Mary Williams was born to Black Panther parents during the heart of the Black Power movement in Oakland, Calif., in the 1970s. She was just a toddler when her father went to San Quentin prison.
Her mother, struggled to support the family on her own, turning to alcohol, as her oldest sister turned to crack and prostitution. But when Williams was sent to spend the summer at a camp run by Jane Fonda, her life began to change.
Over the course of several summers, Fonda and Williams grew close, and eventually, the Hollywood star invited Williams, at age 16, to come live with her in Santa Monica. This was the beginning of a journey, which she chronicles in her new memoir, The Lost Daughter.
Kristen Johnston was 26 when she was cast as John Lithgow's co-star in the hit NBC sitcom, 3rd Rock From the Sun. Suddenly famous, Johnston was unprepared to handle the pressure. She ended up popping lots of pain pills, almost dying in a London hospital when an ulcer in her stomach exploded while she was set to star in a new show on London's West End.
Domenica Ruta grew up in a working-class, Italian town north of Boston. Her mother, Kathi, a notorious figure in this place, was a drug addict and sometime dealer whose life swung between welfare and riches, whose highbrow taste was at odds with her base appetites.
With or Without You: A Memoir is the story of Domenica Ruta’s unconventional coming of age—a darkly hilarious chronicle of a misfit ’90s childhood and the necessary and painful act of breaking away, and of overcoming her own addictions and demons in the process.
Host Alan Chartock is joined by Nancy D. Campbell, Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Campbell, who earned a PhD in the History of Consciousness program at UC Santa Cruz, did her master’s in English at the University of Washington and a bachelor’s in English at Bucknell. She has researched and published on topics such as drug addiction, bioethics, public health and drug policy, and feminist and postcolonial science and technology studies.