Right when you thought that you didn’t need another entertainment talk show, Will Packer changes your mind by producing the cutting edge series Central Ave featuring veteran TV host Julissa Bermudez (BET’s 106 & Park, Empire Girls) and four-time Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross.
The Source caught up with the two women for a fun conversation on the new show, girl power, and our own “versus” challenge.
Talk to our readers about what attracted you guys to this project?
Julissa: Honestly, I think I’ve been waiting my entire career for a project like this to come around. And if anyone has followed any bit of the trajectory of my career, then they will know that this is definitely a show that a) doesn’t come around often, b) hasn’t been on TV, and c) is a once in a lifetime type of opportunity.
So when I say all those things, I mean, the diversity in front and behind the scenes; Central Ave has Will “Power” Packer and Monique Chenault. I can talk about Monique all day long. This woman is everything and then some. So intelligent … so groundbreaking … the first Black woman showrunner over at Entertainment Tonight, and now we have her. There are levels to this entertainment news magazine space, and we are on a level that I didn’t think that I would reach in this part of my career. So, I’m really, really beyond excited and so thankful.
Sanya: For me, it was a dream come true. When I transitioned off the track, I knew I wanted to be in television. And I kept telling my husband and my family, “Of course, I want to do sports. But I’d love to do something outside of sports.” I think a lot of times, especially for athletes, we get boxed in. So when my agent said that I was called to this audition, I was just over the moon to be able to have an opportunity to work with Will Packer and Julissa.
At the time, I didn’t know who my co-host would be. But, you know, we had this undeniable chemistry from the very first time we met. I was hoping we would do it together. Again, for me, it’s just been a dream to be able to do something outside of sports, and to be able to represent Black women in sports in this arena is just been awesome. it is a dream job for any athlete to be able to now talk about pop culture and lifestyle is just, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.
Julissa: That also attracted me is I get to literally host a show with an Olympian.
So what kind of stories do guys want to cover?
Sanya: We have calls every morning at eight o’clock with our team, which is diverse, from every ethnicity, every walk of life, age range, just everything. We throw out all of these different topics of what’s happening, pop culture, what’s trending, what are people talking about, what do we care about, and how can we tell the story differently? We ask ourselves how are other networks not covering it, so that we can do in a way that we only we can do because of our backgrounds? We try to we really try to focus on how pop culture intersects with our everyday life.
One way is to see what are the ways that these celebrities and these issues really impact us on a day-to-day [basis]. We did that when we did the 25th anniversary of OJ Simpson, which was a huge story history-making story in our community. We covered that in a way, that even people were saying 25 years later, “We hadn’t even we didn’t know these facts!” So, it really is about digging deep and thinking about what people care about, and what can we tell in a way that nobody else can.
Julissa: Especially, during these times that we’re living in. If you really think about it, you would say to yourself, “Why do we care about entertainment news during a pandemic or during everything else that’s going on in the world?” Well, when you watch Central Ave, you’ll see the way that we investigate these stories and how much entertainment, pop culture, celebrities actually influence your buying power and even your vote.
I mean, all of these things are actually way more interconnected than people ever considered. On Central Ave, we break it down in a way where the average viewer can say, “They get it.”
One weekend, we were addressing Hip-Hop feminism.
We broke down the careers of women like Nicki Minaj, Megan, the stallion (who, as most as know, has been very vocal about what’s been happening in the world these days), and Cardi B (who is also very vocal about how she feels about politics). And we really dive into this feminism. And the independence that women have taken and also in dominating a male genre of music.
Here are some rapid speed questions where you have to pick one of the two. First one, Jay-Z or Nas?
Julissa: Dang, I’m a girl from Queens. I like both, I really love Nas but I love Jay-Z too. That’s hard.
Biggie or Tupac?
Julissa: Another hard one.
Julissa: I really love Tupac.
Kim or Foxy Brown?
Julissa: Lil Kim
Sanya: Lil Kim
Who should be on a Swizz Beatz and Missy Elliot’s Verzuz with Missy Elliott?
Sanya: Ooh, I’ve been thinking about that a lot. You know who I think would rock with her is someone like Janet Jackson. I mean, that’s a little bit I mean, different outside the box. But I’m like, who else has a catalog? I’m gonna say like Janet Jackson.
Julissa: Yeah, you got me stuck on that one.
Mos Def or Talib Kweli?
Sanya: Talib Kweli
Julissa: Talib Kweli
These ladies definitely have chemistry and are sure to bring the world smart content that will impact how we see culture and news. The show airs every weekend, check your local listings for more details.