Have you ever been frustrated by the lack of content — even new media content — with an intersectional focus on feminism and racial identity? I know I have. So, I was delighted earlier this month to learn of F This Weekly, a fantastic new weekly podcast launched late last year that focuses on content for women of colour, and anyone else who “gives an F”.
F This Weekly was created by Paola Mardo, whose expertise in film marketing and social media combined with her background in both Film & Media Studies and Asian American Studies has resulted in a sizzling podcast project with F This Weekly. Every Friday, Paola invites a guest onto the show to talk in an engaging way about the topics of the day — anything from food to film to feminism.
I had a chance to interview Paola about her inspiration in creating F This Weekly, and her interview appears after the jump.
Tell me a little bit about what inspired you to create F This Weekly?
Honestly, there were a lot of things that led to the creation of F This Weekly podcast. I used to write and perform a lot when I was younger so I was really missing having a creative outlet. I also had just left a corporate job and suddenly had time to do things other than work. That summer, I watched Braveheart for the first time as an adult and was horrified. I had seen it on TV when I was younger and always knew it to be this classic award-winning film, but it wasn’t until my recent viewing that I realized it had all these big time race and gender issues! (See: Princess Isabella’s depiction in the movie vs IRL.) I was obviously mortified because I’m a Filipino American woman and I work in film. I was already feeling really sick of all the gender disparity and race issues in the industry but this time I felt I really needed to do something about it.
I chose the podcast medium because it’s such a great space to discuss important issues and tell stories in creative ways. The podcast world is growing rapidly with the popularity of shows like Serial, but I couldn’t find anything that was dedicated to what I wanted to talk about. I toyed around with different variations of the podcast before ending up with what I have now – a weekly podcast dedicated to interviews with and stories about women of color in entertainment and the arts.
Many of your early episodes have invited Asian American women as guests in particular – do you perceive F This Weekly as an Asian American woman focused project, and if so could you chat a little bit about why it’s important to create space for Asian American women (or women of colour, in general) in traditional and new media?
F This Weekly is a podcast featuring women of color first and foremost, but it is also open to anyone who “gives an F” – or understands our issues and gets it. The show will feature all sorts of people in upcoming episodes, but I think it’s important for F This Weekly to be known as a space for women of color simply because there aren’t a lot of clear spaces like this in the creative world, let alone Hollywood.
I started interviewing Asian American women primarily because these were people I knew and perhaps related to the most, but also because I still think that Asian American women still don’t get enough representation in traditional and new media. Sure, you have women like Constance Wu and Ming-Na Wen kicking ass on TV, but where are the Asian American women in movies or in key creative roles like directors, producers or studio executives? And, seriously, where are my brown Asian American ladies at?
Why do you think it is that Asian American women — and frankly, all women of colour — are so invisible in mainstream media?
Frankly, I think it’s because there aren’t a lot of women of color in positions of power in the media and entertainment business. As we learned with last year’s #OscarsSoWhite debacle, the industry is overrun with older white men. With the exception of recent television hits like Empire, Fresh Off the Boat, Jane the Virgin and Master of None, most of the content we see are for and about those kinds of people. Look no further than your local movie theater offerings for proof of this.
We need decision makers and influencers to help push for more truthful and diverse stories. That’s what F This Weekly hopes to accomplish on the larger scale – to spread the word on important voices in order to get them in front of the decision makers who can greenlight their projects, or perhaps empower them to do it themselves. On a smaller scale, I simply hope to create something that entertains people or makes them laugh or nod their head and say, “F yeah!” Because what’s all this for if we’re not having fun?
Your expertise appears to be at the intersection of media production and social media. How do you think new media technologies have altered the media landscape for Asian Americans?
New media has democratized the content production and distribution process. Creative folks can get their work out in the world so much easier than before, without having to go through tedious traditional systems. Rather than wait for the greenlight at a network or studio, you can create your own content and get it in front of an audience with a click of an upload button – Wong Fu Productions and National Film Society are great examples of this. I was able to start my own podcast and get it up on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher without having to spend so much as a SoundCloud Pro membership.
If you’ve got a great idea for a web series, movie or podcast, there’s no excuse not to create it – the tools are out there you just have to take the initiative to use them.
What do you hope listeners will walk away from F This Weekly with after becoming regular listeners?
I hope that listeners walk away from the podcast with an interest in learning more about and supporting women of color doing great work in the arts and entertainment. F This Weekly may refer to an expletive, but it’s got positive messaging too – For The Women and For The Win!
I also hope folks come back every Friday when a new episode drops. Apart from intimate and uncensored conversations with innovative and creative folks, the show features fun “story” episodes that focus on specific topics or guest experiences. Recent stories have included stories about Bollywood, Friendsgiving, and family holiday memories. The podcast is very experimental which (I hope) makes it fun and exciting to listen to.
Are there are any other projects of yours that you’d like to direct readers of the blog to?
F This Weekly is the main thing right now so please tune in to the podcast every Friday and subscribe to it on fthisweekly.com, iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher. It should also be available on most podcatcher apps. I also write an accompanying F This Weekly newsletter (with GIFs!) which you can sign up for at fthisweekly.com/getfedup. I’ve got some other audio projects cooking and hope to share those on there soon. I also tweet and tumble about film and media things at @paolamardo and paolamardo.com.