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Whoopi Goldberg: Pioneering The Stars & Breaking Glass Ceilings

The iconic actress, comedian and activist opens up about her trailblazing acting roles, the importance of strong black women in society and her new cannabis brand, Emma & Clyde.

It’s all the same weed... we just use it for different reasons, you know, and it comes out of the ground from mother Earth.” - Whoopi Goldberg

It’s 8:30 am at a gallery in Soho, NYC. I’m jet lagged on 3 hours of sleep having just flown in from Denver a few hours ago. Someone hands me a mimosa, and there’s a table overflowing with delicious fruit, bagels, and snacks. I’m soaked in sweat, but not because of the weather… It’s 50 degrees and raining outside. It’s because I have the chance to meet and interview my childhood hero, Whoopi Goldberg, and I’m still not even sure how I got here.


I’ve watched Whoopi in all of her most famous roles like Ghost, Sister Act, Sister Act II, and Star Trek, but I have to admit that my favorite character she’s ever played was the Cheshire Cat in the 1999 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. I’d recognize that grin anywhere. Over the years, she came to symbolize not only a staple of my childhood, but an outspoken advocate for women, people of color, and cannabis, who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind on The View and other platforms. Now, I’m in a room with our editor-in-chief Michael Cassini, powerful women-in-cannabis Gloria Govan, Adriana Kittrell, and their families, Whoopi’s daughter Alex Martin and granddaughter Amara Skye, and the legend herself. We’re here to talk about generations of black women succeeding in business together, leaving a legacy behind. We’re also here to talk about failures, successes, and about Whoopi’s new cannabis brand launching this fall, Emma & Clyde, aptly named after her mother and brother, a true family enterprise.


Everyone in this room is full of so much love and respect for each other, and we’re easily swept into it. I find out Whoopi’s granddaughter Amara Skye is an incredible artist, and I talk about my own work (or sometimes lack thereof, these days. She inspires me to get started painting again). Amara, Alex, and Whoopi make up the main team for Emma & Clyde, which started in 2022, and focuses on edibles, pre-rolls, flower, and accessories. Cannabis has always been a consistent part of Whoopi’s life and something she is incredibly passionate about, which became even more clear as we chatted. My hand holding the interview questions stopped shaking, and I realized how much we actually have in common, as we discussed things like the weirdest jobs we had growing up (hers was as a mortuary cosmetologist, Michael’s was at his mom’s magic shop, mine was as a pony walker at our family petting farm). She laughed contagiously when I asked her how she felt about being referred to in an article as “the hype beast of our generation”. She may be a comedian, but it’s also clear how seriously she takes her position as a role model, a family matriarch, and an industry leader. This group of women are not all related but are working together as a team on Emma & Clyde, and a bunch of other incredible projects. They are a force, but a calming one.

All of these women have this in common: a passion for the plant and a drive to normalize it, a commitment to creating a better world, and a promise to pass down these characteristics to their children.


Goldberg’s passion for cannabis stems from her belief in its healing properties and the need to debunk the propaganda that has plagued its image. Reflecting on the past, she says, “As much as they could, doctors would prescribe cannabis in the old days, and then suddenly it became about propaganda from some stupid movie.” She laments the misconceptions perpetuated by films like Reefer Madness, which portrayed cannabis in a negative light, associating it with degenerates of society. Goldberg emphasizes the importance of educating the public about the true nature of cannabis as a medicinal plant.

“I’ve always really come from a medicinal place with marijuana and it’s great when you’re just needing a high. But for me, it was a way to get rid of cramps, or a therapy for friends who need help through chemotherapy. There are a lot of additional aspects being explored today about medical marijuana that have always been there.”

The interview takes a deeper dive into Goldberg’s new cannabis brand, Emma & Clyde, named after her mother and brother. She reveals that the brand will focus on high quality flower genetics, and accessories, aiming to create an accessible and elegant experience for cannabis users of all ages and backgrounds. Goldberg emphasizes the need for recreational cannabis to be destigmatized, and she sees Emma & Clyde as a way to provide quality products that cater to both recreational and medical users.

“I’m really serious about this. I want it to work for everybody. I want it to work for people that want to get that altered state, and I want it to work for people who want to get up and go to work everyday, or go to school and not lose productivity because, for example, women lose productivity every time they get their period... and it’s awful.”

When discussing her new cannabis brand, Goldberg explains, “Emma & Clyde will be a more recreational line of products. The name is an homage to my mother and brother who also liked a little bit of cannabis every now and then.” She envisions the brand as a family enterprise, with her daughter, Alex Martin, and granddaughter, Amara Skye, representing a generational legacy of business owners.


“We want to have a little bit of a different groove that is accessible to cannabis users of all ages and walks of life,” Goldberg states. She emphasizes the importance of aesthetics, wanting to break away from the notion of hiding cannabis products and instead embracing a sense of pride in their use. Goldberg envisions leaving out products with childproof packaging that not only look beautiful but also eliminate any embarrassment associated with purchasing cannabis products.

“It is what it is... The thing about weed is you can’t really f*** with it, you know what I mean. This is what it is, it’s a flower, it hasn’t changed and we’re not soaking it in watermelon water or extra botanical whatevers.”

Goldberg’s focus on accessibility and affordability is clear as she states, “The first priority is being accessible and affordable and really putting out the idea that you deserve to have something good looking that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.” She aims to create products that cater to the recreational user while maintaining a sense of elegance and quality.

“What’s more natural than choosing to smoke a bush growing from the ground instead of ingesting medicine made of synthetic chemicals that we can’t even pronounce.”

Goldberg’s dedication to cannabis extends beyond recreational use. She highlights the versatility of tinctures, “Tinctures are my favorite because they are so versatile. In the old days, you could only get flower, but today I like the topicals and rubs that we have and we have tinctures that we’re doing.” She believes that these products can provide relief and improve overall well-being, emphasizing their potential medical applications.

“Tinctures can alleviate pain, stop cramps and can be easily added to foods, beverages or infused into any recipe. Most importantly, they help make your attitude better.”

Goldberg’s passion for cannabis is driven by a desire to help people and provide relief. She recounts encounters with pediatric doctors who dismissed the medicinal benefits of cannabis, instead accusing parents of getting their children high. “For me, it was just unbelievable,” she says. Goldberg advocates for the use of cannabis in medical treatments, highlighting the impact it can have on improving quality of life for patients. She calls for accessible information and resources for doctors to study and share, enabling them to provide the best care possible.

“I would sit and listen to pediatric doctors in interviews talk about those who created Charlotte’s Web, the high CBD strain. The original strain had a THC component to it and cultivators were extracting the oil and refining it. It was healing people, but doctors were publicly saying, ‘No, you can’t give that to people.’ My question to the doctors was always, ‘what are you prejudiced against? Are you prejudiced against healing, against getting better? Do you think these parents are giving their kid weed to smoke to get them high?’ Come on, this doesn’t make any sense.”

Goldberg’s insights and perspective shed light on the societal and cultural shifts surrounding cannabis. She acknowledges the progress made in destigmatizing the plant but emphasizes the need for continued advocacy.

Whoopi explains how propaganda surrounding medical cannabis makes recreational and medical cannabis two separate things. That way regulators can maintain control and say, “We don’t like this but you can keep some of it and we’re going to regulate it. They’re putting aside the fact that all cannabis is medical no matter how it’s grown or consumed. The government wants to make it confusing on purpose so they can regulate it more.”


Whoopi Goldberg’s business partner Scott Lambert has over two decades of cannabis experience beginning in the California Market where he owns and operates a 60,000 square foot facility, providing medical grade cannabis to licensed dispensaries throughout Southern California. Scott and Whoopi’s passion for the cannabis plant are realized in the Emma & Clyde products.


Lambert and Goldberg met through mutual friends and began building a cannabis industry foundation coast to coast. Whoopi’s daughter Alex works closely with Lambert as CEO of Whoop Fam New Jersey, where she is responsible for the product launches and branding design for multiple markets.


Goldberg’s partnership with Scott Lambert, a seasoned cannabis industry professional, brings together a shared vision for Emma & Clyde to expand high standards of quality while ensuring the brand’s accessibility and affordability. Together, they navigate the ever-evolving landscape of cannabis legislation across states, with plans to launch Emma & Clyde concurrently in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and New York.


Emma & Clyde’s Arizona partner, Adriana Kittrell, is a cannabis industry leader and loving mother who is thriving in a male-dominated cannabis industry. Her passion for bringing people together is realized in the beautiful Harambe Cafe Kittrell opened adjacent to the Green Med Wellness dispensary in Tucson, Arizona. Cafe guests can enjoy a luxurious smoke in the comfort of a well appointed lounge. Harambe Cafe offers beverages and snacks, along with weekly entertainment events, making it the first lounge of its kind in Arizona. Guests are also welcome to pop in for a respite during regular business hours.

Adriana Kittrell said this about the partnership with Whoopi and her team, “Meeting Whoopi’s team was all about being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people. It’s easy to make friends and connect in this industry, especially as a minority looking to grow with other minorities, since we don’t take up too much of the industry. It’s important to support and build with each other. After that, we all quickly became family since we all have similar visions for cannabis medicine.


"I joined the cannabis industry to help people. There are people I love who need this plant for many reasons, I would do anything to help develop or support a brand that helps people in need. Whoopi and her team care about other people, especially women and their health. It was a no brainer to join her mission to continue to help others and women of color.


"I have looked up to Whoopi my entire life, she brought so much joy and laughter into my home as a child. I was also such a theater kid, she paved the way for black women in entertainment and continues to make space for women who look like us. It was a dream come true to meet one of my hero’s, I continue to feel so blessed to learn from her, Gloria and Alex. This is just the beginning of so much and I’m grateful.”

There are many healing products that we could be creating. We can get people off of harder drugs with cannabis. There are so many benefits to it that I’m not sure I understand what the minuses are. Which is why we ask again, what is the prejudice? What do you think people are doing? Do you think they’re harming their children who are in distress? Why isn’t there a big organization that you can call or go online and say, ‘these are my kids symptoms’ and find someone else who was like you and find out what they do? How come this information isn’t accessible for doctors to study and share?” - Whoopi Goldberg

Whoop Fam NJ CEO and daughter of Whoopi, Alex Martin Dean, discusses building the Emma & Clyde family brand on a solid foundation of quality, accessible, and organic products made for generations.


“My hope is to leave the footprint of longevity on a family affair, where we can create organic, high quality products for generations of medical patients and recreational users," said Alex Martin Dean. "We just want to contribute to developing high quality products that make people feel good and that we also love ourselves.”

While interviewing Alex over breakfast, we can hear Whoopi’s voice broadcasting from the restaurant television. We turn around to see Whoopi on The View and go back to our breakfast. Alex knows her mother as a funny performer, but growing up with the famous “mom” Whoopi Goldberg was much more than jokes.


“The funny woman you see on TV is also my mother, and growing up, seeing her on different stages as a comedian and an actor, let’s just say, she’s not very funny when she’s grounding me for sneaking out of the house as a teenager,” said Alex Martin Dean on being raised by Whoopi Goldberg.


Emma & Clyde’s Los Angeles partner, Gloria Govan, is another shining example of a busy mother who maintains a loving family with her husband & NBA Champion Derek Fisher. Govan works with Scott Lambert and her team to assist minority license holders who are building out retail locations in different states.


As a mother to young women and a mentor to friends like Adriana Kittrell, we asked Gloria what strengths and skills she recommends for women aspiring to be entrepreneurs:


“I think in business, especially as a woman, these concepts are key: reliance, strength, multi-tasking, creativity and execution. My mom always shared this quote from the Brazilian Author Mario Quintana, ‘Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.’


"A major development in my business strategies was realizing that recognition of hard work is not necessary. As an entrepreneur, unfortunately, failures are often celebrated, while successes go unnoticed. I had to stop thinking that someone should be praising me for my hard work or resilience. If I really believe in what I’m doing, then I have to keep going without acknowledgement or glory.


"Women, especially minority women are heavily underrepresented in the cannabis industry, even more so than corporate settings. Being around like-minded, powerful and battle-tested women like Adriana, Whoopi, and Alex is empowering and uplifting. Our goal is to establish opportunities in the industry for generations who come after us.


"Cannabis Cactus leads the charge in creating and identifying a platform for women entrepreneurs and brands to shine. I hope they continue to be an example in the wellness industry to give those who deserve it, their due flowers of recognition.”

Over the years, Whoopi came to symbolize not only a staple of my childhood, but an outspoken advocate for women, people of color, and cannabis, someone who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.” - Heidi Keyes

Throughout our interview, Goldberg highlights the medicinal aspects of cannabis and its potential to alleviate various conditions, such as menstrual cramps and the side effects of chemotherapy. She passionately advocates for the plant’s healing properties and emphasizes the importance of accurate information and accessibility for patients and doctors alike.


As the interview touches upon Goldberg’s experiences as a comedian and her various odd jobs, her humor and down-to-earth nature shine through. She shares stories of being a waitress, emphasizing her ability to connect with people through conversation. Goldberg also pays homage to her comedy heroes, including Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, acknowledging their influence on her own storytelling style.


“We did shows forever. We did a show called comic relief together. There’s a great woman who was popular in the ‘60s named Totie Fields. And then Moms Mabley was a big influence of mine who I love dearly and of course Richard [Pryor].


I don’t do stand up, I tell stories. HBO has specials of mine where you can watch my shows from the past. The very first show I did was Whoopi Goldberg on Broadway and they didn’t know what to call me then so they labeled me a comic but I’m a storyteller.


Telling stories is what the best comedians can do. Robin Williams is like that, Billy Crystal is like that, Totie Fields is like that... and, when I was a kid, George Carlin was like that. You could see exactly what he was talking about and, for me, that’s the best comedy - to be able to laugh and share tears at the same time as the storyteller.”


Our interview concludes with Goldberg expressing her gratitude to the interviewers, her family, and the team behind Emma & Clyde. She reiterates her commitment to making cannabis accessible and destigmatized for medical and recreational use, promoting the plant’s healing properties and advocating for a more natural approach to wellness. She expresses her gratitude for the opportunity to share her story and inspire others.


From this interview, we hope that readers gain a deeper understanding of Whoopi Goldberg’s impact on the entertainment industry, her advocacy for black women’s empowerment, and her pioneering role in the cannabis industry. Goldberg’s commitment to supporting her family, and promoting the healing properties of cannabis leave a lasting impression, reminding us of the strength and importance of strong black women in society. Emma & Clyde products are coming soon to licensed dispensaries throughout Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and New York. Thank you to Adriana Kittrell, Scott Lambert, Gloria Govan, Alex Martin, Amara Skye, and Bernard Dean.

Pictured: Adriana Kittrell, Whoopi Goldberg, Alex Martin Dean, Amara Skye, Gloria Govan, Mama Gloria Govan, Michael Govan, Chloe Rogers, Scott Lambert, Heidi Keyes and Michael Cassini.


Hair by: @DerickMonroe Derick a 3X Emmy Nominated Hair Stylist turned Host and Producer of Behind the Scenes Beauty, where he talks to professionals and celebrities about style and hair care.


Makeup by: Jessica Elizabeth @iamkingelizabeth, Victoria Robinson

@vickirobinsonmuah


Photography shot & edited by: Alexandria of LX Haro photography @lx_haro_photagraphy, at Studio Exhibit in Soho NYC.62 Orchard St 2 floor, New York, NY 10002. LX Haro Photography specializes in masterful portraiture presented in breathtaking color and lighting. Our photo shoot was sponsored by accessory brand Blazy Susan from Denver, Colorado. Blazy Susan is one of the fastest growing accessory brands in the world who works with celebrities, athletes and non-profit foundations. Check them out at blazysusan.com.


Written and Curated by: Michael Cassini and Heidi Keyes for Cannabis Cactus Magazine. Graphic design and illustrations by Joseph Cassini and Irene Llorente.

 

Our sponsor Blazy Susan has always been passionate about supporting independent, women-inspired brands. Blazy Susan is supporting the Emma & Clyde brand launch as the sponsor of our interview photo shoot. Female vibes of the Blazy Susan brand aesthetic and the vision to provide quality, cool smoking accessories complement the Emma & Clyde brand beautifully. “If we can honor everyone’s ability to smoke what they want, eat what they want, and roll how they want then i’m all for it. So bravo, Blazy Susan, Bravo.” Exclaims Goldberg. Thank you to our sponsors Blazy Susan from denver, colorado, for sponsoring our Emma & Clyde photo shoot and for donating custom products for Whoopi and her family.


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