In this two-part episode Cloud9 interviews American actor, musician, and social justice advocate Penn Badgley. Penn is a member of the Baha’i Faith, which teaches the essential oneness of all religions and the unity and equality of all people.
In the first half of this interview Penn shares how he reconciles his faith with his creative practice, and why he believes it’s important to align his spiritual life with his material life. He reflects on the following quote from the Baha’i writings:
Among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is that although material civilization is one of the means for the progress of the world of mankind, yet until it becomes combined with Divine civilization, the desired result, which is the felicity of mankind, will not be attained. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 298.
In the second half of this series, we learn more about how Penn’s life and career has been impacted since becoming a Baha’i. Penn shares how the Baha’i writings inform his identity, in particular the social and moral responsibilities he strives to uphold as an actor and public figure, and how he believes artists and their work can advance the affairs of humanity:
The purpose of learning should be the promotion of the welfare of the people, and this can be achieved through crafts. It hath been revealed and is now repeated that the true worth of artists and craftsmen should be appreciated, for they advance the affairs of mankind. – Baha’u’llah, from a tablet translated from the Persian.
We gain insight into the work Penn is most passionate about, and why he believes that the spiritual education of children, the moral empowerment of youth, praying with others, and building friendships are so vital to community building and societal transformation. Penn explains that this process welcomes everyone, and invites listeners to learn more and take part in the Baha’i model of social transformation.
We close this two-part interview by asking Penn to share an amusing anecdote about fasting while on the set of You. We also learn about Penn’s plans for the future, and why he hopes to contribute to media in a bigger way, by integrating spiritually-inspired themes into his future work and storytelling.