INTRO (ELENA): The thrill of romance is always buffeted by the baggage of the past, and sometimes the way is obscured. But perhaps that load can be lightened with the help of your friends, your family, and some choice donuts — rediscover the path of love with Margaritas & Donuts, right here on Radio Drama Revival.
[theme music – smooth, jazzy horns playing a mellow, sultry tune that fades out gradually as Elena speaks]
ELENA: Hello, and welcome to Radio Drama Revival, the podcast that showcases the diversity and vitality of modern audio fiction. I’m your host, Elena Fernandez Collins. Today, we’re interviewing Faith McQuinn, creator of Margaritas and Donuts, which we featured last week.
Radio Drama Revival has interviewed Faith before, during the tenure of host David Rheinstrom for her emotional drama thriller Boom, which makes this limited series a sharp left turn from the genre content Boom audiences might be used to. Margaritas & Donuts is Faith’s version of a Zemeckis “What Lies Beneath” movie — a new, contained story created entirely in a short span while on a hiatus from another project. In this case, that’s Boom.
This fiction podcast received a lot of attention from various press outlets, usually highlighting the novelty of a Black protagonist focused romantic-comedy. I discuss this phenomenon and its implications with Faith, as well as the integral role that storytelling takes when managing love and trauma, love and food, and ride or die friendships. If instead you’re looking for insight into what it’s like to create an audio piece on short notice, Faith talks about her casting, directing, and backstage process in making the romance of Margaritas & Donuts real.
Please be aware that the following interview contains talk of racism in entertainment and the media industry, and discussion of relationship trauma.
ELENA: Thank you so much for coming on the show, Faith. We’re really excited to talk to you about Margaritas & Donuts here on RDR.
FAITH: I’m excited to be back again. It’s been a while.
ELENA: Yes, it has! Last time you were here, you talked about Boom with-with David. And now we’re going to talk about something completely different.
FAITH: So completely different.
ELENA: Um, so–so let’s let’s do a bit of background work first, right? So your artistic work started in film before moving into creating audio with Boom. Um, I’m curious as to what the differences are in your love for the two mediums. What, what makes them great, and what makes a story work beautifully in one and not the other for you?
FAITH: Okay, well, um. Film has been my thing, since I was probably 12. Um, I always wanted to be a writer, and probably around 11 or 12 years old, I was like, hey, people write movies. That’s cool. I want to do that! So I-I got into that. And that was pretty much my life goal. Like, everything I was doing in school, and everything I was doing with hobbies was about becoming a filmmaker — I was a theater kid, I did all this stuff.
So, went to school, started making movies, worked in the industry, and realized about nine years into teaching film that I wanted to make my own films again. And, um, making films is expensive. [laugh]
ELENA: Oh noo!
FAITH: And I had huge ideas. So like, Okay, now we’re, maybe maybe this audio drama thing can work. And I found that I really, really, really enjoyed telling stories, audio only. And I think it was because I had to admit to myself that my weakest link, or I guess weakest trait, in filmmaking, are the visuals. I love visual storytelling. And I think it’s beautiful to talk about, um, framing a shot using colors and all that, but I’ve never been great at it. And I always felt like I was better at character development, working with actors and writing.
And I get to do all of that with audio. And I don’t have to worry about [laugh] the color concepts and framing the shot and doing all of that. So I think in saying that, that’s the thing that I don’t miss so much is probably what separates the two mediums for me. Media? The two media for me? Whichever.
Trying to tell a visual story in audio is really hard. Like you just –
ELENA: Yeah! [laugh]
FAITH: — you have to do dialogue, you have to explain it. You have to do this whole thing — you can’t. One of the first short films I did when I got back into it with Observer Pictures was an experimental film, which was a poem and it was all, like — it was five people in five different locations. And with five different looks — that’s not going to work in audio.
ELENA: No . . .
FAITH: It’ll just be like, hey, those are different voices. And you had some birds back there and this other one.
ELENA: [laugh] That’s a mess, yes.
FAITH: So having that kind of visual storytelling is great. But when I want to dig into characters, and I want people to really be involved in who these humans are and the world they live in, I feel like, for me, it’s easier to tell it through audio only. That long winded question — I mean answer — hopefully answered what you were looking for.
ELENA: So you produced Boom, and Margaritas & Donuts, and also these. Your visual work through Observer Pictures, and Amanda Lorraine runs Observer Pictures with you. So what’s the process of running this company together? I know a lot of people have interest in how running an independent artistic company works. So tell me how it works for you. And Amanda?
FAITH: Okay. Well, I could start with I. Since we were talking about the teaching thing, Amanda was one of my students.
FAITH: Yeah. I taught her for four years. So – [laugh]
FAITH: So she had started working — getting interested in producing when she was in film school. And so, anytime that I had an outside project, I was like, hey, do you want to come and do — be my unit production manager? Do you want to come and be my AD? Do you want to come and do this thing. So, that all started with trying to get her, you know, behind the camera and doing this whole thing and seeing how it works.
And then we started to work really well together. So it’s like, Hey, I’m starting this thing. You want to do it with me, because you’re really good at this producing thing. And we worked well together. So that’s how it all started, was me just going, Hey, I need a producing partner! Come on over. Um, but she’s really good at organizing things. And my brain used to be good at that. But it is not anymore.
And she-she’s usually the person who can rein me in. So if we’re like, oh, I have a project idea. Let’s talk about it. And we can, like, bounce it off of each other. And she can say, Hey, what about this? And what about this? So I’ll come to her with, like, 500 ideas, and then she can like, narrow it down and be like, here’s the one, here’s the one we’re gonna work on. And let’s talk about it. So she can usually rein in the ideas.
And she’s amazing with scheduling and getting people together and making sure that we can record because with Boom, we did most of it in person in a studio, and that’s like 17,18 people’s schedules –
ELENA: [aghast, softly] Wow . . .
FAITH: – to coordinate over the course of like three days and I was like, No, I’m gonna lose my mind if I have to do that. She also lost her mind, but [laugh] she made it happen!
So that’s really what it is. It’s like, we’re both creatives — that’s never stopped. But when we’re in the process of a project, it’s me working on the writing and the character development, and it’s her helping me bring it to other people. So it, like, makes sense once you hear it. So like the polishing of it and making sure that we get the schedules worked out so.
She’s not completely the business side. She does help with the creative side and she’s a huge cheerleader and a big fan girl when it comes to the projects we do. She’s like, I love this and I love this. Oh my god. Josefina and Malik are going to get together, right? Because you’re gonna do that, right? [laugh] Always feels good. After she reads scripts, and she comes back with this whole, like, fangirl mentality. It’s, it’s the best feeling to have that kind of cheerleader on your side and work with you all the time.
ELENA: Yeah, highly recommend having a cheerleader working with-with you on your projects.
ELENA: Definitely a valuable person to have on a team. Um, especially since it helps you remember, Oh, right. I was excited about this before I spent, like, a bajillion hours trying to make all of this work together.
FAITH: Right, which is exactly what I need. Because her head isn’t in the stuff 100% of the time like mine is or she’s like, excited about it, but you know, excited over there.
ELENA: Um, so Margaritas & Donuts has been talked a lot about in the press for its genuine, though in some — in some senses unfortunate novelty as a rom com featuring two Black professionals over 40. So tell me a little bit about your thoughts on the audience and press approaches to your work and what you want people to also remember when they’re listening.
FAITH: I think it’s wonderful that people are recognizing the celebration of Black love, especially older people who aren’t new to love. And like you said, it’s unfortunate that there aren’t more of those — in any medium, not just in podcasting. It definitely does not exist as much in film and TV as it needs to.
FAITH: So I love that idea. But I also, and I say this with a whole lot of other Black shows, is that I wish it wasn’t a “Black show”. I wish it was just — look at this amazing romantic comedy. And yay, it happens to star mostly a Black cast. Like, that shouldn’t be the lead in. And two major articles that have been written about Margaritas & Donuts — one was by a Black writer and one was by a not-Black writer, I’m not sure race-wise but not Black. And the not-Black writer was very much about look at this Black show, look at these Black characters look at this, and this and this. And then talked about the story of it. While the Black writer was talking about Josephine is this, da-da-da. And it’s so wonderful that we’re seeing a story about Black people like it was not as much of an afterthought. But it wasn’t the purpose of the story. Because that was never my purpose of the story. I wanted to tell a story about something that I knew. And my best friend is a Black woman over 40, [laugh] so why not tell this story? And I-I love that people are celebrating it. And I’m hoping that when people see it, they’re like, Oh, this can work and people are enjoying it. Let’s make more of it. You know? So it’s not just — this is not a podcast for Black people. And it’s a podcast about Black people made for everybody, because we can all relate to it in some way.
ELENA: Yeah, absolutely. Yes. This is something that I’ve noticed in, um, in a lot of press work, both my own as well, and press work of people that I have worked with, is this focus primarily, like starting a focus on the ethnicity or race of the creators or the cast or what’s, like, the diversity. Um.
ELENA: For-for whatever that word is worth. And then talking about the content of — of the show, right? And this is across not just fiction, but also in nonfiction podcasting, just across the board, um. And I think that we need to shake up the way that we talk about art.
FAITH: Yeah. Yeah, it’s that — it’s that idea of like I said, you know, it’s a Black podcast, or it’s a Black film, or it’s a — nobody walked into Avengers and called it, Oh, this is a white movie. I’m like, nobody said that. Nobody said that. If they did, they were saying it behind closed doors and very far away. [laugh] Probably shouldn’t say that out loud.
ELENA: Probably not on the internet, right?
FAITH: But it’s this idea that it’s like, oh, we made this Black movie. So only Black people are going to go see it, which is just dumb. And I just —
ELENA: Is this — is this when we all look at Black Panther and the way that people talked about Black Panther?
FAITH: Maybe just a little bit and I — totally side story, I’m a huge Marvel fan. And when Black Panther came out, I was like, Oh, I think we need to make a little pamphlet for all the Black people who are going to finally see their first Marvel movie. And I was halfway joking but also like why weren’t Black people going to see Marvel movies in the first place? They’re great. They’re fun, go see them. It’s just like, I don’t know — media thinks Black people don’t watch things. I was like, we watch things. We watch things all the time. But you think it’s like, oh, no, no, no, there has to be a person in it that looks like you for you to watch it. And I was like, now, I would love for there to be more people who look like me in this thing, but that is not going to stop me from watching it. I enjoyed the hell out of Crazy Rich Asians. [laugh]
ELENA: Yeah, valid. Yeah, it’s a fun film. Yeah, every time I think about, about this approach to how people think about making art, like, especially in Hollywood, making art for the masses. Um, and I think about — there’s this . . . in sociology, and social psychology, I guess, there’s this effect called symbolic annihilation, when used to describe, like the absence of someone’s representation, right? It, um, it helps — it’s the effect of like, promoting stereotypes and denying the existence of specific identities in society. Um. And, and disregarding the, like the legitimacy of an identity, and I feel like, okay, so when we’re talking about representation in the press, and the way that we, in critical media analysis, talk about work, and we discuss representation and underrepresentation, I think that we kind of ignore this concept of symbolic annihilation a lot. Which is a term in sociology that describes the effect of not seeing representation of yourself in the media that you consume. And it’s, it’s a way to maintain, like, social inequality and denial of a, like, a legitimate identity, right. And I think that, now that we are in more in a — in a state of like talking about — now that diversity has become a buzzword.
FAITH: That’s the truth!
ELENA: Let me — let me just say it the way that it, like, pops into my head. Now the diversity has become a buzzword, all people want to focus on is the representation, and not the fact that, hey, maybe your story, just, maybe you should just talk about the story. And it’ll come out when you analyze the story. Like, instead of just, like, there’s more here than just this. And it’s, it’s just like, a very exhausting, sort of like ouroboros, like eating your own tail kind of thing. Like, oh, we’re trying to be better, but we’re gonna end up doing the same things because all we do is replicate toxic behaviors.
FAITH: I have. Okay, I have to look it up so that I do not misquote. One of the first reviews — let’s see if I can see them all. One of the first reviews I got for Margaritas & Donuts. Here we go. “This podcast has been a pleasant surprise to me already. It has strong female leads, while also not walking all over masculine characters. Instead, it seems to celebrate the qualities of good men while letting women be on equal footing. Another trait was the diversity in the casting.”
It was like the final thing that was said. And I was like, This is my favorite review. Here we’re talking about what romcoms have a problem with.
FAITH: Strong female leads who are strong by stepping all over the male characters in it. And that was like not my point, I wanted these people to be on equal footing. They just so happened to both be Black. And it’s just, I’ve always tried to write stories that way where I was like, I want to see myself in media. That’s why I’m writing these stories. I want to see that. But it’s also not completely in my world. I know people from all backgrounds and all different ethnicities and countries and I have friends in, like, you know, eight different countries. So it’s like, I’m not going to just write about everyone who looks like me because it isn’t my, my truth. I got to write my truth. And that’s what happens.
ELENA: Yeah. Absolutely. So one of the other things that you talked about, right, was the fact about your best friend. And so what a lot of people probably don’t know or assume is that you are Josephine, when in fact, you’re Kat.
ELENA: Right. Um, tell me a little bit about that. Tell me a little bit — tell me about your your best friend’s and and writing this using this to, like, inform the way that you wrote Josefine and Kat.
FAITH: Okay, well, Joy who I talked about — she’s in the credits. So when you — when you hear the whole, like inspired by her, I don’t remember how I put her in the credits, I think story consultant or something, but it’s, it’s Joy, and we have been best friends since we were 11. So we’re 30-31 years into our friendship and we are ride-or-die. And that’s how I wanted to write Josephine and cat for it to just be, no matter what, no matter what happens if we haven’t talked in like, two years, or if we haven’t seen each other, or we’re talking every day because that’s the relationship that joy and I have had — where it’s not, not because we didn’t want to talk to each other just haven’t talked. I wanted it to be this thing where it’s like, I always know I can count on you. So I wanted to write the story of these friends who are in different spots in their lives, but still completely support each other. And it’s not like, Oh, I will tell you all the wonderful things you want to hear all the time so that you feel good about yourself. No, it’s like, Did you come here to hear the things you need to hear? Or am I just sitting here to listen and that’s — I know that there’s a scene in there between Kat and Jo, who — when that happens and that is real life — Joy and I have been like Joy’s like I have things to talk about. I’m like, okay, am I — am I going to feel for you? Or are we just talking?
FAITH: And it’s like, what’s happening right now? So it’s a whole lot of — it’s super realistic — we, we — I amped it up a little bit so that we could get more humor out of it, but it’s not amped up that much! Joy and I are weird and a little silly. And hey, I happen to have twin girls and my twin girls happened to voice the twin girls that are in the show, so they even slipped up a little bit every time they were supposed to say Auntie Jo they said Auntie Joy instead. [laugh] So we had to go back and correct them a few times!
ELENA: That’s adorable. [laugh] So cute.
FAITH: But yeah, she-she was a huge inspiration. She even laughs — she’s like, you know, everybody’s talking about your show and it’s really mine. It’s me. I made this.
ELENA: This has got my mark all over it.
FAITH: She’s like, it wouldn’t have happened without me. And I was like you’re right. Yeah.
ELENA: And you know when we’re talking about-about you know, this-this ride or die best friendship, Kat’s — and I assume — I assume your role in-in this romcom can’t be understated, right? Finding and maintaining healthy romantic relationships? Would not, I think, be possible without a real best friend who was there to help you with it? What do you think?
FAITH: Oh, very, very true. Yeah. Because while the person who is your one, like Josephine and Malik, you also have to have a person that you can talk to about that person. Like, you know, like, you can’t just have this be the only solid relationship in your life. You need other relationships in your life to like, help you stay grounded. And I wanted to explore that.
ELENA: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that with my ride-or-die best friends that I talked to about her — when she’s dating and stuff is, if the man has no friends . . . run.
ELENA: if the person that you are thinking about dating does not have friends, red flag.
ELENA: And like, this has been like, really valuable advice for myself also, dating just like, you know, if-if they don’t maintain any close friendships, maybe investigate that because I think that has like, an effect on everyone. Right? Not just men. It has an effect on everyone. And so I think that that’s, yeah, I think it’s very valuable to-to remember that. You need more than one thing in your life that’s a solid relationship.
FAITH: Yeah, yeah.
ELENA: Speaking of solid relationships, and trauma, I guess.
FAITH: Can’t be a Faith story without a little trauma!
ELENA: Without a little trauma. It’s true. It’s always there. Every time Josephine started looking for a reason to not trust Malik, and every time she like, ran away from him, I was just like, no, don’t let the trauma win. But of course, that’s not how trauma and fear works. It’s not how it works. So-so what is it about dating while you’re still grappling with leftover paranoia, and other side effects, let’s say from past relationships, that’s-that’s difficult but important to understand about the reality?
FAITH: I think it’s this idea that people don’t forget their past. Like, I wanted — you know, there are plenty of people who try really hard to take all this stuff and, you know, we’re just going to put it in a little ball and stick it in a closet and nobody’s ever going to look at it again. But it just doesn’t work that way.
And I wanted Josephine, not only to be this person who completely made judgments on new relationships based on this very bad one she had, but also have this like, dual weirdness going on in her head where she knows that that’s what she’s doing. Like she knows it. She knows that every single time that she walks away from Malik that, This is why I’m doing it, but she can’t stop herself from doing it. And I wanted to be like, Look, this happens to other people, too. They’re people who know that they are going down the wrong path! Know fully well that they are going down the wrong path, but cannot stop themselves from doing it. And no matter who says it to them, stop doing it, they have to realize it. And it took that whole you know, the whole — not going to spoil anything, but took you know her some time to work it out in our own head. Even if other people were saying, it’s okay.
ELENA: It’s gonna be fine.
FAITH: She could be like, I know it’s gonna be fine, but is it gonna be fine?
ELENA: And is it? Is it really? Yeah, mood. When you described putting the ball in a closet? I was just kind of like, huh? Yes, the box. We all know the box.
FAITH: Yep, put that ball in the box. You tape up the box, put it in the closet, and you never look at it again.
ELENA: Mail it to yourself and then smash it with a hammer. No, wait. That’s-that’s Emperor’s New Groove. That’s what you do with your enemies. Okay.
FAITH: Solid movie reference. Solid.
ELENA: Thank you, thank you. Absolutely one of my favorite movie references to make. Um. So-so Margaritas & Donuts is absolutely replete with amazing food references, right? Like, I’m hungry, just thinking about it. Sour cream donuts, grilled salmon with cauliflower au gratin, and more as people continue listening. I just wanted to eat constantly.
FAITH: So sorry. [laugh]
ELENA: Um, tell me about your thoughts on the relationship between food and love. Like romantic or-or not? Right?
FAITH: Well, this again, some stealing from life for this, but my husband and I talk about that we — everything we do together that we enjoy is usually around food. [laugh] We love, like, trying new restaurants and talking about this meal and like being experimental when we — when we travel and not eating at, you know, run of the mill places. Trying to find that place that the local people like or, you know, doing dangerous things in New Orleans, like going down back alleys and trying this restaurant that has no [laugh] that has no sign. But hey, it smelled really good. So why not?
ELENA: Why not?
FAITH: We did the same thing when we were in the Bahamas, just like, Hey, what’s this site straight? Is there a good place? Like we are going to die because we wanted to try new food.
ELENA: This is a mistake! [laugh] But it will be delicious. It’ll be amazing.
FAITH: So I still wanted to stay with this idea of like, enjoying a good meal with someone you enjoy being with is something that I always think is good. Like, I don’t understand people who just eat for sustenance, like I don’t get you. Like, fine. Like you don’t care what you’re putting in your mouth. That’s weird. I’m sorry. Yeah, everything should be about enjoying it and enjoying good food is even better when you’re enjoying it with somebody that you love. Whether it’s a friend or a spouse or you know, a significant other, whatever it is.
ELENA: I completely agree. I completely agree.
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[resume interview audio]
ELENA: I have, I have a very — I have a very wonderful relationship with-with food and the idea of food. And-and I’m very curious about what you think about the relationship between food and storytelling. Especially like oral, familial storytelling.
FAITH: Oh my gosh. Again, any good story that I can think of from my childhood, of my grandmother or my grandparents, my cousins, my aunts and uncles was over a meal. Thanksgiving was the best holiday because it was my entire family. Loud as all get up. Just talking and sharing stories and doing this thing and we’re all, you know, passing food around. We totally look like a movie. Because we all sit at, like, you know, a giant table and just talking constantly and food is everywhere. People are laughing and it’s just one of my favorite, favorite memories, growing up, is the idea of Thanksgiving being this huge thing, where we all get together and we all get to talk. And it’s like we saw each other yesterday, even if it’s been a year. And yes, I just have always equated food and stories and family and love. They all are just equal in my head.
ELENA: Yeah, no big same.
FAITH: Yeah, people love telling a good story over a good meal.
ELENA: It’s true. Like, in-in Spanish, we have this term that doesn’t exist in English. It’s called sobremesa. And it specifically refers to the conversation that happens between people after they have had a meal together, like over the table, when you’re still sitting at the table. Yeah, yeah.
And so that’s this concept about food. And storytelling is something that is also very strong in my family and in, in my culture, right in my communities.
Um, you made a special bonus episode about Malik and Josephine. During the pandemic. Without spoiling that episode, tell me a little about what you think romantic relationships budding or established can do to keep love vibrant and healthy as we enter — I’m going to make time real — a year into the pandemic.
FAITH: [horrified, softly] Yikes.
ELENA: Sorry, to everyone who thought it was still October.
FAITH: If you are, um, quarantining with your significant other, space is absolutely important. Because there’s just so much time that you can spend with that person you love before you are like, Do I still love you??
ELENA: Is this a mistake? [laugh]
FAITH: You just need to carve and it’s not just like physical space, but like temporal space. This is my time. This is going to be me — even if we’re sitting, which I’m totally not talking from experience at all — even if we’re sitting on the couch together. I have headphones on, he has headphones on. This is our time. Like I’m in the same space with you. Maybe I have my feet in your lap, but we’re just having our separate time and it’s just extremely important defining time for yourself so that you can enjoy the time you have with that person more. And I assume that if you’re not together — which is not going to be a huge spoil, but Malik and Josephine are not quarantining together — to make sure that you find a way to connect so that you don’t forget each other. I mean, time does make the heart grow fonder, but too much time and then you’re just kind of like what?
ELENA: Yeah, it’s like I don’t want to do– I don’t remember anything. Yeah.
One one of our patrons. Jeff wants to know how Nashville has influenced your podcasts, right? In-in Margaritas & Donuts, we can hear how important Nashville is to Josephine since she’s from there. And the reactions to which I understand, because the same in Portland because, quote, people are never from Portland.
FAITH: [laugh] So for me, because I grew up here. It’s-it’s familiar to me, not only just where things are, even though I made up a few places, but where things are — it’s how it sounds. So I knew, when Malik and Jo go on their dates, or when she and Kat are doing things or when everybody — I know what those neighborhoods sound like, I know what the streets sound like. So it’s this idea of being able to build a very realistic soundscape because I know what it sounds like. And Josh, my sound designer, who has now moved away, he’s no longer here, but he was in Nashville too, so he also knew what these areas sounded like. So it-it made it comfortable for us to be able to create this, and I could say, Hey, we’re doing the — there’s restaurants in the Gulch, or they’re going to be downtown, or they’re going to be here. So it’s like, oh, I know what kind of sounds to build around that because we both knew what downtown Nashville sounds like, or what the Gulch sounds like, or, you know, different areas of Nashville. So it’s fun to do that. Because I still, even in the audio world, I still think visually. So when I’m building things I’m thinking of, what part of Nashville would this be in? What part of the city? Where do they live? How long does it take them to get there? I still think about all of those details. And it’s easier if it’s in a place that I know.
ELENA: Absolutely. [laugh]
FAITH: I’m not gonna put it in New York, I’ve been in New York once. I was like eight. I’m not gonna be able to do that! Like, like I remember.
ELENA: I think that we can — we can hear that work, right? The fact that you are working in a space that you know, that your sound designer is working in a space that he knows. And-and I think that it’s really crucial for audio to be able to — for audio storytelling to understand that you’re not just communicating a story, you need to also be communicating a place and the sound of a place, even if that place is fictitious. Right. I think that that’s — there’s a podcast called “Explore”, and it’s got — it’s got parentheses around one part of it. But it’s a podcast that’s set in, in Calgary in Canada. And each-each episode is written by a different person about a specific location in – in Calgary, And you can actually like, take this podcast and go on a tour of those places, because of how accurately they have, like, pinpointed like the soundscape of the place.
FAITH: That’s really cool!
ELENA: The sound of the place and like the story of the place like you can see it happening like in some of them, you can even, like, track like the person who’s speaking because I think most of them are monologues. You can actually track the person who’s speaking like where they’re moving in the — in the space that they’re in.
FAITH: Ok, that’s really cool.
ELENA: It’s really really cool. I want to go there. Someday. Vaccines. [laugh] So yeah, yeah, I-
FAITH: Get little hamster balls.
ELENA: Yeah, exactly. It was like, roll around in our little bubbles. Yes, like physical ones. Yeah. [laugh] So yeah, I appreciate that. The dedication that I can clearly hear in your work about Nashville and, and the sound of Nashville. Because, yeah, the sound of when they like, end up in a restaurant. Right? It doesn’t — it sounds like its own restaurant. It sounds-
ELENA: Like, it’s like, it doesn’t sound — like, if I were to compare the sounds of restaurants from like, a couple different podcasts, they wouldn’t have the same sound. I mean, that’s really important. Also, didn’t you like, make a logo for-?
FAITH: Oooh my gosh, yes. Okay. So the Fork and Feather came out of a joke. There was a bingo card a few years back. Which ones of these restaurants are real? And which ones are just words put together? That’s a totally a thing in Nashville, by the way. I — and now I’m going to look it up because it’s hilarious. And I need to share some of the-
ELENA: Some of the options on the bingo card?
ELENA: Extremely good.
FAITH: But one of the words – one of the words just put together was “fork and feather” and I was like, that is honestly the perfect name for a restaurant. And it would be in the Gulch. If you guys are from Nashville and know the Gulch then you are totally laughing with me. It’d either be in the Gulch or 12 south. I’ve decided it’s one of those. But here are some. I’m gonna — I’m gonna name, like, three. Two of them are real. Oh, okay. Okay, so Rolf and Daughters. Butcher and Bee. Little Octopus. Oh, actually all three of those are real. Sorry.
ELENA: Oh, ok, I was about to say, like, wait.
FAITH: But like Holler and Dash is the restaurant here. Milk and Honey is not. Modest Donkey? Not.
ELENA: Modest Donkey? Man. That’s a — that’s a name. There you go.
FAITH: Oh, but yeah, no.
ELENA: Milk and Honey — I would go to a restaurant called Milk and Honey!
FAITH: I would totally go to a restaurant called Milk and Honey. Yeah. But like, yeah, Fork and Feather was on this list. Holler and Dash is a great restaurant, so if you guys ever happen to be around here and you wanna go to Holler and Dash, it’s really good. So is Little Octopus! [laugh] But I was like oh this is hilarious. We should do this, and when I have writer’s block, I tend to get artistic. This is how the covers for the podcast happen — I usually make them when I can’t write anymore I’ll do that, so what happened this time is that I happen to make a logo for Fork and Feather, like a full on — it was established in 2018, ‘19, whenever this show came out and I made a sign. If you’re a Patreon member you have access to tote bags that are Fork and Feather tote bags.
ELENA: Gotta get the tote!
FAITH: And I’ve had random people ask me — they’re like, Where’s Fork and Feather in Nashville. [laugh] It doesn’t exist! But I’m so excited that you think it does! That you think it’s an actual restaurant.
ELENA: [teasingly] And you think you’re bad at marketing. [laugh]
FAITH: I always thought about how amazing it would be if we could do like a pop up. Like, I have a friend who’s a chef here in Nashville. And I was like, I call it would be like so what-what do you think would be on the menu? You have to do the steak tartare because we already talked it.
ELENA: Already talked about it in an episode you got to do the steak tartare. Or I guess, like, the roast hen, um-
FAITH: Yeah, looks like both of those things have to happen.
ELENA: [laugh] Oh god Margaritas & Donuts pop up restaurant. All right. We serve neither margaritas nor donuts, sir.
ELENA: Just steak tartare and roast hen.
FAITH: Maybe we’ll do a sour cream.
ELENA: Sour cream donuts! Yes.
FAITH: And now I’m hungry.
ELENA: There you go. Right, now you suffer.
ELENA: Um, in previous interviews you’ve called Margaritas & Donuts your “What Lies Beneath”. So for those who don’t know, Robert Zemeckis made the movie What Lies Beneath with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer on a hiatus break during making Castaway. So tell me about your What Lies Beneath — what led you to making this while on hiatus from Boom? And how did that process of making it on hiatus work, if it worked any differently?
FAITH: It worked completely differently from making Boom — there was a lot of planning in Boom, I — we had casting processes. I had a whole schedule of outlining the scripts and writing them and doing all this stuff. And Margaritas & Donuts was, Hey, I have this short film script that the contest people didn’t like. They said it was too short. And . . . shall we make it into a series? Sure! Let’s do it. And just asking people if they wanted to be a part of it. And just going, okay, yeah, you have this part. You have this part, you have this part, you have this part. And you know, not doing — everything was seat-of-the-pants, which is not how I work in any way whatsoever. But it was — it was fun. And it all just happened very quickly. Like, we just got into and in fact, Amanda was like, Wait, what? What are you doing? Like, I was already — I already found the cast and she’s like, hold on, hold on, hold up.
ELENA: Faith smote the ground and up popped Margaritas & Donuts. Fully cast and on the podcast feed.
FAITH: Yeah, sorry. It was all — it was all just seat of my pants doing this thing and like just going okay, here. Here are the episodes. Let’s record it. Let’s make it happen. And we just did it. And mostly because I needed to finish it before Boom picked back up. And the reason that we were on such a long hiatus was babies.
ELENA: Mmmm, babies. Yes.
FAITH: Garret DeLozier had a new baby. As did Melinda — she had a new baby. So I’m like, my two leads. Both had babies. So I’m like, guys. Children, really?
FAITH: I wasn’t sure how long before we would be able to get back up. But I didn’t want to be in the middle of another podcast while we were trying to work on this one, so I was like, make it happen as fast as possible so we could get it out. And I’m pretty sure all six-
ELENA: [laugh] Oh my god, for a moment I thought-
FAITH: – for Boom –
ELENA: I thought for a moment that you were like make children happen as fast as possible. And I was just like, Faith, y’know that children grow at a prescribed — oooh, she’s talking about Margaritas & Donuts. It’s not — not children [overlapping]
FAITH: [overlapping] – create a child. Like, create a child!
ELENA: Not growing human children, okay. [laugh] So confused.
FAITH: But yeah, it was — it was crazy. It was crazy. And I’m like, I never thought it would be more than just this little project I got to do. And I’m so excited and always completely taken aback when people were like, I loved it. It’s so good. And I want more. And I was like, I have no plans for more! This was it! This was the thing.
ELENA: This is it. This is the whole thing. Here. Here’s a special episode is, like, a consolation prize.
FAITH: Right? Right. And that’s Yeah, and the only reason this special episode happened. Let’s just thank Tavius Marshall, who does the voice of Malik. He was pushing. He was like, we need to do another one. We need to do another one. I was like, I don’t have another story. He’s like, Well, I do. I was like, Okay, then write it. So he wrote it and yeah, then I came in and like, was like, okay, maybe the characters do this and do this and do this. But that’s — yeah, our bonus episode is basically his script. And so it’s — he made it happen.
ELENA: That’s wonderful.
FAITH: So if you guys want another episode?
ELENA: Yeah. [laugh] Go talk to Tavius.
FAITH: Talk to Tavius. [laugh] And he will make it happen.
ELENA: Also higher Tavius. Jesus. Such a good script.
ELENA: So, since we’re talking about the process of making this another one of our patrons, Katie, wants to know what your process is when, what your process was. . . . tense. Try that again. Since we’re talking about the process of making this, our Patreon — our patron, Katie, wants to know what your process is when directing pre-romance flirting versus established romance.
FAITH: Ok, so little tidbit, Danny and Tavius . . . were never recording together. They recorded separately. So they didn’t have to have the awkwardness of doing awkward scenes with someone you have never met. But I did want them to lean into the awkward. So when we were doing — so all of the stuff, the meet cute and the first date, were supposed to be as awkward as possible. I was pushing the, it’s okay to trip over your words. It’s okay for it to be like, weird, nervous laughing and do all of this stuff. And I wanted them to push into that. But then once they’re established in their relationship, I wanted it to be more of a — act like you’re talking to this person that you’ve known for years. That it should be that familiar already, that you’re comfortable with each other. So think of it as, they’re both married. So I’m like, just act like you’re talking to your significant other. There we go. That’s it. I feel like they rolled with it. And I think they both did awkward quite well.
ELENA: Oh, they did. They truly did.
FAITH: And then when it gets a little more comfortable, you can — I feel like you can hear the shift in the dialogue. And I’m still like, again, baffled at the idea of doing fully remote, and trying to get them to match energy within a scene was a lot of fun, and a bit of a challenge. But fun, just the same.
ELENA: Absolutely. So I’m gonna I’m going to take us back to something that we talked about earlier in this conversation, which is the concept of Black joy. So Black-Black joy is something that we still see. So a little of in fiction across across mediums, especially in particular for women and queer Black folks, right? There’s just a lot of, well, there’s Black person now, so I guess it’s time for trauma. So what’s what’s the importance of Black joy that you think a general non-Black audience would not understand?
FAITH: Black people have experienced a lot of trauma. Again, why I have to do this, I’m doing it anyway. It’s me saying that Black people have experienced a lot of trauma is not to try to denounce anyone else’s group of people experiencing trauma. That’s just not what’s happening in this conversation.
ELENA: Nope. Very annoying that we have to say that.
FAITH: Right. But we’ve also found a way to always have joy. I mean, during slave times, there are songs of freedom and gospel music and frying chicken, the idea of like, trying to make the scraps that you had to — that you were given into something worth eating. It’s like you always have to find the joy in a situation, or you die. Maybe not physically die, but die inside, and you’re just this hollow shell of yourself. If you cannot find joy, someone else is not going to bring you the joy — you have to bring it to yourself.
So I always wanted to explore this idea of finding your own peace, finding your own joy, and telling stories that were celebrating that, and it isn’t, you know, birds singing, me skipping down the road. Joy was supposed to be real life . . . happiness that is kind of messy. And that was the idea, is that Josephine had to work towards that joy. Towards valuing her happiness, because she had a messy life to begin with. And she had to get there. [sigh] Trauma with a capital T is how Black stories go. And again, I have to talk about being in the film world. And especially award season, we can go back over the multiple multiple years of Black people winning awards. Denzel Washington won for Glory. Halle Berry won for Monster’s Ball. Oh my gosh, I can’t even like, for the love of me, think of, like other things. But it’s never been the Black person winning an award for the quirky girl next door. Like, you know, or it’s not that — it’s always some epic, traumatic, overly dramatic story for like, Oh my god, this is the film that brought you out. And I was like, Yeah, but we also have little stories that we can tell that people can just be happy and like, like Sylvie’s Love on Amazon. If you haven’t seen that movie go watch that movie. Oh, watch it you love Sylvie’s Love, go find Nothing But A Man — that came out in the ‘60s which is also a beautiful, glorious movie about Black relationships. There is trauma in it but it’s more about the person you are with saving you. So yeah, Nothing But A Man. Watch that.
ELENA: [making a note] One second . . .
FAITH: But yeah. It is incredibly important to the Black community to always find the happiness in the sorrow so that we can survive another generation and have — I don’t know, just be abundant, and our creativity and lives in6 general.
ELENA: Thank you for sharing that. Thank you.
[to the audience] And definitely go watch Sylvie’s Love if you haven’t seen it yet. I have not yet seen Nothing But A Man, but I will.
[to Faith] Um, yes. At, um, at the Audio Craft podcast festival last year, Renee Richardson gave a talk that has literally burrowed into me and refuses to leave. And I will keep bringing it up on this show. Alas for all of my future interviewees. So she talked about moving away from the words “risk” and “risky” when it comes to — which are often associated with giving opportunities to BIPOC creators, right? To Black and indigenous and,-and other creators of color. I would like to know what you want this industry’s relationship with the idea of risk to look like.
FAITH: [sigh] Risk shouldn’t be in the who, the race or ethnic background, or sexual orientation of the person who is creating it. That’s not the issue. And that should never be, that should never be part of it. The risks should be in the actual story. In — we haven’t heard this story before. Not — I guess, not who the people are in this story. But what the story is itself should be the risk. Not, Oh, hey, we — like I said, like, you know, the coming of age story we’ve seen a million times. And now it’s with a Black audience. That’s not risky. No, it’s not risky. It’s still a coming of age story. We’re still seeing that same story. In film school, there is a term that we talked about that I hate.
ELENA: Oh boy, here we go!
FAITH: The crossover? The crossover star. It’s the idea of someone who is not white, being able to lead a movie for majority white audiences. So Denzel Washington, Dwayne Johnson — the Rock, Martin Lawrence, Will Smith. Halle Berry. It’s a short list.
ELENA: Yeah, it’s not a very long list. Not gonna lie.
FAITH: Yeah, Jackie Chan probably fits into it. It’s this idea of these people who are not white who can get white audiences in the seats, basically. And it’s not really a term that most people know. But it is talked about in marketing situations, of this idea of like, we, we cast this person because it’s like, hey, look, we have a person of color in our — in our movie and our whatever. Because we also know that they will get people in the seats. And it’s like, ew. Stop it.
ELENA: That’s gross.
FAITH: But-but it’s also like, Is that still a risk for you to also cast other Black people around them? Because Hi, everybody, think about it real quick, the — Denzel Washington’s early work, how many other Black people were in the movie? Besides him?
ELENA: None? The answer is none. Just in case, anyone didn’t know the answer to that question.
FAITH: It wasn’t very often! Will Smith? The same way. Like, early Will Smith movies? I mean, way early, we’re going way back to his first stuff. Yeah, he’s the only Black kid and it’s the trauma kid. If you haven’t watched some of his earlier works, like Where The Day Takes You, which is an amazing movie, to watch that. But, yeah, it’s like, we just need that one Black person or the one not white person. Since I included Dwayne Johnson in that and he is not Black. But still, there’s this idea of, like. These are the people who can get audiences in the theaters, but we can be cool and be woke.
ELENA: Oh, God.
FAITH: Let me sound as old as possible by saying, Be woke by having a non white star, I don’t know.
ELENA: Absolutely. Also got to say I’m just so angry at how, like, the words “diversity” and-and “woke” have just been overused by white people to the point where they — it just no longer means anything.
FAITH: Right? Right. Like, stop it.
ELENA: Stop it! So if you in the audience want to hear more prior responses about the word “risk” that we’ve had on the show, so I asked this question, I asked a question about risk to James Kim about Moonface. And I also asked a question about risk with Ivuoma Okoro, about Vega. So you can go back and listen to those interviews to hear more thoughts on this word and approach in our industry.
So I have only one final question for you. No, that’s not true. I’ve got two final questions. All right. I was like, Wait a second. No. Um, let’s do — right. So I’ve got a fun — a fun, cute question for you. So I know that you’re a baker. So what is your favorite baked good to make?
FAITH: Pie? Always pie — cake is gross. I’m sorry, everyone –
ELENA: No, my boyfriend agrees.
FAITH: – but I love pie. And around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always make a cran-apple pie. And my summer pie is peach blueberry. So those are my two like, go-to pies: cran-apple and peach blueberry. And in fact, here’s a weird thing. The-the studio that we used to record Boom and where we will go record again if we get to record in person called Pod — PodStudio1. Carl who owns it wants me to pay him –
ELENA: Oh, amazing.
FAITH: That is — every time I say how much is this going to cost? He’s like two apple pies. It’s two apple pies. And I was like, Okay.
ELENA: Amazing. Okay. I can do that.
FAITH: If we have to do a whole weekend I make like, an entire, like pan of pies. So I show up with like, oh, like a dozen mini pies and then one big pie.
ELENA: Wow. Yeah. Baking Queen over here. Incredible.
FAITH: It’s a weird — it’s a weird thing. But I love him for it because it does help us out a lot.
ELENA: I’m very glad. That’s a really wonderful way to barter your skills there. Very nice. Yeah, I just described to you how difficult it is in — in a — in a pandemic world where we like, have get-togethers where dessert is involved. My boyfriend hates cake. And my best friend hates cooked fruit. Yeah, so I just sort of here like, I guess I’m gonna make a pastry? What do I do now? Frick.
ELENA: Cheesecake. The answer is actually generally tres leches. Yeah. Which for anyone?
FAITH: That is cake I can get behind – [overlapping]
ELENA: [overlapping] – because as my boyfriend says, it’s basically not cake anymore. For anyone who’s not – [laugh]
FAITH: That is so true, it’s pretty m-
ELENA: – who’s not aware, it’s a — it is a Puerto Rican dessert. And it involves — it’s a — it’s a yellow cake. Yellow vanilla cake that has sat in three different kinds of milk overnight, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated, and depending on who you are, like whole milk or something else. Um, yeah, it’s delicious.
FAITH: It’s so, so good. Oh my gosh.
ELENA: So finally, you have a new podcast dropping this year. Apollyon? Yeah. What can our audience expect from it? Tell us a little bit about the story, because this is a departure from your previous work.
FAITH: Yes, I’m doing the thing that I said I would never do. I’m doing sci fi. Oh my gosh, I told myself I would stay away from it because everyone does sci fi but guess what. I’m a huge sci fi fan.
ELENA: I can’t believe that you, a huge sci fi fan, told yourself not to make a sci fi show.
FAITH: Well, it’s like the idea of, like, you never want to — never want to meet your heroes? Don’t write sci fi. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Aah crap. I’m doing it. I’m doing it twice. In fact, because I have —
ELENA: Oh my god.
FAITH: But this one takes place 100 years in the future. Sorry for — this is a current event trigger warning. It’s a virus that has wiped out 75% of the population.
FAITH: And it’s 30 years out from that virus. And
ELENA: And when did you start writing this show?
FAITH: I’m so — oh, actually, like . . . five years ago?
ELENA: Yeah. That’s what I wondered.
ELENA: All right. All the people who wrote about pandemics before 2020 — those are the people who are at fault. Yes? That’s how that works. No.
FAITH: Yeah! Completely and totally my fault. [laugh] But yeah, so it’s like 30 years out from this horrendous pandemic. And the main character is Theo Ramsay, and she is a virologist. And she and her partner, lab partner, Gabriel have just — may have just discovered a vaccine for said virus. So that’s where this story begins, is with the possible discovery of this vaccine. And yeah, it’s gonna get a little twisty and turny. And I’m kind of excited about it. And we just did our table read. And I loved hearing it out loud. I’m always like, giddy when I finally get to hear things out loud. And my cast is absolutely amazing. I’m so excited about all of them. And I’m excited for all of you to hear every single one of them. And this podcast that will come out soon. Probably soon. Sometime in April.
ELENA: In April, yeah. Wow. Yeah. All right. I’m looking forward to Apollyon and everything that you’re doing over there because I think it’s going to be amazing. And because, of course, it is Faith, there is always going to be a little bit of trauma sprinkled in there. A li’l sprinkling. Choccy sprinkle. . . just said that live on mic. All right.
ELENA: Nailed it. [laugh] Thank you so much. I — oh, no, tell me –
FAITH: Oh, I do have a weird thing. Okay, sorry. No, this can totally — you don’t have to keep this in the podcast if you don’t want to, but weird, fun fact. The face of Boom. The guy whose face is on Boom, James David West, is playing a role.
FAITH: He’s Gabriel.
ELENA: It’s gonna be very exciting for Boom listeners. Just gonna be like, wait.
FAITH: Like, you get to finally hear the guy with the face!
ELENA: The face now has a voice. Excellent. Excellent. That’s wonderful. So thank you so much for coming on Radio Drama Revival, and talking with me, Faith. It was really, really wonderful.
FAITH: Thank you so much for having me. I always love conversations with you.
ELENA: If you liked what you heard, you can support FAITH McQuinn and more of Observer Pictures’ work over at patreon.com/observerpix — that’s spelled p-i-x.
Radio Drama Revival runs on futuristic super-powered windmills and the people tilting at them. If you’d like to help keep us afloat and featuring new, diverse, unique fiction podcasts and their creators, you can support us on Patreon, at patreon.com/radiodramarevival.
And now we bring you our Moment of Wil.
[Moment of Wil]
WIL: Hi. If you’re listening when this episode is released, it has just become Spring here in 2021, and I think that that is lovely. At least, here in Phoenix — now, granted, Phoenix is warmer than, uh, most places, like. In the world. Ever. But it’s very lovely here right now, and I think it would be very nice to take a stroll! That is my recommendation this week. If you can’t take a stroll, for whatever reasons, or honestly, if you don’t want to — that’s fine. But I think that it would be nice if you take some time and just appreciate the fact that we are in Spring.
I am recording this on the 24th of March, 2021, and there is, as always, a lot going on right now. But the start of Spring is, I think, a nice sign. It is inevitable, of course, but things feel, at least right now, perhaps a little bit more solid than they have. Perhaps! Y’know, regardless, I think that, if you have the capacity and the ability, it would be nice to just take a little walk. Make sure you’re staying safe. And think about something that you’re grateful for. Think about what the start of Spring might represent to you. That might be a little bit woo-woo, but that’s how I roll! [laugh]
So I hope you take some time, and I hope that you welcome Spring, and I hope that you have a nice day, and a nice walk if you take one, and a good time. And if you’re listening and it’s not Spring . . . welp! Spring is gonna come eventually! Uh, so that is pretty cool too.
[end of the Moment of Wil]
ELENA: That means it’s time for the credits.
This episode was recorded in the unceded territory of the Kalapuya people, the Clatskanie Indian Tribe, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, and the Atfalati tribe. Colonizers named this place Beaverton, Oregon.
If you are looking for ways to support Native communities, you can donate to Nourish Our Nations Arizona, an organization that provides essential food items to Indigenous families from more than six tribal communities, including White Mountain, Navajo Nation, and Gila River. Their gofundme is https://www.gofundme.com/f/nourish-our-nations-arizona.
Our theme music is Reunion of the Spaceducks by the band KieLoKaz. You can find their music on Free Music Archive.
Our audio producer is Wil Williams.
Our marketing manager and associate audio editor is Anne Baird.
Our researcher is Heather Cohen.
Our submissions editor is Rashika Rao.
Our associate marketing manager is Jillian Schraeger.
Our audio consultant is Eli Hamada McIlveen
Our associate producer is Sean Howard.
Our executive producers are Fred Greenhalgh and David Rheinstrom.
Our mascot is Tickertape, the goat.
I’m your host, Elena Fernandez Collins. This has been Radio Drama Revival: all storytellers welcome.