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Spotlight On: Joshua Walters, Mental Health Educator and Activist

Joshua Walters is a bipolar comedian whose work explores language, creativity, beat-boxing and madness. His eclectic combination of performance styles, meshed with his message of mental health awareness and advocacy, gives him a unique niche on stages around the world. Joshua allowed us to shine the spotlight on him this week:

What inspired you to want to be a speaker?

My personal experience as a mental health advocate; seeing those around me have confusion and fear on the topic of a mental health diagnosis; and having a deep desire to spread the light on what is often a dark subject.

Any advice for aspiring speakers?

Know how to open. Know how to close. In the middle: explore the endless possibilities of being in the moment. Have a through line. Make it an esthetic whole. Your “story” is what got you here–don’t ever forget it.

What do you like to leave audiences with?

Inspiration to overcome their struggle, and their stigma; an arsenal of techniques for their “tool belt” of wellness; knowing that they are not alone.

How do you prepare before a talk? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?

I have a grounding ritual that is based on breath work, movement, and focus. I also eat pretty light before. Fish, anyone?

Do you have an especially memorable event you can tell us about?

I performed at the “Community Share” at the end of a six-day silent meditation retreat for Young Adults in Northern California. People’s hearts were so open after six days of silence. My performance was based on the experience of meditating for a week with 100 people–it maybe my most favorite talk of all time

Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?

I give to Wikipedia. Freedom of Speech is my prerogative.

If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?


Desert island album?

Sketches of Spain-–Miles Davis.

Best subject in school?

Theater/Creative Writing/and hosting the Friday Afternoon Open Mics at lunch.

Last book you read?

Anatomy of an Illness–Norman Cousins.

Last film you saw?

Her–Spike Jonze.

What speaker, alive or from times passed, would you love to hear give a speech?

A double bill of Albert Einstein and Mark Twain. Albert on one-liners, Twain on narrative.