Darian Symoné Harvin.
Darian Symoné Harvin is always on the move.
Most people don’t want to talk about business at parties, but I figured if I really wanted to get a hold of Darian, in person was my best bet. As I sat down with her at SHEEN, we struggled to find a time to schedule an interview. She had recently announced she was making the ultimate move to Los Angeles and time was quickly running out.
As the creator of the podcast Am I Allowed To Like Anything, Darian has had the opportunity to interview many people while living in New York City and in an effort to get her final thoughts as a New Yorker, we discussed what she’s done with the podcast so far, how the city has helped her creatively and where she wants this big move to take her next.
Saturday School: First, what made you want to start your podcast Am I Allowed To Like Anything (#AIATLA)?
Darian Harvin: It started from a conversation with a friend about how taboo it felt to actually express when you like something. I just feel like we live in a space where if you take part in conversations on music, film or pop culture as a whole, you sound smarter if you’re skeptical — although your thoughts aren’t based in context or experience. I wanted to start a project that was about discussing parts of culture we love, and critiquing things we didn’t in a thoughtful way.
SS: That’s really interesting. I know you’ve interviewed a lot of people but who (if anyone) has been your favorite person to interview so far?
DH: Danyel Smith, Ann Friedman, Ericka Pittman and Yvette Noel-Schure.
SS: Do you ever get nervous before interviewing someone?
DH: I typically get nervous, right when I sit down in my chair for mic check, but then I get over it. I have to!
SS: I know sometimes storytelling can be tricky, have you ever been hesitant about releasing an episode?
DH: No, everything I release, even if it’s not perfect, is a reflection of my growth and I’m okay with that.
SS: How has your job helped or hindered your passion project?
DH: Definitely hindered because I would be much farther on #AIATLA if I didn’t have to put so much of my time and talent into my job, or any job, for that matter. But I work it out.
SS: I know you work within the news/media industry. There’s definitely still a lack of black representation, how do you feel like you can help change that landscape?
DH: By being present, and using who I am (and the person I’ve grown to be) to connect with everyone in a newsroom and show how beneficial it is for all of us to have a seat at the table.
SS: Who within the industry is someone you look up to the most?
DH: Not technically in media, but Melina Matsoukas is a total bad ass. I’ve been following her career since the early days of her work with Beyoncé. I think her work ethic and taste is refined, impeccable and still relatable.
SS: Starting a podcast, or anything project can be difficult how has your “village” of supporters helped you throughout your journey with #AIATLA?
DH: So many ways. From helping with prep for a live show, to creating graphics last minute. They just help me to realize I don’t have to do it all alone.
SS: Majority of your listening audience is based out of New York. Now that you’ve moved to L.A. do you think that will affect the podcast any?
DH: I hope it will, in a way that I can not only expand my audience, but also the different perspectives on #AIATLA. I hope to talk to people who love LA and the space (and careers) they have created here for themselves, and want to share that.
SS: You lived in New York for a while, how did the city help or hinder your craft?
DH: It inspired me. Just walking down the streets, paying attention to little details; stickers, art, words, even the dirt, haha. Watching the way people live out their lives. It’s all a lesson in expression and creativity.
SS: Outside of your own, what is your favorite podcast to listen to?
DH: How I Built This with Guy Raz. I love hearing people talk about how they build their ideas.
SS: Are there ever times that you’ve wanted to give up? If so, what kept you motivated?
DH: Yes. Sometimes logistically and production-wise, it was hard to stay on top of #AIATLA, and it can get overwhelming.
SS: What is the best advice you’ve received since starting #AIATLA?
DH: Be consistent.
SS: As you know, Saturday School is completely interview based. I’m literally learning as I go along but what is some advice you would give me when trying to get an impactful interview?
DH: Do your homework, but don’t be afraid to ask the “silly” questions - sometimes it can lead to you learning something about the person you’re interviewing that will help you form questions later in the conversation, or it helps them to get more comfortable.
SS: Lastly, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give high school you?
DH: You’re doing amazing sweetie.