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12 Rounds with Marie Justice


In our new weekly feature 12 Rounds, leaders will answer 12 questions — some light, some heavy — from our Publisher and CEO Henry Sanders to help the community understand them, what they do, and why. Today: filmmaker and Discover Wisconsin host Marie Justice.

Along with husband Johnny, Marie Justice is co-founder and co-owner of Justice Media, a firm that specializes in documentaries, photography, and branding, with a focus on using their creativity to help drive social change in the community and beyond. Their most recent project is the My Americana docuseries. She has also been a cohost of the television show Discover Wisconsin since 2016.

What advice would you give someone who is a person of color not from Wisconsin who is thinking  about moving to Madison?  Please come, but more importantly please stay—and help push this city to open its beauty and  opportunity to all of its residents. Madison is a unique place with so much potential. Its landscape is  already aesthetically pleasing and there’s plenty of acAviAes to enjoy, in both nature and entertainment.  Furthermore it’s an entrepreneur’s playground. Unfortunately people of color are not exactly thriving  here. We’re not the home owners, or successful business owners—and we’re oIen not out enjoying the  leisure and classic Madison acAviAes. But we could be, and should be—so don’t be deterred, stay and  help create a new landscape in Madison, one that is culturally rich, diverse and where people of color  flourish.  

Name 3 songs that accurately reflect how you’re feeling.  

This is America—Childish Gambino  

Redemption Song—-Bob Marley  


If you could go back in time to any point of life to tell yourself something, what age would you go back  to and what would you tell yourself?  Ah, this is tough to choose. I’d probably go back to 19 and try to tell myself to trust the process and my  intuition, and to understand that all things ripen and mature in their own time—don’t rush things, enjoy  the journey and everything in between. Took me a while to figure this out and it would have saved me a  lot of worry in my early 20’s. 

What did you learn about yourself in 2020?  I realized I was incredibly unforgiving and critical of myself. So I learned to be much nicer to me…self-care  suddenly took on a whole new meaning.

At this point of your life do you feel you have found your purpose? If so, how did you figure out your  purpose? Yes, I think I have found my purpose (for now)—which came with being open to change, taking risks— and following what I was passionate about. I’m definitely pursuing things that I love, and it feels like I’m  on the right path. However, life’s a journey—and it can be a fairly long one (if we’re lucky)—so I’m always  listening closely and trying to decipher what the Universe is telling me, I’m always open to what may be  next for me. To be honest I don’t think it’s exactly up to us, we each have giIs that are meant to be  shared—when, where and how is what we have to continuously figure out.  

There is a lot of division around the issues of race in politics. What can we do to lessen those  divisions? What can we do right now as individuals? Listen. Be open, and understand that everyone has a story and  an experience and it’s valid, regardless if it is right or wrong, it’s definitely valid—and so are their feelings —again, that doesn’t necessarily make them “right,” but I digress. Look, I’m an incredibly analytical  person, and I’m learning to be even more self-aware as I get older which helps me be more aware of my  lens that I’m viewing things through. I think if we stay interested and curious about connecting with one  another, it’d go a long way in bridging gaps. When you know someone’s story, and connect with them on  a human level it’s difficult to not start caring and be open to new ideas and perspectives. 

Pie: Pumpkin or sweet potato? Easy: sweet potato pie all day, everyday.  

You and your husband created a documentary series named My Americana. What inspired you to  create the documentary? Honestly it was the pandemic and the social uprising we were collectively  experiencing as a society. We were seeing people on social media having these conversations  surrounding race and other social topics that had been pushed to the forefront, and so many well meaning people were struggling to digest hundreds of years worth of information. As filmmakers we  had this “aha moment.” The American life looked so different to each of us, so as artists we wanted to  create a way to help individuals share their lived experiences with one another to gain understanding.  

What have you learned about the state of Wisconsin in your role as co-host at Discover Wisconsin? Probably that Wisconsin is really beautiful. There’s so much to see and do right here in our backyard;  from islands to amazing rivers and lakes — festivals and destination spots, this state has so much to  offer. 

Name your top three go-to movies or tv shows you watch when you want to laugh. 



Meet the Parents  

When you heard the verdict from the Derek Chauvin trial, what was your first reaction?  Relief. Second reaction: but we’re not there yet. 

If you could choose anything for a date night, what would it entail?  My two favorite things: a good movie and and good food. Normally I’d settle for streaming a movie at  home and ordering take out, but since we’ve been on lock down for more than a year—I want the real  deal: going out to the actual movie theater and siting down and eating at a nice restaurant. Man, I can’t wait until this is all over!