The women behind ‘Black Girl Podcast’: ‘You can sit with us’
Within minutes, the interaction between Rebecca “Bex” Francois, Sapphira Martin, Alysha Pamphile, Gia Peppers and Deanii “Scottie Beam” Scott make one thing very apparent — they’re true-blue friends. They instantly fall into a natural rhythm and chemistry that allows them to speak over one another but still understand what the other is talking about. It’s the exact camaraderie they mined to develop Black Girl Podcast, their recently launched audio show about sisterhood, pop culture and their personal experiences as 20-something-year-old, career-focused black women.
The five-woman cast all hail from Hot 97, hip-hop’s most notorious radio station, and its parent company, Emmis Communications. It was there that the podcast idea evolved from a 10-second Snapchat video to a blueprint for a new venture at the suggestion of program director and Ebro In The Morning host Ebro Darden.
“He was making a joke out of the conversation we were having and he pulled out his phone to snap us,” says Pamphile. “He said, ‘This is what a live black girl podcast would look like,’ so we just recorded it to see what it would sound like and pitched it to our friends like Peter Rosenberg.”
Black Girl Podcast officially hit the Internet on the 21-year anniversary of Waiting To Exhale, a film centered on four women who lean on one another through trying times. Likewise, this group of hosts bond over personal and cultural trials while sifting through their shit, so to speak, on-air.
“We’re trying to teach everyone lessons that we’ve been through. It’s that we’re literally trying to figure it out as we go,” Francois says. “A part of what makes the show relatable is that we don’t have all the answers, but we’re asking the questions that maybe you have asked and also what you aren’t asking yourself.”
— GIANTS4EVER (@ScottieBeam) December 23, 2016
The outpouring of love from strangers after the show’s first handful of releases quickly indicated a necessity for this type of girl talk even within an extremely saturated market. “People are comparing us to podcasts like The Read,” Martin mentions.
Black Girl Podcast joins a buffet of other black podcasts that span the interests of blerds, music heads, comic buffs, gossips — you name it and it’s out there. However, adding this nearly two-hour chat to your pod playlist secures a seat at a table where black women’s magic doesn’t have to be flawless.
We wanted to thank everyone for their support of @blackgirlpod, so it’s only right that the ever-humble #Giyonce (cc: @beyonce) thank y’all on our behalf. ???? • • Plus, for everyone who has been waiting, Ep. 5 of the @blackgirlpod is here!!!! Click the #linkinmybio to listen because CHILE… We talk about everything and I had some things to get off my chest. Really and truly, thank you guys for listening. ???? [?: @alyshap] #sorryforthewait #sorryaboutthelaugh ?
At its best, BGP hovers over the hilarious chit-chat you’d find on #BlackTwitter timelines and in BFF group chats, from dating white men, Insecure and Kanye West meeting with Donald Trump. But at its most magical, it’s a safe space where each woman is self-reflective and sharing the nuances of their individual experiences that leaves listeners feeling free to be flawed and understood on a spiritual level.
They’ve rummaged through their lives to discuss temporary happiness, the need for therapy and celibacy. It’s to be expected that as the political climate has reached fever pitch IRL, so have the socio-cultural convos among them, including the lack of unity in the black community. You’d be hard pressed not to let out an “mhmm” or a “yas” every few minutes.
“It’s about being bare for other girls to know that we’re all going through the same things, talking about the same things. We’re not all that different,” says Peppers. “For me, people always see me as this one-sided person who’s perfect and doesn’t struggle, but I want people to peel back the layers. [Black Girl Podcast] is just about me being able to be myself somewhere without having to read a script or memorize anything.”
When Peppers isn’t recording the podcast, she’s an on-air talent and entertainment journalist for several companies, including the NBA, BET and Essence.
Much like Peppers, Martin divvies up her time between BGP and being the founder of SassBoxx, a lifestyle subscription box for women of color, and a contestant on BET’s Queen Boss, a show about black female entrepreneurs.
Likewise, Scott is the creator and co-host of Hot 97’s “Who’s Next” talent showcase and “Scottie Feedback,” a viral online review of new, unsigned artists featuring music industry notables. But even without the additional side hustles, holding down a 9-to-5 while juggling podcast duties and after-hour events takes serious commitment.
“All of us are equally invested in this, so we all make time,” says Francois, who co-hosts Chilligans Island podcast. “You make time for what you want to do.”
So, what’s the end goal for this hard-working quintet? While they all admit that Black Girl Podcast is a passion that has potential to materialize into more, for now, they’re zeroed in on solidifying their fanbase and becoming a voice for the black women in this generation.
“We’re just riding the ride, but we know that this is the beginning of something great. Us coming together is a sign that black women can support each other, uplift each other and do everything people claim we don’t do as black women and make it work,” says Peppers.
So much of the world is unwelcoming to black women as we are. But the women behind Black Girl Podcast are the all-girl clique you can sit with no matter your baggage.
“Everyone posts Black Girl Magic as if it’s supposed to be perfect and on point, but all of us have been courageous enough to expose the messiness behind the magic, “ Francois concludes.
“Don’t let anything that might be a hurdle be a setback. Learn from it and move on with what the lesson is. You can’t have magic without the mess.”
Listen to their latest episode below.