Five Questions with David Meyers
Bush-Cheney Alumnus David Meyers describes himself as a professional actor and writer to “took a brief detour to work at the White House.” This month he shares how he ended up on this uncommon path and where it’s led him today.
How did a budding actor from the conservatory at Boston University find himself on this sort of “detour” to the White House?
Growing up, I never paid much attention to the outside world. That changed on September 11th, 2001. I went to high school right outside New York City, and could literally see the smoke and debris from the attack.
After 9/11, I wanted to make a difference and play a role in the events that were happening around me. I started following world affairs very closely, and the more I heard about what would become President Bush’s Freedom Agenda – the more convinced I was that it was entirely right, and that I needed to be a part of it.
And staying active in the “real world” is very important to me – so I don’t truly consider it a “detour.” But to the acting and entertainment world, I don’t want it to seem like I’m pursuing this other career as a hobby.
Are there any skills or lessons you picked up during your stint in D.C. that have gone on to serve you in your artistic endeavors?
Be kind and generous to people and work hard are probably the two most important ones.
The other lesson that I've taken from my time in politics is that so much of what determines career "success" can be out of our hands. I worked really hard to get to the White House and did everything I could to set myself up for that opportunity - but in the end, getting hired to work in the Staff Secretary’s office came down to luck and timing. I was prepared and ready - but all of that preparation and hard work would have meant nothing if the right factors hadn't aligned.
What is your fondest memory from your time working with President Bush?
My favorite memory is still walking up the steps of the EEOB on my first day as an Intern.
I had no idea how amazing my journey would be, or if I’d ever be more than an intern, but as I walked up the EEOB steps, I thought that I had finally made it here. And that I would finally get to help President Bush and the country – even if in a tiny way.
My other most memorable moment was arriving with President Bush in Israel in January 2008. It was his first visit there as President – and my first visit to Israel as well.
My grandfather was very religious and always wanted to travel to Israel, but for various reasons, never made it. As we stepped off the plane, I heard the Israeli anthem played by a military band and saw the entire Israeli delegation waiting for President Bush.
I couldn’t help but think how incredible it was that the grandson of two immigrants who fled Nazi Germany with nothing but a suitcase was coming to Israel for the first time with the President of the United States.
Despite what you hear today from some politicians, I think it’s the perfect example of how great America still is – and what it’s possible for people like my grandparents to achieve in this country.
What do you miss most about serving in the Administration?
As almost everyone says: the people.
The second thing I miss is working for President Bush. When people in New York hear that I worked in The White House from 2006 to 2009, they always ask “was it a good experience despite working for President Bush?” And no matter the consequence, I always correct them, and say that I went to work there because I wanted to work for President Bush. I wanted to be there because I believed in President Bush.
Many parts of his agenda, especially when it comes to human freedom and foreign policy, are being looked down on by everyone from Democrats to the people who pass for leaders in today’s Republican Party. But his view of human freedom as being essential to our security and our moral conscience is so right that it’s undeniable. And it’s a goal that I strive to always work towards.
In addition to being a successful playwright, you’re also known for your thoughtful policy pieces. Do you find one type of piece more challenging to write, or is the process more similar than we might imagine?
Finally – a short answer! Writing policy pieces (or short plays) is so much easier. Writing full-length plays is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
I started writing because when I got back into acting, my skill level was nowhere near where it needed to be. Now it is, but playwriting has become its own thing, so I feel an obligation to continue it. My only consolation is that I write about things that I think are very important discussions we should be having in society, so I hope that I’m still making a small difference in other people’s lives through my plays.