In their compelling new series Gutsy, Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton amplify women from around the country and beyond who live their lives with grit and fearlessness often amid trying circumstances. The eight-episode odyssey now airing on Apple TV+ takes viewers from a bowling alley with Wanda Sykes to a drag prom in Arkansas to the wilds of the Catskills where Chelsea learns to rappel.
Born out of their 2019 The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience, which profiles women in history like Harriet Tubman and Clara Barton along with modern-day changemakers like Malala Yousafzi and Greta Thunberg, Gutsy the series is an intersectional journey of empowerment that is also deeply heartwarming and funny. That’s due in large part to the abiding mother-daughter relationship the former secretary of State and her daughter have formed. But it’s also because Hillary and Chelsea Clinton eschew the fly-on-the-wall approach to storytelling and instead immerse themselves in the worlds of their subjects with refreshing wonder while at the same time knowing when to merely listen.
A moment in their episode about the gutsiness of loving someone else finds mother and daughter at a group for widows where one woman shares that she lost her wife and what it meant to them to finally be afforded the right to wed. Chelsea explains that she and her mother butted heads in the aughts about marriage equality versus civil unions. Hillary Clinton models vulnerability in the moment by sitting in it and listening to her daughter.
“Part of what we hoped to do was to have as open and authentic and vulnerable set of encounters and conversations that we could put on the screen. And that meant we had to be as well. And that meant getting out of our comfort zone,” Hillary Clinton tells The Advocate. “Speaking for myself, you know, somebody who’s been in the public eye and taken a lot of, you know, incoming slings and arrows, to be able to just say, 'OK, in order for this to be what I want it to be, I'm going to have to be as open and vulnerable as the people I'm talking to.'”
A look at The Book of Gutsy Women offers an idea of the range of women the Clintons have carefully sought to elevate. But each episode of the series is intersectionally curated to cover an enormous swath of topics in a relatively short amount of time. From a Black queer minister who asks Hillary Clinton why she decided to stay in her marriage to a seaside luncheon with married couple Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach to Chelsea learning to rappel down the side of a mountain with Silvia Vasquez-Lavado (the first gay woman to conquer the seven summits and an activist for sexual abuse survivors), the series is authentically diverse.
“It was really important to ensure that every episode was as diverse and inclusive of different ways to be gutsy as possible,” Chelsea Clinton says.
For instance, she adds that they knew from the start they would feature Indigenous voices to speak about climate change. “But it also is really important to us to include an Indigenous voice in the criminal justice reform episode who was really focused on developing a more humane and more culturally resonant and hopefully a more just justice system in her European community in Northern California,” she says. “We don’t think we should only think of Indigenous leaders when we think of climate justice; we need to be learning from Indigenous communities across every facet of life.”
“That’s just one example of how important it was to us that there be meaningful representation so that hopefully everyone could feel kind of connected in some way and also so that we all could learn something,” she adds.
Ultimately, the mother and daughter duo hope that through their willingness to open themselves up and try things that don’t come easily (Hillary Clinton admits that tango dancing with Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson was a challenge because she’s not a dancer) that others will be inspired to new ways of being gutsy.
“I learned so much. I felt so fortunate to spend time with all these women, and I think both Chelsea and I came away with the sense that if we could, hopefully, convey this to those watching, maybe each person would find a new way of being gutsy … we don’t want this to be just women and girls watching. We want men and boys; we want families and friends,” Hillary Clinton says.
“Because being gutsy is something we're all capable of, but sometimes we don’t know that or we don’t recognize it in ourselves,” she adds.
Watch The Advocate’s interview with Hillary and Chelsea Clinton below. And follow more videos like this on The Advocate Channel (available across streaming platforms including Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku).