our graciousness as we do this really hard work of
restarting. You know, we've all created a lot of habits in this time just to get through the time. We didn't have a warning. You know, this is kind
of like we started a marathon without any training and didn't really realize we were running a marathon until the fifth mile.
And then, we just started creating compensatory habits to get us through. And now, at this point in time, when we're beginning to reopen, if we don't
take a good hard look at the habits that have gotten us through this time, we're going to restart with those same habits in place that will not serve
us. They certainly are likely not aligned with our values or with the ways in which we would like a healthy like to look.
SREENIVASAN: You know, when you talk about that home like line being blurred, I mean, here I am, I'm conducting this interview, sitting in my
bedroom and a jacket and fortunately, shorts because I can, right. But -- so, there have been tiny bits of upside. But I also wonder, as we try to
reenter the workforce, what sorts of tensions are there going to be?
Because I have figured out ways to multitask and be productive and run errands and do all kind of things and at the same time, I wonder if there's
an expectation creep that will happen when I get back to the office because I'm not actually going to be able to get all the same amount of things done
in addition to all the other things that I am now.
DODGEN-MAGEE: And this is why I'm so passionate about this work and this book because I'm hoping that one way we can deal with that reality is by
taking this kind of restart or do over very seriously. So, acknowledging the fact that we've had some beautiful benefits to working from home. We
can take naps. We can do laundry while we're in a meeting and, you know, we can be multitasking. You know, so, we're seeing that for student, we are
seeing that for employees.
And unless both employers and individual employees and teachers and students take some time to really acknowledge, OK, here are the ways that I
have acculturated and adjusted to this time. And it has had some profound benefits for me and many for my family. And now, as I make a change, I'm
about to face a loss of some of those benefits. And so, I need to do the hard work of negotiating and navigating that, seeing that there are tweaks
that I can make.
So, I think, unless we do the work of really navigating and telling ourselves the truth that, yes, we have made some changes that have been
pretty cool and great. And now, we're going to go back to other things where we set ourselves up for kind of anxiety or depression or kind of
burnout as we return to a grind culture that COVID really, really exposed as maybe not healthy.
SREENIVASAN: Well, right now, we've heard the statistics that 12 million people have left their jobs. And why do you think that is?
DODGEN-MAGEE: I think the pandemic brought us very close to understanding that we have very little control in life and that our time is limited. And
I think many people came to see kind of the inequities in what they were spending their time on in their life and the length of their life in
general and began to say, maybe there are other ways of living.
I also think another thing that I hear consistently as I do this research is that people really did learn that they could live with a lot less than
they thought they could. You know, they thought they had to be out and active at all times and suddenly, they were not able to and that there was
something very clarifying about that. And if you (INAUDIBLE) through that, the slowing of pace, I think people were also able to get creative in ways
that maybe they hadn't been before in terms of finding both meaningful work and/or finding ways of doing life in such a way that they didn't have to
participate and grind culture in the same way that they were before.
SREENIVASAN: The pandemic has also shone a very bright spotlight on the disproportionate amount of work and load that mothers and women in
households carry, especially if they're working a job outside the home as well, right? And what are your prescriptions for moms and women in general,
working women, to figure out how to take a break or catch a breath in this marathon? Because the structures while we might have recognized that, we
haven't as a society automatically changed policies in a way that reflects that recognition.
DODGEN-MAGEE: It is so true and it is -- I am keenly aware of the consequences and repercussions of female identified people working self-
care into their lives. Oftentimes they will pay a price for that. And yet, I also think that this is one of the most important things we have learned.
And so, I hope to really advocate for things like policy changes, for things like legislative attention toward women and female identified
individuals who are caregivers because the cost on them right now is so high.
One of the biggest takeaways in the research for this book was that one of the most profound things we could do to restart well that would impact the
trajectory of life over time would be for caregivers, people in caregiving worlds to be able to privilege and prioritize self-care. Because if they
can't give out of an empty cup and if they are the people who are caring for our most vulnerable, our children, our aging population, our -- people
who live with physical ailments or mental health diagnoses, I don't have access to people who are grounded and emotionally healthy, our whole
culture pays a price for that.
So, finding -- and the other thing, I think, happens that we are living in a time of great binary where it feels like we either have to do -- you
know, self-care has to mean a full-on retreat with no technology and eight massages or -- self-care could be as small as a 10-minute practice every
single day where we turn off our phones, walk entirely away from screens and go outside and stand barefoot in the grass or sit on a meditation
cushion in our living room and do absolutely nothing.
The Dutch call it niksen, which is spelled N-I-K-S-E-N, and they call it doing nothing deliciously. And research tells us that 10 minutes of
mindfulness meditation or niksen practice or grounding practice outside can have the benefit of impacting us not only in terms of our emotional sense
of wellbeing but actually changes the wiring in the brain and the gray matter and realization in the brain related to emotional regulation. So,
even just integrating small forms of self-care can have a profound effect overtime.
SREENIVASAN: What about kids? I mean, you have prescriptions almost from little kids to big kids, adolescents. And -- but they have gone through
this pandemic with us. At times, they have been kind of put on the back burner because so much of our own lives were up in the air. How do you
begin to equip parents with some understanding and some empathy for what might be going on in their child? And how do you kind of phrase those
questions? How do you get that conversation going?
DODGEN-MAGEE: First thing I can tell parents is that research tells us that children who feel as though they have had an effective kind of
parenting experience and who are -- who report self-success and that others around them report that they launch well, the one thing they know about
those kids is that their parents, at least one of their parents or caregivers, has done one important thing to make something their own
narrative or to take care of their big emotional feelings.
And what that means is that, parents who are tending to their own overwhelm and stress in this time before they come before their children are going to
have children who do better in this time. Parents need to make sure that they are getting their emotional needs met, that they are somehow being
grounded and that they come toward their children really seeing who their children are, not necessarily assuming that their children are going to
learn or be helped in same way they are.
Too often, parents think, you know, if a child is anxious, they want their child to just feel better. So, they try to either help their child avoid a
situation or they help their -- they kind of try to pep talk their child out of their feelings. And the best thing we can do right now to help
children is help them actually identify the feelings that they are having, to give them some tools and some vocabulary so they can understand, oh, I'm
feeling scared or I'm feeling relieved that I don't have to go to school, and that letting all feelings be OK within a home.
We tend to think that there are negative feelings and positive feelings. Well, right now, all feelings are normal. It makes sense for a child to
feel scared or angry that school is opening and closing, that mom and dad are, you know, less patient than they used to be. And so, we can create
homes where all feelings are OK and then, we give opportunities for children to work through their feelings rather than try to talk them out of
them or help them avoid them. That leads to resilience and grit and that gives them tools that they will take from this time to be able to handle
difficulties throughout their life. And that is massive.
You know, we were facing even before the pandemic, a real glut in resilience and grit in children. And this is an opportunity to help them
develop both, by helping them understand, yes, this is a very scary, overwhelming situation, this is a situation where we are all in touch with
how little control we have over the world and yet, the one thing we can control is dealing with the things inside of us that come up as a result of
learning how to cope.
SREENIVASAN: Collectively, I don't know what the right word is, but there seems to be a combination of fatigue and grief and anxiety and you just see
nerves kind of fray. I mean, you see these viral videos all the time, school board meetings just deciding to go bananas over vaccine mandates or
people behaving horribly outside of a restaurant or, you know, I just wonder what is it that we can individually do to kind of collectively calm
DODGEN-MAGEE: I think we need to take some consistent and regular breaks from our screens. And the reason I say that is because not only do our
screens feed us more sensationalist information that then confirms our biases and makes us more reactive, but constant engagement with screens
also makes us less able to come back to center, be emotionally regulated, be empathic, literally communicate from a sense of groundedness.
The second that we could do is expand our empathy. And empathy is one of the things that psychologists really felt like were -- was on the decline
even prior to the pandemic. Many people speculate that that has to do with social media, spaces and that becoming a primary place where we connect and
where we can lob information grenades or emotional grenades and not have to deal with the real consequences to people when they receive them.
But we have this decline in empathy that make it such that we have begun privilege personal autonomy and freedom, this idea of freedom in such a way
that really others don't matter. And so, if we could find ways of expanding our empathy, you know, empathy doesn't mean selflessness. It means being
grounded in a sense of self but also being able to leave every encounter respecting the way in which I acted and the way in which I was toward
others, so taking the high road. I think those two things, break from screens as we can, practicing grounded being and then, communicating out of
that kind of a space and then, providing opportunities to expand our empathy. And that means getting out of our comfort zone.
SREENIVASAN: Psychologist Doren Dodgen-Magee, and the book is called "Restart: Designing a Healthy Post-Pandemic Life," thanks so much for
DODGEN-MAGEE: Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Good advice, of course, but so hard to do in the peak T.V. era.
On tomorrow's show, we make it even harder to dodge screens when I'm joined by the brilliant filmmaker, Ava DuVernay, to talk about her new T.V.
series, "Colin in Black and White." It tells a story of NFL quarterback turned activist Colin Kaepernick early years. Here she tells me what she
would like the legacy of this series to be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AVA DUVERNAY, CO-CREATOR, "COLIN IN BLACK AND WHITE": I hope people don't walk away from this and say, oh, this is a piece about Colin Kaepernick. I
hope that they come out thinking about their own journey. Not saying that in a sweet sacred (ph) way, I'm saying, truly this is about the little
things that happen to you that you just hold dear and you don't really even think about how it affects who you have become.
You know, our road takes all these little turns based on small things, microaggressions or little -- something someone said to you. You know,
someone told me once, oh, you have dark elbows. So, I never show my elbows. I always have this on, right?
AMANPOUR: Even with all that you know?
DUVERNAY: I was nine.
AMANPOUR: But even now?
DUVERNAY: I know. But they told --
AMANPOUR: You're Ava DuVernay?
DUVERNAY: I know. But they told me that. And when I'm getting dressed, I always think about it. This is what life is. It's the little things that
change us, that go deep. And that's what I show.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's a great story and there's more. And finally, an honor fit for a prince. Minnesota lawmakers want to bestow one of America's highest
civilian prizes upon a hometown hero. A new bill aims to give the congressional gold medal to Prince for his "indelible mark on American
culture." The Grammy and Oscar winner died in 2016 from an accidental overdose. But his rich musical legacy lives on.
Less than 200 of these medals have been awarded since the countries founding back in 1776, with the first going to George Washington. Now, to
pass, this bill needs approval of two-thirds of both the House and the Senate. With Congress so bitterly and deeply divided these days, perhaps
this will be the cause to garner bipartisan support.
That is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thanks for watching and let's leave you with Prince's
"Little Red Corvette."
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