57 minutes | Jul 10, 2020

April Reign and her new media company Ensemble

This is the podcast edition of the premiere episode oftheblerdgurlLIVE in podcast form. It’s edited slightly for clarity, and there is a transcript available below! It was great having April back and I was able to get the scoop on her new venture Ensemble with Overture Global! We also talked about some great Scifi shows we’re watching on streaming. Please take a listen and let me know what you think! If you enjoy this episode please subscribe and leave a comment over on iTunes for me if you can, it really helps me out.. Or, screenshot your podcatcher and tag theblerdgurl over on IG stories with what you liked about it! If you REALLY want to support what I’m doing, please contribute to my Ko-Fi page! Your contribution really helps me keep the show going and eventually pay for expenses like mixing, transcription, a video editor and so much more! CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ON YOUR FAVORITE PODCATCHER April Reign on TwitterApril Reign on InstagramOverture GlobalAmazing Stories – AppleTVTwilight Zone – CBS AllAccess POD_Ep39 TBG Live _April Reign [00:00:00] Karama: [00:00:00] Hey folks. It�s Karama Horne aka theblerdgurl. And welcome back to theblerdgurl podcast. Starting this week, I will be sharing with you the audio version of theblerdgurl LIVE a brand new show I'm doing over on Twitch on the OS_NYC channel. Yes, that's right. I'm on Twitch. [00:00:17] And my very first guest on the show was friend of the podcast and hopefully friend in real life. Activist and now media company, co-owner April Reign. She stopped by to talk about her new venture Ensemble. It's a new media company collab between her and Overture Global. She gives us the details on that. Plus we talk about some of our favorite scifi shows we're watching right now. [00:00:42] I'm super excited she agreed to be my first guest on my live show from my home office. And I can't wait for you to hear it, but first let's pay some bills. [00:00:52] (LIVE SHOW) [00:00:52]Hey, everybody. Welcome to the premiere of theblerdgurlLIVE. My name is Karama Horne and I am a culture journalist, content, creator, and host parked at the intersection of geekdom and diversity. Welcome to the show where I talk to creators about everything, basically from anime and superheroes to activism and diversity within the geek space. [00:01:15] and this is sort of an extension of my podcast. So my first guest who I'm really excited to have with me is none other than media activist, equity advocate, and creator of the #oscarsowhite hashtag. April Reign. [00:01:30] She's also a killer on Twitter. [00:01:32] Um, she's hanging out today with me to talk about a couple of scifi shows, share a bit of tea about her brand new venture Ensemble. It's like this lab between her and Overture Global. So. I'm going to read this. So I don't do it wrong. "Ensemble will be a digital content studio that will accelerate opportunities around content and develop it in front of, and behind the camera for people of color". [00:01:56] So I'm really, really excited. Welcome April. [00:02:01] April: [00:02:01] Thank you so much for having me. I am honored to be your very first guest. [00:02:06] Karama: [00:02:06] Yeah, I'm so excited actually. And I'm so happy that you agreed to do this. I've I've talked to you about things before I consider you a friend. I also want to be you when I grow up. [00:02:15] Thank you so much for gracing us with your presence. Now, basically folks, how this is going to work is, um, We're gonna talk about a couple of shows in the scifi/fantasy space that we've watched. And then we're going to talk about what April's doing, what my guest is doing, my illustrious guest, and in the last 20 minutes so, we're gonna take some questions. [00:02:39] So April, I think that the last time I talked to you, it was back in February, right before the Oscars were announced and, uh, Ever since then we've had what? [00:02:51] Pandemic, killer wasps, now we have killer dust. During all that time. We had Black people being killed [00:03:00] on video. Uh, so yeah, it's been an interesting few months. How you been? [00:03:04] April: [00:03:04] You know it, I'm fine. Thank you very much for asking. I am actually an introvert. [00:03:11] Usually, or at least an ambivert, which means I can turn it on when I want to and be an extrovert, but I'd much rather be at home, um, on my couch. Uh, and I don't really like people anyway, that part of the pandemic, the social distancing I'm doing okay with. Um, you know, my kids are 16 and 20, so one is home from college. [00:03:32] And when, um, you know, I was doing high school, her last several weeks, there were several months actually online. So yeah. So that's been a challenge, but you know, I'm, I'm very privileged. You know, I, I recognize I've got a roof over my head, you know, my immediate family is still healthy. Um, and, and so, you know, It's it's a different lifestyle than what we're used to from six months ago, but I have absolutely no complaints. [00:04:00]Karama: [00:04:00] That's good. Um, are you now a homeschool master? [00:04:06] April: [00:04:06] Oh, no ma'am no, no, no. Ma'am uh, no, no. I'm very thankful that both the college and the high school were taken care of things. Cause my daughter was taking classes. She's the high schooler and she was taking like AP computer science and honors English. And I know no. [00:04:26] I mean, if they had been in like, Third grade or something maybe, [00:04:30] but it's like, gnosis you, you you're on your own. You better dial up .Com Academy or something. Cause mama can't help you. [00:04:36]Karama: [00:04:36] The new math is throwing you off. [00:04:38] April: [00:04:38] New math, old math, not my business. That's what calculators are for. Nope. [00:04:44] Karama: [00:04:44] Also, um, just, I didn't know the amount of spreadsheets that I've been making, like for all of the black lives matter now, allies that we have, there's so many now in every company on the planet, um, and everybody's "hiring". [00:05:03] April: [00:05:03] So they say. so they say. [00:05:05]Karama: [00:05:05] .But so many of us have been like trying to get this information down and share it with as many people as possible. And had anybody told me that the revolution was going to take spreadsheets. [00:05:14] I would have gotten a new computer, cause this is a lot. [00:05:17] April: [00:05:17] It is a lot! Just trying to keep up with the organizations and the corporations who are really, you know, walking the walk and not just putting up a black screen on their Instagram or whatever the case may be. And, you know, the type of hiring they're doing.... [00:05:30] I literally earlier today, um, I got a posting from an organization that I know well, and they were like, you know, it's tough right now, but we're still looking for all these people and content strategist and whatever, whatever. Um, so, you know, please, you know, amplify on your networks. [00:05:45] And I wrote back to them. I said, okay, number one, you don't have salary in your job listings. So what are you doing? It's 2020, right? You need to have it in there. And number two, we're in the midst of a global pandemic. And there's no mention [00:06:00] whatsoever about working from home telework, remote work. What have you, you're telling me you're based in this particular city, but why does that even matter? [00:06:06] Like is your office even open today? So I think that, um, All kinds. Yeah. Everything is on the table. I just keep saying that everything is on the table right now. And the companies that are, that are going to come out of this the best are the ones that are really being thoughtful, um, about, you know, their hiring practices, their retention policies, all of that. [00:06:28] Karama: [00:06:28] I completely agree. Um, Now I'm curious what you're doing to relax because after a hard day of spreadsheet making and making sure people are getting paid and explaining what racism is, what are you, what are you streaming? What are you geeking out over? [00:06:51] April: [00:06:51] So, um, I guess it was earlier this year or late last year, I got all of these promotions for Hulu and Disney Plus, and you know, a lot of channels that I didn't have, which led to their own different channels. [00:07:03] And, um, Amazon prime and now I have Apple TV and I just started the other day. I know I'm months old. So please nobody in the comments, give me any spoilers, but what is it called? I think "Truth be Told" on a Apple TV, which is like a trick. It's one of the thing with, yes, with Octavia Spencer. I am really enjoying that ...because [00:07:24] Right because [00:07:24] Karama: [00:07:24] it's like a podcast or something that she has, or, or she's investigative reporter. [00:07:29] April: [00:07:29] Right. She [00:07:30] plays a journalist who started writing a story about, um, a young man who was accused of murdering his friend's father and, um, based on her journalism, um, he. Ended up getting sentenced to life in prison. And so now she has a whole podcast, like a True Crime podcasts about it. So she, and this is Octavia Spenser's character, and she made a whole bunch of money, you know, telling everybody that this guy was guilty basically. [00:07:58] And so now she has second thoughts. So now she's trying, so now she's using the podcast to flip it and figure out if in fact this guy is guilty and he's already been on, um, in prison for S 20 years or something like that. So yeah. I find it really interesting. [00:08:14]Karama: [00:08:14] Something else I've been watching on that Apple TV thing. And it's weird because I'm not loving all the shows, but I was kind of excited when I found out that Amazing Stories was going to be on there because I remember watching reruns of Amazing Stories. The original one, when I was a kid, um, George Lucas re rebooted. [00:08:35] This it's like, they're calling it a horror series, but it's not really horror. It's really more suspense. I don't know. And there was a magazine that went with it. I didn't know there was a magazine, but apparently somebody told me this was like the original Stranger Things. [00:08:48] This is like what it originally like. [00:08:50] April: [00:08:50] Oh! Okay. [00:08:51]Karama: [00:08:51] Um, so one of the episodes, one called "The HEAT" which was episode three. I was [00:09:00] really blown away by this one. I was stunned because it was basically all black people first. So, uh, and it was basically two black girls who were in high school. [00:09:11] Anybody who didn't know, it's two black girls who were in high schooltrack and they're these stars, these track stars. And they're, you know, basical ltrying to get that college scholarship, trying to, you know, basically make, go to the Olympics and everything else. Um, I'm about to get a little spoiler-y here. [00:09:26] Do you think you think that this spoiler length of time matters when you're in a pandemic? [00:09:33] No. And plus it's been out for a while. I mean it's not like it was last week's episode. [00:09:39] No, it was out, I think March, beginning of March. End of February. So yeah, if you haven't watched it, I'm gonna spoil this one for you. So basically for all intents and purposes, this is a glorified ghost story because one of the girls is for the most part, a ghost. [00:09:53] Um, but this isn't like for those of you who are anime or like real horror have fishy analysis is not like Japanese anime with a girl on the corner. That's upside down that her hair head spins around. Not this it's not like gory like that. It is really more, like I said, suspenseful. Um, but just the new one, lots of it, these two girls in high school, in the hood, but actually it's a ghost story and we're talking about a couple of different dimensions and, and, and love and things like that. [00:10:28] What did you think about it? [00:10:30] [00:10:30] April: [00:10:30] I thought it was really interesting, you know, and this all goes back to whose story is being told and who is telling the story. Right? Which I talk about with respect to # OscarSoWhite all the time, you know? And so we're definitely, definitely, yeah. Little pieces in there. That's like, okay, you had to live in the hood or know something about the hood to put that in there. [00:10:52] [00:10:52] Karama: [00:10:52] Thank you! Yeah, like the, like the drag race and stuff. [00:10:55] It is realistic because it feels like somebody was there, right? Somebody that somebody who lived in the hood was there and it was directed. That episode was directed by Sylvan white, who was the person that one of the people that directed The Rookie several episodes, and he also did a lot of directing on Sleepy Hollow. [00:11:14] Uh, I think he also did some work on Hawaii-Five-O. Oh, Sylvan is a black, I'm going to say person of color because it's definitely mixed. Um, But I think it did make a difference. And it was written by Chinaka Hodge who wrote several episodes of, uh, this season as well as Snowpiercer. [00:11:33]Were you surprised by, and yeah, we're spoiling things. Were you surprised by the end? [00:11:40] April: [00:11:40] I didn't fully understand it. Like I'm going to lose all of my gleek my geek blerd credibility here in the first six minutes of this lovely episode. Yes. I was surprised cause it didn't make sense. And I was like, Oh, you should have just left it with, you know, the apparition. I'm trying not to spoil it. Right? You [00:12:00] know, you should do this left. [00:12:00] Karama: [00:12:00] We can spoil it! [laughs] [00:12:02] April: [00:12:02] It just didn't make sense to me that she would actually be alive. Like my daughter was like, and she was like, "Oh, she just gets up? She doesn't even have a limp?" Like that. I'm thinking, you know, it doesn't make any sense. Like, I, you know, I need a little trickle of blood or, you know, or something, you know, you know, if they had kissed and then she had gone into whatever the afterlife or whatever, we're calling it and ended it there. I would have been great. [00:12:29] You know, but then they went back and it's like, Oh, okay. All of it was in somebody's mind because there's still, they're both two human living people and I didn't need that revolution. [00:12:40] Karama: [00:12:40] Well, I, it's funny because, um, Twilight Zone does this Black Mirror does this Tales from the Loop does this, and it's fine that you haven't watched these shows. But this is a sci-fi trope where it, I shouldn't even say scifi trope. It's a Disney trope, like Cinderella gets kissed and comes back from the brink of poison, you know, like from death, you know, I mean not Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty. See what I mean? Disney. [00:13:03] April: [00:13:03] Yeah, yeah. Right. They're the same thing [00:13:06] Karama: [00:13:06] Like interchangeable princesses. Um, [00:13:09] April: [00:13:09] but you're right. Princess and the Frog, you know, they do the kids and you know, and so then we can talk about tech, toxic masculinity. Why has gotta be a man that can, yes. Right. And so he flipped it on its head with respect to sexual orientation. And I was thrilled to see that portion of it, but, you know, I still, you know, I just, yeah. [00:13:30] [00:13:30] Karama: [00:13:30] But I, and without getting into any more detail, cause there's people in the chat that are yelling about it, smiling, it you've had months people. [00:13:38] Um, I [00:13:40] don't even have FPV anyway, [00:13:49] you don't get that free trial for one episode. Gotcha. Go ahead. It's fine. [00:13:58] So, I think that it was nice though. It didn't seem forced that there was a queer love story, uh, evolve and Oh yes. For the person in the chat who said they didn't hear about this story until this show until tonight, that is something else I want to address just briefly. [00:14:19] This show as well as another one that we're going to talk about. Like, no one is talking about these. No one's talking about "Amazing Stories". Nobody's talking about these amazing directors. Is this black directors, even though we're out here yelling, like we need more representation. We need more access. [00:14:34]It's a show that is executive produced by Steven Spielberg. This is something that a lot of people should be talking about. Nobody's talking about it. There's no press on it. All of the actors in this show, everybody was black and Latino. There were white people in it too, but it was like [00:14:50] April: [00:14:50] Were there? [00:14:54]Karama: [00:14:54] If you squint like the police officer look like the crossing guard [00:15:00] [00:15:00] know. Right. I think one of the problems we're having is we get these shows, we'll get access. We'll direct them. We'll even in the SciFest space and then nobody will promote them. So I think that's, uh, uh, another issue that we're having as well. [00:15:16] April: [00:15:16] Let me say that, that the issue with that has to that's that's the network. Right. That's Apple TV. And that's the show itself. Not reaching out to whatever we're calling them these days, influencers or whatever people like you and saying, Hey, you know, can we send you bag or whatever, or even better, we send you a check so that you will watch the show. [00:15:40] And if you like it help promote it. I mean, that's what happens with shows like Watchman. Right. Would anybody have been talking about that race massacre of 1921? In that first episode of Watchman, if they, if HBO had not seen it, Hey, you know, we've got this new show coming out with Regina King, um, you know, we'd love for you to promote that kind of thing. [00:16:01] So it's, it's on Apple TV and it's on the particular shows to reach out, um, to folks to, to get that, you know, to get that ball rolling. And then once people get into two or three episodes, then yeah. You know, they're on their own because everybody's into the show now, and then everybody else it's already talking about the show. [00:16:19] Very organically. [00:16:21] Yeah. And, um, this is actually one of the reasons why I, I have Stream This over on my YouTube channel because people, people are saying, [00:16:30] Oh, you know, what are you gonna think fine to talk about it. I'm like, do you have any idea how many shows her streaming right now that nobody knows about like all over the world, trust me, I'm not running out of content, but you're absolutely right. [00:16:41] And to that end, I was one of the, that HBO reached out for, for Watchmen and the reps. And the people that were promoting it were also people of color. So they got it. They got not just who to reach out to, but the conversations that we were going to have it just, yeah, we'll get, we'll get into that because you have a whole company that hopefully it's going to help. [00:17:05] Well, what's, you're starting is hopefully going to help address that somebody else has been pretty good about that is, um, Jordan Peele and his. Twilight zone. I know. Right? He's amazing. Um, Twilight zone is back for season two, and I don't know if anybody in the chat has been watching Twilight Zone, but I'm gonna just go out and say that season one was good. [00:17:31] It was decent, but I think season two is even better. And.One of the reasons why I think, uh, and this has nothing to do with who's in the writer's room. This is, I think they tried to do too much season one. Um, season one was very much, uh, had a great cast, had great stories, but there were too long. The original Twilight zone was always like 30 minutes and they would give you a very interesting in story. [00:17:56] I don't know if you remember the old ones, it would give you an interesting, uh, [00:18:00] twist and then make you go think. Um, I think they tried to do too much season one, season two, they corrected that. I think none of these episodes are longer than about 35 minutes. Um, now I know you haven't watched all of them because yet another streaming service. [00:18:19] Um, the one that I wanted to talk to you about was season two, episode two. Uh, downtime and yes, in the chat, somebody just mentioned that. They get their green. Lovely. It's rare that a chat actually agrees with me. This is awesome. [00:18:39] They're not calling you names or anything. [00:18:42] I'm not used to people treating me. [00:18:44] Good. Um, so let's talk about season two, episode two. Now this one is about a hotel executive that gets a promotion to hotel manager, and then her world suddenly stops, like literally stops. Um, everybody suddenly freezes again. It's a little spoilery. Um, and then no, it's going to be kind of really spoilery and then maintenance people start coming in. [00:19:10] Yeah, she was played by Marina Bocker in, sorry, if I'm saying her name wrong. I don't remember her as Deadpool's girlfriend and from the, and for, I don't know if there's there's three Firefly fans in the chat, but she will always be in our, from Firefly. That was a deep cut, but. You don't need to know all that to [00:19:30] enjoy this episode April, what did you think? [00:19:33] I thought it was really interesting. I mean, Colman Domingo has a sort of a cameo, like, you know, he only had two or three sentences where, um, but made it work for him. He plays her, um, partner, love, interests, uh, you know, and the [00:19:47] Irish accent, it threw me off. [00:19:49] I will see I was going to leave that I wasn't trying to well that part of it, but poor, poor fans in the chat, um, you know, she just has to make a really difficult choice about, you know, once she realizes that her world isn't real, which is basically like the premise of every single Twilight episode, you know, once she realizes her world, isn't real, she has to. [00:20:10] Decide, whether she's going to stay in the imaginary world or go back to whatever the real world is. And so it was interesting sort of watching her, um, you know, battle that back and forth and think about the consequences, right. Because you know, it's like the butterfly effect. Okay, well, you can stay in one place, but if you stay then that, what does that mean to everybody else in either your real world or your imaginary world [00:20:33] and. [00:20:34] I don't know how many, uh, anime fans we have. I know there's one or two that are in the chat, but, um, the best way to describe it is. This, this episode is kind of like sword art online, except the game isn't trying to kill you. And it's not trying to trap you. So that's, [00:21:00] that's the best description I keep. [00:21:03] Um, but yeah, for all types of purposes, she's sort of an avatar and I'm not gonna scroll that part, but again, this looked like a city. Here's the thing. I've already swallowed the fact that it's a game, but I want to play this game because this game was very different. These people look like they look like they will live in, in Brooklyn. [00:21:28] Um, yep. And. I again, I think that has to do with a director. The director of this episode was J D Dillard. He directed sleight if anyone remembers that movie. And, um, the horror movie sweetheart with Kiersey Clemons, Kiersey Clemons is the girl that was, um, in dope. And she was also in existence as the robot. [00:21:50] Um, And I just think again, it made a difference because there were certain, not that all the characters were black. That's not what I'm saying, but there was a written richness to the story. There was also, if you squint, it was, it was queer, adjacent. I want to say it's queer adjacent. Um, it might've been, I actually, somebody was saying that we might've been a trans, uh, Really a statement on being trans. [00:22:24] And what I was thinking was it's actually more about transhumanism, I think. What do you think. [00:22:30] That's interesting. I hadn't thought about that, but [00:22:33] yeah. You know, having to, um, you know, hide your true identity because you're not, you know, cause you're afraid of being accepted as who you fully are. Um, you know, trying to, um, not assimilate, but at least enter into society as a full fledged person. [00:22:53] Um, you know, I think all of those themes were in there. So that's really interesting analogy. [00:22:58] And I think that, um, again, it's nuanced. I think that's the big thing. When, when, when people move that I think most writers are asking for, when they're trying to be in the, the writer's room, it's a, it's a level of office entity that makes these shows. [00:23:19] Uh, more relevant and it always gets on my nerves when it's, especially in the scifi space, people go like, Oh, we don't need those politics. And I'm like, Hm, have you watched star Trek? Like ever? Uh, and it's also, I also find it really weird how people, like, we don't need all these different, like, I don't want subtitles. [00:23:39] I want all my characters to speak English and I'm like, [00:23:41] yeah, but [00:23:42] Karama: [00:23:42] you speak fluent. Cling on. So I don't understand how is it that you can speak cling on and you can write a language of like, I don't want to say Jewish cause Judah is an actual language, but you know, you can [00:24:00] write languages of fiction, fictional characters, but then a real person with a language that isn't English. [00:24:09] Really, you know, it's too [00:24:11] April: [00:24:11] much. I mean, we saw that in, in film with parasite. You know, Oh, well, it's not going to do well because Americans don't like to read. So they, you know, so they won't deal with the captions in the film. It's like really? Is that where we are? You know, it's, it's almost embarrassing, you know, I, I always think, you know, so I always take it back for me. [00:24:30] It's star Wars, you know, so you can believe in Tom Toms and George are beings, but a black Stormtrooper is way beyond, you know, your understanding of what the entire universe. Looks like, yeah. It just defies logic. [00:24:47] Karama: [00:24:47] Yeah. And I it's so strange the, the pushback, because I think a lot of people, we you've obviously seen it, you know, in terms of Hollywood films and things like that. [00:24:59] But the pushback inside of cite the scifi geek world is fascinating to me because it's like, Let me get this straight. You spent the majority of sophomore year from the inside, out of your locker. [00:25:15] Get out, you're grown. You now, you know, have a life of your own. And now you want to oppress other people because you didn't get a chance to do that yourself. And then the moment we come back at you and say that that's a problem. [00:25:30] You cry. Like, no, you don't understand. I have trauma from what I've gone through as a, as a geek or nerd or whatever. [00:25:37] And I'm like, that's awfully convenient. It doesn't make any sense. [00:25:44] April: [00:25:44] Yeah, I, I can't, I can't do that. The oppression Olympics, I, you know, that those prior conversations, I just can't have them with folks because they see to be disingenuous to me. You know, that you, you make the decision higher world is made up. [00:26:03] Right. It's all fictional. And so if, if that's your baseline, you know, whoever the author, the creator was, it all came out of their head. And so if that's the baseline, then why can't we tweak it a little bit to say, okay, well, you know, we're not sure. What, you know, what the sexual orientation of this person was. [00:26:22] So let's just say that they're lesbian or let's just say that they're trans, that doesn't change anything with respect to how you play the game or anything else, but it brings more richness into the story. [00:26:34] Karama: [00:26:34] Yeah, absolutely. Now. One of the things that both those shows had, where we're like we said, very nuanced, obviously writing and, and, uh, incredible set design and things like that because there are people of color involved. [00:26:47] Let's bring that to your project. Now you have teamed up with overture to create ensemble. Now tell me a little bit [00:27:00] about what this is. Are you starting your own TV network? Is that what's happening? [00:27:04] April: [00:27:04] Okay, easy, easy. Yes. Easy. This is going to be a digital content studio, as you mentioned. So we are going to develop sustainable programming. [00:27:17] Um, we're going to help with. Development and production and promotion and distribution and sales and marketing and enterprise just soup to nuts, helping content creators, um, you know, take their project from their head or from their paper and get it onto a screen, you know, either large or small or a handheld. [00:27:36] Uh, you know, I've, I've always said that, um, you know, again, who's telling the story and whose story is being told. And so it's incredibly important that people have the opportunity to tell their own stories. It's incredibly important that people have an opportunity to see themselves on screen. And, you know, here we are, you know, the Oscars have been around for a hundred years almost. [00:27:58] Um, you know, and we're still having these conversations about. Um, you know, who GreenLights films, you know, whether they're big or small. And the majority of the gatekeepers, the decision makers in Hollywood are older white men. And so they are going to Greenlight the stories that they want to see. That's not. [00:28:20] Bigotry or racism or anything else that's just, you know, how people operate. Well, I want to see stories about marginalized people. You know, I want to see stories about immigrants [00:28:30] and Muslims, you know, by, for, and about these communities. You know, I want to see more stories about. Disabled folks and people from the LGBT plus community and all the intersections within. [00:28:43] Right. And so this is an opportunity to, and this is a logical extension for me. Um, for us you're so white. Um, and so it's my hope that we have the opportunity to help people tell their stories. That's [00:28:58] Karama: [00:28:58] that's amazing now. And it does. It totally does seem like an extension because even behind the scenes, April, a lot of you in the chat don't know this, but April is very good at putting people together and getting PR and basically creating these recipes for success, for projects. [00:29:16] And that is literally what, when, when I say I want to be you, when I grow up, you have perfected that. And I try really hard to do that, like in my little corner of the world. Um, but you've definitely perfected that, um, How did it come about? How did you get involved with Overture Global? Um, [00:29:34] April: [00:29:34] I originally met Donovan Andrews who is the CEO and founder of Overture a couple of years ago at TED, I think. [00:29:43] Um, and you know, we just kind of vibed, you know, he wanted to do the same kind of thing, but he was a little bit more in the tech space at that time. And, you know, and the vast majority of my stuff is. It's entertainment. And so we just became friends and kept talking. And so, you know, we had talked about different things [00:30:00] over the course of the last few years and he said, you know, I think now let's talk now is the time, you know, what do you know, what do you think about this? [00:30:06] And it, it just makes sense right now, you know, as, um, you know, nobody's going to movie theaters anymore. Probably shouldn't be if they're reopening. Right. Um, so everything is. Moving to a digital world. And so how do we best, um, you know, leverage that opportunity? Um, you know, we're thinking about people online all the time, you know, doing stuff online is obviously cheaper than a full, big budget production. [00:30:37] You know, I always think about. Like look at Issa Rae, right? She started with a YouTube channel, you know, with Awkward Black Girl. And now here she is with a multi picture deal with HBO and she's got an Insecure and, you know, she's got her own production company and it just mushroomed from that because somebody saw her talent and gave her an opportunity. [00:30:56] That's the same kind of thing that I want to do with Ensemble. [00:30:59]Karama: [00:30:59] The other thing that I like about this is because I haven't, and I've been thinking about this a lot recently with all, every other company saying like, "We need you, we need you!" [00:31:07] I have been applying for things and telling my friends and freelancers, like, listen there's opportunities. If you're ready, your stuff is ready. Take them pitch, write, you know? Because I know this door is closing. [00:31:19] April: [00:31:19] Yeah. Eventually. [00:31:20] [00:31:20]Karama: [00:31:20] And I dunno, maybe it's cause I'm jaded or whatever, but I, this door is gonna close. So I really think it's important that [00:31:30] there we are creating our own spaces. [00:31:33] And this is a fantastic opportunity, not just for you, but for what could come out of it. Um, are you gonna do any science fiction stuff? You need any like geek consultants? Cause I, I know, I know girl [00:31:48] April: [00:31:48] Asking for a freind? Who looks out a lot like you strangely enough? [00:31:57] You know, again, every everything is on the table. Right? I would love to see, you know, we need to see more black folks in animation, you know, more people of color and marginalized communities in animation. You know, our friend, Frank Abney who's worked on several Pixar films. Who's worked on ,Soul, which is going to be coming out soon. [00:32:16] You know, he's great. But he's one of a handful of people we need more. We need sci-fi Everything. I mean, you know, rom coms, you know why have we still not had a romcom with two people from the LGBTQ plus community as leads.? You know, so yes, I want to see that, you know, I want to see, you know, we have professor Xavier and the X- Men series, you know, and he uses a wheelchair, but we've never had a disabled person play a disabled superhero. [00:32:48] Somebody pitch me that. You know, I mean, so everything, you know, everything that we want to see is fair game. As long as it's quality content, uh, youknow, we'll be taking a [00:33:00] look. [00:33:01] Now you see what you just said, somebody is on Twitter right now. Like, "April is taking pitches!" [00:33:09] No. April isn't even providing her email address. No, sir. No, ma'am. No friend. [00:33:15] Karama: [00:33:15] What I'm curious about though is when? Like this was just announced and as we know, many times things are announced and any business takes a minute to get up off the ground. So, you're not announcing that you're dropping a show. You're announcing that this business is starting. [00:33:31] What is your projection? Or even, I mean, you can't even have an office right now. So are you planning on even doing the creation of this remotely? Like is the company all, all going to be remote? [00:33:45] Yeah, [00:33:45] April: [00:33:45] For sure, because we, you don't want to wait because we don't know what the future is going to look like. [00:33:50] You know, it doesn't make sense to announce it and then say, okay, when we open, we're going to find aWe work space or, Oh, we're going to have an office in New York city or whatever. No. I don't see why we can't move on this faster than that. Um, you know, so right now the goal, um, is to get funding in place, you know, because I don't want to take in, you know, dozens and dozens of pitches and say, okay, I love this idea, but it's gonna, you know, now I gotta go sell it to somebody before I can give you the money for you to go do it. [00:34:19] Right. Um, so we want to have funding in place, um, in a, in a really great foundation so that when people start coming in, artists, content, creators, [00:34:30] creatives, come in and say, you know, this is my story. This is what I want to do. This is when I tell, you know, we can Greenlight it a lot faster for [00:34:36] people. [00:34:38]Karama: [00:34:38] I feel like this is sort of the future of where everything's going to be going. Um, for instance, Quiby people talk about like how Quibi has not been great, but I think [00:34:53] April: [00:34:53] 2 billion dollars later. [00:34:55] I know. And here's the thing though. [00:34:58] It's not the platform people have. I've heard some people blame the platform and I've heard some people blame, you know, the algorithm, there is no algorithm. You have to go to the platform to watch everything. and tick tock. [00:35:11] Has been doing well is because what ticktock does that, and I'm not, this is not an ad for tech ticktock, I'm just cause they have their problems too, but I'm just trying to talk him in terms of execution. And yes, I know in the chat, if somebody brings it up, how they treat black people, I'm not talking about that right now. [00:35:27] And then algorithm, I'm just talking about the execution. Um, the, whenever you create anything in ticktock, it immediately asks you where you want to share it. So it's an app that purposely goes out and share things. Quibi and other apps like it, you have to go there. So see you can't, you can't share it. [00:35:50] You can't screenshot it. You can't gif it. You can't. Yeah. Watch it with somebody else and laugh. You have to only watch it yourself and then go tell [00:36:00] everybody else how good it is or take my word. Yeah. [00:36:05] Just singular speaker shared experience. [00:36:08]Karama: [00:36:08] and you have to pay in order to see it so, and pay, you know, I'm not saying it's expensive cause we all pay for Netflix and stuff like that, but there's not that many offerings that are then and the offerings that are there, I guess aren't that diverse. So it's a reflection of the people that created it, I think. [00:36:25]That's not going to work and whatever you come up with with, I think if you just keep that in mind, make making sure that not, and it's not everything isn't subtitled either. That's something else that I'm also trying to do, even on my platform is getting more subtitles and more. [00:36:40] Um, thanks. Because I think the thing that people forget is that the planet is big. And if you subtitle something or if you put something in a different language, uh, you instantly. Have a whole other demographic, you know, that's instantly advertising, you know, but we never think about that. But it's just one of those things where all of these people that you don't think are important are the people that are buying your product. Yeah. [00:37:11] April: [00:37:11] Yeah. And, and we'll have more opportunities to buy other things. [00:37:15] I mean, it's, ablest right. And, and we all need to do better with respect to communities that we may not belong to. Right? Because we don't think about it. You know, if, if I can see, I'm not thinking about what visually impaired people need [00:37:30] to, you know, and so we, we all have to turn that on, you know, as you said, doing something as easy as putting subtitles. [00:37:38] You know, it makes it so much easier for people to enjoy and it expands your audience. So you're truly leaving money on the table, potential advertising and all the rest of that, where you're not being more thoughtful about who your entire community is. So don't assume that everybody in your community is exactly the same as you meaning, you know, able bodied or cis male or whatever the case may be. [00:38:09] Karama: [00:38:09] I'm going to, I'm starting to take some questions from, from the chat. [00:38:14] April: [00:38:14] I'm so afraid about this section. [00:38:17] Karama: [00:38:17] It's not bad. They've been curating. The mods here are amazing. (Reading) Um, so this question is directed at April, will the content be specific? Are you looking for outside of what you just described a specific kind of content in terms of length? Like long form or short form? Like, are you trying to a, y'all try to do movies or you're trying to do a series or you try to do like short bits. Like Quibi? [00:38:46] April: [00:38:46] Correct. we're doing it all my friends. So, you know, so it may be, you know, shorts, you know, shout out to Matthew Cherry who won an Oscar for Hair Love for his six and a half minute [00:39:00] animated short. Or it may be a full length film, you know, that you eventually want to get onto a Netflix or Apple TV or, you know, distributed elsewhere. [00:39:10] So, and everything in between. [00:39:14] Karama: [00:39:14] And someone else is saying like the point of science- fiction is to discuss politics. It's to discuss, you know, the world around us. Um, and I agree with that. Whoever said that in the chat, um, I, so you have a question to that end. Will you be looking for reality programming? [00:39:37] For instance, there's so many people, the thing that I've noticed is so many people out during the protest and everything, um, having a phone in their hand and having a camera in their hand. And there's so many stories that we're not telling that are maybe right around the corner or on the other side of the world. [00:39:56] Is that something that you're looking into? [00:39:59] April: [00:39:59] Absolutely. Um, you know, so it, it may not be real Housewives of Detroit, right. That's okay. [00:40:06] Karama: [00:40:06] That's okay. [00:40:07]April: [00:40:07] I mean, I will admit to being like a huge 90 Day Fiance fan, you know, which is kind of reality TV. But you know, that cheesy mess. It will be first person forward. You know, so if you want to tell your story about what it's like to live in Iran or what it's like to live in Syria. [00:40:30] [00:40:29] And so, you know, you've got your handheld, um, and you're making your own little series that kind of reality show? Absolutely. Because I think stories like that help to bring the world together. You know, so that we can see something again, different outside of our own little bubble, whatever that means, you know? So even if you're living in Nebraska and you want to. [00:40:49] show people, you know, in the inner city, what that world is like and vice versa, um, you know, all of those things are possible. We are No Limit Records right now with respect towhere we really want to go, [00:41:05] Karama: [00:41:05] Oh goodness. We got people. We got people pitching in the chat. Okay. Are you in, are you, are you interested in adapting, scripted podcasts? [00:41:17] April: [00:41:17] Yeah. Potentially. Yes. if the pitch is good and it makes sense, um, you know, then yes. Um, yeah, I mean, I'm not, you're not going to get me to say no to anything right now. Um, every again, this, um, this is my theme for today. Everything is on the table. And we will be looking to, um, creatives to content creators, to artists to tell us [00:41:41] what makes sense. You know? Cause I, I like to think that I have my finger on the pulse of a few things, but clearly not everything. And so what are we missing? You know, what makes sense? What, you know, what niche will your particular pitch fill? [00:41:55] Karama: [00:41:55] Awesome. Um, let's see. Oh, now on the other [00:42:00] end we have a consumer, how can one sign up? [00:42:03] And to that end, how soon? I don't think we're setting up for anything yet, [00:42:08] I haven't [00:42:09] April: [00:42:09] even taken a pitch yet. And somebody always already wants to watch an imaginary movie that I haven't even greenlit get given time. I know you're excited. I'm excited too. [00:42:20] Karama: [00:42:20] I would absolutely say start a mailing list though, so that you can start building your audience from there. [00:42:28] If you had your druthers and again, We're not going to hold you to this, but would you want to see some type of content coming out of this venture within 24 months or sooner? [00:42:40] April: [00:42:40] I, yes, I absolutely will. It really depends on funding, right? I don't want to, can I cuss on this? [00:42:48] Can I curse a little bit? [00:42:49] Karama: [00:42:49] Yes! It's twitch! [00:42:53] April: [00:42:53] It's not a bad word, but we don't want to have that. We don't want to half-ass this! Y ou know, we don't want [00:43:01] I know, I know, but you know, my mother may be listening [00:43:04] Karama: [00:43:04] That's not a f***ing curse word. [00:43:07] April: [00:43:07] My virgin ears! What are you doing? (laughs) [00:43:14] So, you know, we, we, we don't want to half-ass this, so I don't want to get a thousand pitches and then only be able to do two. Cause we only have the money for two. You know, at the same time, I don't, I don't, you know, I want to make sure that this is quality programming, so I don't want to throw [00:43:30] money at stuff and then say, go do it. [00:43:32] And, but you don't actually have, you know, the right kind of content that makes sense. And that people are going to want to see. You know, absolutely your mother and you know, and your best friend are going to want to see your video, your movie, whatever. But will it sell to a broader audience? Are you really thinking about what all of those things mean? [00:43:50] You know, who, what's your demographic, who is this for? Who are you making this piece for? You know, besides just you, so all of those questions, um, you know, have to be answered as we work through what makes sense for ensemble, um, and the types of content that we'll be providing. [00:44:08] Karama: [00:44:08] Okay. And hopefully that answered this other person's question. [00:44:12] What's the criteria to pitch. How do you get a meeting? My God. Yeah, y'all gotta hurry up. Cause everybody and their mother wants to be in on this. [00:44:19] April: [00:44:19] The press release is still warm! I okay. Yeah. Well, as quickly as we can. I hear you, I want to take pitches. I want to get the content started. Absolutely. But we have to have the money first, you know, or you're going to pitch me and I'm going to say, I love it. [00:44:38] I can't do anything with it. Right. And I don't want to, I don't want to option somebody's pitch. Um, and you know, and lock it down and then Netflix comes calling or whatever, and they're like, Oh, why, you know, Netflix has more money, so go to Netflix, but you can't because I already have your, I already have your project. [00:44:57] So I'm trying to be as fair as [00:45:00] possible to folks and not lock people down until we're really ready to move. So, you know, this is for you as much as it is for [00:45:06] Ensemble. [00:45:07] Karama: [00:45:07] And I actually have a couple of questions about that myself, not about pitching, I promise. Are you looking for, of course everybody wants an angel investor, but, uh, is it something where, or would you have any content that would be a crowdsourced or crowdfunded potentially? [00:45:28]April: [00:45:28] I'm not going to say no to that either because. Again, Matthew A.Cherry with Hair Love that started as something that was crowdfunded, right? Yeah. And look where he is now. Now he's got an overall movie deal, you know, and it started from a GoFund me on Twitter basically. So yes. You know, if somebody wants to come and say, Hey, you know, we just need the distribution and the marketing and the platform to get it out. [00:45:52] We can make it on our own, you know, we've got the money for it. We just need somebody to help us get it out into the masses. Yes, we can absolutely have that conversation as [00:46:00] well. [00:46:02] Karama: [00:46:02] Something that I've also noticed is that there are a lot of, I feel like so many marketing teams need to be retrained because everything that they learned, everything that they learned in school has nothing to do with how we market now, influencer marketing and everything else. [00:46:21] April: [00:46:21] Well, and it's changed. I mean, I went to college back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, you know, I rode a Brontosaurus to class. [00:46:30] Definitely. Yeah. Um, I mean, it was a, it was a Tauntaun in the winter time. Um, you know, so things have definitely changed. Um, and, but because everything is moved to online, so even from a year ago, everything has changed, you know? [00:46:45] And so now, you know, we were talking about Quibi earlier and I think part of their issue is marketing as well. You know, who are you reaching out to? You know, I saw, you know, there was an ad with, um, I think Chrissy Tiegen and maybe one more Chance the Rapper was like, Oh, just "Quibi" it to me. [00:47:01] Or, you know, it'll be on just could be before it's ready, indicating you know, that everything is six minutes long, but that wasn't really clear [00:47:08] Karama: [00:47:08] It didn't tell uswhat it was. [00:47:12] April: [00:47:12] And you made the fantastic point that if you can't share what you're really enjoying, then how are you going to get more people to see it? [00:47:21] You know? So you need to have like a free seven day period. Quibi call me so I can help you with your marketing plan. You know, have a free seven day period and put all of your best stuff on the platform during that seven days. So people were like, Oh my goodness, I can't live without it. So, you know, Back to your point, marketing all over the place has changed so much in the last, definitely in the last six months, uh, because a lot of, um, corporations, companies, they still have these voluminous marketing budgets, but they can't shoot commercials. [00:47:54] Right because I can't get in the studio and they can't get people on a plane to go [00:48:00] fly to, you know, some beautiful, you know, exotic locale, um, to shoot an ad or whatever. And so how are you going to get people to watch your product, which is already in the can without advertising the way that you normally do? Well, again, that's reaching out to influencers or whatever we're calling them. [00:48:19] Yep. Wherever, whatever we're calling them and paying them, um, you know, and using that marketing budget for that instead. [00:48:27] Karama: [00:48:27] That's amazing. Okay. So one of my last questions is this is for me, what does. What does Mahershala smell like? (laughs) I gotta know! You were standing right next to him at the Oscars! [00:48:50] April: [00:48:50] I mean, he smells like. Good credit and fulfilled dreams. It's just, [00:49:02] you know, you've seen him in everything, everything. And actually one of the shows that I've been watching recently and is Rami season two, because Mahershala has, I guess, a recurring role. Um, and I fast forwarded to all the scenes with him because he, at one point I want to say it was. Like episode three of season two, and he was talking about, um, Islam and, you know, and practicing and what it means. [00:49:29] I was this close [00:49:30] to converting. You see, I'm already ready with the hijab. Like. Rather than was so smooth. And plus, you know, he makes dua, you know, he, he performs the prayers on the show and, you know, he's that, [00:49:46] Karama: [00:49:46] I think people forget that. Cause there's so many of us that have African names as well as Muslim names that aren't don't necessarily practice that when people saw, why is he on there? [00:49:57] It's like, uh, cause he's Muslim. [00:49:59] April: [00:49:59] He is the perfect, perfect person to be on the show. Right? [00:50:04] Karama: [00:50:04] He's an actor and he's muslim [00:50:08] April: [00:50:08] and you know that he is fantastic. I was just reading that. He's going to play Jack Johnson, um, you know, boxer, you know, and the, and we're waiting for him to play Blade. He can just do no wrong in my book. [00:50:22] Just none at all. [00:50:24] Karama: [00:50:24] People are going to have to start wearing their masks and getting themselves together. Cause this pandemic needs to end so they can start shooting Blade. Cause I'll tell you right now I'll wear a hazmat suit to that screening. Like [00:50:37] Can you iamgine? Yeah, no, Wesley Snipes all credit to him, you know, he left big shoes to fill, but I am so excited, you know? [00:50:45] Cause Mahershala has that laugh already. You know, that sounds sinister slash sexy and yeah. So I'm, I'm super duper excited. [00:50:58] Okay. Now [00:51:00] we're not, I'm not gonna ask you anymore questions about how could I get a job. Um, but I did want to ask you for anybody that's in the chat that cause we've got a lot of creators here. Obviously. Do you have any advice for anybody? Who's? Uh, I had said this actually on the last time I was on OS_NYC, which was the first time I was on Twitch. Um, during their Junteenth stream. All these people were talking about getting themselves together to try and get the attention of a network of a XYZ. And one of the things I say on a regular basis is stop waiting to get picked and just, and just do the thing , whoever is a Korra fan knows what that means. [00:51:40] Just do the thing. Um, What do you feel? Do you think people should get ready with their pitches and get ready with their, uh, shows? Or should they just shoot the show? All these people are shooting stuff in their apartments, in their living rooms and just basically shoot it and then pitch a whole season. [00:52:02] What do you think about that? [00:52:05] April: [00:52:05] I think it's a both /and. You know, again, everything is on the table, so yes. Have your pitch and make sure it's tight. Right. And make sure you've run it by, you know, somebody that's as close to the industry as you can get, you know, it can't just be your best friend. Cause they're going to love everything you do, right. [00:52:21] Somebody with a critical eye. Um, you know, make sure that your website is together, make sure that your reel is together. Um, you know, you need to [00:52:30] have, you know, it's, we don't do elevator pitches anymore. Right. Cause nobody's in an elevator. [00:52:34]You know, but you need to have a pitch in, in one tweet or less 280 characters. [00:52:40] Can you do it? Can you give me the premise in one tweet? Um, you know, and then yes, go out and shoot it. Again. You know, Matthew Cherry is the homie. Um, you know, he shot his first film , it was called Nine Rides and the entire thing was shot on an iPhone. [00:52:57] Karama: [00:52:57] On an iPhone. I remember [00:52:58] April: [00:52:58] on an iPhone and he premiered it at South by Southwest. [00:53:02] Right. And then Matthew started working at MonkeyPaw productions, John Jordan Peele's production company. You know, not as a big time producer I mean you know, he was starting from the ground up, and then he had this idea for Hair Love. And instead of pitching it to Jordan or, you know, taking it somewhere and trying to pitch, he did it himself. [00:53:22] Through crowd sourcing, and then he won the Oscar. And that translated into, you know, and while he was doing that, he was able to direct a couple of TV shows. I think he directed an episode of Last OG and then he ended up directing an episode of Blackish and so on and so on. And so on. There is no time to wait. [00:53:40] Right? There are so many talented people out there. Why would you wait until somebody says yes. Right? When no only means N.O. Next Opportunity. Keep pushing, keep [00:53:54] pushing. [00:53:56] Karama: [00:53:56] I don't think there's any, I have to end on that. I do. [00:54:00] Thank you so much, April for hanging out at my very first live show. And thank you for being, [00:54:08] April: [00:54:08] I want to be, I also want to be the thousanth guest! Like I'm number one. [00:54:12] Karama: [00:54:12] Oh, okay. [00:54:13] April: [00:54:13] I want that in my rider or something. [00:54:19] Karama: [00:54:19] You willalso be the thousanth guest then. [00:54:21] (END LIVE SHOW) [00:54:21]April was dropping some gems there at the end. Right? No means "next opportunity". I love it. That's it for me, folks. If you've hung out this long, please consider subscribing, leaving a comment from me over at iTunes and let me know on social, how you like this podcast. If you really want to make me happy, please screenshot this episode and tag me over on Instagram stories. [00:54:44] Also, please support my Ko-Fi page at ko-fi.com/theblerdgurl and if you'd like to watch theblerdgurlLIVE show�well live, that's every Tuesday at 8:00 PM. Eastern on Twitch. I will leave a link in the show notes for you to do that. [00:55:05] Please stay safe, wash your hands and share this podcast with your friends and family. It might just brighten their day. See you on the internet! The post PODCAST: April Reign and her new media company Ensemble appeared first on theblerdgurl.
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