Transcript of Episode 4 Season 2
LaMondre Pough: I was born in South Carolina. I’m the youngest of two. I was born to a single teenage mom and my mom was incredible, absolutely amazing woman who really taught me a lot
I’m Costa Rican, born, raised everything, but my mom isn’t, she is Colombian and we, I have three brothers, three older brothers, and we were all raised in a farm basically far away David Pérez: from the town, basically.
Richard Streitz: I’m Californian the the far off land of California and I was born in Los Angeles, North Hollywood, specifically in Southern California. And that’s where I grew up.
LaMondre Pough: Welcome to 3DVU, one conversation, three different perspectives. I’m LaMondre Pough.
David Pérez: I am David Pérez.
Richard Streitz: And I am Richard Streitz. Thank you for joining us.
LaMondre Pough: Today we want to have a ‘getting to know you’ session. We recognize that 3DVU is really about three different perspectives from three different generations. And we usually have one conversation, one topic that we focus on and it dawned on us that maybe you don’t know us quite that well. And honestly, maybe we don’t know each other quite that well either.
So we wanted to take this time to give you some insight onto where we come from, who we are. So maybe you can better understand our perspectives. Maybe you can better understand some of the insights that we come with. So what we’re gonna do today is we’re gonna do a three way interview. So we’ll ask questions.
We’ll talk about it. And just as I said, get to know each other and we invite you to join us on this, getting to know you adventure. So I’ll start. So I was born in South Carolina. I’m the youngest of two. I was born to a single teenage mom and my mom was incredible, absolutely amazing woman who really taught me a lot.
And what I mean by that is, is this: I was born with spinal muscular atrophy. And I was diagnosed at 18 months old. And when I was first diagnosed, it was said that I would not live to be five years old. And in their professional estimation. I would be a quote, “vegetable” unquote. And this is the, these are their words not mine or my mom. And the advice given to my single teenage mom was to put me in a home and and just let me do my thing.
But my mom was like I can’t do that. What else should I do? And they say what have you been doing? She said, loving him. And they said then that’s what you do. You take him home and you love him. And my mom’s approach to loving me was this. It didn’t matter what, how much time we had. It didn’t matter what the prognosis was, but what was important to her was that, while we were together that she would instill in me the things that I would need to survive and to survive well, because who knows, I just may have had a chance at survival and that’s what she did.
And so my mom always taught me self-reliance, my mother always taught me, upholding your own self-worth she would say things to me like: people will treat you the way you teach them to treat you. She would tell me things like people will smile at you and pat you on your head because you’re cute and I’m still cute by the way, because you’re cute people will pat you on your head and tell you how cute you are. But if you don’t go after it yourself, if you don’t make your own path, they’ll never give you the respect or the dignity that you so desire. So my mom really helped to shape a lot of that and growing up as a black man in the South and a black man in the South with a disability really helped to shape and to form much of how I see the world.
And that’s kinda like a beginning perspective for me. And as I said, as we go through this, we will ask each other some questions and we’ll get a little bit more deeply. And a little bit more deeper into the stories of who we are and what we are. Gentlemen, I invite you to share who are you David Perez?
David Pérez: I’m Costa Rican, born, raised everything, but my mom isn’t, she is Colombian and we, I have three brothers, three older brothers, and we were all raised in a farm basically far away from the town, basically. So we were separated. So we had to be our own friends.
LaMondre Pough: Right.
David Pérez: We had to play amongst ourselves.
And the closest thing to my house was a little shop where they sell candies and things, and it was too far away for us to walk to. So not even that, all around us, green and cows and nothing, nothing else. Right. So I had to have my, my brothers become my best friends and the kids that I play with all my life.
So I was born and raised as a family man. That’s that, that, that was my life all the way through high school. And when I went into college, I, I just knew that I wanted to study something that had to do with international things. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. So I got into political science because political science was something, somewhat related to international things.
And being there. I started looking at my life and how much life I had in front of me and what I wanted to do with it. And I decided that I really wanted to do something that actually meant something more than the strange or the separated part of politics, of actually creating policies and not even knowing if they’re going to affect the people that you’re creating the policies for.
I really wanted to do something impactful. I didn’t know what that was going to look like, what that meant, anything. But I knew that I had to try and I thought maybe diplomacy helps in, in that. And I got into a master’s degree in diplomacy. I started studying that and realized I was way off, nothing to do with what I wanted to do but it showed me what I really wanted.
I wanted a family. I wanted stability. I wanted to be able to, to con, to, to build what I had as a kid.
And that’s what brought me to, to figure out some other way to, to do things. And then I was working at UNESCO and then I met Debra and now I’m working in disability inclusion.
It’s been a trip. There’s a lot of things that I’m jumping that I’m not telling here. Cause it’s sort of a summary, but in essence, I’m Costa Rican. I have a passion for doing something that impacts the world and makes it better. And I’m very much a family man. I really want my family to be well, all of them because they have been there for me every single day of my life.
And I just want to be there for them.
LaMondre Pough: Fantastic. And I’ll tell you what, we’re going to dig a little bit more into those passions in a second, but Richard, who are you, man? You’re muted.
Can’t hear you, Richard.
David Pérez: We can’t hear you, Richard.
Richard Streitz: Oh, sorry. There were I’ve I was on mute, which I normally am not on when we’re recording, but they’re actually Jack hammering cement right underneath me. If that comes on, I apologize. They’ve been doing that all day. I thought they had stopped, but nope, they’re still at it.
Anyway, who am I? But as I said, when my mic was off as soon as I know. I’ll let you guys know, but but I was I’m Californian the the far off land of California and I was born in Los Angeles, North Hollywood, specifically in Southern California. And that’s where I grew up.
And as a result of that I ended up getting into the entertainment industry, but that’s a little further down the road or down the way from how I started. I’m I’m number four out of six kids. So there was eight of us in the household growing up. And my dad was a was a mechanic.
That was when I was when I was born. That’s what he was a and my mom stayed at home and raised six kids. We’re all about a year apart from each other. So all six of us were born in 10 years, which is a long time. So my mom had her hands full and and I think growing up it was not there was certainly no luxury or no independent wealth in it was, it was tough growing up, everything was stretched to the absolute limit.
Shoes went through all six of us. It was it was tough times and, similar to David, like you said we as a result of that, the the schools that my mom was insistent that we went to were parochial schools, which were at the time and in the area we were at the better schools the college prep schools, if you will.
And so that’s where all the resources went to which was great, except for the class system that existed in schools from an economic standpoint we were in the same class, but nowhere near the same class. And to put that in perspective I went to school in in the area of Toluca Lake and and Hollywood where there was or I’m sorry, North Hollywood and where I went to school with famous kids, actors’ kids this is this were the kids that I went to school with. And and so it, as a result, I was always, I, it was obvious that we were not part of that same group. And and we always had to defend who we were and why we were there. Because, and, kids are cruel.
They didn’t think we belonged to help pay for that because it was expensive. We actually worked. And which, I don’t know if those, if that system exists anymore, but we actually worked in the school to help pay for the tuition. I worked in the library and I worked in the cafeteria, scraping food off trays during lunchtime and And I wasn’t the only one.
All of us did all of us. So from a very early age work and work ethic was something that was just instilled into us that there was nothing given everything had to be earned and worked for to attain. And and my dad worked seven days a week. He was. I wouldn’t say he was absent because that would be unfair, but he was occupied.
He was doing what needed to get done. And so that is, that’s the core foundation of me growing up. By the time I, between and I also worked in the church. I was a choir boy, and that was when I first started getting introduced into music when I was in sixth grade it was the first year that you were allowed to sing in the choir, in the children’s choir.
And music has, as a result has always been and still to this day is a very important part of my life. My mom was a concert pianist and my dad is a was a master mechanic and that’s the sort of core foundation. Now as I go through the story there, it, things changed as we all grew up.
My dad went through a number of different careers which is an amazing story in and of itself. But the examples that my parents gave was that hard and work and dedication to what one does and what one believes in is essential. And I think those are the values that have stayed with me through my entire life, to this day.
LaMondre Pough: Yeah, no that, that’s incredible. When you start to think about. Just how our lives evolve and from where we come from, it’s amazing to look up and say, wow, and I’m here, because I think about your story in particular, Richard, and I think about, you talked about your childhood and how you grew up, you are a musician yourself and w what instruments do you play?
Richard Streitz: I play violin piano single reed instruments, so your saxophones, clarinets guitar a little bit not so much harmonica viola and a little bit of cello.
LaMondre Pough: Okay. Okay. So this guy’s basically Prince. Okay. Let’s just say that Richard is Prince, all right.
He plays like 1,000,005 different instruments. And what’s so interesting about that. When I say he’s a musician, he’s naming these instruments that he plays. He is not just a regular musician. This guy is a seeded musician. Like he has a chair, in terms of the ability that he has to play.
So he’s really an accomplished musician and composer, or I’m sorry, a director.
Richard Streitz: A conductor.
LaMondre Pough: Yeah a conductor. There we go get my words conductor. Really accomplished in what he does and what he has done. And it’s amazing because we, you just wouldn’t know that’s not something you would just pick up on.
And when I think about David, you talked about, passionate about his family and wanting to do something. This is the thing. David is a man of many talents. It really is amazing. The level of, the level of what he puts out in terms of the quality of it. It really is amazing. And I’ve known David for what it’s been about, what two, maybe three years now, David, and he’s getting, it’s every single turn he gets better and better at it.
And it’s amazing to me because as I’m seeing it, he talked about being passionate about his family and about just wanting to do something that will have an impact. Listen, he is passionate about everything that he does. It’s I don’t know anyone who attacks it with as much zeal and as much enthusiasm and as positive and that is as positive as he is in the things that he does. David, when you talk about having an impact, what does that mean for you? What does having an impact mean for you?
David Pérez: It’s complicated because it’s not something that, that I was able to explain to myself easily. I just knew that I wanted to do something that had an impact and this needs a little backstory. I was raised in my family, and my family is Catholic, but they were not, they didn’t practice catholisism.
LaMondre Pough: They weren’t good Catholics. Is that what you’re saying? They weren’t good, catholics?
David Pérez: But basically we never went to church at all. And that’s how I was raised. I didn’t go to church. I knew that God existed. I knew some of the basics of of Catholicism, but I didn’t really know catholisism. Until I was in college, I decided by myself to go and go through all the process of actually becoming a full pleged Catholic and in, in that.
And I was already doing some work with a foundation here in Costa Rica and I met a man in Limón and he is a man, not educated, but he has had a lot of success and I was talking to him. He was an older man and older Wiseman. It sounds like a made up tale, but it’s not, his name is Roberto and he’s in Cahuita and he has a restaurant.
So I was talking to him one night and he was telling me about, I was just asking him how he was able to have so much success without studying or doing anything because he was a community leader. He was doing a lot of things for his community and for his family and for everyone around him. So I asked him what it was. And he told me about this part of the Bible, where Jesus talks about giving talents to three different men, and then he leaves them or the father leaves them. And then when he comes back, he asks them what they did with those talents. And he said, that’s how I live my life, because I know that God gave me some talents.
Gave me things that I had to use to create something and make the world a better place than what I found it. And that’s what I do every day. And I was like, Oh, that, that spoke to me that really spoke to me. And it started feeding into that idea that I already had about making something, doing something that had an impact.
And that, that has just meant trying to figure it out because I don’t know what that impact is, but I know that I, as LaMondre said, I’m very talented in many things, I just try to do everything that I can to figure out what that is. And in the process, I have noticed that I’ve started seeing impact in the things that I’m doing, seeing impact in the things that I’m doing with Ruh Global, seeing, impact in the things that I did with that foundation, seeing impact in what I do for my family.
I’m starting to see the impact because I’m starting to realize what I bring to the table is helping others. And that’s, I guess what impact means to me, helping others in whatever way they need.
LaMondre Pough: Fantastic. Fantastic. Richard, you, again, going back to just an amazing journey thus far, I often joke when I talked to Richard, I always say Richard is like the guy that whenever something comes up is yeah. I used to do this and I don’t care what it is. It could be, scuba diving for puff fish, eh, in, in, in the Antarctic he would have some kind of real connection to this. But the reason that I bring that up is because Richard, you were also an Imagineer for Disney.
A freaking Imagineer for Disney, man. That is that’s amazing. Tell us a little bit, how did that come about?
Richard Streitz: Absolutely. Yeah, you know, when I the first section that I spoke about was really going up through grade school. And it was shortly after that period of time that I, while I was at grade school, I got interested with production stage production and and entertainment and theatrical production in general.
All the technical side, I had an aptitude for that probably because of my father, naturally with electronics and mechanics. And so things came very simple to me in regard to that sort of thing. And as I mentioned, I went to a school that was that was graced with I don’t know about grace, but anyway they had a lot of industry actors’, kids, and so involved with the schools. And so whenever they did productions or stage productions, they were never small. It was always a one-up mission of what the, each parent could bring, to the other. And so for example I remember very distinctly when star Wars came out, we actually had we had R2D2 and C3PO come and be in a in a grade school, grade school production of star Wars, the actual, we, you know and this was, these were the levels of connections of people that, that we had, anyway. So to, to your question I was interested and engaged in that whenever they needed volunteers to do X, Y, and Z on these productions, I always was front and center.
And that built one thing after another, I started doing from school productions, I started helping out on amateur productions around town and In our equity waiver houses. Which is an entry level actors studios and actor playhouses. And and so by the time I got into high school, I was already doing as a technical director and a stage and lighting designer for for plays around town.
I was already working and getting paid for doing this. I was getting reviews in newspapers and so forth. And I was fully engaged and involved in, in, in that industry. So by the time I got to college, I went to Notre Dame, high school in Sherman Oaks. And then I went to USC in Los Angeles and and I was part of the film and theater school at USC.
And when I was there, I was already working professionally at that point in opera, in the opera houses and in the I had graduated over time from the equity waiver to the real actually heavily paid industry jobs. And I was working in the opera houses and I was working with, just great Zubin Mehta and Baryshnikov and Sir Peter Hall and so on.
In in these productions and it was while it was doing Phantom of the Opera that I got a call from from Walt Disney, from a a VP, a design VP who had seen my work around town on a number of different productions, my designs and my special effects and so forth that I was engaged in doing.
And and asked if I would be interested to to talk to some folks at Walt Disney. And I said, sure that’s the way you, you, you sort of flow floated from job to job while you were in a job, you would get calls and prepare for the next job. So I would go from gig to gig using the vernacular of the industry.
So I never, I would rarely have gaps in between cause I’d have some jobs lined up so that when I was finished with, when that show would close, I would already be working on the next one and sometimes they would overlap. And so it was like, Oh yeah, sure. Hey Disney. Yeah. Sign me up. So I went and had an interview with them and and they brought me on board and I came in as a lighting designer for them.
And and I was there for a dozen years working on everything from restaurants, shops rides and attractions and helping design and develop four theme parks from scratch with them all over the world.
LaMondre Pough: And see, and that’s the amazing part. When you think of Disney you think of actually working for Disney.
You made the magic in the magic kingdom, you know, you were the magic maker. When you think about that. And from that you went on to create theme parks all over the world. And that’s pretty awesome. And to think about where you began, as you said your mom was a stay at home mom, even though she was accomplished pianist.
Richard Streitz: That’s what she gave up, she, and she did that wholeheartedly. She, I think later on she, she had some regrets about that, but I can tell you at the time she never regretted having six kids and passing up on her co on or a concert piano career.
LaMondre Pough: Absolutely. And your father being a mechanic and other careers, but the thing is to think about where you came from and what you were able to accomplish in life and even listening to David’s story about how his passions are led by the concept of having an impact.
It makes me think honestly, a lot about my life, coming from a single teenage parent being told that I was going to die before I was five. And interestingly enough, it moved up in 10 year increments after I passed the age of five and went to 15 and then 25 of then middle thirties. And eventually they just stopped, so it’s
Richard Streitz: he just won’t die. What is that? What’s wrong.
LaMondre Pough: Exactly. I’m the brother that would not die. And what’s interesting about that for me is that I have to say either I’m the biggest four year old you’ve ever seen in your life, or they were just wrong. They just had it wrong. But honestly, during that time, that’s how they gave those whenever you got a diagnosis, a diagnosis of spinal muscular atrophy, they gave the absolute worst case scenario. Just to, to prepare you for that, but having that experience. I cling to the things like, as David said, impact, legacy is important to me. Legacy is extremely important to me.
And the impact that I will have on this world while I’m here. My thinking is, okay, so after all is said and done after I’ve done everything that I can, would the world have benefited from the fact that I’ve lived, that I’ve breathed that I drew breath, that. That I was able to touch something, someone, or make an impact in some way, shape or form.
And honestly, the older I get, the more I think about those things. I have a little cousin her name is Ariana, Ariana also have spinal muscular atrophy and Ariana is 11 years old. And until Ariana I was born, I was the only one in the family with spinal muscular atrophy. And once Ariana was born, I thought, whoa.
That’s, okay, cool. We’ve got somebody else in the family with spinal muscular atrophy. So I want to make certain that I’m there for her to, be an example and to share whatever insights I have in life. And that was my approach from the beginning. But one day my mom was speaking to her grandmother and her grandmother told my mom, do you know what my baby said to me?
She said that her cousin told her that she can be whatever she wanted to be in this life, as long as she was willing to work for it. And she remembered that. Now keep in mind, she was probably about six or seven years old when she said that I remember the conversation that I had with her. And honestly, I didn’t even think that she was even listening to be honest with you, but the fact that she repeated that, and I noticed how whenever I was around how she would cling to me, she was always with me.
Whenever we were together and how she followed me around and I realized that she’s seeing what her life could be in me. She’s being informed about what the world has to offer for her, because there’s nobody else in her life. That’s like her except me. So when she sees me, she is thinking, Hey this is what my life could be.
And so honestly, that, that gave me a new sense of purpose. That gave me a new sense of why I do what I do. And honestly it makes me want to live even the more so and to contribute more because I recognize that it’s not just about me. There is a legacy I’m leaving. I don’t have any kids. I don’t have any kids.
After a 17 year marriage I’m divorced. So I’m newly single. But having to, but having seen, having her look at me I realized that what I do matters, not just in, okay, what do I do professionally? And those kinds of things, but it matters to someone in terms of what their life could possibly be.
And my thing is, I want to show her that her life can be whatever it is that she decides that it could be. And yeah, so impact and passions and being excellent in the things that we do are all themes that run really deep with me. And honestly even the show. I appreciate the fact that you guys are willing to share your time, your interest, your expertise, your insights with me and this audience. And my hope is that even listening to this show and I know this show is a little bit different than what we would typically do. Typically we have a topic and we talk about that topic and we express our opinions, but we wanted to really give you an idea of who we are to understand the perspectives that we come from to understand where those insights come from.
And what I hope you have heard today is you’ve heard something that encourages you. That inspires you, that causes you to think about what is it that you’re passionate about? What is the legacy that you want to leave? What are the areas that you see where you can be excellent or do you want to change something up?
You literally could be like Richard and go from being, a musician to an Imagineer, to, to someone who just has much to offer. And not only has it to offer, is offering it. Because I know that there are people that are watching this. You’re watching this, you’re listening to this right now.
And there is so much that you could offer, but are you offering it? And so our encouragement is: offer it, put it out there and watch the universe rise to meet you. Guys, thank you so much for sharing who you are and what you are. And certainly do appreciate it. So until the next time we’ll catch you on 3DVU again. Thank you.
David Pérez: Thanks for joining us this week on 3DVU. Make sure to visit our website ruhglobal.com/3DVU’s RUHglobal.com/3DVU where you can subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts, or join our YouTube channel so you will never miss a show. While you’re at it, if you find value in the show, we appreciate it if you would leave a like or comment, or simply tell a friend about the show, that would really help us a lot too. If you would like to join our conversations, you can join our Facebook community 3DVU, three perspectives, one conversation.