The experiences of Charles Penny, Jr. is the inspiration behind the NORMALIZED story and the character, CJ. CJ also hosts the Normalized Podcast.
As a child, Charles “CJ” Penny recognized his unique ability to engage, stir emotion, stimulate the imagination, and motivate others to take action. CJ has emerged as a gifted and exceptional storyteller, amplifying the voices of those affected by the stigma of mental illness with his podcast, Normalized. He captivates his listeners through emotional and unapologetically raw conversations, where he reveals his very personal and on-going struggle to navigate a Bipolar diagnosis.
As the Normalized podcast grew in popularity, CJ envisioned yet another opportunity to awaken the mainstream to the realities and illuminate the challenges that over 44 million Americans diagnosed as Bipolar are confronted with daily. It was this, along with his everpresent drive and ambition that became his motivation to produce and launch the film, “Normalized.”
“Normalized” chronicles CJ’s journey through a chaotic childhood to become a successful, community minded, transportation executive. His determination to break-free from substance abuse and gain a deeper understanding of self has allowed him to lead a “Normalized” life after a Bipolar II diagnosis.
While leaning into his gifts of creativity and skillful storytelling with his “Normalized” endeavors, CJ continues to flourish professionally, leading multi-modal transportation and planning initiatives for one of the largest transit systems in the United States. CJ is the former Chief of Transit and Sustainable Transportation for the Baltimore City Department of Transportation.
Today, CJ resides in Baltimore and Chicago and has two daughters. He has degrees in Political Science and Mass Communication from Towson University.
CJ will tell you that he is no expert and still struggles with his Bipolar condition. However, his courageous commitment to raise awareness and speak on behalf of so many others afraid to share their stories, has made him a sought-after speaker and presenter on mental health. Leveraging his magnetic personality and savvy communication platforms, both “Normalized” the film and podcast have proven to awake empathy, allowing the audience to relate to CJ in a way he hopes will begin to change the narrative and remove the stigma associated with Bipolar disorder and perhaps even challenging what it means to be normal.