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The Feministing Five: Brittany Luse

For this week’s Feministing Five, we spoke with Brittany Luse, co-creator of the podcast “For Colored Nerds” and host of the new podcast “Sampler” by Gimlet Media. We learned about the exciting opportunities in the podcast world, what goes into her shows, and the importance of sharing one’s voice.

As someone with a pretty horrendous commute, podcasts have become indispensable to my daily life. So I have been so thrilled to listen to the influx of great new shows that we have highlighted at Feministing, like Morgan M Page’s “One From the Vaults.” I really love how podcasts are a mix of a blog and a conversation with a group of smart friends–informal yet still extremely informative.

Brittany’s work is very dynamic. She highlights great podcasts finds for her show “Sampler,” and with “For Colored Nerds” she creates deep dives into friendship, culture, and current events. Some of my favorites are a fantastic discussion on the politics of Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to what it means to have relationship goals.

And now, without further ado, the Feministing Five with Brittany Luse!

Suzanna Bobadilla: Thanks so much for speaking with us today. Could you introduce yourself to our readers? What are some projects that you are excited about? 

Brittany Luse: I’m Brittany Luse, and I have two jobs. I am the co-host of an independent podcast called “For Colored Nerds” that I make with my best friend, Eric Eddings. For my full-time job, I am the host of a podcast called “Sampler” by Gimlet Media. It is a podcast about podcasts, but so much more!

SB: It’s been a really exciting time for podcast as a media, particularly given the upswell on women of color with their own successful shows. What does it feel like to be a podcast creator at this time? 

BL: Even though podcasting has been around since the early 2000s, it’s experience a resurgence. If you think about the timeline, Alex Blumberg started Gimlet Media, a podcasting media company, in the fall of 2014. Serial came out in September of that year. Eric and I started “For Colored Nerds” in September of 2014. It’s really amazing how much opportunity there is. It gives you a timeline of how quickly all of this happens.

I feel really fortunate to be a young woman of color who doesn’t have a pedigree as far as hosting and radio is concerned, but that I have all of these opportunities to express myself.

I have “Sampler,” which through Gimlet is exposed to a big audience. I have a lot of resources, and I’m exposed to so many smart people. I have the greatest team ever. It’s a show about such a broad range of things; it shows all that podcasting can be. You also have “For Colored Nerds” where our tag-line is “the conversations black people have when white people aren’t in the room.” It’s a show about Eric, me, and our friendship, where I can just have conversations that I would be having anyways.

I’m excited that there is a lot of opportunity, and that it can extend beyond my shows. I don’t know of a lot of other media that feel that way. If one black person gets a television show, you don’t get a sense that a lot of other black people can also get TV shows because that’s not how that industry works.

Podcasting is one of those industries where there is such a low barrier in terms of experience, equipment and tools, and skills. You can do something that is pretty good without a ton of money or a ton of training. It’s exciting, and I’m really enjoying it!

SB: I really admire how you co-created your own podcast “For Colored Nerds” without much experience. It must have been scary to get started for the first time, what was that like? 

BL: When Eric and I started a podcast, I thought it would be super fun. It would be an opportunity for us to shoot the shit. If other people cared that would be great! If not, oh well.

We didn’t have a lot of eyes on us in the first place, so we didn’t feel like we had anything to lose. I will say, at the very beginning, I was really worried to have people know what I really said and what I really thought. It’s scary for anyone! Eric pushed me, and encouraged me by letting me know that he thought that people would care what I had to say. Having a creative partner who was someone that I really trusted was very important.

We knew that there were conversations that we were having that other people weren’t clued into. Or maybe people were having these conversations, but they felt like they were alone. We knew that we weren’t alone because we are two black people who went to Howard and who are living in Brooklyn. We knew that there were other black people having these conversations, and so far, we’ve had people write to us from Alaska, from almost every continent, from the military, from smaller towns who might feel a little bit more alone.

But when I talk about not having a lot of experience, I’m talking specifically about radio and being the host of something. In terms of my previous experience as a media creator, I went to Howard and I have a film degree. I had internships that were geared towards me becoming a casting director or a film producer. The ability to edit video was really helpful when I needed to edit the audio of the podcast. I had ideas about how long-form reporting is made because I had those internships. So while I wasn’t working in radio or production before I came to Gimlet, there were certain work skills that helped me put things together for my work in podcast.

I don’t want people to be discouraged if they don’t have those skills, though! One of the coolest things about podcasts, or Internet Radio as I call it, is that there are certain skills, like learning how to use the software, that can be taught. But having an ear to what would be interesting conversation or what makes up a story are skills that you can pick up in other ways. You don’t need to have this intense background to make something cool.

SB: It’s always a treat for me personally to interview folks who are also interviewers. When you come up with a new episode for “Sampler,” what types of things are you considering? 

BL: We are still so new with “Sampler” so I don’t know if we have enough shows yet to tell you about a standard process but we are always working on trying to optimize. First of all, I would be lying if I said I didn’t consider what our audience would find interesting. You always want to ask yourself, okay I find this interesting, but is this going to be compelling to other people? I also go with my gut to see who we would have on the show.

We had a married couple, Danyel Smith and Elliott Wilson, on our a recent show. Danielle is someone who I had admired for so long, since middle school. She’s been the Editor in Chief of Vibe Magazine, she’s a young and hip black woman. It didn’t get much better than that! I’ve always admired her podcast with her husband, writer Elliott Wilson, because here are these great writers and journalists who regularly write compelling stories, but they also tell these amazing stories of their own lives.

Even though they record their podcast at their kitchen table and there isn’t a lot of editing, who they are just shines through so beautifully. I thought our listeners would find a lot of value in having two people that genuinely enjoy each other just talk about how much they enjoy their relationship.

Also as a young straight black woman, I encounter so many terrible narratives about shaming desire or shaming black women about their perceived romantic desirability. There are so many horrible narratives that make black women feel like shit for being ambitious, for not being married by a certain age, for not having a partner, etc. For that episode, I really just wanted to show two black people who were in love, where the woman was this kick-ass super smart, really funny, dynamic person who was being loved by a black man who possessed those same qualities.

So when I pick guests, I ask myself is it interesting, does it relate back to the point of the show, are people going to enjoy it. But some for guests, I feel like “this is something that people need to see.” That’s certainly how I felt about Danyel and Elliot. I felt like people didn’t see enough of black woman and black man couples where people respect each other and love each other. You’ll notice that we didn’t call attention to that in the show at all.

SB: Anyone you’d like to give a shout-out to as we wrap up? 

BL: The most important thing to me is that young women of color, especially young black women, understand that what they have to say, what they are interested in, and what they think is of upmost importance. It’s crucial to protect that understanding at any cost and at all times. You should never let perceived difficulty to stop you from expressing yourself.

They are so many times in my life where I could have easily done that. I have really awesome people in my life, my friends, family, and my creative partner, Eric, who have encouraged me. I had a voice inside of me that said, “Maybe it’s worth putting myself out there.” There was also a much louder voice that said, “Maybe you should try living three feet below the ground.” But I put myself out there!

Black girls, black women, keep doing you. Tell people how you feel and what you think!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length. Images provided by Brittany Luse. 


San Francisco, CA

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist. According to legend, she first publicly proclaimed that she was a feminist at the age of nine in her basketball teammate's mini-van. Things have obviously since escalated. After graduating from Harvard in 2013, she became a founding member of Know Your IX's ED ACT NOW. She is curious about the ways feminists continue to use technology to create social change and now lives in San Francisco. She believes that she has the sweetest gig around – asking bad-ass feminists thoughtful questions for the publication that has taught her so much. Her views, bad jokes and all, are her own. For those wondering, if she was stranded on a desert island and had to bring one food, one drink, and one feminist, she would bring chicken mole, a margarita, and her momma.

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist.

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