The Improv Life Ep.8 with Shirley Rivera  

Welcome to episode 8 of the Improv Life Podcast! 

My guest was the amazing Shirley Rivera! 

I’ve known Shirley for years! We first met up in the San Francisco Improv Scene years ago. 

I love Shirley. She’s an improv warrior. She’s out there doing the hard work and creating space for artists of color, and even more importantly, addressing why those spaces need to exist and why artists of colors need to be the ones leading them.

I feel a lot of kinship with Shirley because of her beliefs and advocacy, also Go Bears! (We’re both Cal Alumni).

Check out this episode where we talk about our old SF days, how Shirley got started, her experiences with Untold Improv, and more.

Listen on SoundCloud.

Here’s What We Talked About:

  • How Shirley and I met in the San Francisco Improv Scene back in the early 2010’s 
  • Shirley’s experiences being an older, BIPOC woman in the SF Improv Scene 
  • Shirley’s journey through the Endgames Improv School 
  • How this Facebook group has connected improvisers and created opportunities for networking and collaboration 
  • How Shirley connected with Untold Group, an improv theater company dedicated to teaching and elevating artists of color, because of the Facebook Group she created with her friends! 
  • Shirley’s awakening as an improviser of color when she discovered that she could bring her culture into her improv 
  • Great quote: “If you have more diverse folks, maybe more diverse stories will show up.” 
  • How Shirley conceived of “Colorized Improv”  – a type of improv that embraces your lived experiences as a diverse person 
  • Shirley’s epiphany that Untold Improv was the place for her 
  • How the leaders of Untold Improv, April Pascua and Otter Teng, drew on their camp counselor and social justice experience to create a safe space where Shirley and others felt welcomed, listened to, and empathized with  
  • The amazing feeling she had when she found herself in a room where nobody had to explain what “Code Switch” meant 
  • The expectations Untold Improv establish at the beginning of a class to get students to feel safe, comfortable, and encouraged 

You can follow Shirley’s Discoveries at her blog. 

Also, here’s a blog post Shirley wrote from a Facebook question I asked way back when in 2018 about what books changed your life and why. Check out her list here. 

I want to thank Shirley for being on the podcast. Make sure to follow her IG account to stay on top of all her recent projects and developments.





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