Web series makes politics ‘silly’ again

Alexa and Kate, played by Kimberly Michelle Vaughn and Abby Vatterott respectively, have been traveling to presidential campaign rallies around the Midwest for the web series “Citizen Kate.” 

By Arts & Culture Reporter

Citizen journalist Kate Soglin recently entered her second term of trying to help American audiences understand and relate to politics by satirizing the presidential campaigns.

The popular political web series “Citizen Kate” racked up nearly 500,000 YouTube hits on its 87 episodes covering the 2008 presidential election.

Writer Carey Lundin said she created the series to tell the story of a recent college graduate with an “idealistic” view of the world who is now learning the true nature of politics by following presidential campaign trails.

The first episode in the series was posted Feb. 14, 2007, to YouTube, and the first episode in the “Citizen Kate” reboot went live March 29 of this year.

“A few months ago, as the campaign began to look kind of interesting with Donald Trump, I started to think ‘Maybe I should revive [‘Citizen Kate’],’” Lundin said. “We did a national casting session to recast it with the two people who are now playing Kate and her stepsister, Alexa.”

In its previous incarnation, Kate was played by Second City improviser Julia Saboda. This time around, Abby Vatterott plays Kate, and 2014 Columbia theatre alumna Kimberly Michelle Vaughn plays the new character, Alexa Lopez.

Lundin said she created Alexa so the show could be more inclusive and give voice to “a woman of color,” offering a different point of view in terms of social activism and understanding of the world.

Vaughn said Alexa brings a more serious voice to the show.

“We’re both silly, but [Kate] is definitely more silly,” Vaughn said. “[Alexa is] more of the one who’s like ‘No, we need to address

these issues.’”

Something Vaughn said she needs to work on is not judging the supporters of candidates she does not agree with and not getting so angry about politics.

Vaughn said she has noticed people can be very cold and angry about the presidential candidates they disagree with. She said in Wisconsin, Kate was dressed as Hillary Clinton and Alexa was dressed as Beyoncé, Clinton’s “BFF,” and they asked a man who he was voting for and he said “Not you.”

“It was just like, ‘Dude, you know that’s not Hillary, so why are you being a d–k?’” Vaughn said. “I don’t like the disgusting tone people have toward [Clinton].”

Vaughn said her background in theater and sketch comedy helped her to improvise while playing Alexa. She said she likes working on film more than theater because of the ability in film to make cuts, edits and changes to the final product.

Joe Janes, an adjunct professor in the Theatre Department, said he got to know Vaughn through a couple of classes he taught when she attended Columbia. He said working on “Citizen Kate” is a smart move for Vaughn because the show is a vehicle to show that she is smart and funny and has a satirical edge.

“What’s striking about Kimberly is she has a really wide range,” Janes said. “She can do tons of different characters, and [she’s] very connected with what is going on in the world socially as well as politically.”

Lundin said she hopes the series will encourage young people to vote in the upcoming presidential election. She said she is also looking for young writers, researchers and improvisers to join the show so it appeals to the right audience.

A documentary depicting the “Citizen Kate” process is in the works, and Lundin said she is trying to have it done by the presidential inauguration. She said she regrets not reserving more footage from the show’s previous series to use in a documentary, but this election is even better suited to documentary than the 2008 election because of the “insanity” of what some of the candidates are saying.

“Both [elections] were really historic, and that’s one of the reasons we know people want to follow it,” Lundin said. “They’re both such engaging and interesting moments in American history that you don’t see come around too often.”

More information about “Citizen Kate” and links to videos are available at CitizenKate.net.