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Blake Griffin is taking his pursuit of health and wellness to the airwaves.
The NBA superstar has launched a podcast, The Pursuit of Healthiness, for Audible in partnership with OBB Sound. It debuted this week (with new episodes dropping weekly) and finds the six-time All-Star in conversation with the likes of Michael B. Jordan, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Chelsea Handler, Karlie Kloss, Antoni Porowski and others, on a wide-range of subjects from sleep and nutrition to cannabis and exercise. It’s a true wellness adventure and one that even finds the baller offering “a truly fabulous hello” to his listeners. (That greeting, of course, comes in his chat with Queer Eye’s Porowski.)
Griffin snagged an early season two pick-up on the series and he’ll be the first to say that he’s enjoying the adventure of picking the brains of some notable names — even if he’s still adjusting to the sound of his own voice. Griffin spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about why he picked a podcast, what he’s learned so far and his dream guest. (Hint: Last name Obama.)
You got a second season pickup before the premiere of the first, which is the dream. Out of all the opportunities, why a podcast?
I had some offers here and there — some were in the sports world, some were in comedy — but something I’ve been really passionate about is health and wellness. I was a health science major in college. My mom was always a very health conscious person. I grew up paying attention to labels and nutrition, things like that, and did the same once I really started getting into weightlifting. So, it’s something I’ve always had a passion for. On top of that, being in the NBA and around some of the best trainers, doctors and nutritionists, I’ve always tried to pick their brains. Those are always my favorite conversations. I figured why not talk to some of the leading thinkers and minds in the health and wellness world? [A podcast] gives me the chance.
You talk with Arianna Huffington about sleep, Michael B. Jordan about working out, Chelsea Handler about weed, and Karlie Kloss about body image. The conversations run the gamut. Any favorite conversations from the first season or surprising things you learned?
Every episode I walked away with some information that I didn’t know. One of my favorite episodes was when I interviewed Dr. Scott Smith from NASA. He’s the lead nutritionist and we got to go to NASA, tour his whole lab, the rest of the NASA [facility] and then I got to sit down and ask him questions. Space, obviously, is a totally different environment and nutrition for [astronauts] is completely different than here on Earth. Again, an obvious thing, but I didn’t think much about it until I heard from somebody whose job it is to make sure that astronauts get all the nutrition that they need. Every episode a twist and turn. That one was special because we actually went there to do the interview in person last summer.
On a couple of episodes, you talk about how dedication and perfectionism have played a part in your career. I’m curious how that translated to producing a podcast?
With most things, I try to do as much work as possible. When it comes to sports, I always feel like the more prepared I am, the more comfortable and confident I am. Preparation is huge for this. We have a great team over here with Audible and OBB and on my side as well, helping to put everything together. That makes it a lot easier. We’ve had almost 20 interviews now and they’ve all gone so smoothly.
How did you end up with Audible?
We went out to a couple of places and felt Audible was head and shoulders above the other places. It was the type of partner we wanted. Everybody’s on the same page and they’ve been great about letting me have the guests that I wanted to have. They’ve been a great partner to work with.
What are your favorite podcasts or what did you listen to in preparation for launching your own?
I’ve been listening to podcasts for a while and that’s what got me into it. I like Tim Ferris’ podcast, Dax Shepard, Joe Rogan and more. I’ve always kind of liked listening but I never thought I’d ever do a podcast because I didn’t think I had enough to say, but when I realized it’s more about sitting down and talking to people in a way to provide information for those who might not have access to this type of information, [that changed my mind].
You’re a natural interviewing people but is there anything you’ve learned about the best way to have a conversation on a podcast?
Honestly, I’m still learning as we go. I think it’s a little bit different for [every guest]. First of all, I want to make them comfortable right off the bat. This isn’t this podcast about like catching anybody or grabbing a headline and trying to get listeners like that, so I really just want to put people at ease. Then we talk about their background, where they started. I always like to start chronologically and move my way forward. We dive deeper into health and wellness, but I also want to know the context of their life and and what shaped them to get to where they are. That’s been my approach from the beginning and I still stick to that. But now I feel like I am more comfortable asking follow-up questions before moving on to the next topic. I just wasn’t prepared for that in the beginning. It’s been a fun challenge navigating through that.
I’ll keep the compliments coming: You’ve got a great voice for a podcast. But as someone who has to listen to their voice a lot in transcriptions, I know it can be like nails on a chalkboard. How are you with hearing your voice?
Well, thank you. But I do not like listening to myself at all. It’s tough. I’m now forced to do it. I’ve never really loved watching commercials or hearing myself do this or do that. To me, the beauty and the fun of it has always been the part of actually doing it, not necessarily having to listen to it or watch it. I’ve just realized that I have to be okay with it.
Who are your dream guests?
We’ve been very fortunate to land some really awesome guests, but, you know, Michelle Obama would be unbelievable because of all the work she’s doing in the health and nutrition space with all of her initiatives. She’s done such a great job of bringing awareness and trying to bring healthy, clean and more affordable eating to everybody. That’d be a really interesting conversation to have. There are tons of people. Some top people in sports, even though I haven’t really had a chance to have a conversation with anyone in the field yet. Tom Brady does an unbelievable job of taking care of his body, his diet. Everything he does is top-notch. Those are the people whose brains I’d like to pick and have a conversation with about how they’ve taken it to the next level.
Brady is a great choice and I noticed you didn’t lean on your peers in the NBA at all. Are there other athletes you are looking to next or who would be the first NBA player you might invite on the podcast?
Yeah, it was a conscious thing we did in the first season. I didn’t necessarily try to have too many athletes. We did have some but we tried to sort of stay away from that at least in the first season. In the second season we recorded Kevin Durant. His episode was awesome. It was so, so cool to hear his perspective and get to ask him questions. We don’t always get to ask each other questions in the settings we’re in, so I’m really excited for people to hear that in season two. It comes out so genuine and very, very thoughtful.
Did you ever consider any other subjects besides health and wellness?
We’re in the health and wellness space but we cover several different topics or, for lack of a better word, other verticals. Chelsea Handler, her episode was all about her new cannabis line which was very, very interesting. So that conversation went like a different way than speaking to someone like Deepak Chopra or Arianna Huffington. If a person, category or topic comes up that we think is interesting, we’re definitely going to explore it. But for now, everything has stayed, pretty much, under the health and wellness umbrella.
An entertainment question: Because everyone has been staying home during the pandemic, what content have you been consuming?
At the beginning, I watched a lot of shows, like the second season of Ozark, and a bunch of different shows. Now, I’ve slowed down a bit. I’m watching more documentaries. I watched Fear City. I watched the Jeffrey Epstein doc. I watched a documentary on HBO. I have slowed down on scripted stuff for no reason. Maybe I was just burned out and at the same time, I really got into documentaries.
You’ve made a mark in comedy after having done some stand-up, appearing on Alec Baldwin’s roast and a few acting gigs. Do you have plans to do more acting or comedy?
I sort of just do things here and there. I like comedy but it is something that terrifies me. I always only want to do it in a setting where I am never taking another comedian’s time or spot on stage. So, normally I do it in a setting where I can host something and I get to bring other young, up-and-coming comedians to mix with more well-known comedians. Once you’ve done it, though, you can walk away with a new confidence or skill set that maybe you didn’t have before. I don’t have a huge plan going forward but [acting and comedy] are things that I enjoy doing for sure.
Let’s end with a fashion question: Esquire posted an article recently about your summer fit, saying it’s the “gift that keeps on giving.” How do you feel about that honor? Is there pressure to keep delivering?
Yeah, I normally don’t ever post like that. I just randomly decided to on the fourth of July and it kinda took off a little bit. Now, I have to be even more conscious and really bring it on the next one, but I don’t know. Thanks for putting that added pressure on me. (Laughs.)
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