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If you haven't heard actor Justin Baldoni's name, you at least probably recognize him.

Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for NALIP.

Best known for his role as Rafael on "Jane the Virgin," Baldoni is the epitome of Hollywood's "tall, dark, and handsome" stereotype. He is every bad boy with a sinister past. Every womanizing billionaire. Every domineering playboy.


In a recent talk at TEDWomen 2017, Baldoni joked about the string of characters he's been typecast as (most of them appear shirtless a good majority of the time).

"Most of the men I play ooze machismo, charisma, and power," he said. "And when I look in the mirror, that's just not how I see myself."

[rebelmouse-image 19533138 dam="1" original_size="735x403" caption="Baldoni's past roles include "Male Escort #1," "Shirtless Date Rapist," and "Shirtless Med Student." Image via TEDWomen." expand=1]Baldoni's past roles include "Male Escort #1," "Shirtless Date Rapist," and "Shirtless Med Student." Image via TEDWomen.

Baldoni came to realize that it wasn't just on-screen that he was pretending. In his everyday life, he found himself trying to conform to society's masculine ideal as well, and it all felt like a lie.

"I've been pretending to be strong when I felt weak. Confident when I felt insecure. And tough when really I was hurting," he explained.

The past few years have been a journey for Baldoni, who has set out to redefine for himself what "being a man" is really all about. In his TED Talk, he shared three major realizations he had along the way.

1. "Real men" make themselves vulnerable — not just with women, but with other men too.

Baldoni's early attempts at being more open about his emotions publicly on social media went great — until he realized almost all of his followers were women. Opening up to his fellow men was another challenge altogether.

"If it's about work or sports or politics or women, [men] have no problem sharing our opinions," he observed. "But if it's about our insecurities, our struggles, our fear of failure, it's almost like we become paralyzed."

He recalled recently wanting to talk to his guy friends about a serious issue in his life and needing almost the entirety of a three-day guys trip to work up the courage to do it. Once he did, however, he found many of his buddies were eager to share with him, too.

"My display of vulnerability can, in some cases, give other men permission to do the same," he realized.

(If only there were a TEDMen Baldoni could have given this talk at.)

2. "Real men" hold other men, and themselves, accountable.

As he began to engage more with other men, Baldoni started to become even more aware of toxic male behavior around him. It was everywhere.

He recalls an Instagram comment someone left on a photo of him and his wife. The random male commenter called the photo "gay shit."

So Baldoni decided to message him.

Image via TEDWomen.

"I said, very politely, 'I'm just curious, because I'm on an exploration of masculinity, and I wanted to know why my love for my wife qualified as gay shit,'" he remembered.

To his surprise, the man responded thoughtfully about how his own displays of affection had been mocked as a child, and he apologized for lashing out.

"Secretly he was waiting for permission to express himself," Baldoni said. "And all he needed was another man holding him accountable and creating a safe place for him to feel. The transformation was instant."

3. "Real men" embrace the good aspects of traditional masculinity — with a twist.

Not everything traditionally associated with manliness is bad. Strength, bravery, and confidence are great things to aspire to (regardless of one's gender). But Baldoni urges men to think deeply about what those qualities really mean in practice and whether, perhaps, there's not a different way to think about spending their energy trying to achieve them.

"Are you brave enough ... to be vulnerable?" he asked. "Are you strong enough to be sensitive? ... Are you confident enough to listen to the women in your life? ... Will you be man enough to stand up to other men when you hear 'locker room talk'?"

Near the end of his talk, Baldoni acknowledges an important point: As bad as the "performance of masculinity" is for men, these rigid gender roles can be far worse for women.

He bemoaned that there wasn't even enough time to get into issues like the gender pay gap, division of household labor, and violence against women — all issues created and upheld by the toxic male behavior Baldoni's fighting against.

"The deeper we get into this, the uglier it gets," he said.

He challenged the men watching and listening to demand better of themselves and those around them.

"If we want to be part of the solution, words are no longer enough," Baldoni said.

Listen to the whole talk in the YouTube video below, or watch it all on TED.com.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


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