Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Tracie Franklin, January 11, 2023

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:28 - Introductions

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Partial Transcript: Hi, my name is Janice Bernheimer, I am professor of writing, rhetoric, and digital studies.

Segment Synopsis: Tracie Franklin introduces herself as the independent founder of Spirited Tracie LLC, and as a professional whiskey educator.

Keywords: Bourbon; Drinks; Jack Daniel; Jack Daniel's; Jack Daniels; Nearest & Jack; Nearest and Jack; ReneĢ Brandy; Spirited Tracie; Uncle Nearest; Uncle Nearest's; Uncle Nearests; Whisky; Spirited Tracie LLC

Subjects: Alcohol; Alcoholic beverages; Beverages; Bourbon whiskey; Brandy; Careers; Distilleries; Distillers; Educators; Industries; Liquors; Occupations; Professions; Spirits; Whiskey; Whiskey industry; Wine; Alcoholic beverage industry

00:02:03 - Background and educational experience

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Partial Transcript: For the orig-- official record, please tell me what you were named at birth.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin discusses how her parents met, where she was raised, and the things she learned to appreciate throughout her childhood. She describes her deeply rooted interest in studying other cultures and shares her experience of getting to travel across the world as an actress, learning multiple different languages.

Keywords: Appreciation; Atwater; Cuisine; Cultures; Disney; Disney Studios; Entertainment; Languages; Performers; San Angelo; Thai; Traveling; Family

Subjects: Actresses; Atwater (Calif.); California; Childhood; Communities; Culture; Education; Entertainers; Experience; Fathers; Food; Foods; Growing up; Labor; Learning; Military bases; Mothers; Opportunity; Parents; Respect; San Angelo (Tex.); Siblings; Texas; Thai language; Theater; Tours; Travel; Values; Walt Disney Animation Studios; Work; Backgrounds

GPS: Atwater, CA (USA)
Map Coordinates: 37.347, -120.609
00:06:41 - Family relations and inspiration

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Partial Transcript: So, hang on, while we're slowed down for a minute, tell me, um, the names of your brothers and where they lived.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin describes the names of her brothers, where they live, and the age range between them. She talks about her father's death from serving in the military, and says that he had motivated her to be independent and follow her passions.

Keywords: Aspirations; Connections; Entertainment; Military service; Performers; Relationships; Service members; Family

Subjects: Actresses; Art; Arts; Brothers; Childhood; Death; Encouragement; Fathers; Growing up; Hobbies; Independence; Independent; Influences; Inspiration; Loss; Military; Mothers; Motivation; Opportunity; Parenting; Passions; Theater; Siblings

00:09:17 - Hobbies and interests / Childhood housing

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Partial Transcript: Um, let's switch gears and, um, talk a little bit about childhood and growing up and school and things.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin talks about her hobbies, activities, and jobs throughout her young life that helped shape her professions, both in theater and in the alcohol industry. She talks about the areas she grew up in with her family and the types of housing they had.

Keywords: Activities; Atwater; Entertainment; Extracurricular; Family; Homes; Houses; Jobs; Recognition; Skills; Talents; Teens; Performers

Subjects: Acting; Actresses; Adolescence; Alcohol; Atwater (Calif.); Bartenders; Careers; Education; Entertainers; Experience; Growing up; Hobbies; Housing; Occupations; Opportunity; Parents; Passions; Schools; Science; Sports; Stability; Teenagers; Theater; Whiskey; Childhood

GPS: Atwater, CA (USA)
Map Coordinates: 37.347, -120.609
00:13:52 - Favorite school subjects / Reasons for pursuing entertainment

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Partial Transcript: Tell me a little bit about school.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin talks about her favorite subjects throughout school and what drew her to them. She explains how witnessing and being a victim to violence are things that motivated her to pursue entertainment out of the desire to bring joy and freely express herself.

Keywords: Colleges; Entertainment; Math; Performers; Relationships; Self-worth; Tolerance; Universities

Subjects: Abuse; Acting; Actresses; Adolescence; Bullying; Chemistry; Education; Entertainers; Expression; Hobbies; Mathematics; Schools; Science; Self-esteem; Teachers; Teenagers; Theater; Violence

00:18:31 - Family and societal values / Teaching children black history

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Partial Transcript: You talked a little bit how your dad gave you permission.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin talks about the emphasis that her parents put on education, pride as a black person, and conforming to society. She explains how her aunt would send her biographical children's books to learn about black history, which she now sends to her nephews.

Keywords: Acceptance; Activities; Black history; Family; Figures; Historical; Idols; POC; People of color; Pride; Roles; Skin color; Tolerance

Subjects: African Americans; Aunts; Biographies; Black people; Books; Brothers; Childhood; Children's books; Conformity; Education; Excellence; Fathers; Growing up; History; Learning; Mothers; Nephews; Parenting; Parents; Role models; Siblings; Skin tones; Teaching

00:22:33 - Expectations imposed on people of color

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Partial Transcript: You talk about each of your parents having that experience of being the only person of color in a predominantly white environment.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin explains how she was negatively affected from how her friends, family, and society would perceive the "role" of a black person. She points out the flaws of her parents' ideology towards acting acceptable over acting as oneself, despite it helping her excel in her career.

Keywords: Diversity; Judgement; POC; People of color; Skin color

Subjects: African Americans; Black people; Conformity; High schools; Influences; Judging; Labels; Military; Neighborhoods; Parenting; Parents; Pressure; Self-acceptance; Skin tones; Stereotypes; White people

00:28:10 - Sibling relationships / Family's exposure to racism

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned how your brother, um, kind of dealt with it differently, in part cause of his own personality.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin describes her younger brothers and how they would interact with her and with others. She explains how, growing up in a diverse and liberal community, her family didn't fully understand the prominence of racism until moving out of California and experiencing it firsthand.

Keywords: Black women; Diversity; Expectations; POC; People of color; Racial groups; Skin color

Subjects: African American women; African Americans; Atwater (Calif.); Black people; California; Communication; Discrimination; Florida; Military bases; Mothers; Races; Racism; Skin tones; Understanding; White people

GPS: Atwater, CA (USA)
Map Coordinates: 37.347, -120.609
00:31:15 - Childhood role models

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Partial Transcript: I do want to come back to, to Aunt Felice.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin talks about her aunt whom she looked up to as a child. She explains how her aunt and grandmother both loved to travel and would often take her family on vacations. She says that her aunt's autonomy and sense of freedom inspired her to become the type of personality she is today.

Keywords: Activities; Community service; Family; Idols; Illness; Jobs; Rich; Self-sufficient; Sickness; Traveling

Subjects: Aunts; Autonomy; Cancer; Freedom; Grandmothers; Grandparents; Independence; Influences; Role models; Self-sufficient living; Texas; Travel; Vacations

00:34:42 - Earliest experiences with alcohol

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Partial Transcript: This is a fun question, a lighter question perhaps.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin describes some of her first experiences with drinking alcohol, and how she grew to appreciate the flavor of whiskey.

Keywords: Appreciation; Bars; Drinking; Drinks; Family; Jobs; Mixed drinks; NYC; New York; Perspectives; Whisky; Bourbon

Subjects: Alcoholic beverages; Beverages; Bourbon whiskey; Brandy; Breweries; Flavor; Liquors; New York (N.Y.); New York (State); Perspective; Spirits; Taste; Tequila; Vodka; Whiskey; Wine; Alcohol

00:37:31 - Joining university and pursuing theater

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Partial Transcript: I apologize for us going--zigzagging back and forth.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin describes her journey pursuing a higher education in theater and figuring out where her interests lie. She talks about the plays she watched and participated in during her time at community theater.

Keywords: Applying; Aspirations; Black actresses; CSU; California State; Colleges; Entertainment; Expectations; Fullerton; Higher education; POC; People of color; Performers; Shows; Stage plays; Universities

Subjects: Acting; Actresses; African American actresses; African Americans; Black people; California; California State University; California State University, Fullerton; Community colleges; Community theater; Education; Fullerton (Calif.); Plays; Programs; Schools; Singing; Theater

GPS: California State University, Fullerton, CA (USA)
Map Coordinates: 33.882, -117.885
00:41:43 - Activities outside of education / Body shaming and eating disorders

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Partial Transcript: And so, you decided to stay and do the community theater to perfect your craft?

Segment Synopsis: Franklin talks about the activities she participated in prior to being accepted into university, including volunteer work for a domestic violence shelter and entering a beauty pageant for Merced County. She explains how she was discriminated for her body size during high school, which led her to developing an eating disorder and later seeking therapy.

Keywords: Beauty pageants; Black women; Body shaming; Colleges; Dancing; Higher education; Insecurities; Merced; Merced County; Models; POC; People of color; Shelters; Universities; Volunteering

Subjects: African American women; African Americans; Ballerinas; Ballet; Black people; Body size; Community colleges; Community theater; Dance; Discrimination; Eating disorders; Education; Health; Mental health; Merced (Calif.); Merced County (Calif.); Opportunity; Pageants; Schools; Self-doubt; Therapy; Volunteers; Work

GPS: Merced, CA (USA)
Map Coordinates: 37.305, -120.483
00:45:51 - Traveling the world and performing for Disney

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Partial Transcript: I, I'm already amazed by the ways that you have kind of taken the expectations that were put on you for a certain kind of path, but then also the confidence to kind of break from those expectations and to pursue something.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin talks about her experience getting to travel across the world and perform shows for Disney. She explains how playing the starring role in her show made her arrogant, and how she was able to overcome this attitude with help from her wardrobe mistress.

Keywords: Arrogance; Black actresses; Disney; Disney Studios; Entertainment; Humble; Mentors; POC; People of color; Performers; Shows; Skin color; Traveling

Subjects: Acting; Actresses; African American actresses; African Americans; Audiences; Black people; Children; Ego; Entertainers; Impact; Performances; Skin tones; Storytellers; Theater; Tours; Travel; Walt Disney Animation Studios; Winnie the Pooh; Young adults

00:49:19 - Acting experience during and after university

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Partial Transcript: Take me back to Cal State.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin talks about her acting experience at California State University and later at New York.

Keywords: Black women; CSU; California State; Cultures; Employment; Entertainment; Expectations; Fullerton; Hairspray; Higher education; Performers; Representation; Roles; Shows; The Color Purple; Universities; Colleges

Subjects: Acting; Actresses; African American actresses; African American women; African Americans; Auditions; Black people; California State University, Fullerton; Casts; Communities; Culture; Education; Entertainers; Experience; Fullerton (Calif.); Hairspray (Motion picture : 1988); Learning; Music; Performances; Plays; Races; Singing; Studying; Theater; Tours; California State University

GPS: California State University, Fullerton, CA (USA)
Map Coordinates: 33.882, -117.885
00:54:39 - Acting mentorship, education, and inspirations

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Partial Transcript: What, what type of mentorship did you get while you were at Cal State Fullerton?

Segment Synopsis: Franklin describes her idols in the acting industry who inspired her, and explains how her university trained her to be career-ready by the time she graduated.

Keywords: Aspirations; Entertainment; Higher education; Idols; Jobs; Mentors; Peers; Performers; Preparation; Skills; Talents; Universities; Colleges

Subjects: Acting; Actresses; California State University; California State University, Fullerton; Careers; College students; Entertainers; Excellence; Fullerton (Calif.); Influences; Inspiration; Learning; Mentorship; Motivation; Occupations; Opportunity; Performances; Plays; Preparedness; Schools; Theater; Training; Education

GPS: California State University, Fullerton, CA (USA)
Map Coordinates: 33.882, -117.885
00:57:44 - Getting into the whiskey industry

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, yeah, so let's, let's talk whiskey.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin explains how she got into the whiskey industry, starting out as a bartender alongside her acting career and learning more about whiskey from interacting with patrons. She explains how she banded together with a fellow actress to start the company "Whersky" with the goal of catering to women and minorities in the drinking community.

Keywords: Aspirations; Bars; Companies; Connections; Diversity; Empowerment; Entertainment; Jobs; Opportunities; Performers; Recognition; Representation; Routines; Schedules; Scotch; Shows; Whersky; Whisky; Drinks

Subjects: Acting; Actresses; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Auditions; Bartenders; Bartending; Beverages; Careers; Communication; Entertainers; Experience; Influences; Inspiration; Learning; Liquors; Marketing; Minorities; Motivation; Occupations; Opportunity; Scotch whiskey; Spirits; Theater; Time management; Wages; Whiskey; Whiskey industry; Women; Alcohol

01:03:20 - Representing women and minorities in the whiskey industry

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Partial Transcript: I've got a whole bunch of questions here.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin describes the reasons why she chose to start her company and become a whiskey educator, explaining how there was no marketing in the whiskey industry at the time to represent women and minorities. She talks about some of her biggest supporters and the contributions they made.

Keywords: Bars; Brands; Contributions; Diversity; Drinks; Entertainment; Glenfiddich; Representation; Supporters; Whersky

Subjects: Actresses; Alcohol; Alcohol industry; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Bartenders; Bartending; Beverages; Educators; Liquors; Marketing; Minorities; Motivation; Spirits; Teachers; Teaching; Whiskey; Whiskey industry

01:06:33 - Becoming a whiskey educator / Whersky website and articles

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Partial Transcript: So, what did you--like, how did you prepare to be in this role as the educator, right?

Segment Synopsis: Franklin explains how her prior experience in entertainment and knowledge she had received from bartending, attending events, etc., helped her better prepare herself as a whiskey educator. She talks about the official Whersky website that was taken down and the types of articles that were published on it.

Keywords: Articles; Tastings; Volunteering; Websites; Whersky

Subjects: Alcohol; Alcohol industry; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Bartenders; Beverages; Communication; Education; Entertainers; Interviews; Liquors; Spirits; Teachers; Volunteers; Whiskey; Whiskey industry

01:10:45 - Whersky's target audience and team members

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Partial Transcript: Talk to me about Whersky and, and you and Jen's vision.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin explains how Whersky was designed to welcome and appeal to everyone with the goal of increasing diversity. She describes how she would recruit and train new members at Whersky, and how work was divided between herself and her fellow co-owner.

Keywords: Articles; Brands; Diversity; Donations; Drinks; Empowerment; Entertainment; Recognition; Representation; Teams; Websites; Whersky

Subjects: Advertisements; Alcohol; Alcohol industry; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Audiences; Beverages; Demographics; Education; Liquors; Management; Minorities; Spirits; Teachers; Whiskey; Whiskey industry

01:15:24 - Educating people about whiskey / Training in distilling

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Partial Transcript: I, I want to know like, more about how you personally taught whiskey 101, like--as an educator, what are the key components that you think everyone should walk away from that class knowing or understanding?

Segment Synopsis: Franklin describes the topics she would educate people about in her whiskey 101 courses, and explains how having knowledgeable consumers directly benefits the whiskey industry. She describes her training as a distiller and how she ended up taking a job offer from Glenfiddich Distillery.

Keywords: Appreciation; Brands; Craft distilleries; Dave Pickerell; Diversity; Drinks; Enjoyment; Feedback; Glenfiddich; Information; Maker's Mark; POC; People of color; Recognition; Representation; Scotch; Whersky; Whisky; WhistlePig

Subjects: African Americans; Alcohol; Alcohol industry; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Apprentices; Black people; Consumers; Distilleries; Distillers; Educators; Job offers; Liquors; Maker's Mark Distillery; Marketing; Races; Scotch whiskey; Spirits; Teachers; Teaching; Whiskey; Whiskey industry

GPS: WhistlePig Whiskey Parlour, Quechee, VT (USA)
Map Coordinates: 43.646, -72.419
01:22:34 - Networking and friendships in the whiskey industry

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Partial Transcript: Who else, um--you talk a lot about your wonderful colleague, Jen.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin talks about the teammates and supporters she has worked with throughout her whiskey career. She reflects on the interpersonal connections she made through Whersky and their collaborative impact as a whole.

Keywords: Companies; Glenfiddich; Jobs; Networking; Networks; Peer mentoring; Peers; Recognition; Representation; Scotch; Supporters; Teammates; Whersky

Subjects: Alcohol; Alcoholic beverages; Beverages; Distilleries; Distillers; Education; Educators; Liquors; Mentoring; Reflections; Scotch whiskey; Spirits; Teachers; Whiskey; Whiskey industry

01:26:11 - Working with Glenfiddich Distillery

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about Glenfiddich.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin describes her time working at Glenfiddich Distillery in Scotland. She explains how despite her initial self-doubt, she was warmly received by the people in Scotland due to her deep passion for whiskey, despite her outward appearance.

Keywords: Black women; Diversity; Drinks; Expectations; Glenfiddich; POC; People of color; Perspectives; Scotch; Skin colors; Teams; UK; United Kingdom; Validation; Whisky

Subjects: African American women; African Americans; Alcohol; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Ambassadors; Beverages; Black people; Distilleries; Distillers; Liquors; Scotch whiskey; Scotland; Self-consciousness; Self-doubt; Skin tones; Spirits; Whiskey; Whiskey industry

GPS: Glenfiddich Distillery, Dufftown (Scotland, UK)
Map Coordinates: 57.454, -3.128
01:30:47 - Landing a job with Glenfiddich

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Partial Transcript: So, backtrack a little bit and like--how did you actually land the job at Glenfiddich?

Segment Synopsis: Franklin explains how she met with Glenfiddich's brand manager during her job as a bartender. She discusses how she worked with Ron Coloma for more distributing experience before receiving and accepting a job offer from Glenfiddich.

Keywords: Applying; Aspirations; Bars; Brands; Companies; Distributors; Glenfiddich; Managers; Ron Coloma

Subjects: Alcohol; Alcohol industry; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Beverages; Distilleries; Distillers; Liquors; Opportunity; Rum; Spirits; Understanding; Whiskey; Whiskey industry

01:33:06 - Joining the Nearest & Jack Initiative

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, let's talk about being independent.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin explains why she left Glenfiddich Distillery and how she later joined as the first intern of the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative, a program designed to accelerate leadership roles of people of color in the whiskey industry. She explains how the opportunity has allowed her to travel across the U.S. and overseas, meeting with the most popular master distillers in the world. She says that due to recent changes in her physical health, she has shifted her career focus more towards education than distilling.

Keywords: Du Nord; Fawn Weaver; Glenfiddich; IBD; Internships; Jack Daniel; Jack Daniel's; Jack Daniels; Nearest & Jack; Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative; Nearest and Jack; POC; People of color; Protests; Uncle Nearest; Uncle Nearest's; Uncle Nearests; United Kingdom

Subjects: African Americans; Alcohol; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Black people; COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020-; Consumers; Distilleries; Distillers; Educators; Health; Leaders; Leadership; Liquors; Luxury; Pandemics; Research; Schools; Scotland; Spirits; Teachers; Teaching; Weaver, Fawn, 1976-; Whiskey; Whiskey industry

01:39:19 - Studying as an intern / Contributions to the whiskey industry

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Partial Transcript: Take me back to this conversation with Fawn.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin explains how she received her intern position in the Nearest & Jack program, and describes the mentoring she received. She talks about the other interns in the program, how their goals and interests differ from one another, and how she wants to shine a spotlight on the diverse contributions made by people in the whiskey industry.

Keywords: Diversity; Fawn Weaver; Internships; Jack Daniel; Jack Daniel's; Jack Daniels; Mentors; Nearest & Jack; Nearest and Jack; Recruitment; Self-development; Traveling; Uncle Nearest; Uncle Nearest's; Uncle Nearests

Subjects: Alcohol; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Apprentices; Beverages; Biologists; Biology; Distilleries; Distillers; Education; Educators; Leaders; Leadership; Wages; Weaver, Fawn, 1976-; Whiskey; Whiskey industry

01:44:44 - Health concerns and receiving support

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Partial Transcript: So, how long were you in the program with Jack Daniel's and this, this leadership?

Segment Synopsis: Franklin talks about how she recently received surgery to have a tumor removed, which has led her to question the future of her career. She discusses how she's received help from her friends, loved ones, and supporters at Nearest & Jack.

Keywords: Connections; Fawn Weaver; Graduation; Illness; Jack Daniel's; Jack Daniels; Nearest & Jack; Nearest and Jack; Sickness; Uncle Nearest; Uncle Nearest's; Uncle Nearests

Subjects: Alcohol; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Beverages; Distilleries; Distillers; Health; Liquors; Programs; Spirits; Surgery; Tumors; Weaver, Fawn, 1976-; Whiskey; Whiskey industry

01:48:52 - About Spirited Tracie LLC

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Partial Transcript: I want to shift gears a little bit from this.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin talks about what led her to start her company, Spirited Tracie, and how it has opened new avenues for her as a whiskey educator. She talks about the other companies and groups that her company has partnered with.

Keywords: Appreciation; Aspirations; Black Bourbon Society; Bourbon; Courses; Spirited Tracie; Spirited Tracie LLC; Tastings

Subjects: Alcohol; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Beverages; Bourbon whiskey; Courses and lectures; Decision making; Education; Educators; Liquors; Partners; Spirits; Whiskey; Whiskey industry

01:52:36 - Creating diversity in the whiskey industry

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Partial Transcript: Thinking about access and thinking about kind of the support that exists for both women and minorities in what is still a very predominately white industry, tell me about what it was like in 2011 when you first started bartending, and you know, what your impressions of the bourbon slash whiskey--I know they're not the same thing.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin reflects on how the whiskey industry has gradually become more diverse and how it can continue to improve in the future. She talks about her hopes for future generations and the importance of standing up against sexism or other problematic issues within the industry.

Keywords: Bourbon; Distributors; Diversity; Drinks; Empowerment; Gender roles; Glenfiddich; POC; People of color; Representation; Skin colors; White women

Subjects: African American women; African Americans; Alcohol; Alcoholic beverage industry; Alcoholic beverages; Beverages; Black people; Bourbon whiskey; Discrimination; Gender; Generations; Liquors; Minorities; Races; Segregation; Sexism; Skin tones; Spirits; Values; Visibility; Whiskey; Whiskey industry; White people

01:59:22 - Gender issues and creating equality for women

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about some of the micro and maybe there--I don't know if macro is quite the word, but microaggressions and some of the other, um, yucky behavior that you faced in your many roles.

Segment Synopsis: Franklin talks about the issues that women have had to face in regards to being discriminated against, harassed, and forced into perceived roles by society. She explains how these gender roles exist today due to differences in what is deemed acceptable by different generations, and how she hopes to create a more progressive society that is more accepting of diversity for future generations.

Keywords: Bars; Cultures; Diversity; Gender roles; Microaggressions; Perceptions; Recognition; Representation; Supporters

Subjects: Bartenders; Bartending; Equality; Feminism; Gender; Gender issues; Genders; Generations; Harassment; Self-esteem; Sexism; Sexual abuse; Sexual harassment; Society; Stereotypes