An Interview With Sophie from The Haitian-American Dream Podcast
Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts everywhere! Of course the Haitian-American community is not going to be left out of the podcast phenomenon, thanks to digital entrepreneurs like Sophie from the Haitian-American Dream Podcast! Though just a few episodes in, the 40-minute-plus podcast is information-packed, touching everything from skin tone controversies to . In of the episodes, for instance, the host digs deep on the subject of colorism, and cites articles by scholars and integrates colorism in modern pop culture into the discussion. Whether you’re into podcasts or are just getting into them, it’s worth reading what this creative had to say about how she got her start, and how her early years led to the initiative. Kreyolicious: What was your Haitian-American upbringing like? Sophie/The Haitian-American Dream Podcast: Hmm, my Haitian-American upbringing, I guess I would say it was typical but also atypical. The most typical part about is that I grew up mostly in predominantly Haitian areas such as West Palm Beach, Florida and spent my teenage years in Irvington, New Jersey. Also, like one of my favorite comedians Haitian Jonas used to say all we did was go from “Lakay, lekòl, legliz.” So we definitely fit the script for a typical Haitian family when it came to that because we sure did stay up in church all day and I do mean all. Of course school was heavily encouraged and sleeping over or even visiting a friend’s house was not a thing. As far as how my parents were though, I don’t feel like they were as strict as some other Haitian parents but I still knew better than to try them. My father would definitely scream “Mete’w ajenou,” in a heartbeat if you wanted to act stupid. However, [neither] he nor my mother ever threw the narrative of us having to be doctors, or lawyers, in our faces. Instead they encouraged us to obviously stay in school, but also do what makes us happy. Aside from that, my upbringing was pretty Haitian from the biblos, the china cabinet that no one was allowed to touch, the plastic couch at one point, of course, the daily intake of vitamin rice, and you could definitely hear the static-filled radio stations playing from a boom box either in the kitchen or my parents’ room. Kreyolicious: How did the concept for the Haitian American Podcast take shape? Sophie/The Haitian-American Dream Podcast: Back in high school while living in Irvington which like I mentioned earlier is a predominantly Haitian area in Jersey, I began to fall in love with the culture even more. During that time I was also exploring my writing and creativity more whenever I’d get home from school. One day, I started thinking about how I would like to start a documentary centered on Haitian-American life. So being that I had recently learned about the American Dream in my history class, I began thinking about what the Haitian dream or more specifically the Haitian-American dream would be if we studied the culture more in depth. With that said, in this documentary I really wanted to discuss how we deal with the daily struggles of embracing our culture in a society that is basically anti-everything that we are. As a teenager, I was tired of seeing the hatred others would display regarding our blackness, to our language and even down to being immigrants in this country, which of course adds another layer of oppression. However, as a teen I didn’t have the platform yet nor the funds to really make that documentary pop off. Hell, I still really don’t but I figured why not use what I do have to finally bring . Then maybe one day the documentary can come. Therefore, as far as the name of my podcast goes it’s always existed but in different forms. I even had the idea of making it into a book series of some sort since I’m also a novel writer. So, that’s basically where the idea came from. But as of recently I’ve been obsessed with all things podcasts and back in like September I thought to myself, “Man, where are the Haitian podcasts?” I finally found some, but realized there weren’t a large number of them. With that said, I figured I might as well start my own. Kreyolicious: The art of start is everything. Did you ever find yourself getting stalled about getting started? Sophie:/The Haitian-American Dream Podcast: I like that saying, “the art of start.” I might have to steal that one but on a serious note yes, yes and yes. I struggle getting started with everything. I am a bona fide procrastinator who excels at stalling. Sometimes I blame that flaw on my anxiety, but other times it can be me just being lazy or very afraid of what can happen when I finish the task at hand. The funny thing is that I definitely tried to convince myself that I couldn’t get started on my podcast without a proper mic or headphones, but finally I ditched that fear. My iPhone headphones work just fine for now. I do think that as a creative I tend to get anxious about my work or how it will be perceived. I’m often afraid that it won’t come out the way I envisioned it, and therefore, others will judge me for it. So, I will procrastinate until the idea disappears. Unfortunately, as a creative, most of my ideas just stick around haunting me until I start them. My podcast and blog being one some of those ideas but I’m doing much better these days learning how to relax my mind in order to just get my work out there into the world. Kreyolicious: What are some challenges you come across when it comes to running a podcast? Sophie/The Haitian-American Dream Podcast: All of the challenges, all the time! I am a one woman show so that means I draft up episode ideas, write the script, record it, edit the audio, upload and promote it. Kreyolicious: How do you handle them? Sophie/The Haitian-American Dream Podcast: I handle the challenges by giving myself some room to mess up because when you don’t have a team it’s a bit hard to really perfect everything. In a sense I’ve got to choose which part of the podcast I make the best. For example, this week I wanted to have it edited and uploaded Monday night but that didn’t happen until Wednesday. Granted, I was upset with myself but once again I had to give myself room for that. So I worked even harder on the content itself due to the lateness. Not to mention life is not exactly peachy for me at the moment so I also have to remind myself that I’m doing my best even in the midst of distress. With a degree in Psychology from Montclair State University and a Minor in Creative Writing, hosting a podcast comes in easy for Ms. Sophie, the host of the popular The Haitian-American Dream podcast. She can write witty, engaging scripts for her podcast episodes, and work in some mental health and psychological insight into her topics for the benefit of her listeners. But even with these educational credentials, and creative abilities there are bound to be some challenges involved in running a digital platform. Let’s talk to the entrepreneur to find out how her educational background help her launch the Haitian-American Dream Podcast brand. And of course, about Haiti. Kreyolicious: What’s the most helpful class you sat through in school that’s helping you right now in running your podcast? Sophie/The Haitian-American Dream Podcast: Honestly, I had to think long and hard about this one. I would have to say my Intro to Film class which taught me how to do script writing. Being that I run my podcast all on my own, it is up to me to write the script, record it, and edit it like I mentioned earlier. So shout out to that class which was damn near 5 hours long but we got to watch movies so that was cool. I would also add pretty much every class I took because everything I studied in undergrad is basically manifesting itself into what I discuss on the podcast. So from Psychology courses to my African-American studies ones as well and pretty much all the other Creative Writing ones too. Kreyolicious: What advice do you have for newbies? Sophie/The Haitian-American Dream Podcast: To be honest I don’t even feel like I can offer much advice since I’m also just a newbie. However, the most I can say for sure is “Just get started,” and that’s coming from a procrastinator so listen when I say getting started is half the work. Also, stop stalling by claiming you don’t have the right materials to get started because the internet and my phone is all I use for my podcast and blog. You’ve got to make life work right where you are because that “perfect” moment we all keep waiting on to start this or that will never come. The perfect time only manifests when you finally begin working towards your dreams or goals so just get started with what you have and right where you are. Everything else you need and/or want will come when God/the universe sees that you are willing to work for what you desire even without the means that others may have to do that same thing. Thank you for the opportunity to share part of my story with the world through your platform. Kreyolicious: How early in life did you find yourself attracted to journalism, tech and media? Sophie/The Haitian-American Dream Podcast: As early as about maybe seven or eight, but it wasn’t until about eleven years old that I really realized I was seriously passionate about creating/writing. But, you know what’s funny? I just recently took some time to reflect and realized I’ve been obsessed with media [and] tech since I was a kid. Initially, I thought strictly writing was my thing, but I thought back to when I would create random story lines then record them on my family’s tape recorder. I was probably about eight-years-old recording those stories, but I would legit make the voices for each character and everything. I’m pretty sure those story ideas came from the excessive amount of daytime TV my siblings and I consumed from soap operas to talk shows. Speaking of talk shows, I actually always wanted to be a talk show host or radio personality which I guess would cover the basis of my interest in journalism. Though I do consider myself more of a creative writer and journalism always sound more serious to me like mainly news stories. Anyways, I’ve always had a little notebook with me where I would write story ideas & just random projects I wanted to work on. Even today, I still have a journal or three on me with a stream of ideas or writing. Kreyolicious: You been to Haiti, pitit? Sophie/The Haitian-American Dream Podcast: Pitit, I’m afraid to answer this because I don’t want to lose my Haitian card. But, honestly, not yet. I’ve legit been “supposed” to go since I was a kid. Sadly though, since my family is so huge it would have been a “choose one child to go” type of thing. I’m the seventh child, so you already know funds were a little limited (Laughter). Regardless, I do plan on going on some time this year. Not sure when but I’m speaking it into the air [so] that it will happen.
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In loving memory of our dear friend. We are heartbroken and will miss her dearly. She was a shining light in our lives, with a kind and loving spirit that brought joy to all who knew her. Her passion was an inspiration to us all. We take comfort in knowing that her memory will live on through the website, which was a true testament to her talents and dedication. Rest in peace, dear. You will always be remembered and loved.