This new podcast aims to encourage the BAME community to aim for leadership roles in the arts
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS, IMAGES BY SUSAN DALE
Spoken-word artist, theatre maker and producer Koko Brown has released a game-changing new podcast, Black In Power. Comprised of 10 insightful episodes, Koko will be speaking to other black artists and leaders within the arts (Artistic Directors, Executive Directors, Company Managers etc) about their careers, the changes that still need to happen in the industry and reflecting on the movement so far.
In a time where equality and anti-racism movements are gaining more mainstream recognition and support, This new podcast aims to encourage black youths to aim for leadership roles in a difficult industry
We caught up with Koko to find out more about her own journey and what we can expect from the Black In Power podcast.
DIVA: Tell us a bit about the idea behind Black In Power – your brand new podcast.
Koko Brown: Black In Power is a podcast where I talk with leaders in the arts (e.g Artistic Directors, Executive Producers and Founders) about their journey, what they wish they had known and what being a leader means to them. It centres Black artists but it is not about them being Black.
Basically it’s a podcast series that tries it’s best to demystify the roots into leadership roles, with a specific focus on arts and culture.
How did this idea come about?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I hope to become a leader in arts and culture one day but I realised that I don’t really know how to get there. So I thought, “Why not ask the people who are already there?!”. And it dawned on me, “Well if I want to know, then other artists probably want to know this as well”. A podcast was the easiest, COVID-safe and accessible way to do that.
What have you learned from making the podcast and speaking with your various guests?
I’ve learned that everybody is making it up as they go along, figuring it out day by day and people, even those at the top of our industries, are just trying their best. Which gives me a really nice sense of calm about where my career is going. It’s nice to know you don’t have to have it all figured out.
What can listeners expect from Black In Power?
It’s the usual interview style podcast with a Koko Brown twist. You can expect to hear some amazing anecdotes and some great advice but what’s really special about this is the sound design. I’ve been working with a Sound Production company called Forward Motion who have created, what we call, Sound Profiles for each artist. Little bites of music and musical underscoring that gently hold what is being said and are unique to every person I interview. It really adds an additional layer to the listen experience.
And for those who would prefer to read the interviews, we’ve made transcriptions for every episode. (Available here)
What do you hope listeners take away from the podcast?
That’s simple, a better understanding of how we can become the leaders we want to be.
What has been the biggest challenge starting your podcast, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been me. I’ve never produced a podcast before, let alone produced anything during a worldwide pandemic. I had a lot of lonely hours spent at my computer trying to silence the voice telling me to stop and that I’m not good enough to make this work. So I’ve had to work really hard to silence that voice and keep moving forward.
What advice would you give to any other Black, queer individuals looking to start a career in the arts?
Do it. We need more of you. We need more of our stories. We need more of our joy, front and centre.
Has your sexuality, gender identity or race ever been an issue in this industry?
Not really. I’m lucky to work in an industry that is quite open and accepting but I also know my worth and I keep myself out of positions where any part of who I am is an issue.
Who inspires you professionally?
Every single person I spoke to on the podcast. They all inspire me so deeply and I still cannot believe I got to chat with them so freely. Outside of these artists, I am inspired by professionals in my circles. Single-parent producers, working class artists who do so much with teeny-tiny budgets and marginalised theatre makers who refuse to stay quiet about the world around them.
Oh, and Michaela Coel. Obviously.
What’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
I don’t actually know, I feel like I’ve learned everything I know through osmosis! There are some really sick pieces of advice in the podcast actually… but I guess you’ll just have to listen!
Black In Power is available now on all streaming platforms with new episodes weekly.
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