Why I'm done trying to be "man enough" | Justin Baldoni | Summary and Q&A

January 3, 2018
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Why I'm done trying to be "man enough" | Justin Baldoni


In this powerful talk, an actor challenges societal expectations of masculinity and calls on men to redefine their roles and embrace vulnerability.

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Key Insights

  • 🎭 Acting allows the speaker to embody characters different from himself, but he realized that the roles he played were filled with toxic masculinity and didn't reflect who he truly was.
  • πŸ’ͺ The societal script of masculinity teaches boys to reject femininity, resulting in a distorted and harmful view of gender roles.
  • 🚫 The current definition of masculinity is broken and needs to be redefined to prioritize being a good human rather than just being a good man.
  • πŸ™Œ Vulnerability is a key aspect of breaking free from toxic masculinity, and men need to be brave enough to reach out for support and dive into their shame.
  • πŸ’” Men often suffer in secret and struggle to express their emotions, but creating a safe space for vulnerability can lead to transformation and healing.
  • ♂️ Men are more likely to engage when the speaker conforms to traditional gender norms, but they need to confront their biases and be open to embracing qualities traditionally considered feminine.
  • πŸ“± Using his social platform, the speaker has been able to foster discussions on masculinity and vulnerability, but he needs more men to participate and challenge societal norms.
  • πŸ—£οΈMen need to redefine strength, bravery, and toughness to include sensitivity, empathy, and accountability, as well as stand up against toxic behavior and support women in their fight for equality.


As an actor, I get scripts and it's my job to stay on script, to say my lines and bring to life a character that someone else wrote. Over the course of my career, I've had the great honor playing some of the greatest male role models ever represented on television. You might recognize me as "Male Escort #1." (Laughter) "Photographer Date Rapist," "... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What are some of the roles that the speaker has played as an actor?

The speaker has played roles such as Male Escort #1, Photographer Date Rapist, Shirtless Date Rapist, Shirtless Medical Student, Shirtless Steroid-Using Con Man, and Rafael.

Q: How does the speaker feel about the roles he has played?

The speaker acknowledges that the roles he has played do not represent the kind of man he is in real life. However, he appreciates the opportunity acting gives him to live inside characters that are different from himself.

Q: What script has the speaker been given about masculinity?

The speaker says that the script he has been given is one that conveys the message that girls are weak and boys are strong. This script, according to him, is being communicated to children all over the world, creating a toxic definition of masculinity.

Q: How does the speaker suggest men can break free from societal expectations of masculinity?

The speaker suggests that men need to embrace qualities that were traditionally seen as feminine and learn from women who embody those qualities. This requires men to be vulnerable, willing to ask for help, challenge gender norms, and stand up against sexism and harassment.

Q: What personal experiences does the speaker share regarding vulnerability?

The speaker shares that he has had to face his own insecurities and shame by diving straight into them and practicing vulnerability. He also mentions creating a system of accountability and using his social platform to promote authenticity and vulnerability, even if initially, only women responded.

Q: What challenge does the speaker pose to men?

The speaker challenges men to redefine what qualities like strength, bravery, and toughness mean and use them to explore their hearts. They are challenged to be brave enough to be vulnerable, sensitive, and to listen to women. Men are also encouraged to stand up against derogatory behavior and sexism and be willing to change their own actions.


In this powerful talk, actor and activist Justin Baldoni reflects on his career playing stereotypically masculine roles and the conflict he felt between his true self and societal expectations of masculinity. He challenges men to redefine what it means to be a man, encouraging vulnerability, empathy, and the rejection of toxic masculinity. Through personal stories and experiences, Baldoni emphasizes the need for men to stand up for gender equality and create a more inclusive and compassionate world.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Justin Baldoni feel about the roles he played as an actor?

Justin Baldoni felt honored to play some of the greatest male role models on television, but he also recognized that these characters represented a different kind of man than himself.

Q: What parallel did Justin Baldoni notice between the roles he played and his real life?

Justin Baldoni noticed a parallel between the roles he played as a man on-screen and off. He realized that he had been pretending to be a man he's not his entire life, trying to be strong, confident, and tough when he actually felt weak, insecure, and hurt.

Q: What script have young boys and girls been subconsciously receiving?

Young boys and girls have been subconsciously receiving the script that girls are weak and boys are strong. This script communicates the idea that femininity is the opposite of masculinity and promotes the rejection of feminine qualities.

Q: What does Justin Baldoni believe needs to change about masculinity?

Justin Baldoni believes that the current broken definition of masculinity needs to change. He wants men to embrace the qualities traditionally seen as feminine and to champion and learn from women who embody them. He emphasizes the need for balance and a reevaluation of the scripts passed down through generations.

Q: How did Justin Baldoni's father teach him about being a man?

Justin Baldoni's father taught him that being a man was about sacrifice and doing whatever he could to take care of and provide for his family. He didn't conform to traditional masculine stereotypes of using his hands, hunting, or fighting.

Q: What role did Justin Baldoni learn from his father and grandfather?

Justin Baldoni learned a role of suffering in secret from his father, who learned it from his janitor father. This role involved not reaching out for help and feeling the need to do everything on his own, even when it became overwhelming.

Q: How does Justin Baldoni practice vulnerability and breaking free from harmful behavior?

Justin Baldoni practices vulnerability by diving straight into issues he feels shame around, even publicly. He believes that sharing his vulnerabilities can give other men permission to do the same. He also creates accountability by using his social platform to be authentic and vulnerable.

Q: What experiences has Justin Baldoni had in trying to reach out to men?

Justin Baldoni initially had more women following him when he shared about feminism, marriage, struggles with body image, and promoting gender equality. To reach more men, he experimented with posting more stereotypically masculine things like workouts and meal plans, which led to men reaching out to him.

Q: How did Justin Baldoni create transformative conversations through social media?

Justin Baldoni engaged in a conversation with a man who made a homophobic comment on a photo. Instead of confronting him, Baldoni politely asked to learn his perspective. The man apologized and later messaged Baldoni again, sharing his proposal photo. This experience showed that transformation and change are possible through open dialogue.

Q: What challenge does Justin Baldoni pose to men?

Justin Baldoni challenges men to redefine masculinity and to use their strength, bravery, and toughness to explore their hearts. He encourages men to be vulnerable, seek help when needed, confront their shame, and listen to the women in their lives. He also urges men to stand up against sexism, sexual harassment, and inequality.


Justin Baldoni's talk highlights the need for men to redefine masculinity and reject toxic behavior. He calls for vulnerability, empathy, and an examination of societal scripts. Men are encouraged to stand up for equality, embrace feminine qualities, and create safe spaces for conversations and personal growth. Baldoni emphasizes the importance of men's accountability, listening to women, and creating a world where gender equality is the norm.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker reflects on their career as an actor and the male roles they have played, discussing the gap between those characters and their true self.

  • They challenge societal expectations of masculinity and emphasize the need for men to embrace vulnerability and balance in order to become good humans.

  • The speaker shares personal experiences and calls on men to be accountable, listen to women, and actively work towards equality and breaking harmful stereotypes.

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