iHeart’s Slate of NextUp Takes On Topics From Trans Identity To Stories Of The Working Class.


NextUp, the iHeartMedia initiative to bring new producers into podcasting, has released its first slate of shows with the release of the series called Beauty Translated. Hosted by Carmen Laurent, the show focuses on the transgender community in the South and touches on their experiences with coming out, launching careers, and family life.


“As a transgender woman, it’s very important to me that my community’s stories are shared,” says Laurent, a professional skin therapist, life-long podcast fan and trans woman. The aim of Beauty Translated is to create a safe and open space for her guests to share experiences about their lives being trans in the South––bringing awareness and visibility to an area that is not often represented in popular media the way trans people in larger cities like New York and Los Angeles are. “The NextUp Initiative has given me the tools and platform to do just that, and it’s been so inspiring to learn from industry-leading experts in the podcasting world to create a show that really amplifies our voices,” says Laurent.


First launched last July, iHeart’s NextUp Initiative is geared to help bring more up-and-coming and underrepresented creators into podcasting. The boot-camp program is designed to give podcast newcomers a chance to learn about the world of podcasting from one of the biggest podcast networks worldwide, as well as give them the financial resources to take full advantage of the launch pad. The goal is for each of the participants to leave Next Up with at least three finished episodes and a polished pitch for their podcast.


Over the next six months, iHeartMedia will launch the full upcoming slate of shows from all eight of its NextUp fellows, covering a range of important topics from the working class to Native American identity.


“We’re thrilled to see the results of the hard work and passion that each and every creator put into their podcast,” said Anna Hossnieh, cofounder of NextUp and Managing Executive Producer for iHeartPodcasts.


The next show to debut on July 12 is called BFF: Black, Fat Femme. Featuring the voices of two of the leading queer, fat, and Black changemakers, the BFF podcast examines what it means to love oneself unapologetically in a world where loving oneself often feels impossible. The podcast is hosted by educator and journalist Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins and queer Afro-Jew writer and photographer Jordan Daniels.


Then on August 1, the podcast Tongue Unbroken will launch. It explores the Native American revitalization and decolonization through the eyes and mind of a multilingual Indigenous person: X̱ʼunei Lance Twitchell, an Associate Professor of Alaska Native Languages at the University of Alaska Southeast. Twitchell is Lingít, Haida, Yupʼik and Sami. Tongue Unbroken will feature guests leading the language revitalization and decolonial efforts across the United States, Alaska, Canada, and New Zealand.


The next show to debut is called Partition. Premiering August 15, this podcast is inspired by Pakistani-American writer Neha Aziz’s first trip back home to Pakistan in 2017. In the podcast she explores the 1947 Partition of India and the formation of Pakistan in this historical podcast.


Several other shows are planned for a fall release, including –


  • On Call with Kay-B (Premiering in September): It will immerse listeners in an audial journey around the medical TV shows that have been a staple in the entertainment industry for decades. These shows have drawn in audiences with not only their steamy romances and on-screen friendships, but the most over-the-top medical cases known to man. Kay B, both a veteran entertainment journalist and podcaster, as well as a trained scientist, uses her unique experience to give listeners a cultural and scientific experience. A wide variety of guests––from talent, creatives and medical consultants behind the shows to real-life scientists and medical professionals working in the field––will be featured on the show.

  • When You’re Invisible (Premiering in October): Called a “love letter to the working class,” the podcast spotlights the different experiences of these “invisible” people. Actor and creator Maria Fernanda Diez draws from her experience as a first generation American born to Mexican parents, who went from living off food stamps to rising to the middle-middle class and achieving the “American dream,” to welcome and reflect on each guest’s life experiences.

  • Survivors Heal with Oya L. Sherrills (Premiering in November): At a time when there’s a quiet movement of survivors raging right beneath the surface of the nation’s social and political floor, Survivors Heal is a podcast that explores the healing side of true crime. Host Oya L. Sherrills employs both narrative and interviews to create a niche guidebook to the grassroots conversations that have fueled a movement that touches every corner of the political landscape––policy reform, racial justice, social justice, criminal justice reform, resource allocations, and urban culture.

  • We, The Product (Premiering in December): Hosted by community organizer and activist Priyanka Das, this series gives listeners a peek behind the curtain into the ways that surveillance capitalism has embedded itself into every facet of our society. Listeners will hear Das engage with community organizers to better understand how surveillance technologies have evolved into an omnipresent force that is being weaponized as a tool to control communities.


“Each show tells a different story around an incredibly important, but often overlooked issue, and the creativity we’ve seen here is just astounding,” said Hossnieh.” This is really just the beginning of what these creators will do.”


The entire slate of NextUp shows will be distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network. Toyota Corolla Cross is the proud sponsor of the NextUp initiative.

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