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Q&A with Nathanael Desulme, Creative Director of ‘The Blackstage Podcast’

The Blackstage Podcast may have started during the tumultuous year of 2020, but three years later, their growth has been nothing short of significant.


Dec. 7 2023, Published 4:08 p.m. ET


What Forbes described as “a go-to for impactful interviews” the Blackstage Podcast has interviewed the likes of Moses Ingram (Reva Sevander in Disney’s “Obi-Wan Kenobi”) and US Congressman, Adriano Espaillat. Having started Season 6 on Sept. 25, the team behind the podcast is looking to uphold its mission to explore “the past and present culture moment with the top voices of our time.”

Nathanael Desulme, the podcast’s creative director and a native of Queens, N.Y., originally pursued accounting at Queens College before finding a passion for technology and art. Today, he specializes in handling pre-production for the Blackstage Podcast and runs its TikTok page, growing the account from 16 followers to over 14,000 in two months.

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The multihyphenate spoke with BLEU about his career, his personal dreams for the future, the family guidance he followed to carve out a path of his own, and more.

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Q. Working as creative director of The Blackstage Podcast, what does a typical workday look like?

A. As a creative director every day is different, but it really centers around when we are shooting new episodes. It takes months of pre-production which includes scriptwriting, creating a shot list, location scouting, etc. The night before a shoot I will stay up and memorize the shots planned for that day. The next morning, I’ll wake up early and hit the ground running. I usually have a very specific vision and shots in my head with such a limited timeframe. So, it’s a constant struggle on learning how to navigate your need for absolute perfection and finding a fruitful compromise. Also being cognizant of those who were donating their time and resources to you and your vision.

Q. When did you first join The Blackstage Podcast team?

A. I officially joined The Blackstage in March of 2022. I’ve worked with our fantastically talented executive producer, Karl McIntyre on multiple shoots in the past. And occasionally, he would ask me to assist filming on shoot days when they were on location. After a couple of shoots, Brennan reached out and asked if I wanted to join the team.

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Q. How did you first meet the creator, Brennan DuBose?

A. I met our founder Brennan at his birthday party in late 2019. He was looking for a photographer and we had a mutual friend who recommended my services. After finishing the gig, I sent Brennan the final edits the next day and we stayed connected on social media until we met up again in 2022 to film episodes for The Blackstage.

Q. Do you help out with sound engineering?

A. On production days, either Karl or I would monitor the audio when shooting. But he edits the overall episode.

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Q. Who would you say is your biggest inspiration to pursue your current field?

A. My parents and my Haitian identity.

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Q. What first ignited your passion to pursue all things photography and video creation?

A. My father and uncle ignited my passion. It’s due to them that I have the privilege of generational knowledge. My parents were largely able to purchase their home, because every weekend for many years my father and uncle would photograph and film weddings ceremonies as a team. I even use the very same camera and lens my father used in his work as my primary photography camera.

Q. Do you have any photography or videography hot takes?

A. My hot take is regarding A.I., on hand we must acknowledge that copyrighted work has been used so A.I. can learn. On the other hand, as professionals, we need to fully embrace what A.I. can do for us and how it can make our workload more efficient. It’ll allows us to focus on the creative instead of wasting energy on minutia.

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Q. What other artists inspire/influence your style of work?

A. Edgar Wright, because his work emphasizes the importance/creativity of transitions, and every shot of a film must be thoroughly thought out. Kahlil Joseph, with his unique depiction of the black bodies and combination of music Petra Collins through her hyper stylized and moody work, you’ll see her work and influence on HBO’s “Euphoria.”

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Q. Who is your dream collaboration?

A. Beyoncé.

Q. Your photos of Adrianna Cornish, head of operations of The Blackstage Podcast, were used in an article by Forbes. How does it feel to have your work featured in such a prominent publication?

A. I’m proud that Adrianna was given such a prominent platform to be spotlighted, she’s such a hardworking and driven woman and it was a pleasure to capture her spirit. Personally, I truly feel grateful and honored for the opportunity.

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Q. What is your favorite memory working under The Blackstage Podcast?

A. My favorite memory was during the shooting our most recent experimental project for the podcast. It’s a short that Brennan and I wrote together called “Death to A Creative,” starring two phenomenal actors Danielle Summons and Khalil Kain from “Girlfriends.” It was the last day of production and we were filming the very first scene, which was a long take and a monologue. After Danielle finished saying her lines on that first take, the entire set was in complete shock, basically stunned into silence. Because she delivered it perfectly in one take with so much raw emotion, you can truly see her embody the character.

Q. Of all the people your team has interviewed, who was your favorite guest you’ve had on the podcast?

A. My favorite interview was Virginia Lowman. I wasn’t there the day it was shot, but I remember going through the footage and deciding which clips to post on social media. That episode was a conversation about love. The theme is simple at its core, but Virginia gave such an insightful analysis. It gave me the verbiage/tools on how to be more introspective, in not only the affairs of the heart but of life in general. And I think our Blackstage audience agrees as well.

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Q. For the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, were you there under work for The Blackstage Podcast? What was the experience like?

A. I have a deep appreciation for anyone who takes the risk to fund and put your work out there. It tells me that this is a work you fully and passionately believe in. And that’s why I was at Tribeca, I love going to film festivals to find inspiration and support other artists. But I prefer Sundance Film Festival, the entire city goes all out, and everyone is there for one thing. It was there that I met [Director of “Black Panther,”] Winston Duke and [Director of “Blue Beetle”] Angel Manuel Soto.

Q. What’s the story behind you meeting Hasan Minaj?

A. I sometimes get invited to early screenings of upcoming movies, and he happened to be in attendance. At the end of the movie, I went up to him and introduced myself, then we chatted for a bit.

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Q. Your Instagram page is filled with plenty of city photography. Do you have any favorite spots in NYC to go and take pictures?

A. That’s an ongoing challenge that I put on myself. I’m a native New Yorker, born and raised, but I don’t really travel outside of what I know and with what I’m comfortable with. I took it upon myself to use this as an experience and chance, to travel around New York and get to know the city that I love. My favorite spot is Fort Totten, in Queens. It’s a rocky beach that has the most amazing view of the Throgs Neck Bridge during golden hour.

Q. What has been your best experience working filmography all around NYC?

A. The fact that it allows me to learn so much about the world in such a random order from experts and leaders in their perspectives fields. From directing numerous live events, recording a conference on future black entrepreneurs, and working with a Grammy winning artist.

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Q. In what ways do you feel connected to the Blackstage Podcast’s mission of highlighting cultural black stories? Does that mission influence your work/photography outside of the Blackstage?

A. As a first-generation child of Haitian immigrants, telling and highlighting Black stories is crucial. Being descended from an island that’s been a key factor in the direct freedom of Latin America and the Caribbean, such as Columbia, Venezuela, Brazil etc. is my inspiration. And I find it heartbreaking that stories like that aren’t told or well-known. That is what allows me to empathize with the mission of the Blackstage. In telling stories of the movers and shakers in the black community we are giving a platform in which of those rich and diverse stories are amplified.

Q. What significant goals do you have set for yourself in the future (personal or career-wise)?

A. My goal is to gather a collective that advocates for untold stories.

Q. What would be a word of advice you would give to passionate photographers and filmmakers looking to achieve the same fruitful success you have?

A. You must do 3 things: Work on your craft constantly, develop/maintain professional contacts, and advocate for yourself.

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