Having worked for, and with, a number of technology companies and major brands over the years, nothing is more important to them in the digital age than customer experience. And that environment entails everything from a vibrant web presence, customer service via smart chat bots, and meaningful and enjoyable social interactions.
When I discovered that prior to becoming a huge TikTok and Instagram star -- and soon to be Netflix comedian and actress -- SarahCooper worked in customer experience for Google, who many consider the industry leader, it just made sense. Inevitably, Cooper has a strong understanding for what would click, and be clicked upon, by social media purveyors and digital enthusiasts.
Cooper shot to stardom this spring, when she began posting a series of videos on TikTok lip-syncing idiotic and nonsensical (albeit real) comments by Donald Trump. Her videos became viral hits. I was one of her fans, and so were many others, including politicians, comedians, actors, and prominent journalists. When I saw her appear on my favorite show, MSNBC's Deadline White House with Nicole Wallace, I knew she made it.
Thus, when she popped up on my Zoom screen for our interview last week, the first words that blurted out of my mouth were, "Wow, you look great. You're adorable." Was it that her lip-synced videos of Trump's ugly words were so realistic that it prejudiced how I thought she might appear in person? Perhaps, but as disgusting as he is, she is the polar opposite, kind to a fault, whipsmart, and innately funny.
Cooper has made the jump to the world's largest streaming service. SarahCooper: Everything's Fine is a Netflix variety special that will premiere globally tomorrow. It is a program full of vignettes dealing with issues of politics, race, gender, class, and other subjects. She will be joined by an array of special guests.
To say that Cooper is excited about her jump to Netflix would be an understatement. "I feel like I've been waiting in the wings for so long, and ready for someone to call my name to come out and perform" she said excitedly during our Zoom call. "I'm so thrilled to share our work on the special with the world."
It was important for Cooper that the show focus on issues of diversity and equality. "That aspect was really important to me. I think part of the reason that people liked the Trump videos so much is because I took his voice and made his words come from the mouth and body of an immigrant Black woman."
For Cooper, it was about giving someone like her the power to speak the words of a president or anyone in a position of authority. "For the special, I wanted to call out other cons, manipulative leaders, and people who want to take our money. I wanted to put a spotlight on people who seem to be constantly taken advantage of and then let those little guys win in the end. I hope that comes through for the audience."
The Netflix show, produced and co-directed by Maya Rudolph, includes appearances by LGBTQ+ stars Jane Lynch and Jonathan Van Ness, and ally Megan Thee Stallion. "Jane is one of my heroes, so I had to control my fan-girl emotions when I first met her. I was going to be totally fine if she was a diva. I love everything she's done, and Best in Show is one of my all-time favorite films. When she turned out to be so kind and down to Earth, funny, and so helpful, I was just amazed. Everyone who worked on the special could not have been nicer. It's been a really positive welcome from Hollywood."
That meant meeting and working with one of her other idols, Ben Stiller. "Probably one of the most bizarre things to happen when the Trump videos started to take off was to see Ben retweet and share my posts. It blew my mind," Cooper gushed. "Then I got to meet him in person, and I had him on the Jimmy Kimmel show when I guest-hosted. Now, when I get texts from him, I still pinch myself and say, 'Oh my God, I'm getting texts from Ben Stiller!'"
It's been quite a jump this year for Cooper from being primarily associated with an autocratic and incoherent motor-mouth, to hob-nobbing with Hollywood royalty. I asked Cooper to think about bad men again and wondered who she might lip-sync after the evil Trump disappears? "You know people ask me why I'm not posting more videos from Trump, but he just keeps repeating himself, and it's all so redundant," Cooper pointed out.
Cooper said that she heard once that what she was doing with her videos was reverse mansplaining, and she thought that was the perfect description of what she was doing with Trump. "I'm taking a man like Trump who sounds ridiculous, and then showing how ridiculous he really sounds in his own words, so as long as there are pompous, egotistical and narcissistic men, I will be able to lip sync them and have fun with it. I do think about some people like Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, but they seem too awful to consider."
I warned her that if she went that route, wouldn't it mean she might have to watch Fox News for her rehearsals? "Believe it or not, I watch Fox News because it's the best satire on TV right now," Cooper surprised. "They have their people say things like, 'it's so great that Trump got COVID, because now he understands.' That's so ridiculous, and not a reason or an explanation at all. If I was writing a mocking article, that's the argument I'd make as satire. Watching Fox, which is a bunch of people who are on paper smart and knowledgeable defend a mad man, to me that is a both scary and fun thing to watch."
So, who does Cooper admire, not only politically but comedically? "Politically, it's Hillary Clinton. I admire so much that she's been a champion for the underdog all her life. And, her resilience. Wow! If I even make the slightest faux pas or mistake, I'll replay that forever in my mind. She lost, well really won, but lost the election on a massive scale in front of the whole world, yet she's still out there speaking, tweeting, writing books. That takes so much courage."
"And in terms of comedy, I love Sam Jay. I love her stage presence and everything she talks about. She has a really unique perspective and thank God she's starting to get more attention."
Cooper knows all too well what it's like to get attention, as her star continues to rise. She's not only got a Netflix special, and conquered social media, but she's an author having penned three books, the most recent, How to Be Successful Without Hurting Men's Feelings.
I asked her, as a gay man, how I can go about doing that? "Oh, it's impossible! You can't do it. The whole book is blank pages. Nothing in it," she joked. "But seriously, we need to do what we need to do without hurting each other's feelings. I think I've changed a lot. It's about being less direct, and I don't want people to think I'm abrasive, but rather that I'm nice. Lots of women do that."
And there's one man who might take a lesson in being less abrasive and downright rude, and we all know who he is. Trump maybe -- hopefully -- will be gone in a few months, and with any luck, sink into oblivion or a filthy prison. And while he helped grow, to some extent, Cooper's career, she on the other hand has a bright future. Adorable, intelligent, funny - and kind - Cooper's fame is on an upward trajectory. She will no doubt be providing more exceptional and entertaining customer experiences for many years to come.