Author: Joycelynn Okezie
As the creator and writer of Blue Collar Hustle, What inspired the theme for season two?
The overall theme for season 2 is exploring the effects of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome in modern-day millennials. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, as defined by Dr. Joy DeGruy, describes a set of behaviors or actions associated with the multi-generational trauma experienced by African Americans as a result of our historical treatment within this country. This idea will be explored specifically in season 2 as it pertains to the lack of unity amongst us as a people. Look at every black empire that has existed within Hip Hop for example; Roc-A-Fella, Cash Money, The Wu-Tang Clan. They all split or experienced massive internal strife, taking what could have been a generational success story and be turning it into the status quo for the stereotype that black unity doesn’t exist. Ajani, Quan, Anthony, and Jose were pretty unified during Season 1, so the question is what set of circumstances could fracture that unity?
Being that the series is shot and produced in Atlanta, does the burgeoning city have an impact on the storyline of your show?
The city is basically the seventh main protagonist. Atlanta is the current Mecca of black entertainment. You can’t be successful without the city co-signing you in some way. The broader theme of season 2 will be Ajani and the Core attempting to earn that co-sign. When your city respects you and gives you that stamp of approval, it means that what you are doing is authentic. When you look at a character like Quan, you are witnessing the journey of an artist who is striving to prove that his story has meaning. So what happens when he feels like his music, and by extension, his very life isn’t getting the recognition it deserves? The city of Atlanta is the Muse that he is chasing in this upcoming season, and he doesn’t take rejection well.
Is there anyone new working on the set and cast this time?
We have a new Director, Mr. Jairus Burks. He is bringing a new visual aesthetic to Season 2 that is absolutely breathtaking. Working with him is like working with a kindred spirit in that he understands my vision and is always looking for new ways to bring that vision to life. We also have some new incredible actors who will be breathing life into some dynamic characters that you will be meeting for the first time in Season 2! We will be announcing those actors and characters at a later date.
Congratulations on your new Marketing deal with Seeka TV. How did that opportunity come about for Season 2?
The CEO of Seeka.TV, Mr. George Reese, was an early supporter of the series. I love Seeka’s platform and their end goal of being a power player within the digital content space. So continuing a business relationship with them in some capacity is a no-brainer.
When it comes to personal growth and character development how important is that for the characters/cast of the series?
It’s everything. There’s no point in continuing a series when you don’t have a clear plan of growth for the characters. Season 2 will be heavily focused on putting the characters in positions they haven’t been in and exploring how they react. I spent a great deal of time in Season 1 on establishing the characters identities, so that the audience has a complete grasp on who they are fundamentally. Season 2 will explore a bit of how they got to be these people and under what set of circumstances they will grow and evolve.
Blue Collar Hustle was recently awarded for “Best Representation of Communities of Color in a Web-Series” at the Minnesota WebFest. How did it feel to hear your name called? Did you expect it?
You never expect to win any award. When I started on this endeavor a year ago, all I truly wanted was two things. One, for it not to suck, and two, for black people to like it and feel that it was authentic. So to be accepted into various film festivals and win awards is the cherry on top. It’s a thrilling feeling of validation that anyone feels that you are worthy of an award. There’s a saying that myself and one of my close friends use to say, “We ain’t out here running races to not win trophies’. I just wanted my trophy to be the respect of the audience. So now that we actually have trophies its very surreal.
You have put passion and dedication in pushing your web series into the second season. Where do your drive and inspiration come from to keep pushing forward?
My drive comes from the people who I surround myself with who have placed faith in me to walk this path alongside me. It’s been a long road to get to this point and I wouldn’t be where I am without certain key people. First, my father Reginald Hawes, my first mentor. He passed away earlier this year and it was a hard loss. The last thing he said to me before passing on was to not stop. He was proud of the show and he told me no matter what to keep going. My girlfriend Shanaya is second, because she sacrificed a lot while caring for our infant daughter while I was off writing scripts, rehearsing, producing, and dedicating pretty much every waking hour to the series, and she NEVER complained. Also, shout-outs go to Keysha Davis, James Steinbach, and Howard Brantley; who all at various points in my life challenged me to be the best of what I could be. Lastly, the fantastic cast and creative team of the series, Quentin Williams, Shani Hawes, Howard Woodburn, Tijuana Agnew, Cordarol Sanders, Roberto Cruz, Jamal McClendon, and Rodderick Fedd. Without them, there is no series.
What can viewers expect in the new season that wasn’t prominent in season one?
Season 2 is going to be darker, as there are some very hard questions that each character is going to have to face. There is an element of conflict in season 2 that wasn’t present in season 1 as the first season was about establishing the brotherhood. Season 2 is going to shine a light on what happens when brotherhood and business clash. There will be fireworks.
As a writer and producer, do you have any new projects on the horizon?
There are always new projects on the horizon. You will be hearing more from me throughout 2018 and beyond. The only thing I can comment on is that me and Que-Brick (Quentin Williams) got something coming on the musical side. We’ve been trying to do a real musical project together for the past two years and keep getting sidetracked. We gonna REALLY lock in this time though!
When does Season two of Blue Collar Hustle air and where can new viewers watch Season one if they haven’t seen it?
Season 2 will debut in 2018. No hard release date yet. It will be WELL worth the wait I promise you. It’s going to debut first on Seeka.TV and then to our other partners shortly after. You can catch Season 1 for free on Seeka or Youtube. The complete first season is also available on KweliTV, Bingewave, and Go Indie TV. The second season teaser is available via Youtube and Seeka!