In journalism lingo, a pull quote is a great one-liner, the kind that gets reprinted in big, bold text in the margin of a magazine story. You usually know one when you hear it: the best quotes are often surprising, spontaneous, and short. This year, our staff and freelance writers interviewed dozens of noteworthy Texans from all walks of life, producing so many great quotes that it was difficult to winnow them down. Funny and thoughtful, whimsical and deadly serious, these are ten of our favorites.


“I’m a grown-ass person, but I do not know what I’m doing.” —Brené Brown, author, speaker, and social work researcher

During the pandemic, even more Americans have found comfort in the work of wildly popular vulnerability researcher Brené Brown. Sarah Hepola’s profile of “America’s Therapist” is at once warm and skeptical, following Brown from her rocky college years to her international fame today.


“It was the first time that we had a real superhero.” —Danny Trejo, actor, on what his Machete character meant for Latino representation in film

In 1969, Danny Trejo was in solitary confinement in San Quentin State Prison when he made a deal with God: if he ever walked free, he would stay sober, leave his life of crime behind, and do whatever he could to help others. More than a half-century later, the successful actor and entrepreneur has done exactly that. Cat Cardenas relates the wild tale of Trejo’s journey from prison to Hollywood stardom.


“I was born to be inside a studio in tights.” —Alyssa Edwards, drag superstar

One of the world’s most successful drag queens, Mesquite native Alyssa Edwards shares her story with Emily McCullar in this unputdownable profile. Edwards’s story is also the story of how drag, once a subversive underground art form, went mainstream.


“Be gentle, go easy on yourself.” —Adriene Mishler, YouTube yogi

Austin resident Adriene Mishler, whom the New York Times recently lauded as “the reigning queen of pandemic yoga,” spoke with Andy Langer this spring. Her inclusive message of “finding what feels good” has resonated with fans who previously felt sidelined by the yoga establishment.


“One of the things I’ve learned being African American in this country is that what people don’t know about frightens them, and when they get frightened, they get angry. They are afraid of change, of being pushed and marginalized themselves.” —Vivian Stephens, romance editor

Romance writing is often derided and overlooked, but it’s a billion-dollar-a-year business that comprises 23 percent of the U.S. fiction market. Mimi Swartz profiles one of the industry’s major players, Houstonian Vivian Stephens. A former editor at Doubleday and Harlequin Books, Stephens, 87, was instrumental in founding the Romance Writers of America, and she worked tirelessly to diversify the mostly white, wealthy publishing world—before she was pushed out. 


“It’s a full-blown crisis. I don’t think about much else.” —Doug Parker, American Airlines CEO, on the pandemic

Parker spoke with writer Jason Heid, whose feature story takes an unflinching look at why the Dallas-based airline is so uniquely infuriating to customers. The short answer: the company has spent billions and piled up massive debts in recent years, leaving it unprepared to weather the pandemic.


“I don’t think I ever did my homework.” —Quinn Mason, composer

Quinn Mason, 24, was often distracted in his Dallas elementary school, because all he wanted to do was study classical music. Today, that laser-focused mind and singular musical talent have made him one of the most sought-after young composers in the nation. One of Mason’s mentors told writer Katy Vine that “Two hundred years from now, people are going to look back at the twenty-first century and say, ‘This is the age of the composer-conductor Quinn Mason.’ ”


“Intention without direction ends up being void.” —Emmanuel Acho, author and sportscaster

A former NFL linebacker who recently turned his hit YouTube series, Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, into a book of the same name, Acho spoke with Arielle Avila about how readers who want to fight systemic racism can turn good intentions into action.


“We have to do better.” —Art Acevedo, Houston police chief, on allegations of police misconduct

The outspoken, nationally prominent police chief gave a wide-ranging interview to Keri Blakinger for the February issue of Texas Monthly. They spoke about criminal justice reform and why Acevedo considers himself a RINO (Republican In Name Only). In June, a story by Michael Hardy also examined how the chief’s record is less progressive than his rhetoric.


“I close my eyes and ask God to ask Willie (they share a condo in Maui) what I should do to get through my writer’s block. I hear a rumble of thunder and then a slow, resounding E chord being strummed, and this message appears gin-clear in my mind: Keep it simple, stupid.” —Robert Earl Keen, singer-songwriter

Keen penned an ode to Willie Nelson—and his knack for writing deceptively simple songs—for Texas Monthly’s special issue on the Red Headed Stranger.