Those who knew already knew, but when Sylvia Obell and Deanii Scott, popularly known as Scottie Beam, announced their podcast “Okay, Now Listen,” ending in 2022 ― you couldn’t deny its impact.
Audiences would tune into bi-weekly conversations led by the best friends who bring energy and real perspective to their chats about pop culture, dating, personal growth and everything in between. Featuring guests like Zendaya, Nia Long and Issa Rae, the Netflix-produced podcast had just hit its Season 3 stride when avid listeners noticed the lengthy time that had gone by since a new episode aired. By the time the hosts announced the news, vowing to be back soon, it was apparent that they hadn’t just gained an audience; they fostered a community.
“I was sad mostly for us not being able to connect with our listeners for a while because there’s so many people who messaged us about how we get them through, how we make them not feel alone,” Obell told HuffPost. “I knew pretty early on that we were going to be OK as far as landing a new show. We were being pitched by all of these companies that we used to as creatives try to pitch who are now fighting for us.”
Among those expressing interest was Rae, who had asked Obell about the status of their show when the journalist profiled her for the ”Today” show’s inaugural digital cover in June 2022. Just over a year later, in July 2023, “The Scottie And Sylvia Show” launched as a part of Raedio’s slate of podcasts, premiering new episodes each Thursday. It’s in company with “Fruit,” “Looking for LaToya,” and “We Stay Looking.”
With their new show, Obell and Scott’s conversations live without restriction and take on a new level of agency that empowers them as much as they aim to empower their listeners. In the first several episodes released, they’ve already explored friendship break-ups, villain origin stories, and the need for taking a damn break every once in a while. Singer-songwriter Victoria Monét has also joined them as their first guest.
Beam said that with this show, they want to continue doing what they’ve come to be known for, pouring into and uplifting Black women. She said that means “everything” to them and that their relationship with their audience was significant in keeping them going.
“I am very appreciative of all the kind words that have been poured into us,” she said. “I think that’s God’s way of telling us to keep going. There might be a speed bump. You have to keep going. You have to keep those feet moving. You can cry, be mad. Go through all the emotions, but make sure those feet are moving forward.”
When I connect with the hosts for a Zoom interview, the general sentiment is that we’re tired from all that life has thrown at us. By the time it’s over, we’re relishing in the power of Black women’s natural ability to pour into each other, even in the middle of life life-ing. For “I Run This,” Obell and Scott discuss reassociating self-value outside of work, what real impact looks like, and growing through sisterhood.
Congratulations on this new show and continuation of your podcasting journey together. What’s different with this show, and what’s the same in comparison to “Okay, Now Listen?”
Obell: What’s different is we can talk about whatever. We get to set the agenda. Before, obviously, it was an arm of marketing. So, you had to make sure you plug that type of stuff in. Whereas now, we don’t really have to worry about, “We got to talk about this, and we got to find a way to implement this.” It’s a lot more about just what we feel like talking about, and that being the main, overarching lead each week.
Weekly has been an adjustment. That is a whole different level of grind. Because, you know, a lot of people think about it, like you’re putting out an episode weekly, but that means you have to plan for next week’s episode, also. And so that’s the difference — same us, same bond, same jokes, you know, same energy.
Beam: When you are authentic, and you’re doing the work, it’s going to look somewhat the same because we are true to ourselves. As far as talking about things that really speak to us, I think that never changes — but definitely being able to say what we want to say for real. Or as far as guests are concerned. Now, we could just have anyone, you know, come and talk as opposed to, like, it having to be somebody network-driven. But mostly, it keeps the same vibe. Like she said, weekly is a change. But being able to share things weekly is something that’s different, too. And being able to really think through that and figure out how we can talk about new things is incredible, too.
Obell: Also, we’ve changed. Not like character, but knowledge. I don’t think we have the same outlook. That year off really brought a lot of lessons and a lot of stuff. So, I think we’re coming at these new episodes with a lot more thoughts. It’s all feeling more elevated to me. We’re more in the position to be on a mic telling people things like when you live, you learn, and then you can share those messages.
And then your names are on the show to speak to y’all having more leverage and ownership. Sylvia, I think it was you who said these men with shows slap their names on any and everything, and we be like, who is this? Why was that aspect important for y’all?
Obell: I think putting your name on something matters. You don’t want to do that unless you know you can own your name to some extent. I also want to give a nod to the fact that we’ve been [in media] for at least 10 years; people know who we are. And to not feel like you have to humble yourself to find a new brand to put yourself on. No, it’s us. We are the brand. We are what’s bringing people in.
“But I think it’s the human reaction to losing things sometimes. And we don’t necessarily see in the future, that something greater is upon us, it’s coming.”
When y’all announced the cancellation, people were ready to riot. It felt like a testament to the community that y’all have built and poured into. In that year off, what was going on for y’all? What were your aspirational hopes for this show, and how did your community show up in those desires?
Beam: I was heavily affected by it ending the way it did. And you know, sometimes, especially when your heart is in things, you take a lot of things personally. And started to really nitpick and pick at things when it wasn’t us at all. But I think it’s the human reaction to losing things sometimes. And we don’t necessarily see in the future that something greater is upon us. It’s coming. But I had some time to be like... Sylvia said, ‘It’s gonna work out, so it’s gonna work out.’
When things like that happen, you start to question your impact. You start to question whether or not the work was being done and stuff like that. And so when we released this show, to see even more embrace and excitement really blew my mind that I spent so much time on something that never mattered. That wasn’t even true. You know, the fact that I was in my head thinking that we were going to be forgotten, and the impact is going to disappear. It was basically fear.
I love that you were the voice of optimism, Sylvia.
Obell: It was hard being inactive. As Black women, especially as career-driven women who don’t have families, so much of our value was in our work, in our career. I don’t know if I’ve been that still in a long time.
When it happened, I was able to look at things a bit more objectively in a sense because I saw the industry situation. I knew pretty early on that we were going to be OK as far as landing a new show. It was more about patience and the process of that. It was the first time in my career that we were being pitched by all of these companies that we used to, as creatives, try to pitch.
For me, hits were coming from all ways: The podcast was ending, and I was going through a breakup. I felt like it was just like everything I thought I had was gone. [I had] to have faith that God has never taken stuff away from me and not given me better. But the gap between those things is where that building happens. That’s the part that life is made of. Living in that void and that balance and learning how to find peace within the storm was a huge exercise. But I felt like a vital one because, unfortunately, as millennials, it seems like we are doomed to a life of unprecedented. I felt like it was a necessary tool I needed to put them after the need. Not just then but always, and I think that learning how to lean on things that are not my career was like a big exercise for sure.
I love that. It’s so ordained how y’all were being pitched like that. Issa Rae is such a force when it comes to making sure that our voices are heard and elevated. What was it about Raedio specifically that made y’all want to make it home for the show?
Obell: I was just as excited about Hoorae/Raedio as anybody else. But what made them different was that I actually knew the person at the top and trusted their taste. I wouldn’t just be a number to them. There was no other CEO of any company that came to us directly and said, “Hey, I want you.” And I think that speaks to the difference right there.
And it was the ease of not having to prove yourself, not having to get things approved by a board of people who don’t understand the culture. We realized we wouldn’t have to do that at Raedio, and that was beautiful to see. It’s also a Black team. And I think from a spiritual standpoint, I felt like a lot of times I picked paths that seemed like a bigger plan. It just felt ordained, and the way the other moves didn’t. And I tried to look for signs like that too where it’s like, all of these things have to happen for us to get here versus like an email. It was happening in a way that felt like this is what God wanted for us.
Beam: RT everything Sylvia said, but also, impact doesn’t have to be explained when it’s felt. And so when you have somebody like Issa Rae who doesn’t really need you to explain your impact and explain the work that you’re doing and what she knows and has her ears and eyeballs to the streets, and also is a Black woman and knows how important this type of content is. It’s great to have in this business. And also something I’ve never really had in this business as far as Black women are concerned. It’s great to have, and it’s something that I can’t wait to learn more about and also learn from Issa.
The chemistry y’all share is undeniable. Y’all met in 2017 at Essence Fest, but what is your bestie love story? At what point did y’all know this bond was the real thing?
Beam: Sylvia came into my life at a very delicate time. It was a very delicate, delicate time. I was very alone. I was in the music industry with mostly men. So, I really didn’t have a lot of girlfriends. But I was realizing, too, during that time that I wanted to talk more to Black women about things. I got the opportunity to go to Essence Fest, which I didn’t even know existed until 2017. So when I went, I was terrified, and not because of anything else ― but I just wanted to be accepted. I didn’t realize how much of a girl’s girl I actually am until I met Sylvia. Our mutual friend introduced us, Gia Peppers.
I connected with Sylvia in such a major way that it changed my life. So, having her there to help me navigate Essence Fest. But to have Sylvia not know who I was at all and be like, ‘I like her vibe.’ And there was no nothing attached to it. I appreciated that, and I stuck to Sylvia.
When we got back to New York, I was at Sylvia’s house, sleeping over on her couch. We were watching ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta,’ and we really created a sister-like bond. And I see that with like my mom and her friends all the time. It seems like it’s a very large community of aunts that I have. But I never knew that I could create that myself until I actually met Sylvia. If I do have kids, they’ll have an auntie team. It started with Sylvia.
Sylvia, what drew you to Scottie?
Obell: I really feel like me and Scottie were meant to be friends. I believe in friend soulmates, and I think that Scottie is definitely one of them. Because it really was such an instant natural bond that’s so hard to explain. We hung out, and I just knew it was like my heart [said], ‘We love her!’ I think that her vulnerability is one of her biggest strong points. It wasn’t like this game of having to figure her out. I feel like I immediately saw her for who she was. And I loved what I saw. I wanted that in my life, too. I just loved her company. We were just on the same page, but it really does feel like it was like I met her, and it was like our souls recognized each other immediately. That’s just kind of how we felt.
The way our friendship evolved, like our personalities just fit. No friendship is perfect. We know that our hearts are here for each other. I think it allows us to give each other the benefit of the doubt. There’s trust. It kind of just makes everything easier. And we’re communicators. I noticed people were afraid to tell me about myself. Scottie is not afraid to tell me about myself.
Beam: My thing [with] friendship: If you give that man that you date a thousand trillion chances to do right, wouldn’t you do the same for friendship?
“It’s almost like watching your purpose on fire. Both of us came into this always wanting to represent Black women.”
Listeners often tell y’all that they feel seen by your show and that they feel like they’re a part of the conversation. What does it mean for y’all to be able to create that space for Black women and like seven male listeners?
Obell: I hear we’re up to 12. [laughs] People were saying 10. At the same time, I’d say time obviously L-O-L we’re joking because the amount of homeboys that were like, “I listen.”
Beam: But let’s keep it at 12.
Obell: If she finds out the real demo, she’s probably going to freak out.
Beam: I’m going to faint.
Obell: But it means the world to us. It’s almost like watching your purpose on fire. Both of us came into this, always wanting to represent Black women. But getting a chance to actually experience that audience and it not just be a figurative thing but become a literal thing is wildly overwhelming and beautiful and gives a sense of belonging. Somebody who interviewed us said how purpose gives you community, but community gives you belonging. I felt that, and it makes me feel like I know what I’m doing this for. Knowing who they are and what they need and listening to them and interacting with them helps make it clear what we need to do which we should be talking about.
Beam: It’s everything to me. It’s how I gauge whether or not we’re doing great or not. Their opinion matters a lot. Also, to have them come to me and tell me exactly what it is that made them light up, what made them cry, what made them call their mom is super important to me. Because it is research, but it’s also something that makes me keep going. I am very appreciative of all the kind words that have been poured into us. I think that’s God’s way of telling us to keep going. There might be a speed bump, but you have to keep going. You have to keep those feet moving. You can cry, be mad. Go through all the emotions, but make sure those feet are moving forward.
What does this show feel like to you?
Obell: It feels warm. Safe. Funny, Lord knows I listened back, and I laughed a lot during the show. They remind me about it on Twitter all the time. I enjoy a show like a consumer. I’m genuinely entertained while we do this. That’s why I’m so joyful. We record on Monday mornings. I’m not a morning person. I’m definitely not a Monday person. The second we get going, the joy just sparks itself because it’s just such a magical space for me and then to get to just talk about these things and commune. So yes, sacred, fun, silly, safe. Those are things that come to my mind about how it feels.
Beam: To me, it would be spiritual. It fills my spirit. It replenishes whenever I’ve had a crazy weekend. Just seeing Sylvia and being able to speak about things. Sometimes, I have to remember that the mic is in front because I’ll almost say something that I can’t say. Every time we do the show, I’m never upset about it. I might’ve been a little tired, but I think this work has a way of coming through when life is extremely tiresome. It wakes me up every time, and it reminds me every time that this journey is worth it. It really connects me with everything. From Sylvia to the listener to the topics to speaking what’s on my heart and on our hearts, it just does. It is so much for me as a human being.
This interview has been edited and condensed for brevity.