The world of podcasting is, arguably, dominated by our American counterparts. They’ve been creating cutting-edge audio for some time now; think This American Life, the programme that repopularised true crime with Serial, and cult science-philosophy show Radio Lab. In the past few years, however, there has been a real surge in quality podcasts produced on UK soil. Two women making (air)waves right now are Londoners Imrie Morgan and Satia Sa Dias of Melanin Millennials.
“I was getting weary of going to America for representation, and with being bombarded with violence against the African American population. I was taking it all personally, so I thought it important to focus on what’s happening here in the UK, to have conversations centred around the British experience", Imrie explains of their decision to start the show.
The podcast is hosted by the Shout Out Network, a collective dedicated to bringing us a diverse range of voices through their shows Mostly Lit, Two Fools Talking and Artistic State of Mind. Representation is what drew Satia to the idea, too: “My initial approach was to use the podcast to have the conversations that were missing in the mainstream media, who actively ignored young women of colour, or only presented us with one-dimensional narratives and versions of ourselves.”
Since 2015 Melanin Millennials has explored what it means to be a black British millennial woman in the UK right now, navigating everything from Trump to Beyoncé via Black History Month and workplace woes with their no-holds-barred chat. Ahead of their first ever live event, Refinery29 caught up with the hosts to talk self-care tips, the intimacy of podcasting, and Generation DIY.
Hey ladies! Why is podcasting your medium of choice?
Imrie: Honestly, my face is far too expressive for TV, so YouTube was a no-go. Podcasting is quite intimate when you think about it – listening to someone speak is powerful. Most people (IRL) just listen to respond, but they can’t do that with a podcast so it’s a different experience.
How does being friends shape the show?
Satia: We’re comfortable enough to challenge each other and to help see each other’s perspectives. We wanted to bring our WhatsApp conversations to life, and that’s exactly what the listeners get.
Imrie: We agree on things more in real life, but the name of the show means we dissect a subject only to find we’re quite different. It only drives us to keep creating and innovating.
Do you feel that we’re moving towards a more diverse and representative media?
Satia: I wish we could burn and bury the word diverse. By default we’re all diverse, it’s just whose story gets told unfortunately isn’t. Millennials will be known as Generation DIY – we’re tired of asking for a seat at the proverbial table. When I was younger, Bob the Builder was a thing. When it comes to diversity and representation the question is “Can we fix it?” and our answer is always, “Yes we can”.
Imrie: With the rise of the alt-right in the West, I’m not sure this was the direction we all envisaged for media representation. I’m excited about the rise of platforms and content-creators that counter this, though.
What do you think are some of the most pressing issues facing both millennials and women of colour right now?
Imrie: As a millennial, our financial future is a huge question mark. As women of colour, I think having our humanity recognised by men of all races and white women is important – the support for our struggles and issues, like mass incarceration and mental health, are distinctly absent.
Satia: As black women I’d say it’s unchaining the shackles of the patriarchy, internalised sexism, and misogynoir. It’s putting yourself first, practising self-care, and muting the constant wave of negativity. As millennials? Zero-hour contracts, an unfulfilling work-life balance, high rents…
Imrie, you’re a mental health advocate on the show – do you think we’re taking steps to de-stigmatise it?
Imrie: Yes, although I think we're de-stigmatising depression and anxiety at a faster rate than bipolar or schizophrenia, which are still somewhat feared by the public. The more people understand that a person with a mental illness is just trying to understand their environment the best way they know how, the easier it will be to empathise.
What are your self-care tips?
Imrie: Check-in with yourself. I use an app called Daylio to monitor my moods and activities. I take a day if I'm burning out. Also, assess whether your deadlines are imposed by outside forces (i.e. work) or yourself. This is important if you always feel busy – if it can wait a day/ week/ month, then let it wait.
What are your biggest challenges with running the show?
Satia: Keeping things fresh for our listeners each week.
Imrie: I’d say discovery – it’s difficult to convince people who have never heard a podcast to try it. It’s a word-of-mouth industry, which is cool, but it’s a slow growth.
And what are the best things about it?
Imrie: The listeners! We’ve created this safe space for people to agree and disagree with us while adding their own opinions and insights. We have a majority BAME audience, and many fall into marginalised groups, so the level of openness is amazing.
So, what can we expect from Melanin Millennials live?
Satia: Great selfies.
Imrie: We will be bouncing off the energy from the congregation (our nickname for our listeners). We have strong – and sometimes wrong – opinions on air that ruffle some feathers, so it'll be interesting see the reactions in real time. There will be goodie bags and a great mix of people in the room to spark a great debate.