Hosts of ‘The Black Girl Bravado,’ ‘Sanctified’ podcasts break down joining Jemele Hill’s Unbothered Network

Deborah Joy Winans and Lyvonne Briggs host "Sanctified" while Germani Manning and Brittany Lackey helm "The Black Girl Bravado"

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Podcast fans, rejoice! Jemele Hill, whose popular three-time Webby Award-winning podcast “Jemele Hill is Unbothered” continues to stream, has expanded her podcast empire. Her network, Unbothered, has added two podcasts hosted by Black women: “Sanctified” (Deborah Joy Winans and Lyvonne Briggs) and “The Black Girl Bravado” (Germani Manning and Brittany Lackey).

Jemele Hill (Photo via Unbothered Network)

Per descriptions obtained by theGrio, the “Sanctified” podcast “centers on stories from Black women on their spiritual journey while creating a space for conversation around church and faith,” and “Black Girl Bravado,” explores “topics around self-care, self-love, and wellness.” In an exclusive clip obtained by theGrio, the hosts sat down with Hill to reflect on being Black women in the podcast space, what the Unbothered Network means in the industry and more. Check out the clip below:

In the clip, Hill reflects on what the podcast industry looked like when she first signed her deal with Spotify in 2019, saying, “Even though there were other Black podcasts that existed, looking for where Black women were being represented was tougher and there was certainly no aggregated space where we all could be … We needed something where we were centered not only in enormous talent and voice, but in leadership.”

TheGrio caught up with the hosts of the podcasts, who reflected on joining the Unbothered Network, what they hope to convey to their respective audiences and what being “unbothered” means to them:

What is your vision for ‘Sanctified’? What do you hope your listeners walk away with after every episode?

Deborah Joy Winans: “My vision for ’Sanctified’ is that it becomes a place of fellowship, meaningful dialogue, understanding, affirmation and love. I hope listeners walk away with feeling seen and a new or greater understanding of someone else’s perspective. Most importantly, walk away feeling the love of God surrounding them.”

Lyvonne Briggs: “I affirm that ‘Sanctified’ is a safe, sacred space for Black women. I hope that listeners, wherever they are on their faith journey, feel seen, heard, loved and celebrated!”

What has been your guiding vision for “The Black Girl Bravado”? What do you hope your listeners walk away with after every episode?

Germani Manning and Brittany Lackey: “Our guiding vision for ‘The Black Girl Bravado’ has always been creating a safe space for Black women to feel seen, heard and understood. We affectionately call our listeners our “homegirls;” we always want them to walk away feeling like they aren’t alone in their experiences, journey and struggles. It’s been extremely important for us to always remind our community that we aren’t mental health professionals. We never claim to have all the right answers to everything we’re going through, but we will share as much as we can and figure this thing out together!!”

Deborah Joy Winans and Lyvonne Briggs (Photo via Unbothered Network)

Why do you think now is the time to have these conversations, and why do you think you’re the right ones to have them?

Deborah Joy Winans: “I think there has been an awakening through the pandemic that simply will not allow us to go back to business as usual spiritually. We have seen that we need God in a big way now so now is the time. I think that more than where we come from, Lyvonne & I have a lived experience that we are willing to share openly and honestly while also being OK with searching for answers together. We believe in ‘I don’t know’ if we truly don’t know.”

Lyvonne Briggs: “There is a spiritual awakening and a raising of our collective consciousness and Black women are leading the shift. The pandemic was a meteoric nudge to get quiet, go inward, and reflect on what it is we truly want and desire. Black women are no longer interested in merely surviving, we want to thrive; and that includes fostering a holistic faith that embraces, integrates and celebrates all that we are.”

Germani Manning and Brittany Lackey: “Now has been happening over the last several years for us. When we started ‘The Black Girl Bravado’ in 2016 there weren’t many Black-women-hosted podcasts in the market, let alone ones talking about mental health, self-care, self-love and the nuanced Black experience…which is why we created it! We have a real, raw, relatable approach to just about everything. We’ve found that although there are challenging discussions that need to take place, we can do so in a way that is honest and even at times humorous. There seems to be this notion that healing has to always be strenuous, daunting, hard work and yes, sometimes that’s the case. But there’s also healing in joy, sisterhood, connection and laughter as well. We believe the space we’ve created with ‘The Black Girl Bravado’ has a perfect balance of education and entertainment that Black women need to not always feel as if our healing has to be riddled in constant struggle and never-ending deep pain.”

Jemele has created this amazing platform to have some uncomfortable conversations about everything from faith and self-help to sports and social justice. How does it make you feel to be part of the Unbothered Network, and to be such an important part of the initial slate of shows?

Deborah Joy Winans: “It is an honor to work with someone who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk in her daily life. The Unbothered Network will operate in excellence because Jemele Hill is the captain and I don’t mind riding with my homie any day of the week.”

Lyvonne Briggs: “I am elated to be a part of the rich tradition of boisterous, unbothered Black women. From Harriet Tubman to Shirley Chisholm, from Toni Morrison to Jemele Hill, being a part of a network that has Jemele Hill’s bold style baked into its DNA means that I get to resonate on the frequency of liberation for Black women. The Unbothered Network is a sacred canon and I am honored to be a part of the archives. We are a part of a movement for liberation and when Black women are free, everybody else is gonna get free, too.”

Germani Manning and Brittany Lackey: “Jemele is a visionary! We’re so thankful she sees us and wants nothing more than for us to show up authentically — completely unbothered! We knew from the first time we spoke with Jemele about the plans she had for the network and how we fit into them that The Unbothered Network was the place for us. There is alignment in not only vision but desire to create a space where Black women are primary! Now if that isn’t a vibe, we don’t know what is!”

Germani Manning and Brittany Lackey (Photo via Unbothered Network)

Jemele said that she wants The Unbothered Network to feel like what it is when you walk in your house after a long day and take your bra off. What does “unbothered” mean to you?

Deborah Joy Winans: “Unbothered means, even though life be life’in, God be God’in, so it’s all good.

Lyvonne Briggs: “To be ‘unbothered’ means to be at rest. When Black women feel at home in their bodies and can be the fullest expression of their highest selves, that, to me, will be the highest manifestation of ‘unbothered.’ When Nina Simone was asked, ‘what does freedom mean to you?’ she exclaimed, ‘No fear!’ An unbothered Black woman is a fearless Black woman. And we will know that we are healed when every Black woman and femme is free and safe and soft.”

Germani Manning and Brittany Lackey: “Just know when Jemele said that, we felt it deep down in our souls!  Being unbothered to us means showing up unapologetically. It means being genuine and authentic in our experiences. It means consciously and intentionally pursuing the people we are meant to be — even when it’s hard!!”

“The Black Girl Bravado” and “Sanctified” are available to stream now on Spotify.

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