The “Next Big Thing” is here and two beautifully gifted young women have delivered it!
Courtney and Dara; the creators of the new hit show “Next Big Thing” sit down with Get Far Magazine to give us the scoop on why we the world needs to get familiar with the next big thing.
A.WaL: First off, I watched the show, and I love it! But before I get into that tell us a little bit about yourselves.
C: I’m Courtney, Bay-Area born and raised. I have an unhealthy obsession with french fries. I spent a lot of time in school studying acting. Lived in New York for two years and some change and came back to SF just a year ago. Just a couple months after that, we started Next Big Thing.
D: I’m Dara. I hail from Philadelphia but don’t claim it (especially post Meek Mills’ embarrassment), and have lived in San Francisco for 6 years. My 9 to 5 is tech marketing/merchandising, but my 5 to 9 is Next Big Thing, acting, writing, podcasting, art direction, etc etc etc. I care about psychology, social activism, politics and Black people.
A.WaL: You two have great chemistry on the show how long have you known each other? And how did you become co-hosts?
C: We’ve known each other since 2009? 2010? We met through a mutual colleague/friend who Dara went to college with and I went to graduate school with.
D: Yeah. We were sort of reunited on the set of a web series of another mutual friend (Bottomless; check it out!). We had such a great time on camera, we thought “Wait. Why can’t we do this? Let’s do this!”
A.WaL: What was the creation process like for the show? Did the concept change or was it the same from the beginning? Like the idea to play card games and the dance break where did all that come from?
D: We actually starting plotting out the beginnings of the show on a grassy hill in Dolores Park, which is just about the most San Francisco beginning we could have. Our Puppy-In-Chief, Milo was actually there for that conversation. He’s been with us since the beginning.
C: The concept has grown and continues to do so as we move along. We originally wanted to call our show “Tea Time.” It was cute and went along with the candid kinds of discussions we were looking to have, but as our concept grew with wanting to introduce our audience to up-and-coming artists we both knew, we sought a different title that reflected the lifestyle, Millennial-targeted magazine show we wanted our show to be.
A.WaL: What type of people do you like to interview?
C/D: We like to interview the up-and-comers, the creators, the hustlers, the grinders, the artists, and influencers of our generation. Nothing is off topic for us. If you’re doing your thing, we probably know about you and are getting ready to feature you. We put a special emphasis on people of color and people in our generation. Air time can be difficult to acquire in mainstream media if you’re not already established twice over or have any type of color in your background. Knowing and having experienced that in our own separate lives, we are trying to fill a void that we certainly continue to lack.
It is so easy to buy into the idea that the situation with Black and other people of color is so dire that we’ve not the energy or ability to focus on anything but the struggle. But that’s not true. And it’s never been true. We want to show that just like in every other era of American (and worldwide) history folks like us are still creating, thriving, and killing it.
A.WaL: I love how you two bring different views to the show. It makes for great conversation; everyone isn’t able to do that. Has it ever gotten heated on set?
C/D: Oh, of course. We’re both strong, smart personalities. So naturally we don’t agree on everything. Especially when we are speaking from personal taste or experience. But the glue that holds us together is our mutual respect for one another. I don’t need to agree with you to respect you. It’s not about that. It’s about getting the work done and putting our guests’ voices out there for the world to hear. Because, and we’re seriously asking this, if we don’t, who will?
A.WaL: With the second season coming up how do you feel like you have grown individually as a host? How do you feel you’ve grown together? And how do you feel the show has evolved?
C: I can’t wait to see how I’ve grown as a host. Honestly, seeing myself on our show is the longest I’ve been able to really see myself on camera. I’ll know if I’ve grown once we get back into our studio, and see if I’m able to learn from what I’ve seen so far.
D: I think we had a lot to learn about running a set. Even a teeny one like ours takes a lot of consideration and foresight. There were things we simply didn’t know because we were first-timers, that we will be able to anticipate this time around.
C: We’ve definitely grown together as adults. Ha, that’s basically what the show is about. We’re doing a lot of things for the first time- creating a show being the main thing. But there are a lot of skills that go into that; some I know I’m good at, some I have never done, but I know I need to get it done so I should probably get Plan A going. If that doesn’t work, Plan B, then C, then D. Usually by Plan G, we’re good to go. But what all that has taught me is how to let go of control. I’m a total control freak! Ask anyone who’s spent more than 5 minutes with me. But you can’t control a show. You can try to, and you can do the best you can, but the chips are going to fall where they may. What helps me sleep at night is knowing I did all that I can possibly do. I’m not Superwoman. I don’t have all the answers. And even though I make it look good, I’m usually winging it.
A.WaL: What inspires you at this point of your career? You’re on your way to the top. So is the main inspiration to be recognized as the best talk show?
C: I’m inspired by my dissatisfaction. I get my motivation by knowing that if I stay complacent and keep seeing what I know can be better without doing anything, absolutely nothing will change. And I just can’t live that way.
D: Recognition would be nice. A pay check would be even better. My goal is to build a brand that allows me to support myself in my industry.
What that will end up looking and being like? I’m open to the possibilities.
A.WaL: What do you want viewers to get from Next Big Thing?
C/D: We want our viewers to feel encouraged and informed. There’s not a lot of television that leaves you with the good feels anymore. It’s all about selling you this life you don’t have, but you should want it because it looks so good right? Wrong. We want you to love the life you have, know you’re not alone, and whatever you’re trying to make happen for yourself, we’re here to support that and add to that if we can. We’re just about that self-esteem life.
A.WaL: What do you think the legacy will be for Next Big Thing? How will the show be?
C: Ha, we had a guest on our show, Elon James White, and we asked him what he thought was the legacy of #BlackLivesMatter. He gave us a great answer saying that there was no way to tell. He likened it to being asked that same question about Civil Rights mid-movement. There is no way to tell. Right now, I hope our viewers are taking away the idea that we’re two smart young women who are making it happen with our own steam and an amazing support system. We are building on what we already have, and we hope that is something our growing audience will continue to get behind.
A.WaL: Are you two working on any individual ventures?
C: Right now, Next Big Thing (NBT) has my full attention. NBT is Dara’s and my baby so I want to get it walking before going back to business as usual. When that time comes, I’ll definitely be venturing back into acting with a strong possibility of moving to LA.
D: I stagnate when working on just one thing, so I always have a few irons in the fire. Right now I’m working on a solo performance project about the crazy things that happen in my life, and working on developing a few podcast ideas!
A.WaL: Have y’all started to get groupies yet?
C: We’re all about that groupie love. Let’s leave it at that.
A.WaL: What are your views on Black mainstream entertainment right now? Its current direction and where you think it should be headed.
C: I see black mainstream entertainment as on the up and up. I just watched Beyond the Lights on Netflix and was absolutely floored by the filmmaker’s ability to tell such a moving story centered around this Black couple without it being all about how “Black” they were. They just were. And there are several movies that have accomplished that, but the more I see, the more I believe we’re continuing to grow as a community in the country that creates and tell its dynamic range of stories.
A.WaL: Tell us about the importance of making your own lane. Clearly you two didn’t wait for anyone’s approval. You took the initiative and started building your own brand. Do you have advice for others trying to take you same route? Would you recommend it?
C: It’s crucial for me to make my own lane because trying to follow in the lane of others was too emotionally and spiritually taxing, especially as a young, African-American woman. I complete the tri-fecta of prejudices that exist in the world. I could feel too many people trying to create agendas with me that had nothing to do with the work. And I’m the kind of person who doesn’t see the point in going to work if we’re not going to get down to business. All of that other drama and ego-play, I’m just not interested. Work is a means to be laid up on the beach periodically throughout the year with no worries. So if you’re like me in that way, I’d say yes, go start your own brand. I don’t think my journey will be any shorter and or less arduous, but I know that I’ll be arriving with my sense of self intact.
D: I believe in paving my own way because there isn’t really anyone doing the things I want to do in the way I want to do them. I often lament the fact that I don’t want to do something that has a set path: e.g. I want to be a lawyer, so (1) I study for the LSAT, (2) I apply to law school, (3) I graduate, (4) I take the Bar etc. etc. etc. It’s difficult, but you know the steps to take. There are so many different pathways to what we want to do, you kind of just have to put one foot in front of the other and start walking.
A.WaL: Are there any people in radio or TV that have inspired you to do what you’re doing?
C: So so many people, but to this day, I credit the teaching staff at Howard University Department of Theater Arts for encouraging and nurturing the actress/producer in me. That’s Professor Kim Bey, Timmy Ray, Reggie Ray, Al Freeman Jr., and Henriette Edmonds. They are all just a Google away, each of them with great careers in the industry under their belts.
D: I like the stuff that people like Jay Smooth do. Most of the people that I watch closely have a background in standup and improvisational comedy especially with a social/political bent.
A.WaL: What’s Next for Next Big Thing?
C: Season 2! We’re ready to get this going. I’m a perfectionist, so with Season 1 under our belts, I’m ready to make our show even better and stronger. It’s a really exciting work-in-progress.
A.WaL: Anything else you want the audience to know about Next Big Thing?
D: We’re more than just the show! We feature all the creators we’re excited about on our blog (http://nbttheshow.com/category/blog). We always want to hear from our audience about the folks they’re following. Tweet us @NBTtheShow to let us know who you think is the Next Big Thing!
C: And follow us on Instagram @NBTtheShow too! Thanks A.WaL!
Click the link to start watching the new season of “Next Big Thing” RIGHT NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!