CNN: What did you want to be when you grow up?
Russell: I always wanted to become president! When I was a kid, I was obsessed with politics. The first long book I remember reading was (Richard) Neustadt's "Presidential Power" in fourth grade. But as I learned more about our democracy, I realized that who participates, who votes and who gets elected is not as simple as it seems. That got me interested in how to bring people together and ignite alternative networks of power, and that's why I started the Big Bad Lab.
CNN: Who are your heroes?
Russell: I'm inspired by the people I work with. At the Genius Lab, we have three incredible artists. Ernest English makes enormous participatory public art pieces. Adalky Capellan is a young woman who creates very large-scale work. When I saw her photos, I knew she was perfect to do our dream selfie wall background. And then there's the graffiti artist and muralist known as miss163. She is a joy to work with, and her piece is all about love, which is great for us since one of our upcoming issues is about LGBT.
CNN: If you can give one piece of advice to young women, what would it be?
Russell: When boys at school told me I couldn't play their game, my mom told me to ask: "Why, do you need a penis to play?"
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