Carrie Ann Inaba

My 5 Minutes with the President

The two-time Emmy-nominated Carrie Ann Inaba is the “lovable” judge on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” Born and raised in Honolulu, Inaba began her career as a singer in Japan. She first introduced herself to American audiences as a fly girl on the sketch comedy series “In Living Color,” where she performed with Madonna, Ricky Martin, David Copperfield and Chayanne. Inaba also serves as the president and CEO of EnterMediArts Inc., the digital video production company she founded.

ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him?  What issue would you like him to know about?

CARRIE ANN INABA: If I had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, I would talk about homeless animals in our country. I know that there are so many other issues in our great nation that also need tending to, but I would want to speak to the issue that is closest to my heart — the issue that I actually am able to make a difference on.

I would ask him for advice on how to help create a program that is twofold to help our homeless-animal crisis. To start, an educational program for kids in elementary school about the value of life of all kinds; to help teach the meaning of unconditional love — for each other, their families and our animals. I’d also ask him how to implement a program to bring together homeless people and homeless animals, to create a partnership between facilities that provide shelter for homeless people and the shelters that provide shelter for animals. I’d like to see if there is a way to have homeless people help work with the homeless animals — giving them love, feeding them, taking them for walks as part of their community service. If anyone will be able to show compassion to the homeless animals, I do believe that it may be the people who themselves are homeless.

There are so many lonely animals and so many lonely human hearts. I wonder if we can bring them together and start some healing. And before leaving, I would ask him what I could do to help our nation and how I can be a better citizen.

RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?

CAI: What was your favorite part of going to Punahou School in Hawaii? I also went to Punahou School — I went a few years after he did — and had a wonderful experience and am curious what his experience was like and if it helped shape him the way it helped shape me. Punahou taught me to think outside the box, and to be unafraid of pursuing my dreams. They also taught me the work ethic I needed to make my dreams a reality, and I am ever so grateful for that.

RB: What piece of advice would you give President Obama as he hits the campaign trail for the upcoming election?

CAI: I would not say I am the most qualified person to give any advice about campaigning, but I would say to take care of his health and family and to continue to listen to the people about our issues. And, with great care, help us find the solutions. Do not overpromise, and don’t get involved with the mudslinging that goes on.

RB: If you were going to send the president to one of your favorite places in the United States for one day, where would that be? Why?

CAI: I would send the president to Hawaii. I would send him to the house I grew up in on the Paiko Peninsula — it was a quiet home that was alone on a peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides of the house. It was a great place of reflection. Listening to the sounds of Hawaii — the palm trees swaying in the wind, brushing their leaves up against each other, the ocean gently lapping on the sand, and the sounds of the wildlife and birds, while looking out at the vast blue ocean contemplating life’s most difficult questions. It was a place of healing both spiritually and physically. When I’d sit out on our deck over the ocean, under the stars, I would always find the answers to the questions that were floating in my mind.

In the peace of that place, I pondered many thoughts and found many answers to difficult questions. I know he has a lot of things on his mind and probably is tossing around a lot of questions as he heads toward the future with our country’s fate in his hands. I would love for him to have a day in that house, in that magical location in Hawaii.

RB: What CD/piece of music would you recommend that President Obama add to his collection? Why?

CAI: I’d share with him the whole soundtrack to “Whale Rider.” It’s one of my favorite soundtracks. The first song, “Paikea Legend,” is so beautiful and haunting. It’s actually a retelling of a legend of a leader named Paikea. I find it to be so inspirational and I think as a father, Paikea does a lot of what Obama does for his daughters; and because the song is retold in the voice of a young girl, it may have special meaning for him and inspire him. We all need to be inspired at times. It’s peaceful yet profound. Lisa Gerrard is the composer, and she is one of my favorite composers of all time. Her music is passionate and haunting and the melodies are soundscapes that stay with you for a long time.

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?

CAI: I have never considered a political career.

Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.