Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
|Kristin Brey, creator of the website, "As Goes Wisconsin." (Photo: Courtesy of Kristin Brey)|
Kristin Brey had a big idea.
After more than a decade away pursuing acting, academics, sales and comedy, she was returning home to Wisconsin to make a film about what it's like to live in a battleground political state.
She packed her bags and her camera, hopped a plane from Los Angeles and arrived at her parent's house in Wisconsin Rapids.
It was March 15 and the world was headed into a lockdown because of the novel coronavirus.
So, at home with her parents, uncle and 93-year-old grandfather, her film project kaput, she whipped up another idea: "As Goes Wisconsin," a website that takes a wry weekly look at everything Wisconsin.
It's charming, political and opinionated, with a left-wing tilt but an urge to connect across the ideological spectrum.
The purpose is to reach voters, not preach to them, and to provide a fun way to get into big issues.
"The world is telling me there's something here," she said.
From an initial video she did with her mom about how to apply for an absentee ballot — a how-to instruction that has garnered more than 40,000 views — she has kept up a steady stream of content.
Think "The Daily Show," filmed in your mom's living room.
In early April, she quipped: "Lawmakers met this week on coronavirus relief and they actually passed something! Which is great because a Go Fund Me page for the entire state would be kind of weird."
"Despite sports being canceled for now, Packer fans are still finding a way to come together and participate in an age-old tradition, bitching about the draft on the internet," Brey said in a May 1 episode.
And, she even weighed in on the 2020 Census, coming up with a tagline to get people to participate: "Don't get F*&$ed. Get counted."
Brey may have been away for a while, but she is a Badger at heart. She even has a childhood photo to prove it, posing with a Bucky Badger mascot.
Her parents, Peter and Debbie Brey, grew up in the Wisconsin Rapids area. Her dad played basketball for the University of Wisconsin in the mid-1970s and was a senior captain.
Raised in Madison, Brey excelled at basketball and had a passion for acting.
At 16, she persuaded her parents to move to California so she could get her foot in the door in Hollywood.
"I was a very willful teenager," she said.
An IMDb page marks that chapter of her life: an appearance on "8 Simple Rules," a couple of other parts.
"I was on an episode of 'Judging Amy,'" she said. "They cut my line. My character was in a coma and woke up. At 17, I was mortified having so many watch me just be in a coma."
She went to college, earned a degree in Women’s Health and Public Policy from the University of California, Berkley, and pursued a career in business.
She calls that period, "managing tech bros on sales teams at startups in Silicon Valley."
She reversed course again, after the 2016 election, creating videos as part of a series she called "Below the Fold."
Now, she's back in Wisconsin — where her parents returned after California — riding out coronavirus and digging into the state's political world.
"The goal is to try and reach people who are not already engaged in politics or super news consumers," she said.
For example, when Wisconsin's Supreme Court overturned Gov. Tony Evers' stay-at-home order, Brey focused on a very Wisconsin thing.
She noted that a video of a packed Nick's Tavern in Platteville made national news and quipped: "Listen, this shouldn't surprise anyone. We didn’t get the reputation of out drinking your state since 1848 for no reason."