The Open Up Podcast pulls back the curtain on diversity in the entertainment industry through candid conversations with diverse creatives, hosted by actor Elliot Knight. Find us on socials @theopenuppod and say hi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zehra Fazal on her revolutionary voice in Games, TV & Voiceover | "I see myself as the hero now"
Zehra Fazal opens up her experience and exceptional talent in multiple industries of Entertainment in the Season One Finale: in Games, TV, Animation and Voiceover - navigating the perceptions and representations of Muslim identity, handling identity sensitivities and narrative censorship in media, the "culture of White supremacy" that has trodden down parts of her career and life, and the road she is passionately crafting for those like her to finally see themselves as heroes.
Zehra is an Muslim-American voice actress of Pakistani descent. She holds over 40 credits, perhaps best known for voicing 'Nadia Rizavi' in Voltron: Legendary Defender, Halo and 'Bluebird' in Young Justice: Outsiders, the narrator of gaming title Apex Legends, and 'General Yunan' in Amphibia. Prior to her voice acting career, Zehra was known for her irreverent comedy and self describes as ‘the Muslim Weird Al’. Her work in this genre includes her one-woman musical comedy show 'Headscarf and the Angry Bitch' which won the "Best Solo Performance Award" at the Capital Fringe Festival in 2009 and was sold out throughout its New York International Fringe Festival run in 2010.
Natasha Liu Bordizzo on overcoming stereotypes and finding fullness in TV & Film | "This is how the world sees me"
Actor Natasha Liu Bordizzo opens up about her trajectory from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny to Star Wars' Ahsoka - being first referred to by media as "Chinese takeaway", the truth of why she never wanted to be an actor, navigating her Mixed-Asian identity in life and work and the hope she's bringing to the table for the future of representation in Hollywood.
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Natasha left her studies in law at 19 to star in the sequel to ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ - titled ‘Sword of Destiny’. This catapulted overnight fame for Natasha in China where she found great success in their film market. Natasha has since starred in projects such as ‘Hotel Mumbai’, Netflix’s ‘The Society’ and ‘Wish Dragon’, Amazon’s dark thriller ‘The Voyeurs’ and Netflix #1 movie ‘Day Shift’ alongside Jamie Foxx and Dave Franco. Natasha’s next project is her much anticipated portrayal of Sabine Wren in Star Wars' ‘Ahsoka’.
Riley Carter on breaking gender barriers in TV | “I have to prove myself more than others”
Riley Carter opens up about the legacy he created in UK Television history and the impacts he now navigates as a result, his battle to be seen beyond a 'trans' label and the importance of authentically informed story telling that would allow audiences and actors like him to communicate and exist outside of "the sad Trans story" alone.
From Stretford, England, Riley is most recognised from his role as regular character Kyle Slater in the BBC’s EASTENDERS. Riley was later named ‘No.1 most influential person in ‘The independent on Sunday’s 2015 rainbow list’ marking the first time a transgender man has been honoured. They wrote: ‘’Our judges felt his decision the play the character Kyle in EastEnders could help trans people - even save lives - and represents a landmark cultural moment’’. Since leaving EastEnders, Riley has performed on stage at the London Theatre Workshop and the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End and toured the UK in the highly acclaimed production of BIRDSONG. He was recently seen on screen in series 2 of THE EMILY ATACK SHOW for ITV2. He was most recently seen in new drama, SCREW for Channel 4, written by Rob Williams (Killing Eve) and directed by Tom Vaughan.
Stacie Merriman on the neglect of Black Hair in Entertainment | "It's my duty to make sure we are represented on camera, properly, from head to toe"
Stacie Merriman opens up the huge and known issue of Hair care on set for Black artists in TV & Film, her own experiences of speaking up in the face of racist abuse and the consequences she suffered from the beginning of her career, the "D word" too many diverse artists face when they speak up for their needs, how unions become a critical part of the problem, and the shocking stories of her challenging rise as an inspiring pioneer in her field in Canada, meant to underline that Black Hair matters.
Stacie is a Canadian hair dresser best known for her work with Andra Day on Lee Daniel’s award winning film The United States vs Billie Holliday. Stacie is currently the department Head of Hair on HBO Max’s Titans, and has previously worked on Quantico, The Bold Type, and the Netflix film Murder Mystery. Originally raised and based in Montreal, Stacie now lives in Toronto.
Joshua Katcher on Femme in Fashion and the Reality of TV | "We're perpetuating harmful systems"
Entrepreneur, activist and educator Joshua Katcher opens up the world's of TV and Fashion to take us behind the scenes of his own journey navigating masculinity and femininity in an industry of historical "fashion gay" cliches, the exclusion of exclusivity, and his belief that "gender neutral fashion is the future" in the compassion fashion revolution. Also, Joshua shares his thoughts on the world of Reality TV, where it thrives and falls, and what the ultimate point of it is if not to drive us forward.
Joshua Katcher is a fashion entrepreneur, author, educator and vegan cheesemonger who has taught at Parsons The New School and LIM college, and has lectured internationally and lobbied in the United States for sustainable and ethical fashion. In 2019 he published Fashion Animals, the first book dedicated to understanding how and why animals are exploited in the fashion industry.
Katcher was named one of the Top 20 Most Influential Vegans of 2019 by Veg News Magazine. He launched the first vegan, ethically-made menswear fashion brand, Brave GentleMan in 2010 after launching the first men's vegan lifestyle website The Discerning Brute in 2008. VOGUE says that, "The full scope of Katcher’s ethical commitment is rather head-spinning, just as it is to gape about his Williamsburg shop, with its complete future-is-now men’s range". Katcher was awarded "Menswear Brand of the Year, 2016" and "Most Influential Designer of 2015" by PETA. He is a contributor to Business of Fashion, CFDA News and Plant Based News and has been interviewed on major networks, such as PBS News Hour as a fashion expert.
In 2017, Katcher cofounded RIND, a French-style, plant-based cheese company, and in 2020 he launched CIRCUMFAUNA, a data and research-driven platform to bypass animal inputs in fashion.
Asha Bromfield on race representation in TV | "I’ve had to fight the narrative of what it means to be a Black girl"
Actor and Writer Asha Bromfield opens up issues of colorism in TV and her mission "to help expand this idea of what Blackness is", believing that "there's power in our stories beyond our race", her own personal natural hair journey and the motivation to "feel beautiful, no matter what".
Asha is an actress, singer, and writer of Afro-Jamaican descent. She is known for her role as Melody Jones, drummer of “Josie and the Pussycats” in CW’s Riverdale. She also stars as Zadie Wells in Netflix’s hit show, Locke and Key. Asha is a proud ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, and she currently lives in Toronto where she is pursuing a degree in Communications. In her spare time, she loves studying astrology, wearing crystals, burning sage, baking vegan desserts, and taking walks to the park with her dog. Hurricane Summer is her debut novel.
I absolutely loved Episode 1 of season 1! As an Iris Westallen stan & CANDICE PATTON stan, I love hearing Candice speak up against racism and misogyny like she always has because she’s had to deal with an absurd amount of it for the past 7-8 years, and I hope she knows she has her fans here for her to help defend her as much as we can from these crazy fanboys! We love her and this podcast is incredible to hear her speak deeper into about what she’s been thru !❤️I’m so proud of her. You two have been through so much. I’m glad you both manage to keep a smile on your beautiful faces everyday!!
This is the perfect way to start a podcast! I connected with so much and all I can say is thanks for sharing this conversation. I’m excited for the next discussion
Candace Patton was fantastic!
I loved this interview. To know that she was going through so much (which I low key suspected) and yet and still she has been the BEST thing about The Flash, a stellar actress, and a consummate professional, makes me love her more. This was a fabulous interview.