Rebecca Carroll, Author + Editor at WNYC Radio
It was one of those days where you are browsing the web - more like LinkedIn and thought, "This person looks cool to meet." And that is what I did. I slipped in her DMs - no, really! I introduced myself and The Cnnekt and how I admired her work and respect WNYC Radio. Thankfully, Rebecca was very open to this opportunity.
The reciprocity is real and truly admirable. Get to know Rebecca in today's #GIRLBOSS Spotlight feature:
1. Rebecca, you are a Jane of all trades! When you were a young girl, did you dream of being all of these things when you grew up or have one specific dream in mind?
When I was a young girl I dreamed of being an actress or a fashion designer or a celebrated collage artist or a brilliant novelist. I am now none of those things. Ironically, if I had one specific dream it was to be known for doing one thing brilliantly. But I always wrote stories and made art and produced plays and loved fashion. In my career, I've ended up doing a bunch of different things across a bunch of different platforms - brilliantly? I don't know, but I'm happiest when I'm leading with curiosity and creating/curating conversations and content, and also when I'm writing (mostly).
2. Can you tell us a little bit about your day to day, especially in the world of broadcasting?
My day to day varies broadly -- today I guested on The Brian Lehrer Show to promote a live event I'm hosting and producing tomorrow night at the Schomburg Center in Harlem. So I prepped this morning for air, which generally involves adapting written notes, because written words sound written on radio and that's bad, unless you're actually trying to sound like you're reading something written. I've done Brian's show a bunch and he's a pro and I love him, and he always makes it easy. I was on with the poet and new director of the Schomburg Center, Kevin Young, who will be part of the live event too.
Other days its research for ideas and guests and content to produce a segment or a column or an event -- I read a lot, and am almost always connected to what's going on via social media, which is where most news breaks now. Yesterday I went to the Kerry James Marshall exhibit at the MET Breuer, which was extraordinary -- and I'm trying to think of an interesting way to work Kerry's art, and maybe Kerry himself into one of the mediums and programs I produce. So it varies a lot.
3. Your major works include award-winning Sugar in the Raw, critically acclaimed Saving the Race and even live hosting and interviews. What is your personal favorite work and what did you get out of the experience?
Here's a little known fact. Saving the Race is my favorite book because I thought it was THE ONE -- I am a collagist at heart, and I thought the format which, granted, is not all that easy to market, was actually kind of brilliant. It merges memoir inspired by excerpts from W.E.B. Du Bois's classic The Souls of Black Folk, with prominent contemporary black voices reflecting on that excerpt. The narrative thread is The Souls of Black Folk, and the themes therein, but bookended by modern reflections on race. Anyway. Nobody bought it, despite stellar blurbs, including one from my nonfiction hero Studs Terkel. Looking back on it now, the writing is maybe not as developed, but I was/am still proud of that book.
4. So many people are put into this "bubble", especially women. They are told they are not doing enough but when they branch out, they are told that they don't have enough experience in just ONE thing. Do you have advice for those struggling with this issue in their careers?
I knew a pretty famous film director back in the day when I was in my early 20s and I had already published my first book and was working on a second, and I expressed to him my desire to try out acting. And he said: "Do you want to be an actor or a writer?" And I remember thinking (not saying at the time), "Why can't I be both?" Whether intentionally or unintentionally, I think women are often discouraged from doing more than just one thing, because then we're taking up too much space and industry and opportunity. But for me, I have come to realize that I'm only happy when I'm doing more than one thing -- and I would say to women who are struggling with how to embrace this is, approach a hybrid career as you would a singular career: with focus and intent, curiosity, skill and self-awareness regarding what you can and can't do; what you want to do and don't want to do. For example, I don't want to (probably could if I trained myself, but again, don't want to) host a news magazine show - on the radio or on TV - it's an INSANE amount of work, requires complete retention of facts, and consistent over-explaining. I like dialog, I'm terrible at retaining facts, and I'm more a conversationalist than an explainer (verbally anyway -- I can explain my ass off in writing).I know these things about myself.
5. What is next for you, Rebecca?
I'm developing another narrative podcast with my WNYC team (the same team I produced There Goes the Neighborhood with), and also thinking about ways to produce some of the content from my live events into podcast form. I wrote a TV pilot that I'm super proud of and hope to develop at some point. And also, I really want my kid to be a good person and happy and engaged and conscious of the world around him -- so parenting my boy will always be on the "What's Next" list for me. At least until he's 18.
Intro by Chary, Interview by Emily