What do Keanu Reeves, the O’Jays, and an epic trip to Aruba have in common? They’re all right here as FCB Chicago Executive Producer Whitney Cusack stops by for an entertaining and insightful round of Five Questions with SCREEN. Let’s get to it!
SCREEN: If you could be a member of any musical group in history, what would it be?
WHITNEY: Oh man! This is hard because the way I LOVE music. If I have to narrow it down, I’d say The O’Jays just so I could be there live when they recorded “For the Love of Money”. I love the instrumentation on that track!
All right, Whitney, this is for you! Live performance from the O’Jays of that track you love, enjoy!
SCREEN: Best advice you’ve ever been given?
WHITNEY: I’ll quote a character we all know and love, “When life gets you down you know what you gotta do? JUST KEEP SWIMMING.” ~the lovable Dory
Perseverance has been the name of the game my entire life.
SCREEN: Your favorite commercial ever?
WHITNEY: Ok there’s two…
First one that I remember from childhood was this McDonald’s Martin Luther King Jr tribute. It was very simple; a lead vocalist, a choir singing in the background and some candles. I always thought it was so tranquil and beautiful. I even did a deep dive to find it on YouTube last year because I was offended that my mother didn’t remember it lol…
The second and more recent is the “You Love Me” spot from Beats by Dre that was released in 2020. Written by Lena Waithe and directed by Melina Matoukas. It’s a powerful, raw and unapologetic look at how Black culture is accepted over the originators of the culture itself…
SCREEN: Most famous person you’ve ever met?
WHITNEY: Thankfully there are a few… with several pictures as proof, but the one that caught me by surprise the most would have to be Keanu Reeves. I randomly saw him walking towards me one day in Tribeca. He was wearing a long wool trench and was so smooth. I gave him a head nod and just kept it moving because who was I to interrupt his vibe.
SCREEN: Summer is winding down so we have to ask… what is your Best Summer Vacation Ever?
WHITNEY: The vacation I took this summer actually. A group of us went to Aruba in June to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It was beautiful, relaxing, hilarious and some of the best karaoke I think we’ve ever sung.
SCREEN: Your greatest athletic achievement?
WHITNEY: I started taking boxing classes when I was at my heaviest and full of anxiety several years ago (Shoutout to Rumble!). I struggled with asthma most of my life and I had just recovered from foot surgery but I fought through all of that – literally and figuratively – and have loved it since! Whenever I need to de-stress, that’s one of my go-tos.
SCREEN: Worst job ever?
WHITNEY: Don’t remind me… I was working part time on the weekends for a small company that shot photos for school sports teams. The company was run by a father/son duo from what I can remember. I literally had a snake emoji saved in place of the owner’s name in my phone. That was one of three jobs that I was working at the time, including a catering and event venue and one of my first producer roles at an agency in New York.
SCREEN: What is your most prized possession?
WHITNEY: Honestly, my peace of mind. I went for so long doing things for everyone else that I often ignored that little voice inside telling me to stop and put myself first in certain situations. Now I know that if I don’t have peace about a project, person, or place then it’s just not for me at that particular time.
Thanks for playing, Whitney! Check back here at SCREEN for a new round of Five Questions each week. And you can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.