Ossa Lounge Live | Episode #33 | ft. Anjuli “AJ Joyce” Tuck, Pop Culture Expert & Host of “She’s So Reel” Podcast
About AJ Joyce:
AJ Joyce is a self-proclaimed “black girl nerd” who loves entertainment and pop culture with ambitions to become an entrepreneur in her own way. She loves vegan tacos, Queen Bey and spending time at the dog park with her Frenchie, Elton John.
She interviews unique, female trailblazers and pioneers in the film, music and entertainment industry and is currently working on becoming a Squarespace Web Designer and a full-time podcaster.
Listen to Episode #33 featuring AJ Joyce, Host of the She’s So Reel Podcast:
Episode #33 Highlights:
0:00-4:43 ~ Introductions and Inspiration
4:44-9:45 ~ Goals and Interviewing Advice
9:46-14:58 ~ Diversity in the Media
14:59-18:16 ~ Behind the Scenes of “She’s So Reel”
18:17-26:29 ~ Feminism in Pop Culture
Links from this episode:
Episode #33 Full Transcript:
Meredith Reed 0:08
AJ Joyce 0:10
Hi, how are you?
Meredith Reed 0:12
Good. How are you?
AJ Joyce 0:14
I’m doing good. Thanks for having me on here. I’m really excited.
Meredith Reed 0:19
Yeah, thank you so much for being here. So for anyone who’s just joining us, this is Ossa Lounge Live . I’m your host Meredith Reed, and I’m here today with AJ Joyce. She is the host of the She’s So Reel podcast. Each week on her podcast AJ dives into chats with multifaceted women from the film and entertainment industry, who are facilitating diversity and inclusion through their work in the media. AJ Joyce is a digital creator and a self proclaimed black girl nerd with a background in movie reviews, film enthusiasm, and Girl Power advocacy. Welcome!
AJ Joyce 1:04
Thank you so much. I mean, I know it’s a mouthful, but I loved how you put your spaz on the black girl nerd part. I got to give you snaps for that.
Meredith Reed 1:16
So, do you just want to start by telling us a little bit about what inspired you to start your podcast?
AJ Joyce 1:22
Yeah, totally. So my original podcast was all about movie reviews. So and I was all about pop culture, and just the basic relm of it. I didn’t take podcasting seriously, at any point in time, it was just for fun, because my friend was like, your voice is like perfect for radio, etc. And I just conjoined it. And then at one point, I was like, you know, I want to take this more seriously. But I need to niche down a little bit more. So I started looking at things I’m really, really like cared about. And that was feminism, and pop culture along with film and music and entertainment. And eventually She’s So Reel was born from that. So that’s how it all started pretty much.
Meredith Reed 2:10
Well, I love that you started it as a passion project, and then kind of built out from there. And I, I have looked and listened to your podcast. And I have to say I really love your branding. And I’m wondering, when you, did you originally start with that name? Or did you pivot once you started getting more more focused?
AJ Joyce 2:32
I used to be called, my original podcast name, like the very first one was called Missips. And it was based off like how many drinks I would take during a movie. Of course it was for movie reviews. And then of course, when I started niching down, it, I wanted to add a little more sass to it. And plus, I love retro and vintage things and stuff like that along with the whole Girl Power movement, I guess you would say so and then I just started playing with the title She So Reel, and just kind of mashed it up in it. It was kind of random, but bland all at the same time. It was kind of weird.
Meredith Reed 3:10
Yeah, well, I mean, the name is incredible. And I also just love on the photography that you did. Is that somebody that you knew ahead of time? Or did you just go out looking for a photographer that kind of matched the vibe that you wanted to have for your podcast,
AJ Joyce 3:25
When I was working on my podcast website, you know, again, have the retro vibes to it, and eventually had to do some brand photography to match with the whole vibe of it. And I was like, You know what, let let me just take a step back. And let me see what kind of identity and energy I want to give to this. And it just flowed, I found somebody, we went to the studio, we took pictures, I was just being myself and those photos, you know, fill me with the glasses and me doing this, I mean that’s that’s just me.
Meredith Reed 3:58
Oh, it’s so good. Because I feel like I’ve always had a problem with, you know, especially let’s say 5-10 years ago, it was like you need a headshot. And it was like put on your blazer that you never actually wear outside of trying to look professional and interviews and doing something that was so just like stoic and straightforward and just not me. So I really love the way that you’ve been able to capture your personality and the brand of your podcast.
AJ Joyce 4:27
Oh, thank you so much. I mean, it’s still an ongoing thing. I’m forever evolving in that area. But I’m still I’m still very much aligned with my values of where I want to represent. I still want to keep it fun, you know? So…
Meredith Reed 4:44
What are some of your goals for your podcast in the next couple of years? And it’s okay if you don’t have any and you’re just enjoying the ride, but I’m curious where you might be headed next.
AJ Joyce 4:54
Oh, goals, man. I have top goals. So um, I really branded She’s So Reel as its own unique talk show, so and that that truly is a goal in in the hopefully, fingers crossed, as a podcaster to take the podcast into direction. Like, for instance, you know how like Jimmy Fallon has his own kind of like, talk show variety show, but in my own way, you know, yeah, that’s, that pretty much sums it up. That’s where my goals are.
Meredith Reed 5:27
Well, I love that I fully support this. We’re definitely seeing more overlap between podcasting and other industries. Because podcasting is getting so popular. We definitely need more women and especially women of color in the talk show space, especially late night talk shows, so, I like that you’re putting that out there. I am all on board for this. So, speaking of that, let’s keep putting it out there. What are some of your dream guests?
AJ Joyce 5:58
Oh, my God, like, Oh, geese, okay, I have to put it out there. I’m a Beyoncé fan. So and being a B Hiver that would be like top, in terms of music. Um, there’s plenty of women that are behind the scenes, like behind the camera and filmmaking and in that industry that I want to interview. Chloé Zhao, you know, she’s top notch in the Oscar realm, and just the Asian representation more on the show. I would love to highlight that. Um, let’s see. Zoe Saldana. A lot of people forget that she represents the Latina community a lot in the movie industry and I mean I can go on and on and on about like, who would be like number one, but I have a long list.
Meredith Reed 6:51
Yeah, I mean, those are those are all great people that have in your list. And, I feel like…
AJ Joyce 6:58
Oh! Ava DuVernay, like, yes. Ava DuVernay would be like, I’d be able to cry, that that’s when I know like, “Mom, I made it” moment. You know, like everyone has their “Mom, I made it.”
Meredith Reed 7:09
Oh, I know. Well, I’m curious of the episodes you’ve done so far. And I know you probably don’t want to, like, call out other guests over you know, some others that you’ve had on? But is there a favorite episode or for anyone tuning in? If they wanted to start with an episode of your podcast that you really felt like, I hit my stride, this was a great interview. Do you have a couple that come to mind?
AJ Joyce 7:35
Mmm hmm. That’s a hard one. I would say.
Meredith Reed 7:40
Hahaha, sorry, maybe I should have prepped you on this one!
AJ Joyce 7:45
Haha, I know! Um, there’s so many.
Meredith Reed 7:48
We’ll circle back.
AJ Joyce 7:49
Yeah, there’s, there’s so many great women that have been on my podcast and I put them, rather if they, you know, if one has hit this, you know, mark, rather, if someone’s hit this mark, I kind of put them in the equivalent of they’re, they’re all the same. They’re all striving for the same thing. Rather, if they’re with a big studio, or they’re starting off with their own small production, I would all say they’re my favorites. But yeah, we’re gonna have to circle back for that.
Meredith Reed 8:18
Fair enough. I there’s some questions that you really love to ask your guests.
AJ Joyce 8:24
Oh, man, I always like to ask about, a little bit about their personal life and how it mixes with their career. Because sometimes, you know, we could get, we could get all serious on the show about, like, digging to, you know, “Why did you produce this?” or “Why did you do that?” You know, but I think what really relates to an audience is when you bring those personal things up, that align with what their vision and their mission is. So I always like to dig that up. Like my guest I’ve had on, actually had an episode today and, um, is founder and executive producer, Raeshem Nijhon, and she is from Culture House Media, you guys should tune into that one. That that was was actually a quite a favorite of mine. So you guys can start there, too. And, um, she was just so real. Literally, she was so real. And even though we were talking about diversity, inclusion in the media, I felt like I can also strip it down and ask her to like, “Hey, girl, you know, did you watch this TV show?” You know, like, “What’s your favorite this and that?” So, I’m just able to do that on the show. And it comes so genuine, and I’m happy that my guests can, can feel that that energy too on the show and give that back.
Meredith Reed 9:44
Right and you know, we’re on the note of diversity and inclusion. So I want to make sure we talk about this. We’re seeing more of a movement towards having more diversity and inclusion in the media. But if you look at the numbers, we still have a really long way to go. So I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on that for people who want to support the rise of diversity inclusion in the media on what they can do to support the movement?
AJ Joyce 10:09
Yeah, definitely. Well, I will first start off by start looking into certain things that you wouldn’t normally watch. I think that’s the biggest start of it all. Like, for me, I know, I’ve never watched anime like thoroughly, but my sister does. So now I’m starting to get more into it, you know, um, I think it’s really stepping outside your comfort zone. And what you watch, what you see, what you hear. The whole sensory overload of what the media gives you, I think people need to expand on that. The other thing is giving people the chance to potentially, not necessarily change your mind, but open your mind when you’re watching these things. And of course, listen to the podcasts, and there’s plenty other podcasters, they’re on the same realm as mine: The Brighter Lens, One Broke Actress, Film Member Guard, I mean, it goes on and on and on, I could keep listening them off, and they’re all amazing. But listen to the podcasts, and really listen to what they’re saying and what’s going on. Because they literally are my eyes and ears about what’s happening behind the camera, behind the studio, behind the production companies, what they’re doing and what they’re seeing. So really listen in on that.
Meredith Reed 11:30
Right. And that’s something that we talk about a lot is, you know, it’s tempting to look at whatever’s on the top 100, or just what comes up on your ads as like, “try these new podcasts.” But what many people don’t realize is how many podcasts are out there that just aren’t making it to the front page, because they don’t have a major network associated with them. Or they’re not already a big name with a ton of followers. And that doesn’t mean that their show isn’t incredible. So as a podcast listener, just take a couple minutes and and do the work to do a little digging, you can always Google the top podcasts for x topic, and people put together lists of these things. That helps with having more diversity in the top 100, we’re still only seeing around 25% of the top shows are hosted by women. So we still have a long way to go. And it’s something that the more we can focus on that and talk about that, I think the more progress that can be made.
AJ Joyce 12:33
Yeah, I totally agree with you. And, yeah, yeah, I really do.
Meredith Reed 12:40
Well, and the other thing is, like, back when I was growing up, you know, we had this wide spectrum, or what we thought was a wide spectrum, of movies and TV shows. And, you know, when you actually start breaking out of that box, and now that we have access to streaming, and all of these different platforms that we can view media on, there is just such a wide spectrum of work out there by a wide variety of perspectives and creators. And, like, generally, the stuff that is coming out from the major networks, at least until very recently is actually like, really cookie cutter narratives. And there’s so much else out there to explore.
AJ Joyce 13:22
Yeah. And I, I would also like, going back to your previous question about like things to watch out for, really pay attention to what brands and platforms are really sticking with their values. That they say that they’re going to start promoting more of diversity inclusion in their work, really pay attention of what that means to them through the things they’re putting out. Rather, if it’s HBO, Max, Netflix, Hulu, you know, same with music when it comes to the Grammys, you know, same with the Oscars and the BAFTAs. I mean, it goes on in all realms of entertainment. So really watch for that and see what they’re actually doing versus what they’re saying, because some people talk the talk, but they can’t walk the walk. So…
Meredith Reed 14:08
And also, I like to try to pay attention not only to what companies are putting out there, but also what’s going on behind the scenes, like “Do they have people of color, women in positions, leadership positions at the company?” Or are they kind of just checking the box to do something for appearances versus is this a mission that they really care about and that they’re working towards?
AJ Joyce 14:32
Definitely, and I, I’m fully aware of that when I’m talking to a lot of my guests. And some of them have highlighted that, you know, in terms of well, I went in there with this and I felt like they were more so checking that box than actually be interested in storytelling that I’m doing, or the music that I’m doing, you know, and it’s it’s crazy when you hear these stories. Again, tune into the podcast, but it’s very interesting.
Meredith Reed 14:59
Yeah, so I’m curious, what were you doing for work before you started podcasting? Did you have any experience in radio? Or was that truly just a friend telling you that you had a great voice for radio, and you’re like, “oh, okay, I’ll try it!”
AJ Joyce 15:13
Honestly, it kind of comes naturally with my personality. In college, I did a lot of, I did student event planning. And that came with, you know, and I had to do speeches and etcetera with that, and just kind of talking to crowds and get them pumped up and stuff. And then after that, after I graduated college, I actually worked backstage for concerts and music festivals, and was a catering manager and did a lot of stuff back then for that. So in these leadership positions, you just have to put yourself out there and, and speak up. So I’ve just, I’ve just used to be in that role. And I really center myself when I’m on the, like podcast and really do that. So it’s, it’s been a fun ride. And people are like, “Oh, my God, your voice and the energy that you bring, it’s so different.” So I’m glad people like it.
Meredith Reed 16:08
Well, it’s really good. And I also noticed, the way that you use music in your episode was really fuels the whole vibe of the show. I really, I love the way that it’s edited the way you use it in transitions. Do you do your own editing? And I’m also curious where you found your music.
AJ Joyce 16:28
I actually bought it some time ago. Wow. I want to say like, maybe a year or so ago, um, I can’t remember. But it was one of those like, royalty music sites, and I was looking for something funky, retro, again, with that whole vibe. I like 60s-70s. And I love like, Donna Summers, and just that whole era of stuff. So, and I wanted to include something very funky. And you can you can feel it. When that intro comes in. You’re just like, Okay, all right. I see it.
Meredith Reed 17:00
It’s so good.
AJ Joyce 17:03
So yeah, it, it was really fun to really piece it together. Now in terms of editing. I personally hate editing, I’m sure many podcasters can relate to this. But I actually send my editing to We Edit Podcasts and they do a fabulous job. Every time I send out any edits and notes and stuff. They’re pretty easy to work with. So yeah.
Meredith Reed 17:26
Oh that’s right, and I think, sorry about my dog.
AJ Joyce 17:29
No, you’re good, you’re good.
Meredith Reed 17:33
I think that’s something I like to ask about because people don’t realize necessarily when they think about starting a podcast, it’s like, well, I don’t know how to edit audio. So I guess I can’t start a podcast. And you really don’t need to know how to edit audio. It’s something you can so easily outsource and have somebody else do, you just tell them what your vision is and they’ll know how to put together put it together.
AJ Joyce 17:57
Yeah, I, when I first started, I was doing the editing, and oh my god, I just hated how long and it just really dumped me down a little bit and took away from my energy. So I was like, you know what, if I outsource this, I could put more energy to giving the show more quality. So yeah, I was really excited for that.
Meredith Reed 18:17
Alright, so I want to wrap up with a few of my favorite kind of personal quickfire questions.
AJ Joyce 18:24
Meredith Reed 18:24
If you don’t mind. Um, okay, so my first question is, what is your superpower?
AJ Joyce 18:31
Oh, I really have to say my, my voice is a superpower. Yeah, yeah. My voice is.
Meredith Reed 18:40
Agree. Oh my god, my dog is actually crazy.
AJ Joyce 18:44
It’s all good, I mean we’re all at home at this point!
Meredith Reed 18:47
That’s true. She’s like trying to jump on my lap right now. Okay, um, my next question, which is kind of super random, but I just love asking people this. What is one of your biggest pet peeves?
AJ Joyce 19:01
Oh, okay. I can be a little bit of a perfectionist. So sometimes I’ll do something over and over again. And if I’m sending it off to someone and they keep getting it wrong and wrong. Sometimes it just, it lights me on fire. I try to be as nice as possible. I feel bad for saying that on here, but it’s so true. So I try to I try my best. I try my best. So…
Meredith Reed 19:26
I know, I’m a complete perfectionist. I mean, I am an editor. So it comes with the territory, but I can totally relate to that. So no worries what so ever.
AJ Joyce 19:35
Meredith Reed 19:36
Yes, she she’s made it on my lap and now she’s attacking because she’s not the center of attention for five seconds. Okay, so my next question is, actually this is more of a serious question. I want to make sure that we talk about this because I’m very passionate, similarly passionate about using pop culture as a way to promote feminism and progressive ideas. Um, and I think some people don’t necessarily think of those as connected, I feel like pop culture is one of the best ways to get progressive ideas about feminism and diversity into the mainstream. So I was just hoping you could talk a little bit more about your mission and how you feel that you’re able and your guests are able to use pop culture as a way to promote feminism.
AJ Joyce 20:31
Hmm, oh, that’s, that’s deep, that’s really good. Look at you turning it on me.
Meredith Reed 20:40
And if you’re just like, I don’t know how to answer, maybe I didn’t ask, ask that very well, but…
AJ Joyce 20:45
Let’s see here. So, you know, that that’s been in terms of like, mission wise. One of the reasons why I started She’s So Reel was, is that I never saw. And still, there’s just a small pool of podcasts, and even shows that I’ve seen, where and I had to particularly say, for for women, since I concentrate on them. In terms of highlighting what they do in the media and pop culture, you know, we’re, we’re slowly seeing a shift, where the criticism of, you know, women in entertainment is going from “Oh, this and that about her body, and so and so,” and to like, “This is what she’s actually offering to culture to people to her artistry, and etc.” So, and in terms of how that relates to feminism, I think that people need to start paying attention to exactly how much power these women actually have in their roles. Rather, if they’re playing, you know, an act, if they’re being an actress, or they’re a musician, or they’re behind the scenes of the camera or filmmaking, or at a network pulling the strings executively you know, these women are changing pop culture as we see it today. And it is the next step. Of course, there’s, there’s men that do the same, they’re also changing pop culture, too. But in terms of feminism, I think we’re seeing a more progressive push, even more so than we have before ever. And of course, with the extension of politics and every other social aspect and the pandemic going on alongside of it. We’re seeing this push of, “Hey, I’m a woman hear me roar.”
Meredith Reed 22:45
AJ Joyce 22:46
And I totally think people should embrace it. Of course, people are going to make mistakes. No one’s perfect, of course. But as pop culture keeps rolling out and keeps evolving and changing. People need to see how important it is and how it influences their life and what and what influence it will have on feminism. So I hope that answers your question.
Meredith Reed 23:08
AJ Joyce 23:09
It may have a few more things to it, but yeah.
Meredith Reed 23:11
And I think it’s so good to see women in the media, recognizing that they have a platform, and that they can use it for good. And you know, that they can do interviews that are about more than who they’re dating and their beauty routine. Granted, it’s not always the easiest thing to try to redirect the interviews that that maybe are being offered. But I’ve definitely seen a lot of movement in the past few years, maybe five years. And it’s just been really great to see, I think, I think we’re hopefully getting somewhere. And we can just keep moving right along.
AJ Joyce 23:51
No, I’m totally with you. I liked how you pointed out going from beauty and just purely what we look like versus what we can actually do. And you could totally see the shift, you know, and also this whole community of women coming together instead of being pitted against one another. Oh my gosh, I’m always about community, I’m always about it. You know, I can’t stand, I mean, there’s healthy competition. But there’s there’s a certain competition working get toxic. I feel like, so yeah.
Meredith Reed 24:24
Oh yeah. And I think for so long, like that was, women were pitted against each other and like men in our society didn’t have to do a lot of work to keep women down when we were sabotaging each other because that’s how we were socially conditioned to be and I’m so grateful that there has been this wake up call in you know, the past decade of, if women support other women, no one is getting hurt in that situation. It’s only, we’re just helping each other, like your success does not mean that someone else, another woman can’t succeed, you can both help each other succeed.
AJ Joyce 25:00
We are lifting each other up, that’s for sure.
Meredith Reed 25:02
Like what we do at Ossa.
AJ Joyce 25:04
Meredith Reed 25:08
So thank you so much for being here. I really enjoyed talking to you. Can you just let everyone know where they can find you and your podcast?
AJ Joyce 25:17
Yes! You guys can find me @AJsoreel here on Instagram via yeah @AJsoreel, sorry had a brain fart and then for website you can find me at shessoreel.com and everything is just right there so you can find me on Twitter too @shessoreel. I mean it just goes on and on. So you’ll find me!
Meredith Reed 25:40
Amazing. Thank you so much for being here.
AJ Joyce 25:43
Thank you so much Meredith! This has been awesome. Keep doing what you guys are doing because we wouldn’t be here without you guys, so…
Meredith Reed 25:50
Thank you and keep doing what you’re doing because I love your podcast and I’m seeing really great things in your future. I think all this stuff you said today we’re gonna look back and be like remember when….?
AJ Joyce 25:55
Meredith Reed 25:58
I just put it out there. Alright, thank you for tuning in everyone. We will see you next time on Ossa Lounge Live.