Host Marco Werman's favorite interviews of 2018

The World
Marco Werman in the studio on the right-hand side facing Ai Weiwei

The World's host Marco Werman interviews Ai Weiwei in our studio in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Steven Davy/The World

1. Inua Ellams, Nigerian playwright of "Barber Shop Chronicles"

This was one of those rare moments where you speak with an artist whose work you’d just seen the night before. And the chemistry was great.

2.  Emile Ratelband, Dutchman who lost a legal case to change his age from 69 to 49

This was a surreal conversation that I found challenging. Ratelband was so absolutely convinced of his righteousness, I began to wonder if he had a point. But in the end, really chronologically, you’re 69, dude, no matter how young you feel.

3. Michelle Oberman, author on abortion and miscarriage in El Salvador

We’ve spoken with Michelle Oberman before, but I was unaware of this particular subject. She had a deep knowledge of the country's issues and was able to really connect it to the abortion debate — and abortion access — in this country.

4. Jin Kyu Park, first DACA recipient to land a Rhodes Scholarship 

Jin Kyu Park is a really lovely guy who I vibed with the second he came in the studio. He has processed so many of his experiences growing up as a Korean immigrant within the larger immigrant population of Queens, New York, into a story that he tells very clearly and with purpose.

6. Steve Hupp, the subject of a new docu-series on Viceland, "Kentucky Ayahuasca" 

Steve Hupp is a convicted felon, now freed and proselytizing for ayahuasca as a shaman, as the Viceland series shows.

I am always leery of any wild idea that then becomes the driving force of a reality show. But once I saw the first episode of "Kentucky Ayahuasca," I saw something else going on: this guy’s crazy idea was helping people, and I wanted to hear from him.

7. Ai Weiwei, dissident artist on his new photography book and America's 'big heart'

What can I say? I live for interviews like these. It was simply wonderful to hear his voice declaring “China is broken.”

8. Nina Porzucki, on Macbeth in Basque and how it’s preserved the language

Not strictly an interview, but all the same, I really enjoyed speaking with Nina about this story of language preservation and the unlikely path taken by a Basque manuscript of Shakespeare.

9. Kelly Lindsey, coach of the Afghanistan national women’s team

This ought to be part of a series of “crazy jobs.” Just tick off Lindsey’s challenges. Coaching women’s soccer in a country where women struggle, where there’s a war, where women are targets. The team can’t even practice there, so they’re always on the move.

10. Phan Thi Kim Phúc, the Vietnam War's Napalm Girl  

Phan Thi Kim Phúc was nine when she was napalmed in Vietnam. I recall seeing the photo of her when it happened, so I would've been 11. Her agony haunted me through my childhood. So it was sort of unreal to even speak with her, as her words and her impressive story of rehabilitation and near death completed a picture that I'd been wondering about since 1972.

Napalm girl

South Vietnamese forces follow after terrified children, including 9-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phùc, center, as they run down Route 1 near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong hiding places on June 8, 1972. A South Vietnamese plane accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians. The terrified girl had ripped off her burning clothes while fleeing. The children from left to right are: Phan Thanh Tam (the younger brother of Kim Phùc), Phan Thanh Phouc, (the youngest brother of Kim Phùc), Kim Phùc, and Kim Phùc's cousins Ho Van Bon and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division. 


Nick Ut/The Associated Press