Comedy Central’s VP Of Talent Releases Self-Help Book, Urging Us All To ‘Buy The F*cking Lilies’ & Become A Ninja Of Self-Love

We’re in the middle of a global crisis right now. And the best thing we can do for ourselves is stay home, indulge in self-care, and read a good book. if you’re looking for a way to combine all three, we highly recommend Tara Schuster’s ‘Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals To Fix Your Life From Someone Who’s Been There’ (Penguin Random House). The book was released on February 18, and it is not your typical self-help book. It is a practical conversation with your new best friend, telling us how to get our lives together. It is an addictively readable, practical guide to growing up — no matter where you are in life. 

Aside from our newest fave self-help guru, Tara is also a boss serving as the VP of talent and development at Comedy Central — currently the Executive in Charge of ‘Lights Out with David Spade’. She was the executive in charge of the Emmy & Peabody award winning ‘Key & Peele’, helping to launch the careers of Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, among others. She kicked off her career at Comedy Central as an intern at ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart. She seemingly had it all together — but underneath her veneer of success, she had to overcome being a chronically anxious, self-medicating mess — owing in large part to her minimally parented upbringing. After drunk dialing her therapist on her 25th birthday, she knew she needed a wake up call. 

‘Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies’, which received glowing praise from none other than comedian goddess Chelsea Handler, tells the story of Tara’s path to “re-parenting” herself and becoming a “ninja of self-love.” Through simple daily rituals, Tara transformed her mind, body, and relationships and hopes to help readers do the same. Her aim for the book is to help people create a life they truly, totally f*cking LOVE.

The book is separated into 3 sections and thoroughly explores the below rituals with chapters such as: 

  • THE MIND RITUALS: It’s Not Too Late to Heal Your Thoughts
  •  THE BODY RITUALS: I Stopped Treating My Body and Physical Space like a Garbage Can, and So Can You! 
  • THE RELATIONSHIP RITUALS: You Can’t Control How Others Treat You, but You Can Control What You’ll Accept

We spoke with the inimitable Tara about the process of writing this book, social distancing, what she looks for in new talent, and why she believes in more women sharing their stories:

There are many self-help books out there, but yours is definitely not your typical kind. Why did you decide to take a different tack when writing ‘Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies’?

When I was on my “re-parenting” journey I read memoir as self-help. I read the books of Cheryl Strayed, Nora Ephron, and Steve Martin like they were manuals on how to live your life. I took margin notes on their advice. So when I wrote my book, I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if those authors had been just a little more explicit? Like, really spelled out the key take-aways for me?” So I wrote the book in a way that would have benefited a reader like me who needed a little help in finding answers.

Readers will learn about your journey to becoming a “self-love ninja”. Describe what that is and why all of us need to find our own inner self love ninja? 

On my journey, I found that I was REALLY good at being mean to myself. Like, a trained self-esteem assassin. So I wondered, what if I flipped it? What if instead of being skillful at attacking myself, I became a ninja of self-love? An expert at self-compassion? Someone able to stealthily comfort myself with the force and precision of a damn ninja. You have to train yourself to build yourself up instead of tear yourself down. Ninjas don’t become ninjas over-night. But with effort and practice, it’s totally possible. If I could do it, anyone can. 

Your book feels like the perfect antidote during this extended period of social distancing and isolation due to a global pandemic. Do you think more of us are going to be forced to look within and work on ourselves right now? 

It’s so interesting that the book came out at the moment I think people need self-care the most. Just like in the airplane safety videos, we need to learn to put on our own oxygen masks first, we must save ourselves, if we have any hope of helping our communities. I think there is a possibility that we take this time to look within and decide who we want to be. To see what habits were working for us in our “normal” lives and which we can leave behind. I do want to say though, that we must be gentle with ourselves. If you’re not able to go on a self-care journey right now because you are super anxious, that makes all the sense in the world. Like, this isn’t a self-care off-site we all chose to go on. So my hope is that people will take this time to be kind to themselves above all else. If we could all walk away with an increased ability to be nice to ourselves, that would be an amazing self-care tool to come out of the pandemic with. 

Speaking of COVID-19, something that is largely out of our control, you talk about what we can and can’t control in our own lives and relationships. How do you think we can apply this advice to our current situation right now? 

Great question. I think there were a lot of us who were in a spell of “planning.” I know at least amongst my friends there were so many weddings and meetings and trips we “had” to do. The pandemic is showing us, “Oh, your plans? The things you were “stressed” about? Oh, the “control” you have over your time on earth? That’s fiction.” It reminds us that we only have this one singular moment we are in. The healthiest thing any of us could do right now is to give in to the current moment. Instead of regretting all the fun things we are not getting to do or worrying about what the future will hold, how can we make this one moment we are in enjoyable? What small things can we do to make today more glittery and special. And yes, I just said it’s possible to make this moment enjoyable. 

In your book you also share some great stories about your TV career, most notably working on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and to your current position as a VP at Comedy Central. What do you hope especially women in the industry will glean from your experience at a time when there is amplified focus on the need for more women in film and TV executive roles?

I hope they see that it’s just possible to climb the ladder. That it takes work but that there are women who have done it. I think, above all else, what we really need, are more senior female leaders. More female showrunners, female executive, female head writers. What we need are women in the room where the decisions get made! Women who insist that more women are interviewed and hired, because otherwise, as history has shown us, it just doesn’t happen. So I hope women see that it can be done, and that it’s a fun ride. Of course there are challenges But what thing worth doing doesn’t have challenges?

As VP of Talent and Development, you clearly have a keen eye for what is going to make great TV and keep audiences coming back. What advice do you have for first-time show creators who are trying to sell a TV pitch or get their project in front of the right people? 

I would say, tell your authentic story, not the one you think will sell. I always respond best to the stories that come from a real place. Where the writer is dying to tell the story, and you can feel that urgency. When someone pitches something and it has nothing to do with their real, lived experience, I always wonder, “why are they the person to tell this story?” Usually, they aren’t and it ends up not being a “must-have” project. 

We love how you talk about your time on The Daily Show, and how you were determined to “be the best at the worst jobs”. What does this mean and why is it important advice for not just TV but anyone aspiring to climb the ladder of success? 

Being the best at the worst means not worrying about how far you have to go achieve a goal. It means not dithering and stressing about the big picture but instead taking pride in working on the very small details. On taking one wrung of the ladder at a time. It means looking for the opportunity everyone else is missing because it’s not glamorous (cleaning the coffee machine for example) and really mastering it. In a worst case scenario, you will learn something and feel pride in yourself. In a best case scenario, someone cool will notice and you might get an opportunity you wouldn’t have otherwise. Either way, it’s an excellent outcome. 

Women’s stories and voices are being heard louder than ever before. Why do you think it is important we utilize our platforms to speak up and be vulnerable, like you do in your book? 

I love this question. I think if we all knew the truth – how hard being a human can be – how not perfect we all feel – then we would all feel less lonely and would be able to tackle more. I know a lot of women in particular present their lives as “perfect” on social media and they do both themselves and the rest of the world a disservice. Instead of perfect, can we just be ourselves? Can we take pride in being authentic? If we did, then it would cause a domino effect of people showing up as they are. Not as they think others want to see them, not as they think they “should be.” 

Finally, what makes you a powerful woman? 

My vulnerability. I am not afraid to be exactly who I am. I am not ashamed of myself or of my experiences. I’m not afraid to show up in the world exactly as I am. I find my strength in my vulnerability. 

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