Women in Audio Feature: Sapphira Em
In acknowledgement of Black Music Month and #BlackLivesMatter, Pandora Presents Pass the Mic is highlighting the incredible contributions of black women in the audio industry whose work empowers the voices of individuals throughout the black community.
Sapphira Em is a creative powerhouse—business owner and entrepreneur, podcast host, and creative. Pandora sat down with her ahead of Black Music Month to highlight her work in the podcasting space, talk career-focused females, and learn how to empower women by working together.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and podcasting. How did you start BlackGirlPod? I am a creative entrepreneur and co-owner of my family dance studio, The Brown Barre, I am a freelance editorial writer for REVOLT, I manage artists, and I am 1/5th of Black Girl Podcast.
Black Girl Podcast began with a simple girl talk in the traffic circle at Emmis Communications. We had our crew and we’d share stories from what we went through in our relationships, careers, etc. I had just come from seeing an ex-boyfriend during my lunch day and knew I shouldn’t have wasted my time. When I came back upstairs to my office, my coworkers didn’t shy away from letting me know. The conversation poured out into the area which many jocks would rest in between shows and as we were in our ruckus, Ebro Darden was snapchatting and said aloud, “look at this, it should be the “Black Girls Podcast.” Weeks later and after many group chats about it, we released our first four episodes during the holiday season of 2016.
Why is BlackGirlPod so important in today’s culture? Black Girl Podcast is important in today’s culture because as black women we need to be able to share our journey so that we may help someone else along their way. We are all unique but we are all so much alike and go through the same things.
Part of the podcast came from you and your co-podcasters being career-oriented women. What does that mean for you? Being a career-oriented woman is important to me because of the career-oriented women who raised me. I was raised in a family full of generations of women who were and currently are artists, medical professionals, lawyers, counselors, creatives, and educators. I remember the moments where my mom hauled me to campus because she was finishing her Masters degree. I remember moments where older cousins got four year scholarships to the university of their choice. Seeing these moments created for me as a young black girl, motivated me to dream and make certain decisions for my own career.
You’ve talked about exposing the messy parts of life as well as successes. What have been some of your failures that you’ve learned from? Some failures I have learned from are definitely not being prepared for the magnitude of something great. When we first started podcasting we were blessed with a studio space at ESPN for just four episodes. Once we realized this was something we wanted to continue and it was well received by many, we were met with bumps in recording but we have since been able to develop relationships with studios.
Back to the successes—what are you most proud of accomplishing, both in your career and your personal life? In my career, I am most proud that I have been able to travel, speak, and produce live shows for a platform I helped to initiate and create. This podcast journey has been a huge blessing and accomplishment in my life. In my personal life, I am most proud that as an adult, I still have the passion for dance in the way I had it as a child. I have grown and loved dance since I was born and that is my truest connection to music.
You say that you’ve created a lot of your own opportunities. How have you done this, and what advice would you give to others who are trying to do this? I have created a lot of my own opportunities by simply creating, networking, and building relationships with the people who I met along the way. In 2017, I was fired from Emmis Communications and I officially began my path as an entrepreneur and freelancer running a subscription box service providing products which were from new or small businesses, owned by women of color.
My advice to others on creating their own opportunities is to build solid relationships with the like-minded people you seek to meet. There have been many people who have helped me to be where I am and they come from all walks of life. I think it’s important to also rely on your faith because it is all you have when you are doing something for yourself.
In a world where everyone seems to have a “side hustle,” what does being a creative mean to you? Being a creative is my self care. Honestly, because of the times we have been met with it’s really been a sacred path for me. It is my livelihood. It’s those wild ideas that keep me up until 3am, it’s my story, it’s my song. The beauty in being creative is the process of selfishness to selflessness. Giving to myself so that I can pour out to the world.
What advice would you give to other women trying to get into podcasting? My advice to other women looking to podcast, is like Nike said, JUST DO IT! What I love about podcasting is that you can have any type of conversation that you want. Most of all, why pass on an opportunity to share, teach, or speak about something you love.
How will you Pass the Mic? I will “Pass the Mic” by continuing to connect and collaborate with women. We are brilliant and fearless and when we work positively together it is priceless. Issa Rae once said it’s not about “networking up, it’s about networking across.” It has been beautiful to share these moments with people I have grown with.
Follow Sapphira Em and listen to Black Girl Podcast here.