Nadia Brown and Jenny Makholm Preview Their New TV Series About Arts Workers
Ahead of the premiere of The Green Room With Nadia Brown, Theatrely sat down with the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child star to talk about the new show and what to expect. Joining her Be An #ArtsHero/Arts Workers United co-founder and show executive producer Jenny Makholm.
Tackling weighty topics with humor, songs, animations, and tongue-in-cheek graphics, the new series explores the issues surrounding the creative economy and the impact of Arts & Culture on every aspect of society. There are five episodes and features interviews with Hadestown director Rachel Chavkin, stage auteur Jenny Koons, and congressional representative Teresa Leger Fernandez.
Check out Nadia and Jenny’s Q&A below. The series premiered March 23 on Ovation TV and will continue to air on Wednesdays at 11 PM ET through April 20. Episodes are also available and free to all via the Ovation NOW app.
What can audiences expect from The Green Room with Nadia Brown?
Nadia Brown: Think like a longer-form TikTok! Fun, simple, and palatable discussions about the Arts and Culture sector. It’s chock full of jokes, graphics and dancing—you cannot forget about the dancing!
Jenny Makholm: I like to laughingly call my approach to Arts Advocacy the Mary Poppins MethodTM; a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. I’m so inspired by the work of old school info-tainment like School House Rock and VH1’s Pop-Up Video, as well as current mainstream shows like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, but what is really getting my juices flowing lately are the incredible fresh creators on TikTok like Under The Desk News; Parking Lot Pimpin’; PlanetMoney; and Good Morning, Bad News. To that end, I wanted to create a show that took some of those influences and ran with them.
Why should people know more about the current state of the arts industry?
NB: Our arts industry touches and affects every single American either directly or indirectly. We all love to be entertained, but there are also 5.1 million Americans who depend on jobs within the sector.
JM: An informed public is a powerful public. We realized quickly that our direct lobbying was continuously hitting a roadblock when speaking to legislators—most literally have no idea how much money ($919 billion) we contribute to the GDP or how large our workforce is. We are massive. What's more critical, arts workers themselves had no idea how instrumental we are.
How did your partnership come about?
NB: I decided to make a quick video for my representatives asking for more arts legislation and tagged Be An #ArtsHero on social media! Then, our mutual love story began. I became the organization's social media ambassador, and when Jennifer asked me to do a longer-form series, I couldn't say no!
JM: As one of the co-founders of Be An #ArtsHero, alongside Brooke Ishibashi, Matthew-Lee Erlbach, and Carson Elrod, I got in on the ground floor! I was invited by Brooke and Carson within the first few days to design “just a couple of graphics.” Within the first week I’d designed over 60 graphics and started building our website. The rest is history. I now run our creative services, marketing, and education branch which handles all social media, press, other media (such as The Green Room with Nadia Brown), our websites, our collaborations with other orgs—really anything public facing.
How did your past career experience help you as you developed a TV series?
NB: I have never hosted a show in my life-- but I love to jump into something new, exciting (and maybe scary) with BOTH feet! That's what got me to Broadway, and that's what got me to Ovation!
JM: One of the incredible strengths of our organization is that it is run by arts workers for arts workers. Before I co-founded Be An #ArtsHero, I was a busy multi-hyphenate. I’ve produced plays Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway, as well as films, reading series, and web series, so while this is my very first stab at executive producing a TV show, I’ve been enthusiastically poised for years to take on just such a project. In my lifetime, TV and film has made such incredible strides when it comes to female/femme showrunners, but the glass ceiling is still very much in effect (and even more so for BIPOC, disabled, and/or queer female/femme creators).
How can viewers get involved in the cause?
NB: Follow Be An #ArtsHero on social media and watch out for call-to-actions to write/call/email your senators! We can ask for what we want and what we deserve!
JM: There’s so much anyone can do to support the cause. The easiest thing to do is follow Be An #ArtsHero on social media [Instagram, Twitter, TikTok] and share and engage in our content. We continue to work with legislators on a daily basis to lobby for legislation to support arts workers and the sector. When we’re strategically at a place where we need the community to vocally support that legislation, we put out a request for support on our socials.