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Arts Q&A

SF Giants Assistant Coach Alyssa Nakken

On the evening of July 20, San Francisco Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken coolly jogged out to first base in an exhibition game against the Oakland A’s. There were no fans in the stands to cheer her, but the world was watching as she became the first woman to coach on the field in a Major League Baseball matchup. The historic moment was the second, in fact, for the former Sacramento State softball star, who was anointed as the first full-time female coach in the major leagues in January. Here, the Woodland native talks about breaking down barriers, coaching in the age of the coronavirus, and trading the turf for the surf in her off time.

Sacramento Film Commissioner Jennifer West

As a one-time Hollywood studio accountant, Jennifer West used to routinely play one of the most important roles on a movie set: She was the one who made sure megastars like Julia Roberts, Anthony Hopkins and Val Kilmer got their paychecks. Today, after a two-decade industry break, West wields a new kind of celluloid influence as Sacramento’s first-ever full-time film commissioner. She talks about building the city’s film office from scratch, nurturing the next generation of local auteurs, and her bold vision for creating a mini Hollywood of the North.

Rob Archie

In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25 and subsequent protests, Sacramento restaurateur Rob Archie (Urban Roots Brewing & Smokehouse, Pangaea Bier Cafe, and Bawk) channeled his anger and sorrow into positive action, organizing We Stand with You, an unprecedented service-industry “walkout.” For three hours beginning at noon on June 4, over 200 restaurants, bars and breweries around the region—from Kru in East Sacramento to Crooked Lane Brewing Company in Auburn—closed for service and held staff discussions about workplace racism while also showing support for the Black community. Here, the Woodland native talks about his impromptu campaign, the problem with color-blind hiring, and the importance of listening.

Sacramento Public Library CEO Rivkah Sass

Since taking the helm of the Sacramento Public Library system in 2009, Rivkah Sass—who was named Librarian of the Year by the "Library Journal" in 2006 while serving as the executive director of the Omaha Public Library—has shepherded the 28-branch organization through the past decade with the introduction of services like digital access to more than 200,000 e-books and the ability to check out everything from an electric guitar to a GoPro camera. We spoke to the Manteca native about what’s new at the SPL, ways to keep the library relevant in 2020, and bringing big names—from best-selling author Neil Gaiman to rapper 50 Cent—to town.

The Sketch Artist

Carmichael native Ian Hecox, co-founder of the YouTube sketch-comedy smash Smosh, returns home during the group’s first-ever live tour. He has just one request: Try not to laugh.

Food Literacy Center CEO Amber Stott

Despite its status as America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, Sacramento has not escaped the growing childhood obesity crisis. In fact, a recent study of the city’s fifth, seventh and ninth graders found that more than 40 percent are either overweight or obese. Amber Stott is on a mission to change that stat. As CEO of the local nonprofit Food Literacy Center, she is spearheading a new 2.5-acre headquarters, farm and cooking school at Leataata Floyd Elementary in Upper Land Park. The org’s “chief food genius” talks about bringing the bounty of the region to underprivileged youth, tackling picky eaters, and why cooking and nutrition should be on the curriculum along with reading, writing and ’rithmetic.

Mercy Pedalers Founder Sister Libby

Her name is Libby Fernandez, but everyone knows her as Sister Libby, one of Sacramento’s most tireless advocates for the city’s homeless. The 58-year-old Catholic nun earned the distinction in large part through her long tenure (including 11 years as executive director) at Loaves & Fishes. Her latest endeavor, Mercy Pedalers, tends to the hungry and impoverished at street level, with squads of volunteers helping the less fortunate by bike and trike. We tracked Sister Libby down to talk about her growing organization, how best to address the homeless crisis, and how just saying “hi” can be the start of a beautiful relationship.

William Burg

The Queen of the Sacramento Tenderloin. The nightclub owner who first brought jazz to town. The public officials who resisted the frenzied carnal currents of the downtown’s most integrated, energetic district. They’re all chronicled in William Burg’s new book "Wicked Sacramento," a history of the city’s long-gone West End neighborhood that once stood where sprawling landmarks like Capitol Mall, Old Sacramento and Golden 1 Center are today. Burg speaks about the West End’s seamy charms, its important cultural impact, and where to find what might be the lost neighborhood’s last surviving building.

Elaine Welteroth

Before Elaine Welteroth joined the judging panel on the current season of “Project Runway,” she was climbing the masthead at magazines like “Ebony,” “Glamour” and “Teen Vogue,” where in 2017 she became the youngest ever to serve as its editor-in-chief. But before she took the media world by storm, the Sacramento State alum, who graduated in 2007, was pulling all-nighters for the school newspaper, “The State Hornet.” The 32-year-old Brooklyn-based writer talks about getting the journalism bug here, going way beyond 280 characters in her new memoir, and why she doesn’t think Anna Wintour is the devil who wears Prada.

Allison Arieff

As the editorial director of the San Francisco-based urban planning and policy think tank SPUR, Allison Arieff spends her days assessing the impact of civic design on everyday life. But it’s her past two decades of work—first as editor-in-chief of “Dwell” magazine and currently as a contributing op-ed writer for “The New York Times”—that have cemented her reputation as one of America’s foremost thinkers on design. The UC Davis alum speaks about building cities for people instead of cars, getting lost in Sacramento riding light rail, and her 2020s vision.

Colin Hanks

With a new movie out, a starring role on Broadway and a turn in the director’s chair, Colin Hanks may be the hardest working man in his show biz family—which is saying something, considering this native son of Sacramento also happens to be the son of Tom Hanks. The younger Hanks takes a rare moment between curtain calls to talk to us about being a Broadway baby and an East Sacramento kid, and having his movie-star dad play his movie dad in "The Great Buck Howard."

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