Chatting with Sonya & Friends
Streaming talk show aims to inspire, encourage, educate, and motivate
These are the four pillars that Erie's soon-to-be newest streaming talk show, Chatting with Sonya & Friends, will abide by — to inspire, encourage, educate, and motivate. The show will feature a diverse group of professional women of color having real — and relevant — conversations. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Sonya Byes, the founder and creator of the program and started by asking her what inspired this direction.
"I've always wanted to create a place and a space for individuals to get together to have meaningful conversations. A place we could engage, empower, and enlighten — all by the way of conversation."
Her goal is to provide an opportunity for viewers to obtain and maintain strength, courage and confidence — to triumph over fear with purpose and passion to live their best life.
And she doesn't want it scripted. "I wanted a talk show. A visible one. A place to have real dialogue — to help change a person's way of being, way of thinking. And create a place in a space for us. And when I say us, I mean women of color."
With the rise in popularity of podcasts I asked why she chose video vs. audio. "For me personally, I'm a visual person. I not only like to hear how people are feeling, I like to see facial expressions. And I like real emotion where you can actually see somebody being enlightened or recognize a glimpse of hope in their eyes. One can't get that from a podcast."
Sonya's also not alone in this venture. Currently, there are five other women that will be mainstays in the group, which includes: Juanita Stokes, Lori Pickens, Vanessa Belen, Alicia Aldridge and Jada Tamplin-Best. "It's a diverse group of women from various backgrounds. We are authors, community leaders, women's advocates, insurance professionals. We are influencers and we're entrepreneurs."
The show will be featured online with hopes of potentially moving to television. "We're going to use Community Access Media (CAM Erie). In each program we will patronize local businesses and nonprofits but we will be filming there." The show will be 30 minutes long, a YouTube channel will be created, and they will be able to share the content via CAM Erie. "We are hoping to produce eight to 10 shows per season." The shows will also feature a variety of guests — both men and women.
"We have a segment called the Mantastic Monday. Essentially, it will be someone killing the game in his area of expertise. Be it his career, his family, or his community engagement. Someone that we feel is making a great contribution towards the betterment of our community."
For the first run, though, it will just be the core group. "The very first show will just be us. We will be introducing ourselves, and who we are talking about. What's to come, and what the audience can look forward to."
I have had the pleasure of knowing Sonya for several years, having the opportunity to get to know her better when we both ran for local office. Sonya's energy and spirit mirrors her mission and objectives of the production. She herself lives with purpose and passion and has often sought opportunities to help other women thrive. I also know that this has been a work in progress for her as well — something nearly 10 years in the making.
"You know, life happens. I lost my mom during the course of planning the show, and I'm a single mom, working a full-time job. I would stop and start and stop and start, but it just never went away. So now my 23-year-old son is in college. I finally healed from the loss of my mom and I'm ready."
Chatting with Sonya & Friends will launch in mid-February. More information can be found on Facebook at: @chattingwithsonya.
Rebecca Styn is the proprietor of Room 33 Speakeasy. She is also VP of Ventures at Erie Innovation District and recently completed her Ph.D. in Leadership and Organizational Learning from Gannon University. Follow Room 33 on Facebook @room33speakeasy, and follow Rebecca on Twitter at @rstyn.