I moved to a new city last year, Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. I've met really great people and new friends. A year in and I am looking for an injection of some creative inspiration and it felt like it was time to do another 30 strangers project, this time adding a couple questions around improv. I always find this type of project invigorating and inspiring. It gives me a great reason to meet and talk to new people, learn new things and hear new stories. And this time ask how people use improv in their daily lives. It is a word that when some people hear it, brings out a fear, like snakes, or going to the dentist. But really we are all improvising, to some degree, everyday.
Stranger 1. Frank.
I started off in my own neighborhood of Graduate Hospital, mid-afternoon on the Friday before the 4th of July weekend. I only walked a few blocks before I met Frank, while he was watering his plants in the front of his house. He was immediately open to being interviewed despite a few moans of feeling sweaty and un-photogenic. He was warm and friendly. We talked about love and relationships and when being open to the unexpected, the universe can bring you the unexpected. And at the end of our brief time together, I found a friend in a new neighbor. This project is off to a smashing start!
Name: Frank Mancuso.
Age: Somewhere between 40 and death, somewhere in my 50s I'll say
Photographed in: Philly, Graduate Hospital neighborhood
Lives in: Graduate Hospital
Occupation: Senior Vice President of Business Development for a Wellness Technology Company
1. It could be said that life is one big Improv session. Where do you find yourself having to improvise in your day-to-day life?
FRANK: Well interpersonal relationships and work are two places that I have to constantly improvise.
KAT: Do you feel like you're good at improvising?
F: Yes I do as a matter of fact. I've taken an acting class or two. Improv to me is an opportunity to pivot in the middle of a conversation so that you're not
saying no to things but you are moving things forward.
K: Do you think everyone should take an improv class?
F: Yes. I think it's actually an important life lesson.
2. What's your hidden talent?
F: I'm a kind of amazing cook.
K: What's your specialty?
F: My specialty is mushroom risotto.
K: How did you learn how to make that?
F: A combination of Italian grandparents, parents and 20 years of watching The Food Network.
K: So do you have your own perfected recipe now? Has it been improvised over the years?
F: I Improvised it! So I've taken combinations of some of my favorite chefs, like Ina Garten or Giada and combine those and then put my Twist on them.
K: All right so what's your twist? If you don't mind sharing.
F: So my twist in risotto is red pepper flakes and marscapone at the end to keep it very creamy.
K: oh that sounds delicious!
3. What inspires you today?
F: Today? Greenery has inspired me today. Today I was inspired to fix and hardscape the front of my house. I wanted to keep the city bright my house
looking lovely so today was all about taking care of hardscaping and landscaping
K: So nice, it looks beautiful
4. How do you feel about being photographed and why?
F: Um, Filmed okay. Photographed, like stills uh I'm uncomfortable because I feel like I never look natural and it does it kind of hides my actual essence.
K: Have you ever been professionally photographed before?
K: And how did that go?
F: Terribly. It was headshots and we were forced to be in positions and to smile in ways I naturally don't smile. So if somebody finds me and catches me
without me knowing I'm getting my picture taken, I love that.
5. What piece of advice have you heard that you use or think about the most?
F: Um, wow advice I think about the most is--it's life-changing for me. It's very
simple. It's five words. Tell the truth in love.
K: Where did you learn that from?
F: 15 years of therapy.
6. What's something that you believe but cannot prove?
F: oh man that is a tough one. I guess I'm gonna go with, hell doesn't exist but yet there's a higher power.
K: Have you seen examples of that in your life?
F: Yeah. I think I have... in ways that are shocking and surprising to me. Higher power being the ability to have the universe bring things into my life and have things leave them when I didn't ask for them but they kind of naturally did.
K: Do you want to get specific?
F: you know I'll just say this- relationships. I've got a super great one with the person that lives in this house with me.
K: oh that's amazing . By the way how did you get to your job? How did
you start doing that?
F: Completely randomly. I left a job in New York City at a hedge fund that I hated. Where they basically wanted to fire me because I was gay. I moved back to
Philadelphia. Found what was supposed to be a gap, two year job, and it turned into a 20-year career. It was a little bit of my business acumen met with my personal interest in Fitness and Wellness and I created a career out of corporate wellness that I didn't even know was a thing. But it got me to Philadelphia. Sort of the universe talking to me. Got me to meet the person I'm with right now. All because I ended up getting fired from a job.
K: What do you think makes you the best at your job? What makes it a great job for you?
F: Passion and the ability to communicate but listen really well and be able to
respond to what I'm hearing from clients and prospects and co-workers.
K: That's Improv.
F: That's improv.
Follow Frank on IG @frankiephila