On March 4, 2013 an interview was published to YouTube. Chris Stark, a rookie reporter from a popular BBC radio show, sat down to interview Mila Kunis. Mila Kunis began her rise to stardom during nine seasons of That 70’s Show; since then, her career and popularity have grown exponentially.
Why do I mention this? Since the seven minute interview hit YouTube less than ten days ago, it has garnered over 10.4 million hits. [You can watch the interview by clicking here.] That’s an average of over 1 million hits a day. What has made this video of what should have been a fairly boring actress/reporter promotional interview something that more than 10 million people have directed their browsers to see?
Here’s the scenario for those of you who don’t want to spend the time watching the clip: Stark begins the interview by telling Kunis how nervous he is to be sitting down with her and tells her he really doesn’t know what he’s doing. What happens next is the reason the video has gone viral. It seems as if Kunis does a real quick assessment of whether Stark’s nervousness is real or an act. Once she senses it’s real, Kunis all but throws away the opportunity to promote her new movie and engages Stark in his nervousness. She then goes on for the next few minutes and talks about things that are important to him – his life, his friends, where they hang out, and what they do for fun. Around the 4:40 mark, you can hear someone off camera tell them they are almost out of time. At this point, Kunis says to Stark, “Let me give you answers that I just know you’re going to ask.” She then goes on a rapid-paced monologue to give all of the trite answers to the same old questions that probably every other interviewer asked of her that day.
It was an incredible interview. Not because we found out anything about Oz, The Great and Powerful, but because we get to watch leadership in action. When confronted with someone who was apparently out of his element, Mila Kunis set aside her own agenda to make Chris Stark comfortable. Promoting her movie was not as important as creating a culture of acceptance for everyone in the room. And at the end of the interview, she supported him by helping him get exactly what he needed without making him feel incompetent or put on the spot. She could have very easily ended the haphazard interview without taking on the proactive role of returning the topic to the movie. Instead she guided the process to make sure she was setting him up for success. His primary role there was to support her by promoting the release of her movie, but she took an active role to support the one who was supporting her.
These are the types of things that leaders do. They put aside their own agendas to help less experienced people grow. They help set up others for success. And they recognize their roles in helping to support others who are trying to support them.