The Blue Collar Hustle is a web series about “4 young men from Stone Mountain, Ga who attempt to change their destinies through Music, art, and imagination. All while juggling families, careers, and the realities that come with existing as black men in modern day society”.
First of all, I love this web series, because it depicts real life situations that black young adults face on a day to day basis. The series covers everything from work, relationships, friendships and parenthood. I love how positively black people are illustrated and how every mishap characters face unfolds into a teaching moment.
In episode one “Where I Belong,” Anaya (Tijuana Agnew) is explaining her satisfaction with finally being casted and not being asked to straighten her afro, wear skin lightening make up or act like she had just been in a fight on love and hip hop. Right in the beginning of the episode, viewers immediately resonate to how black people are constantly type casted and portrayed as ignorant in media. After more dialogue, Anaya is leaving and her husband Ajani (Alonge Hawes) tells his wife to ‘stay woke” as she is walking out the door. I love this. All this greatness in the first five minutes is what got me hooked! I could tell that this series was going to be unapologetically black and similar to shows like Insecure.
The next scene is a work setting where everyone in the office is black (YASSSS!) Ajani is giving his employees a motivational speech and after he proceeds to have private one on one meetings with them. I love the scene of the private meeting, because it shows how black people understand and relate to one another. Even though the employee has made some mistakes, Ajani respectfully critiques him and is able to balance the negatives with positives. They are able to have a professional and open conversation and it is in no way uncomfortable. This episode made me wish that there were more of us at jobs, because usually there is one or two black people and a total disconnect between employees and bosses. But I digress LOL.
Out of all the episodes in season one, episode four is my favorite episode. It opens with Anaya in African attire practicing her lines and her performance is so powerful and inspiring it gave me chills. Further into the episode, Quan (Quentin Williams) is heard at work going off on the mother of his child. This ratchet moment blossoms into Quan, Anthony (Howard Woodburn) and Ajani having a deep discussion about relationships and the dynamic between black men and black women. Ajani said something about black men and black women that really stood out to me. He said, “Both sides think that we don’t love each other when we both desperately want and need each other". This conversation they were having was everything. Although totally analytical, a real conversation between bros was illustrated.
In conclusion, I recommend everyone watch the Blue Collar Hustle Web Series. It will make you smile, laugh and maybe even cry. It has the perfect balance of every emotion and is as realistic as it gets. In addition to watching Season One of the series, I was honored to chat with the talented Blue Collar Hustle co- producer/ actress, Shani Hawes:
1. First and foremost, we would like to start with asking you what exactly is the Blue Collar Hustle Web Series?
Blue Collar Hustle is an independent web based series. It deals with young African American millienials living in Stone Mountain Ga, navigating through the joys and perils of young adulthood and the work force.
2. How did you become involved with this illustrious project? Has participation in a web series always been a goal of yours?
Alonge came to me with the script for the first episode and I really loved how it was written. All of the characters felt like very real people who you interact with everyday in Stone Moutain. He asked me if I would be interested in the project and I immediately said yes! I primarily do stage acting however doing a webseries was a goal of mine so I jumped at the chance to be involved in Blue Collar Hustle.
3. For the readers who are unaware, explain your role in the series.
My role in the series is to portray the character Asha Luna. Asha is an intelligent, independent, complex character and I absolutely love being able to play her.
4. We see that you all have won some awards for season one! Can you give us the deets on which ones?
Currently Blue Collar Hustle has been awarded 24 awards from different web fest both national and international. Some of the ones that stand out are from The Global Film Fest fir best web series. The Los Angeles web fest for best original story. As well as the Minnesota Web Fest for best representation of communities of color.
5. What is your favorite thing about working with Blue Collar Hustle Series?
I love being able to work with our extremely talent cast and crew. Working with them and collaborating with everyone to bring Blue Collar Hustle to life has been amazing.
6. We know that the creator, writer, and co director Alonge Hawes is your brother. How is it to be working alongside him and what are the pros and cons of working with family?!
Working alongside Alonge has been awesome! Granted it can be challenging having to adapt to one of your siblings kind of being your boss. But he is my older brother so he has always kind of been my boss lol. He is extremely focused but at the same time he is a good listener and he always makes sure that everyone has a chance to contribute their ideas on set.
7. We are in love with your character Asha! Do you relate to your character in any way? Please explain.
Asha is in an interesting conundrum throughout the first season of Blue Collar Hustle. She is assertive, smart and confident while at the same time doing the bare minimum at work. She is ambitious but doe not feel particularly challenged or appreciated at her job. She knows that she is capable of so much more but has lost the drive to achieve more. For the first time in a long time she is uncertain about her purpose. I can relate and I think a lot of people can relate to the feeling of knowing that there is more to life than clocking in and out of a job everyday and feeling trapped in your same old routine but maybe not knowing yet how to get out of it in order to pursue your life’s purpose.
8. From the relationships, corporate situations and day to day activities, Blue Collar Hustle is extremely relatable! What were the inspirations for this web series?
Alonge Hawes’s life was, is, and will always be the inspiration for Blue Collar Hustle lol. But seriously the entire concept of the show is based on real life experiences from Alonge’s life, my life and some of our cast members lives. Most of the things that happen in the show have happened to us in our real lives.
9. In what ways do you all promote your web series? What would you say has been your most effective platform?
Our most effective platoform has been through our relationship with CAQ.com, and the site’s owner Ms. Joycelyn Okezie. Joycelyn has been incredibly supportive in pushing the series towards mainstream recognition. Both her foresight and belief in our show has been a major catalyst in our early success.
10. In addition to YouTube, we see you are all also on Kweli TV which is HUGE! What are your goals for expansion?
Being apart of KweliTV has been an amazing experience! It was important to both Alonge and myself that the series reach as many viewers across the black diaspora as possible. KweliTV, and another one of our fantastic partners, Seeka.TV, have ensured that the series has been promoted to thousands of potential viewers within our target demographic. That mission remains the same and we have some exciting opportunities on the horizon that hopefully will increase interest in series for season 2 and beyond!
11. In your opinion, Why should viewers watch the Blue collar hustle series?
Viewers should watch Blue Collar Hustle because it is a story as universal and recognizable as the black experience itself. It is a story that, in essence, is a coming of culture for the protagonists. Love, heartache, joy, and sorrow are all present and make for both deep drama and fantastic laughs. We’ve got it all, check us out!
12. Our favorite episode is episode four, but we are dying to know what’s your favorite episode and why?
I love episode four it is definitely one of my favorite episodes. I think the conversation between the three main characters about love and relationships and the different expectations that comes with that is excellent. But my absolute favorite episode is episode five “We Don’t Play Around” because it showcases that even though our four main male characters come from these different backgrounds and may have differing life expirences they can still come together and form a brotherhood and set about achieving their goals reguardless of the odds.
13. Without you giving us too many details, we have to ask what can viewers expect from Season 2 and when is the premiere?
The overall theme of season two of Blue Collar Hustle will be exploring the effects of post traumatic slave syndrome as defined by Dr. Joy Degrury. It describes a set of behaviors or actions associated with the multi-generational trauma experienced by African Americans within this country. Season two will test and strain our characters to reveal their strengths and their weaknesses. It will showcase their capabilities to either come together and succeed, or fail alone. We are hoping to release season two in the fall of this year.
Michaela P. Shelton is Managing Editor of CSUITEMUSIC.com
Read more from Michaela at Darealmichaela1.com