Mandy Bardisbanian: Pride, Empathy, Creativity & Ambition

It’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month and Reverend Sumner welcomes one of his closest friends, Legion M’s Mandy Bardisbanian to Hard Agree. Mandy B is a tireless, take-no-prisoners, stamp-the-accelerator-to-one-hundred creativity machine. Born & raised in two of the USA’s most socially & politically conservative states, Oklahoma & Texas, Mandy B parachuted into Hollywood ten years ago without friends, a job or a place to live. Within days, she’d talked her way into a receptionist job at Hot Topic’s head office and, a decade later, she’s the VP of Licensing & Merchandise at Legion M, married to an equally-talented wife. She’s a property developer, the manager of @queerboiband, the dedicated foster parent to a growing army of abandoned dogs and the 4’ 9” standard-bearer for relentless hard work and empathic self-belief. Her inspiring tale is not for the faint of heart but it IS the best example Sumner knows of 21st century never-surrender self-actualization. And there’s no better person to tell that story than two-fisted Mandy B herself…

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HA – Mandy Bardisbanian

[00:00:00] Mandy Bardisbanian: There is so much happening with my hair for literally

Andrew Sumner: well done, understanding what I was saying through my Moses side actions, by the way, cause that I often get people going, huh?

What, what are you talking about?

Because most things people say, I can’t even say this word defeats me. Most things people say, ah, right. But if you come from mercy side to say her and you say her over there with the, her, and exactly the same way, same like slurred bounce down. But I frequently say that word to English, people, Americans that don’t understand me.

So I’m glad that you did

Mandy Bardisbanian: well. I mean, now I speak fluent Sumner, so we’re, we’re good. We’re good. So since high school, I have been coloring my hair because I was a very bullied kid. I was a very like outcast kind of kid. I didn’t have a lot of friends. And so whenever I grew up and kind of grew into myself one of the ways to make myself feel better about who I was.

To make myself different from all the normies [00:01:00] out there is I would color my hair. So I’ve been pink, I’ve been blue, green, purple, pink, all kinds of things. And unfortunately during the pandemic right before the pandemic, I, as you well know, was supposed to get married in may. And in order to to get the exact blue that I wanted for my wedding, I needed to like re bleach all of my hair.

And, you know, I paid a lot of money for it to get completely re bleached and to like have a level set to get the perfect blue. And then literally two weeks after I got my hair re bleached the pandemic hit. And so I just stayed blonde all throughout the pandemic. And unfortunately that made my hair start falling out.

So now I have all these patches of hair that have cut off and. Due to that, I am now spending an outrageous amount of money having my hair healed and having it corrected. And for the first time since high school, I am now all Burnett [00:02:00] again, which is very weird, but that’s where we’re at in life.

It’s terrifying. I mean, you look down in the shower and there is a giant clump of hair and you’re like, where did that come from? Oh my head, this is really scary. And it’s definitely not something that I thought I would experience at 32 years old, but here we are. And now I’m on this a hair journey.

I actually have a, a hair sponsor who I is one of my hairstylist. And I call her when I feel like I am. Like freaking out and wanting to put blue back on my hair and wanting to read bleach. I just call her and she says, no, put it down, walk away. You’re fine,

Andrew Sumner: mate. I’ve got to look at it. I’ve got to tell you though that the brunette really, really suits you.

It looks fucking awesome.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Thank you very much. I actually do feel really good about it and, and you know, for what it’s worth Mr. Sumner, you know, your hair might be falling out and white, but you are more handsome than the day I met you. So

[00:03:00] Andrew Sumner: yeah, you’d see. Oh, keep on spinning, which in fact, in fact that’s as good a time as any to say.

My name is Andrew Sumner. Welcome to Hardegree and I am here with the woman. The myth, the legend, the VP of licensing and merchandise for Legion M productions, which we’ll talk about it in a moment. But most importantly, one of my closest friends in the world, the ultimate Mandy body, Spain here. It’s so awesome to see a man.

Thanks for joining me. Hello.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Hello world. And thank you so much for having me on seminar. This is an absolute pleasure and an honor Hey everybody out there in the, in the wavelengths it’s, it’s awesome to meet all of you. And please find me on social media at Mandy Barnes Banyan. I would love to talk to you as well.

Andrew Sumner: And, and I’m telling you right now, Monday, Mandy basic conversation, you will always want to do you know how long we’ve known each of the formats?

Mandy Bardisbanian: No, I was actually thinking about that and I think it’s been [00:04:00] nine years at this point, a little over nine years because. I was a receptionist at the hot topic corporate office.

And I started in 2012, may of 2006. So I think I met you that year

Andrew Sumner: and yeah, I met you, I think very, very shortly after you’d started. True story. You are the first person I ever met. Hot topic, head office fat. That was yet

Mandy Bardisbanian: that’s incredible. Any now I will say as well, it’s not only were you successful meeting with the buyers and selling to the hot topic corporate office, but you became literally everyone’s best friend.

Confidence, you know, mentor party, goer party planner party puts it. I mean, you, you became the center of our world ad hot topic. You really did. And, and, and all of us will be forever grateful for

Andrew Sumner: that. Oh, you’re, you’re very, you were very, very kind mate [00:05:00] that they have those of all of those hyperbolic statements, which I appreciate.

And I thank you for the thing that I will, I will take, take to heart. The most readily is partygoer slash hard drinker. You know, that’s all of my, all of my memories. So, you know, have you listened to this in the U S you’ll know what hot topic is? You you’re listened to Elsa. You may not, but essentially a hot tub is an incredibly cool retail chain in the United States of America.

And it is essentially, you know, you know, an apparel and accessories store. That’s tied into music culture and into popular culture, I guess that they can, you w does that about sum Mandy bay?

Mandy Bardisbanian: Yeah. I mean, if you want a Batman shirt, you go to hot topic.

Andrew Sumner: Yeah. And if you’re in the business of selling Batman shirts, you get an appointment, a topic, say corner offices and meet Mandy body.

Spany on reception. That’s what happened to me. Yes. Yes.

Mandy Bardisbanian:  I mean, to add on to [00:06:00] to, you know, what Sumner became in, in our room. Every con every industry convention that we would go to Sumner was, it was the party planner. He would say, Hey, we’re going to go to karaoke off the, off the Vegas strip.

And literally, okay. So this is, what’s crazy about Sumner’s ability is to bring a party together and never going to people together is that, you know, vendors like vendors that sell to retailers, they usually aren’t friends. They usually don’t hang out together. They don’t usually go have drinks together cause they’re competitors and they, you know, want to stay competitive other, but Sumner has this incredible ability to say, You competitor, you competitor, you competitor.

We’re all going to be friends. Now let’s go drink. And it worked every time and people who you never thought would end up being friends became best friends because of mostly because of Andrea. Oh,

Andrew Sumner: well, yeah, I mean, may number one, I’m just gonna make sure your weekly guests on [00:07:00] this show from now on, because you know, the only time I had this amount of like sheer compliments is when I’m talking to my mum and dad who are very, very fast.

Well,

Mandy Bardisbanian: here’s your problem though? Here’s the other problem. I haven’t physically seen you in over a year and a half, so, you know, I need to bring all of this out of me. It’s been like bought all the, all the Sumner compliments have been bottled up inside me and I haven’t been able to hug you in so long and it’s just pouring out of me, like a rainbow of love, you know, like I don’t, I can’t control it.

Andrew Sumner: How appropriate a rainbow of love, because indeed we’re talking in, in June, 2020 1, 20 21 and it’s pride month. Right, right. Happy pride by pal. And, and of course, one of the times that we, we did see, we did meet each other virtually rather than physically was a momentous moment for you, right mate, within the last year,

Mandy Bardisbanian: Yes.

So, yeah, I, I got married during the pandemic and you know, Sumner was [00:08:00] meant to be our officiant. And he was gonna fly, you know, the us and and Mary, my wife and I in person, of course, and when the pandemic hits, we had to cancel our wedding and everyone else did. And we, you know, we were going to just kind of put it off until, you know, whenever it was possible, but our wedding date was kind of coming up.

It was about two weeks out from our, from our original wedding date. And we said, you know what, why don’t we just get married anyway, keep our original date, get married, gather everybody on zoom and then stream it on Twitter. So the great thing was that not only were we able to have all of our friends and family present with us on zoom, but when we streamed it on Twitch, there were hundreds of other people that were able to attend our wedding that wouldn’t have been able to in-person.

So it was actually even like a bigger and more grand event than it would have been in person. And Sumner was up at what was it like two o’clock in the morning, your time to marry us. [00:09:00] And you did

Andrew Sumner: a beautiful job. Reverend Sumner of the universal life church was up at two, not me, my alter ego, my CPO alter ego was two in the morning.

That’s what I could do, but it was kind of beautiful to be honest. And I mean, it w as your not to be, it, it was a very beautiful event. 

Mandy Bardisbanian: It was beautiful. It was beautiful event, you know, my wife and I said our vows,

it was gorgeous. And and it was so cool because, you know, Sumner had to, had to sign as our official, he had to sign our, our wedding light or marriage license. So we, we didn’t it. So we got married in Texas actually, because we were in Texas visiting my parents during the wedding whole thing. So, so we, we got a marriage license from taxes, Senate to seminar in London, and then he used an, a back to us in California and then we had to send it back to Texas.

To be like official. It was just that license went all over the world. It was, it was

Andrew Sumner: kind of crazy Monday, but it was, it was it was, [00:10:00] it was truly beautiful. Dan, I was honored to be involved and privileged to be involved, but I think, I think your, your speeches, you as a Sonia speeches, so lovely, your mom did such a fantastic job.

Your, your witnesses were so cool. Some of our mutual friends, of course, you know, just did such an amazing job. And I think it was, I think it was one of the most feel good and, you know, I love feel good events if there’s two people on the face of the earth who love feel-good events more than anyone else it’s you and me.

Right, mate, do you know, to me, we’re at the top of that field. Good, good list. Right. And you know, one of the many things I love about you is your superior. Positivism, despite, you know, the many challenges you’ve faced in your life, you know, and this is the way I feel, you know, challenges in life other to be met, head on, you know, with the full force of, of positive thinking.

That’s how you, that’s, how you conquer things. A lot of people want to save this stuff. I get the sense sometimes thinking, well, that’s a load of fucking [00:11:00] bullshit mate. And you know, it’s just very easy to say that, but the truth is if you’ve had struggle in your life, you know, that one of the ways you get out, the other side is through, is through the power of positive thinking.

And I’m interested in talking to you about your journey into, before we talk about career and passions and stuff, you, you know, your, your journey through life and your journey into self knowledge and, you know, knowing yourself from a, you know, gender sexual perspective. How was that for you, mate? What, what, what is your.

That is a great question. If you’re born and raised in one of the most conservative states in America, right?

Mandy Bardisbanian: Yes, I was. I mean, talk about a Southern upbringing. So, my story is, is it starts out pretty typical American little girl, and then it evolves into chaos. So, I,

Andrew Sumner: one of my, one of my favorite things by the way, is that it’s dissolution to [00:12:00] chaos, you know, chaos, all the most interesting stories start that way.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Absolutely, absolutely. So I, hopefully I won’t at this point, so I was born in Oklahoma. And I, I try not to claim Oklahoma because it’s worse, but I grew up, mostly grew up in Texas and we. I kind of lived all over. I grew up a little bit in Fort worth and Dallas in in San Antonio, other places, but I mostly grew up in Houston on a horse ranch.

When I was little, I loved horses. I was really good at it. I, everyone thought I was either going to be a horse trainer or a veterinarian because I, I had, I was very skilled. I mean, I, I was a runner up rodeo queen. I, you know, I ran barrels poles. I did I did everything you could possibly do in that field.

And, and I was successful. I had a lot of blue ribbons under my belt. And my parents were extremely conservative. I was raised in a Christian House. And you know, time I was in a teenager, I [00:13:00] realized that was not for me. But, you know, I was very involved in, in that growing up, you know, Sunday school and youth group and the whole nine.

And my father is actually a an immigrant he’s he’s Armenian. And he, his grandfather was in the United nations. So he used to, he used to live all over the world. They lived in the Congo for a long time. They lived, you know, in France, they lived everywhere. And my dad was the first one to come over to the U S but you would never know it meeting him unless you, unless you’d get told because he wanted so badly to be an American, like so bad, Billy, that he immediately got married.

He immediately had kids, he made himself lose his accent. He lost if he forgot most of the languages, he knew he only retained French and English. But he spoke like seven languages, you know, when he was growing up and he lost all of them. So, you know, he, he really, really wanted to be an American.

And my mom was, was very much an American. She also grew up on a ranch you know, total Lew collar lifestyle. So that’s how I was raised [00:14:00] in this very like, you know, you work hard and you have a good. And that’s pretty much all you do, right. There’s, you know, you’re not going to, they, they were very supportive of me and they always told me I could do whatever I wanted to do in life, but a life outside of the norm was never, ever a consideration.

That makes sense. Yeah. That’s

Andrew Sumner: very clear.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Yeah. I wouldn’t be a lawyer. Great. But anything above that, it’s like, I mean, it just, wasn’t a consideration. So, you know, I had worked through, I’d worked very hard in school. I was not a great student because I just wasn’t very like naturally intellectual. I had to work really hard for grades, things like that.

So other than horses which I was good at, I then in high school, I started working at a fashion boutique just cause I, I wanted a job. So I started working in a fashion boutique and I very quickly realized. How much I loved fashion and like dressing people and, and making people feel good with what [00:15:00] they wore.

And I was also at that time very much so figuring out myself, because like I said, I was a very bullied kid. I I’m I’m actually. So for everyone out there who can’t see me I am 49. So I’m extremely short. I’m actually legally a midget in case we didn’t know that anything we’re 10 and under, as legally images.

So there’s that. But I am proportional and I have this thing called mark has gotten jawing syndrome in my eyes. So there’s a lot of things about me that were easy to pick on as a kid. So it took me a really long time to figure out who I was. And actually I didn’t figure out who I was. So I was like 28 years old.

So backing up again. So I, you know, I did all the things you normally do. I dated boys. I thought that, you know, that was the right thing to do. I never considered anything else. There was, there were times that I. Definitely loved the girls and I thought, oh, she’s ready, but I didn’t think anything beyond that, you know?

And then there was this one girl I remember in high school who I had this [00:16:00] huge crush on and she asked me to go on a date and I clammed up, I got sweaty. I was like, I mean, I bet I turned white. And I was like, I ran away. Like I just could not handle like, and then beyond that too, I had a really hard time making friends with girls, like making friends with girls and even keeping like friendships with girls, maintaining friendships with girls.

It was just always a problem for me. In high in college, actually, I. I had his best friend in college. We did everything together. We were inseparable. And when our friendship kind of blew up, you know, as friendships do I got there, I became like a stage five clinger and I was like constantly, I was like begging her to be my friend to get like, as a whole thing.

I was probably like 19 years old. Right. And it was only, you know, liers later that I realized it was because I was really in love with her. And I didn’t know. I actually like really, I wanted to be with her. I didn’t [00:17:00] know it was a friend time. I didn’t know that it was a friendship. I, you know, now I know it was because I wasn’t there.

So, you know, evolution, you know, evolving from that. My last boyfriend, he was a great guy. He was, he was super fun. We would play Dungeons and dragons together. We would, you know, sit there and play, you know, road Warcraft for hours, like with our computers next to each other. And we had a wonderful time.

We were best friends, you know, but That’s for some reason, I don’t know why, but maybe it was cause I was in LA for a certain amount of time by that by then or what, but no moving to LA and seeing the freedom that people had and who they were and the acceptance that was it was freely given to pretty much everybody, you know, in, in the, in the city and the state.

It was so freeing and I started experimenting with who I was and what I liked and, and w what I, what I truly wanted out of life and out of a partner. And I went to I, so I joined a Dodge ball league that I told him. [00:18:00] Yes. I told my friends that I just wanted to like, play a sport. But it was a literal lesbian Dodge ball league.

So I knew what I was doing. I just wasn’t telling myself or my friends, what I was doing. But it was literally a lesbian dodgeball league. And once I started playing, I mean, it was like, I couldn’t stop it from there. Like the wheels were turning and I was like, that girl was hot. That girl’s hot. That girl was hot.

I, to say,

Andrew Sumner: if you can Dodge a wrench, you can Dodge a ball.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Yeah. I love the reference. So, right. I never turned back after that. I mean, once, once I, I allowed myself to accept what I really want and who I really was then there was, there was absolutely no turning back from there because it was the best feeling to, to.

To look at somebody and say, no, you actually are my person. You know, like you really I’m, you really are my person. And this is really who I am is really what I want. And it’s a beautiful thing. You know, there’s, there’s a lot of LGBTQ plus people [00:19:00] who, who, you know, it takes them a long time and takes them years to, to learn it.

I mean, there’s an entire community on Tik TOK for late in life lesbians who just didn’t realize it you know, for, for years and all of us have a different story. You know, my wife, she knew since the time she was like five years old, she was chasing girls, trying to kiss him, you know, like, and that was her journey.

My journey took a little bit longer, but but I will tell you there’s no better feeling than then finally. Realizing and admitting to yourself that you are,

Andrew Sumner: and it’s so wonderful. As your friends see you so happy and in the zone with your own life, it’s, it’s, it’s a great thing to observe, like to witness  that sense of self that you have.

I mean, you’ve always been an incredibly positive can do kind of person, but she, to see you apply that metric to that journey in your own life, I just think is a brilliant thing.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Yeah. Thank you. I mean, it definitely feels good that the interesting part about it was, you know, who was, there were certain people that were extremely [00:20:00] supportive and there were certain people that were not, and the people that were not supportive are the ones that I would have expected to be supportive.

So for example, you know, yeah. I mean, so for example, you know, there were, there were friends, like best friends that I actually lost when I came out and it w and it, they didn’t specifically say it was because I came out, but it was. They were like, well, we just can’t relate to you anymore. And I’m like, I’m still the same person.

I’m just dating the same sex. Like I don’t. And so that was odd. And then, you know, there were there were some gay men in my life that that I lost respect for as well, because they were like, but you know, you can’t, you know, suddenly be gay and it’s like, but you’re gay. You should know that this is not like it’s different for everyone.

It was a very interesting thing. And I really found out who my friends were, you know, whenever I came out, you know, really who cared and who didn’t.

Andrew Sumner: That is, that is very interesting. And so, so as, as we mentioned a second ago, it’s June [00:21:00] pride. What does pride mean to you?

Mandy Bardisbanian: Oh, it’s such a beautiful thing.

You know, I mean, this could, this could go on forever, so I will try to be  the important thing to note first and foremost is the pride means something different for everyone, right?

And whatever pride means for you is what pride should mean. Right? So the biggest thing is, is pride in who you are accepting, who you are, not only accepting, but loving who you are living your most authentic and true self. Being everything that you could possibly want to be and not being scared to be that no matter what, what that means for anybody else, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of things happening right now.

When it got to conversations being had right now, when it comes to pronouns, when it comes to gender identity, when it comes to sexual identity, you know, there was a thing on the internet I saw just the other day where a nonbinary person is, is still identifying as a lesbian. [00:22:00] And there are certain lesbians saying you’re non binary.

So you can’t be a lesbian. You’re a non binary person who just wants to date girls. It’s like, no. Now what does it matter? You know, the semantics don’t matter. What matters is how someone wants to identify. That’s all that matters. And your job, your only job is to respect. However, that person wants to identify whatever it makes them feel their best and their most authentic self is the only thing you have to Excel.

That’s it, it doesn’t affect your life regardless. Right? Like it doesn’t affect you. You just have to be respectful of the way they need to live their lives to be authentic. That’s it. Right. And you know, so there’s a lot of things that even the community is still learning, especially when it comes to pronouns.

You know, a lot of us that’s a whole other conversation too, is as far as like, okay there’s a huge difference between sexuality and gender identity. Huge, huge difference. Right? [00:23:00] I mean, you can be, you can be born a GSA or you can be assigned male at birth. And you know, later in life you’re like, Hey, I’m lesbian.

I like, I like, or sorry, assigned male at birth, you know, like I’m gay. I like boys. Right. And then you can identify as a gay man. And then you come out later as a treatment. They’re female. And if you still, it doesn’t mean you’re now a lesbian because you were gay, you know, whatever you were identifying as a man now means that, you know, you’re are a, you are a female, but you still, your, your sexual preference is men.

So it’s a lot of things that the community is so learning, but a lot of things that that we collectively as a world need to get behind and just shut up and let people be who they are. So pride me of a lot of that pride means means being your most authentic self [00:24:00] and also thinking and recognizing those that came before us and, and paved the way to make this happen.

I mean, as most people listening to this will know, you know, pride was started by, by black women, by black trans women. And that is just now being recorded. You know, they are just now getting the spotlights and the, and the recognition they deserve. But it took so long because even back then, trans people, especially black trans women were, were not even accepted by the gay community.

Yeah. Isn’t that crazy to think about

Andrew Sumner: because you’re layering racism into systemic racism as well as everything else.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Yes. I mean, all kinds of ties together, right. But it’s, it’s, it’s absolutely shocking. So pride means, and at its most basic point, taking pride, being your most authentic self and, and giving thanks and recognition to those that came before us [00:25:00] and continuing to fight for the rights and the needs.

Everything else for the future generations as well, because we still have a lot of work to do. There’s still so much more to get out there. I mean, black trans women are still being being murdered every single, you know, in droves every year. And. That needs to be focused

Andrew Sumner: on. I, I couldn’t agree more. I think I think uh, you know, th the reality is it’s for me in a pride is a celebration of everybody’s rights to be whoever they want to be.

And everybody’s right to be accepted as being whoever they want to be, you know, irrespective of any kind of label that can be thrown out. ,

Mandy Bardisbanian: when it comes to the entertainment industry, you’ve definitely seen, we’ve seen, we’ve seen a huge surge of LGBTQ plus character storylines, you know, things being, being put out there in the last two, two years, really.

I mean, we’ve seen a big surge for example, Disney, just putting their first, you know, [00:26:00] queer characters finely into their films. But I think it was at the end of beauty and the beast, the wave action. I think the candlestick or someone with was gay. It was, it was amazing. And it was a moment. It wasn’t as big of a moment as, as we all would have liked, but a little moment.

Right. And another thing I do want to point out though in the entertainment industry is still. This idea that queer films can’t hold their own or make their return on investments. That is silly. Very, a big problem when it comes to, even though, you know, a lot of, like you’ve said, a lot of people in the entertainment industry are very open and, and ready for it.

Financially. They don’t know if they’re going to see an ROI for that. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, we, we saw, you know, one major film years ago, which was Brokeback mountain,

Andrew Sumner: the fantastic Brokeback mountain. Brilliant.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Yeah. What was the biggest, you know, budgets for a queer film? Pretty much [00:27:00] ever at that point. I mean, I can, I think I can pretty definitely say it was, it was the biggest budget for queer film ever

Andrew Sumner: at that point.

Yeah.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Yeah. And it was a wonderful movie and you know, it’s definitely means a lot to the community. But it’s, it was rooted in pure heartache. It was rooted in hatred and, and the storyline, although, you know, it was again important for our time. It’s not as relevant today because as queer folks, we want to see positive positivity.

We want to see, we want to see queer characters be in a, in a movie or a TV show and it not even be addressed. I want to see Laverne Cox play a trans role where her transness is never even mentioned. You know what I mean? I just want her to be a woman playing a female character. That’s all I want. You know, that’s all I need.

That’s one. And then last year, I will tell you this. We finally got the lesbian movie. We always [00:28:00] wanted it was, I’m blanking on a name right now for some reason, but it’s Chris and Stewart and that really awesome.

Andrew Sumner: That film’s fucking awesome. It’s the perfect Christmas movie, right? We, we were talking about that.

Do you remember over, over, over the unify period that a great

Mandy Bardisbanian: film, even the most beautiful season, something like, I don’t know why I’m blanking right now, but oh my God, that movie was good. And not only was it, was it extremely well-made extremely well acted. Oh, the happiest season. Got it. Happiest season.

It was, it was they putting giant budget behind it. I mean, Kristen Stewart, like, are you kidding me? She must’ve gotten paid. God knows how much he did this movie. And it was beautifully done. Absolutely. The one thing I will say though, is some of my friends were not happy with it. And why. Because the, one of the main themes of this movie is still that, you know, one of the characters had it come out of the closet to her [00:29:00] family.

And so a lot of my friends were like, that’s not the story I want to see. I wanna, I don’t want to see people struggling to come out anymore. I want them to just be out and I get that. But at the same time, it’s progress. A huge studio gave a ridiculously huge budget to a lesbian movie. Let’s think them, and then.

Andrew Sumner: Yeah, I think, I think that’s true. In fact, now that you’re saying that it comes to mind that this is exactly the conversation that you and I had over Christmas. Exactly. That, and I think, I think that’s true. I think it absolutely is progress. And I think it is a beautiful film and, you know, you, you got to take the steps right.

On any of these journeys and, and something you touched upon while it is true. You know, working in the media, you you’re perhaps on the sharp end of seeing you know, acceptance for a variety of different life elements. What’s also [00:30:00] true, of course, is that the, the media is absolutely Reverend. Great a fucking total hypocrisy.

So, so, so that’s all well and good, but you know, my money talks with everybody, you know, so that the meat is very good at going well. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, if you think about all the, all the kind of cool shit, Hollywood speeches you see from people when they’re, when the. When they’re accepting awards for whatever it is.

Yeah. And the way a lot of actors and filmmakers carry themselves when it comes to the set, the matter of, you know, being actually nominated for something and they have this cultivated indifference difference and, you know, awards that really matter, you know, it’s all about the artist. It’s all about the work, but behind the scenes of scrambling around with a PR managers, try and hustle for that award and win it and they desperately want to win.

Even though that statement, you can’t really, you know, art, isn’t like a race where in a race, you know, the a hundred meters somebody wins and somebody. [00:31:00] You know, w when it comes to two performances or two great performances, how’d you, how’d you pick between the two, you can’t, you know, you just can’t do that.

So there is so much a proxy that bands with within the media at the same time. And and it’s, it’s worth mentioning that at this, because I wouldn’t want this to become a complaint, you know, media, Hollywood love Fest. Oh yeah. Everybody is so progressive. Everybody’s very good at portraying themselves as being progressive.

But, but you and I certainly, you know, in and out of the media or media adjacent, we do absolutely know a lot of people who are genuinely open-minded. You are trying to move society forward in a positive and acceptive way. And and you know, my, my view is, you know, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a fucking Hollywood producer or whether you’re, you know, a road worker or a foreperson on a, on a, on a construction site, you know, wherever the message is coming from.

You know, acceptance is absolutely key. That’s disturbed [00:32:00] me a lot about her politics, not just in, in the U S but in the UK over the last two, three years where we’ve got this, this terrible regressive conservatism.

Mandy Bardisbanian: We’ve had kind of a crazy year. Well, crazy figure in the U S if you haven’t heard, we had a bit of a time 

Andrew Sumner: before we get in into your career. There’s, there’s a really interesting thing. I think that your lovely wife Sonya does and that she’s part of, and can you talk a bit about the total queer boy band thing?

I think this is fucking, this is fucking awesome. And these guys are supremely talented.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Thank you so much for letting me brand drop this my wife’s van. So my

Andrew Sumner: wife,

Mandy Bardisbanian: my wife Sonya. She is also a singer by night. She’s in an LGBTQ plus choir here in the city. She is [00:33:00] she’s another cover bands, but she had this amazing idea to form a, a all queer vocal group. Called boy band and it’s boy with an eye because boy, with an eye, for anyone who doesn’t know is also like another nurse, a name for like an androgynous lesbian, right.

Or androgynous queer person. So, so boy van is literally five people of all various gender identities and sexuality is I would kind of, they represent the spectrum of the queer universe and they are right now a cover band only. And they do they cover songs from. From popular boy bands past and present, they cover songs from you know, LGBTQ plus allies and they definitely have choreography mixed in there.

So

Andrew Sumner: the choreography is amazing. It’s just something to behold. It’s fantastic.

Mandy Bardisbanian: It was a wonderful, they have an incredible choreographer as well. [00:34:00] And they are, they’re actually getting it. They’re starting to work on originals too. So they’re going to start hopefully their first single will be out by the end of this year, but

Andrew Sumner: so what, what, how can people contact you again Monday bay?

Mandy Bardisbanian: So you can find me at Mandy Bartis Banyan. I’m sure. My last name will be in the show notes. Right? So, so my last name is Lil crazy. You can find me at Mandy participating on all platforms and if you are so inclined, please follow a boy band at queer boy band on old platforms.

Andrew Sumner: Yeah. And it’s, it really is great stuff.

Great epic stuff.

Mandy Bardisbanian: I I’m a manager and I’m their manager and social media, like whatever. So I I’m, I’m in charge of making them successful. So please help me do that.

Andrew Sumner: Yeah. So check out the show notes. You, you, you, you really won’t be disappointed that they do amazing work. I, and so let’s, let’s, let’s take your, let’s talk about your career journey for a second.

So, let’s reel back to to your [00:35:00] colleges and your, your, you know, your plan for yourself. How did you go from there to when I met you, when you’re on the reception, the hot topic, what then happened, which I think is a really interesting,

Mandy Bardisbanian: you want that? Do you want like the crazy story? Do you want it? Do you want that?

Okay. This is. A crazy story. I already for it, because I mean, it’s, every time I tell it, I mean, people’s faces just dropped. They’re like how, how? And I’m like, I don’t know. Okay. So here’s the beginning of the story. Like I said earlier, I grew up on a horse ranch. Everyone expected me to be a veterinarian or horse trainer.

And when I started working at a fashion boutique in high school, I fell in love with clothes and I was like, I want to do this. I don’t know what this means, but I want to do this. So after high school, I went to a fashion school called the international academy of design and technology, which is in San Antonio, Texas, because it’s the cheapest place to have gone to college.

Of course I would have loved to go to Parsons in New York or [00:36:00] somewhere like that. But unfortunately, No one expected this to actually be my career. So no one wanted to spend a ton of money until they were sure. So I went to a very, very fast college that, that I will tell you right now prepared me maybe for 3% of my actual career.

I mean, extremely little in the, in the actual teaching, but you know, it’s great. Cool. So I went to college there and I did a ton of photo shoots, fashion shows. I was I was designing and creating collections like every season or for like a new fashion show or, you know, if there was a, a photo shoot idea that my friends had, then we would, you know, I would design something for it.

And then we would do like a random photo shoot. It was a lot of trade for trade back then, right? Because San Antonio is not a place for artists. So if you want, you know, to kind of come up in the world you know, a photographer, you contact your photographer front and say, Hey, I’ve got this new dress.

You want to come [00:37:00] shoot it? And then, Hey, yeah, I’ve got a model who wants more shots of her portfolio. Okay. Do you know what makeup artists who needs, who need some, you know, some shots, you know, whatever. And we would just all get together and for free, you know, put our skills together and do stuff. So at that time I really thought that I was going to be the next Alexander McQueen.

I thought that I was going to be a, could score fashion designer, you know, doing Paris week fashion show, Paris fashion week shows and you know, and having like a super fancy like studio loft in New York that he would come by my design studio and I would dress them for the us workers or whatever.

That was what I was working towards. At the same exact time. I was a hardcore emo kid, like hardcore. I mean, like I said, I was still figuring myself out and emo kids kind of accepted me. So I just dived right into that world. So hot topic was a place that I would go for everyone who doesn’t know hot topic is in most malls in the country.

I believe there’s like 700 stores around the [00:38:00] country. And so almost everyone has one and it was a place where you could go that people had colored hair, they had tattoos, they loved Harry Potter. They love the same things that, that you did. So going to hot topic, wasn’t just a shop. It was also to meet friends and to to, to find people that were like-minded and to feel.

Good about who you were and what you were into. Like, that was kind of what hot topic was for a lot of people, including myself. So after college, I literally didn’t even go to graduation. I was like, if I don’t leave this town now, which San Antonio, I don’t leave. I’m never going to, I’m going to end up being one of these people who stays here forever and blah, blah, blah.

So I packed up my car and I had moved to Los Angeles. I came to LA and I had $600. By the time I got here, I had $600 in my pocket. I had no job. I had nowhere to live. I didn’t know anybody. And I had no idea what the [00:39:00] heck I was going to do. So I, thankfully on the first night I was here, I went to a bar in Hollywood and I met these, these guys.

And I was like, Hey. You know, it has going I’m new here whenever they were really nice to me. And I was like, they were like, you don’t have a place to live. And I was like, no. And they were like, just come crash on our couch, like whatever. So I ended up living in a one bedroom apartment with three boys.

For the first month that I lived here and that was a gross experience, but it was necessary. And so we were there for about a month and, you

Andrew Sumner: know, during that was, that was that when the inception of your lesbian ism, do you think,

Mandy Bardisbanian: you know, it, it might have solidified it, you know, it might’ve been

Andrew Sumner: like, okay, that was just a joke, mate.

I didn’t expect you to say yes.

Mandy Bardisbanian: I mean the nasty things boys do in bathrooms is astounding to me, but that’s another story.

[00:40:00] Andrew Sumner: It’s, it’s it, it is not standing to me. I totally get where you’re coming from.

Mandy Bardisbanian: You raised one too. So come on. So I, during that time, I was trying to get any job that I could, because I was.

I know I’m not going to like immediately become this world renowned fashion designer. And I just, so I know I’m just gonna have to get any job that I can so that I can work my way up. Right. And like, get myself a name, meet people here and blah, blah, blah. So I was looking for a bartending jobs. I had bartended through college and I was okay.

I, I can do that. There’s tons of bars in LA. I went to every bar in Hollywood. I swear. I went to every single one and most of the time they would tell me, in order for me, for someone to get a job bartending in Hollywood you either had to know somebody or someone had to die. That was the only way you were going to get a job as a bartender in Hollywood.

Like I could not find anything. I could not find a single [00:41:00] job. So it was about a month. And I was completely out of money. I had already asked my parents for like a little bit to kind of sustain me and still gonna have a job. I’ve, you know, the boys were kind of sick of a girl living with them, so I really needed to get a job.

And so I decided that, okay, what are my two, the two places that I won’t work at the most, one of them was this this designer that I knew was somewhere in downtown LA called sick fuck. And I think it’s like S Y my that six fuck. And it was like this cool, like emo designer. So I either want to work there or I want to work for hot topic.

Right? Like, and by the way, I had been emailing hot topic and applying for jobs this entire time. And I, I, I replied, applied for the mailroom. I had applied for like the warehouse, like they were not getting back to me. So, so I decided one day I had literally like 20 bucks in my [00:42:00] pocket. Okay. It was like my last 20 bucks.

And I knew that if I didn’t get a job in the next few days, I would have to, I’d have to go home. Like there was nothing else I’d be able to do. So I decide, okay, I’m going to put a little bit of money in my gas tank. I think I put five bucks in my gas tank just so I could get somewhere. Right. And I went to go find sick fuck in downtown LA.

So I look up like the address, you know, on their website, whatever. And I go down right. And I park and I don’t know what I’m doing. I mean, I didn’t know you had to pay for parking in downtown LA. I didn’t know we had all of these things you don’t think about. So I think I had to pay for parking. So I go into this building and I’m terrified of elevators.

I have like a really big fear elevator, but, and his elevator was terrified, but I took the elevator up. So I think like the fifth floor or something, and I w none of the doors had numbers on them. So I was just knocking on doors, trying to find trying to find this, this, this office. And no [00:43:00] one was answering the doors.

Like no one was there. So I was like, okay, fine. I guess I’ll, you know, leave, you know, but again, I’m terrified of elevators. So I took the stairwell down to go back to my car. Turns out when I got in the stairwell. All the doors to the floors were locked. Every single one of them, the one I was on was locked.

The one on the fourth floor was locked. Their door was locked and the first floor was pitch black. Like there was no light, there was a window pitch-black so I am freaking out because how the hell am I going to get out of the stairwell? So I start banging on doors. No one’s answering. Thankfully I had cell phone reception, so I called my dad.

I’m bawling my eyes out. And my dad I’m stuck in a stairwell in downtown LA. I think what building you in? I don’t know a building I’m in, so, so he’s like, you need to call the fire department right now. So I call the fire department, right. And this whole time I’m [00:44:00] freaking out. I’m 20, 23 years old. And I’m stuck in the stairwell still?

No, one’s answering the doors. So finally about, I dunno, 45 minutes later, the, the firefighters show up, they opened the door to the stairwell and they’re cracking up laughing at me. They’re like 20 of them and they couldn’t, they are doubling over with laughter at this like little 23 year old girl who got herself self stuck in a freaking stairwell.

Like, are you kidding me? So I explained to them that I was scared of elevators, blah, blah, blah. And they ride back down with me. And then I was out. Okay. So at this point, this is really, really important at this point. It’s about two 30 in the afternoon. All right. So. I am pissed off. I’m out of money. I’m hungry.

And I mad. So I am like, fuck it. I’m going, can I curse on this? Fuck it. I’m going to hot topics. [00:45:00] I find the hot topic, corporate office. I don’t even know how I found it somehow. The address and I go to a gas station, I put like 10 more bucks in my gas tank and I drive to the hot, hot topic corporate office, which is about 45 minutes outside of LA.

I get there again. It’s very important. I get there about 3 45. Okay. I go in, okay. We’ve

Andrew Sumner: now entered the parts of your story where I can visualize exactly where you are at this moment in time.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Yes. Yes. So I walk into the office and there is a wall kind of, because there’s a reception desk and behind the reception desk, there’s a wall and you have to have a card key to get in behind that.

So I go up to the receptionist and she’s like, Hey, can I help you? And I said I said, hi, my name is Mandy. I had my portfolio with me, resume my resume, like in a folder, like I was ready. And I was like, my name is Mandy. I’ve applied online to work here. You know, a bunch of, I haven’t heard back, but I literally have to work here.

I can’t leave without a job. I have to [00:46:00] work here. And she goes,

so she calls her boss out to meet me. And her name is Lisa? Yes, she was the office services manager. So she comes out and she shakes my hand. She says, hi, who are you? And I said, my name is Mandy. You know, I described it in fashion school and moved here and I really wouldn’t work here and I can’t leave without a job.

So she said, Just give me, just give me a minute. So she goes back to the back for about 20 minutes, I assume she’s talking to HR, but now I know that she was talking to HR, asking them was okay if she talked to this girl that was at the walk in, she comes back out and she says, okay, this is not an interview.

We’re just going to talk for a little bit. We’re just going to talk. It’s going to have a chat. So we go into this room, one of the rooms, you know, at the, in front of the lobby and we’re there for about an hour and a half. And she’s just asking me all about my life and what I want to do for a living. And, you know, my [00:47:00] struggles moving to LA and all of this.

So by the time we’re done, she, she says, you know, thank you so much for coming in. Obviously this was not an interview, but good luck with the rest of your life. Right? And I’m like, oh my God, I’m going to have to go home. I, I’m not going to make it. I’m not going to be anything. My dreams are crushed, blah, blah, blah.

Right. So I leave, I go back to the one bedroom apartment with three boys the next day. I get a phone call from HR, a hot topic saying leaves the whole scene. We’d like to offer you the job as a receptionist at the hot topic corporate office. And I swear to God, it was the best day of my life. Now here’s where it gets really crazy.

Are you ready?

Andrew Sumner: So I’m in, I’m all in on this story, which by the way, I’ve never heard before.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Here’s the crazy part. I started my first day working there. I was a receptionist, like I said, at the hunt type of corporate office. And I walk in and I [00:48:00] meet my fellow receptionist. So there’s two receptionists at the front desk and her name was Sam and I meet her and she goes, you’re the girl. And I was like, okay, what do you mean?

She goes, here’s what’s wild about this is that she, they were, they had one receptionist. They were looking for a second. She leaves the office at 3:30 PM every single day. And the receptionist that I met when I walked in was a fill-in receptionist because I walked in at 3 45. Yeah. Sam told me that if I had walked in 15 minutes earlier, she would have turned me away and she never would have called Lisa up to the front.

So if I hadn’t got stuck in that damn stairwell, I never, ever, ever would be where I am today. And I, I still can’t believe I forget chills.

Andrew Sumner: Yeah. That’s it. That’s your a sliding doors moment. Isn’t it? You know what I mean? Yeah. That’s [00:49:00] absolutely. That’s your low key, like branching, like time, time variance or authority, future moment, you know what I mean?

That’s incredible. It’s the Twilight zone of it all.

Mandy Bardisbanian: It’s wild. It’s absolutely wild. And I never would be where I am today. I never, I wouldn’t have the career that I have and I could not be more thankful. Everybody he’ll help me along the way, you know, from those three boys who let me crash on their couch too.

So he’s the whole scene too. I mean, you know, the receptionist that was filling in, I mean, the firefighters that got me out, I mean, all of that is just, you know, there’s, there’s so much to be thankful for. And that is why that story is mostly why I believed so strongly that literally everything happens for reason.

I don’t know. I’m not a religious person, you know, I don’t, I don’t believe in destiny per se, but I do believe that everything happens for a reason and that there’s, there’s always something to either learn or gain.

Andrew Sumner: I, I, I think also, I think it’s an illustration of, of something about your [00:50:00] character that I recognized from when I first met you, which is you’ve got that stamp on the accelerator, Glenn guns, blazing forward momentum.

You are always going to, you’re always going to do it and get it done. And there’s a lot of people throughout the course of that day. And those things that happen to you. There’s a lot of people that go fuck this nose, I’m going to borrow and get in shit faced. You know, that’s what I would call the, the Andrew Sumner response in that moment.

Whereas you, but you would just onward, onward, onward, onward, onward, onward. And that’s what you would like throughout your life. That’s what through your, like in your personal life, you know, you were very, you know, you were very, you focused on your objectives and you don’t get discouraged. And I think that’s like not being discouraged and having fortitude is one of your superpowers.

I think.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Yeah, that’s absolutely true. You know, I, I will say though, it’s my biggest strength and my biggest weakness because you know, to be as ambitious, I am I’m slithering through, through obviously she was [00:51:00] what drives me obviously. And it’s, it’s what, it’s what wakes me up every morning. Right.

And so that drives it to never to nev never have enough. I always want more. Right. I always want a bigger team under me. I was want to be working on a bigger IP or, you know, whatever it might be. But at the same time, you know, that also can mean that I can come across very abrasive. Or very demanding.

I

Andrew Sumner: don’t know what you’re talking about. What, what, what are you I’m going to go on about here Monday? I don’t know. I don’t recognize this person you’re describing.

Mandy Bardisbanian: I appreciate that. I mean, it’s definitely a fine balance and something that I’ve had to learn, especially having employees, you know, you have to really learn how to balance that.

And one of my biggest weaknesses as a leader is, is being able to to, you know, get, take my hands off of a project and let my employees, you know, do what they do. You know, cause I’m one of those people that if I feel like I’m not doing it, that it’s not getting done. Right. But you know, at the end of the day, you have to, you have to spread [00:52:00] the, the work or else nothing’s going to get done.

Andrew Sumner: So. No, but I mean, it, you know, if you walked in into life fully formed, it’s 360 degree wise, completely aware individuals, the world would be a very boring place. You know, it’d be like brave new world. It would be like completely anidine. And actually, you know, the struggle, you know, for self completion and you know, that struggle to interact with others in society, those life journeys that we all have.

That’s why the world is an interesting place. Sure enough, that they opened doors on terrible dark things as well. But the reality is, is if we were all these kind of homogenized and a dine, fully formed individuals in a peaceful and contempt with ourselves, the world would be fucking boring and there’d be no drama.

There’d be nothing in enemy to be the B to B, to B no, Harry Potter. There’d be no Lord of the rings. There’d be no. Yeah. You know, I it’s, [00:53:00] there’d be no Titus Andronicus there’d be no Spiderman because what’s the use. What would be the point of drama in a world where there’s no conflict whatsoever? So, you know, it’s an essential part of the, of the human, of the human experience.

You know,

Mandy Bardisbanian: you, you couldn’t be more, right. I mean, you know, one of the things that that is the hardest in my life that I used to have a hard time talking about, but thankfully it’s healing. So I was at hot topic for about seven years. And I was, I was very blessed for lack of another word in my career there.

And I rose very quickly. I got promoted very quickly. I had mentors. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was, it was very quick, but but you know, I had incredible mentors that taught me so much. I had, you know, three different. Main mentors that that all taught me very different things about the business but you know, there was. There was this startup company that heavily pursued me heavily, heavily, heavily pursued me. And I kept saying, no, thank you. I’m very happy. I don’t want to [00:54:00] leave. And they just kept hounding me. So I, I finally said, okay, you know what, maybe I need to try it. Maybe this is the universe saying, you know, everything happens for a reason and I need to try this.

And they, you know, what they were doing was very different and unique and I’m not going to name it just because I, it’s hard for me to, to speak positively about it. So I’m not gonna name what it is. So, but you know, I, why I left, I left on topic because I made the decision to go with a startup company.

And it was, it was horrible for me in many, many ways, but seven months later they decided that they did not need me and I was laid off and I will tell you that was probably, yeah. One of the worst days of my life. I could not even get in my car to drive home because my, I was, I was hysterically crying.

I actually met one of my, one of my now best friends at that job. And we both say that that the only good thing that came out of that job was, was us meeting each other and becoming best friends. But he does. So he was outside with me for like two hours while I was bawling on [00:55:00] his shoulder. And I thought my career was over.

I thought I’d screwed everything up. I was like on topics, not going to take me back. They don’t need me anymore. Like, it was just, it was, it was the worst day of my life. And I went through like a little bit of a depression for a couple of weeks. And, and then, you know, I picked myself back up and tried to find anything I could, the sad part about it too was the same week they laid me off exact same week Disney acquired Fox.

So all of my Fox friends were getting laid off and Warner brothers was consolidating all of their, you know, external IP. So a lot of my friends at my cartoon network and all those other places were getting laid off. So all of a sudden, not only myself, but all these other people that I knew in the industry were looking for jobs and we were all looking for the same ones.

So it was absolutely terrifying. And at, at the time I thought there’s nothing good to come back because I can come out of this. There was nothing to learn from this situation. It’s terrible. It sucks. But then I found my home at Legion [00:56:00] M and not only is it an incredible, incredible team and the company itself is, is doing something that no one has ever done before, but I have full autonomy to take the business wherever I think it needs to go.

You know, the, the company is growing like crazy. There’s an exciting thing happening almost every day. And I can now look back and recognize that I needed to be laid off for several years. So I’m going to try to be concise about this, cause I know we’re running out of time, but number one, I, at my time at hot topic, I was in a very lucky position where I was, I was successful a lot as far as my businesses were successful.

You know, things, things were going very, very well. And in most of the departments that I were in, it was it. And that’s not normal for any career. I mean, you’re supposed to see highs and lows and your numbers, right. And that wasn’t really happening for me. I [00:57:00] hadn’t really seen a low yet. So I was, I was getting all this praise.

I was getting, you know, all these job offers. I was, I was, I was really constantly peeking. Does that make sense? And finally I was not needed and not only did that experience humble the crap out of me, but I kind of, I needed to know what that felt like. I needed to know what failure felt like. Because it really hadn’t happened before.

So now I get to not only humble myself a little bit, which I definitely needed, but I, I now am going to be more prepared for the next failure and that is going to happen. It happens to all of us is going to be a next failure. There’s going to be a next failure. There’s going to be 5, 10, 1500 more after that.

And now I will be more prepared for it. And I will handle it much better than I did previously. So although it was terrible, again, everything [00:58:00] happens for a reason. Right?

Andrew Sumner: Well, well said, mate as you know, I, I could not agree more with that sentiment and for those who don’t know listening to this can you just fill everybody in on what it is that Legion M does and what makes them so unusual?

I know, but you know, it’s an interesting thing for you.

Mandy Bardisbanian: So Legion M is a film, TV. Anything else that we come up with we think is cool production company. So we are an entertainment company like everybody else. But the catch is that we are literally owned by fans, so not in the UK. So I have to be very careful with this.

UK, you cannot invest, I’m not advertising to you to invest, but, but any us people can literally equity invest into our company and, and owns stock and shares actual stock and shares in our company. We are pre IPO. So that means we are not tradable on the stock market. But you you have a stake in our inner company and you literally get a [00:59:00] voice in what we do.

So we’ve been around for five years now. We just had our fifth anniversary and we have about a hundred. Housing people in our community and we have almost 30,000 investors in our company. So in the community you can join for free. You can’t invest for whatever reason. Totally fine. You can join Legionnaire for free as a member.

And you literally get to tell us what you want, what you want us to do. We want us to make what you want us to focus on. For example, we we go to Sundance film festival every year. And every year we try to find a new wife, a new movie to buy or be involved in. So, we have this thing called film Scouts, which we also call a game.

It’s an app on your phone. And we have all of the movies that are going to be at Sundance every year. So we have the title image. We have the, the logline of every movie, and you can rank them to tell us what you are most interested in seeing. And if you’re at Sundance, then you have a, another platform to be able to say, okay, I saw these movies and hear how I here’s, how I would rank them.

And [01:00:00] based off of that, the first year we did that one of the highest ranking films was memory, the origins of alien, which is a documentary about the making of the movie alien. And we saw it and we were like, this is really cool. So we bought the distribution rights for, for that film and it did extremely well.

And that was based off of our community telling us what they wanted us focused on. Last year there was a film called save yourselves that is about so these two hipsters that they ended up being in the middle of the alien apocalypse. It’s a really funny hipster comedy. And and that was at the top of the list last year.

So we focused on it and we partnered with Bleeker street films. And we distributed that movie and now it’s on Hulu, by the way, you haven’t seen it yet. Please go to Hulu and watch saved results. So then, you know, there are other times that, that we, our community will suggest something. So for example, I’m so excited to be able to talk to you about this.

We, we kept seeing this movie. Hop up on our, on our Facebook group, we have a members only Facebook group where people can talk. [01:01:00] And it was meme about this guy named Robert smalls, captain Robert smalls. And if you don’t know who that is, he was a enslaved man. Who, who stole a Confederate worship and ended up, you know, fighting for freedom and slate, AOM, freeing a bunch of other enslaved people.

He ended up serving on Congress and Congress for five years, and then he ended up buying his previous master’s plantation and taking care of his previous master’s wife until she passed away. I mean, just this incredible American hero. And, and we kept seeing that pop up, like, okay, this needs to be a movie.

This needs to be a movie. So, you know, then one of our investors in Legion him said, Hey, I’m actually a screenwriter. And I have. About about captain Robert smalls and we read it and it’s amazing. And now we are working to to make that into a feature movie that is no. Yeah, yeah. So it’s really incredible.

There’s a lot of ways to be involved. We [01:02:00] had one investor who he had the, we, we. We came up with a movie last year called archenemy sorry, Joe man. Janella and we need a very specific kind of car for this movie. And so we said, does anybody know where we can get this car? And one of our investors said, yeah, I have that car.

You can use it. So not only was his car used as the feature car in the movie, but he was also in the movie.

Andrew Sumner: Oh, great. That’s fantastic, mate. I love it. I love the democratization of the fan response to a movie and, and just involving all of that and involving that love and that interest in the process, I think is right thing.

Mandy Bardisbanian: I hope you’re editing this because I’m talking a lot.

Andrew Sumner: Oh, well, no, I, I w I knew you would talk a lot and this is why I wanted you on the show, mate. You know what I mean? The great thing about having you on is I don’t have to talk as much, you know, so completely into this one. Yeah.

Mandy Bardisbanian: For anybody’s still listening.

Thank you for still being

Andrew Sumner: here. So [01:03:00] th so to wrap up you, you, you, you’re at Legion M you know, you’re enjoying the gig you’ve got now your, you see a lot of potential in what you’re doing, and I know that you enjoy it. When you look back on your journey to date both your personal journey and your career journey, what are the things that stand out to you as, as, as the highlights thus far?

Mandy Bardisbanian: Oh, wow. Okay. So, you know, a couple of things come to mind. Number one, I will say was when we found out the hot topic and we found the trend in licensed beauty. So back whenever I was the buyer for beauty and hot topic the only people really doing sprinkling of licensed UTI products was fora. They came out with a, like, I think two different Disney like collections for, for makeup.

At the time. And I was like, I think there’s something here. I think, I think there’s a way to do this. It’s more affordable. Right? So in other IPS, it doesn’t have to be Disney, right. Disney princess to be a [01:04:00] makeup collection. So at the time, one of our biggest properties I’m hot topic was, was supernatural.

And if you don’t know what supernatural it is, it is a CW show that ran for 16 seasons about these two brothers who by demons. So it is a very like masculine leaning IP, but the fan base is teenage girls. Right. And I loved that show. I still love it. And I was like, you know what? This is going to sound crazy.

But I want to do a supernatural. I showed a palette. I wanted, I wouldn’t do an eye shadow palette. So I told my boss and she was like, oh,

how are you going to do like to eye shadow? What about you guys by demons? I was like, wait for it. So I went to my, to my, you know, my vendors and I I told them what I wanted to do. And I took the style guide from Warner brothers and I looked, pulled out all these assets and I was like, here’s how I want it to look.

And I, I [01:05:00] really designed the whole thing with my vendor and it was perfect. It told a story. It made sense. I thought it was gorgeous. So it finally comes into stores and I’m so nervous. Cause I’m like, we spent so much money on this. If it doesn’t work, I’m going to get fired the first week it was out, it sold thousands of units.

Thousands. And we all went, oh my God, what is this? I mean, it was, it was so much more above what we could have ever expected. And that was the moment that we realized, okay, there is a trend here. There is, these customers are being underserved. Like there are teenage girls out there who he has girls, you know, trans women, non binary, people who wants makeup.

It has to do with their fandom. And then we started going and we got on a good cadence. Along with that, we, you know, we were doing, we were having a lot of success with a lot of different [01:06:00] IPS and cosmetics and star wars, Lucas film kept saying no to me, like they were the one IP, I, the one studio that was like, no, we’re not ready for that.

No, we don’t know what that would look like. We don’t want star wars, makeup. And finally they called me and they said, okay, we’re ready. Like we want you to do. And so I made a millennium Falcon eye shadow palette. And to this day, it’s one of my proudest moments. I mean, really

Andrew Sumner: I mean, there’s a lot of things.

I’m really not. So I’m really surprised. I remember, I remember that part that I said I palette is just inspired. And I remember how excited you were about supernatural. What about on a personal level when you look back over the last decade of working 15 years of work?

Mandy Bardisbanian: No, it’s really interesting that you ask that question because it’s really hard for me to, to separate my work from my personal life.

I, I, that’s always been a huge problem for me, like an actual issue, because I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know [01:07:00] how to, how to have a personal life and how to, how to have a work life. It doesn’t, it doesn’t happen for me. I, I literally work constant. You know, Sonia loves the shadow me, but at the same time, if we’re watching a movie or TV show and I say, oh, that would be look good on a t-shirt.

She’s like, sure. That’s what I do. It’s my job. You know? So, you know, again, it’s not for me to like, you know, look that, but I think the, one of the things that I am the most proud of is, is being, being open to, to falling in love with someone that other people in my life would not approve of and totally accepting that being okay with it.

I think that might be one of the most beautiful things. Because you know, there’s, it’s very unfortunate and this goes for a lot of people’s stories, but you know, my, a lot of my mom’s family stopped talking to me and her because I, I came out as gay. You know, I. I lost some [01:08:00] friends because of it.

I, you know, there was just some interesting hard things that happen, but regardless of the hard things, I mean, the best feeling in the world is to be completely and utterly in love. And I am, I am lucky enough to have on that. And to have it be real and true and and deep. So that’s probably when I was proud of things,

Andrew Sumner: Well said make, because that is the hardest of hard degrees from me.

I, I think that’s a very profound statement he just made, but I completely agree with your sentiment and with your thought that, and I’ve got before we go one code question so that we haven’t touched, and it’s going to be tough for you to give a brief answer about this mate, but this is okay, but it’s just a brief answer.

Tell me in about 60 seconds about your love of dogs.

Mandy Bardisbanian: Oh, my God, this is getting so hard. Okay. I love dogs. I have dogs. I have two [01:09:00] dogs. I have a little dog and I have a blind dog and I foster dogs and I love fostering dogs and I want to keep all of them, but I don’t because then I can foster more dogs and dogs are great.

And you should you should donate to all the dog charities you can.

Andrew Sumner: Yeah, you totally nailed it, mate. You totally, this has been a monumental episode of art degree. I’m Andrew Sumner and it has been my pleasure to listen to the life and the journey of my good friend, Mandy body. Spain. Thanks for joining me today, mate.

Thank you so

Mandy Bardisbanian: much for having me. It has been an honor, a pleasure and and I hope to talk to all of you out there. Find me on Instagram. Take talk. Facebook at Mandy where’s Banyan. Eric find me the Comicon. Yeah. And you know, next year of doing it, let’s meet up,

Andrew Sumner: hopefully standing next to me. Cause I’ll be at comic con as well.

Fingers crossed

Mandy Bardisbanian: at the hip to Sumner. So just where do you see him? I’ll be right

Andrew Sumner: next to him.  Mate. [01:10:00] Thank you for joining me. .

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