Podcast features discussions with Black professionals on race and culture in creative spaces
By Haley Beyer
“Hex Code Black” is a new podcast for Black creatives created by Reonna Johnson and produced with Karen Costello in partnership with Deutsch LA, the creative advertising agency in Playa Vista both women work for.
Along with help from others on the production and design teams, Johnson and Costello have worked nonstop to get the podcast up and running. Costello will help Johnson spread the raw and honest conversations she has with her guests centered around race, culture and creativity from an unapologetic Black point of view.
Johnson, an advertising executive, and Costello, chief creative officer, met through another initiative and by working together at Deutsch LA. Johnson had the idea for the podcast for three years before finally sharing it with Costello, who immediately encouraged her.
“Because of where we work, we could lean on the production team right down the hall from our offices,” Costello says. “I knew Reonna would be perfect to have her own podcast, especially one so intimate that is in your ears, head and heart.”
Once the idea became a reality, it was all hands on deck.
“I work in business, so the creative process was new for me, but I just picked subjects I knew I wanted to be included in the podcast and started from there,” Johnson says.
Johnson found several individuals that she felt would make for deep and meaningful interviews and invited them to chat with her, which were later made into the first episode. But the project wasn’t created to make money or become a career. Costello and Johnson want each episode to really mean something.
Hex Code Black, also known as #000000, is the HTML color code for the color black. HTML color codes are hexadecimal triplets representing the colors red, green and blue (#RRGGBB) used for digital aesthetic design.
“I want every episode to drop some knowledge by actual professionals who can back up the information with the truth and facts,” Johnson says.
“Each conversation will be beautiful and fascinating because sometimes when people are bouncing off one another, the narrative could be completely different from where it originally started,” Costello adds.
Johnson plans to have guests from different creative backgrounds such as scholars, artists and professors. Her dream guest is rapper and record producer Kendrick Lamar.
“We just want people to listen to the episodes and have it open their mind and hearts,” Costello says. “We asked ourselves, what can we do with what we have to make people feel heard and promote empathy?”
“It’s so important that our listeners get something out of it,” Johnson adds. “The reason we are doing this is so people can heal and feel understood through powerful stories being shared and heard. It is such an intimate thing when conversations allow for more connection and dialogue that isn’t being talked about.”
The hardest part for Johnson and Costello has been finding enough time to sit down with the interviewees and get into deep conversations. It is also extremely time-consuming to decide what makes the final cut for an episode. But all that hard work, effort and time is worth the outcome.
“I’m growing, I’m starting to hear and understand the power of my physical voice,” Johnson says.
Costello adds, “And I’m learning from Reonna and the others. It’s the most amazing thing to witness the power of people coming together.”
The first episode of the podcast is available on Apple and Spotify with more episodes on the way.