This New Podcast Will Change the Way You Think About Philly Teens

mouthful-podcast-stories-of-philly-teens

It seems that podcasts come and go from our cultural conversation. There’s no talk about them, and then something like Serial happens. Then they go away again until a series such as S-Town comes along, and once again we’re all taking about podcasts.

Well, it was around the same time that all of the controversy over S-Town was bubbling up that we learned about Mouthful, a brand new podcast featuring the real-life and often gritty stories of Philly teens.

And while Mouthful doesn’t have the tension of a Serial or the deep darkness of an S-Town, lighthearted it is not. These are moving first-person narratives that shed a light on just how difficult it is to be a teenager today.

Take, for instance, Mouthful, Episode One: One Hundred Sleepless Nights. This first episode is based on a monologue written by Hunter M., a trans high school senior in Philadelphia, and it focuses on issues surrounding trans and non-binary identities.

During the 21-minute episode, host and co-producer Yvonne Latty, a former Daily News reporter and current NYU prof, interviews Hunter M. and teens at Philly LGBTQ youth center The Attic, and transgender TV actor Scott Turner Schofield (you’d know him if you enjoy the guilty pleasure known as The Bold and the Beautiful) performs Hunter M.’s monologue. It’s an intimate, gripping portrait of a trans teenager.

The second episode doesn’t let up.

Mouthful, Episode Two: Comfort features a story written by Science Leadership Academy student Taytiana Velazquez-Rivera, who pens blog posts like “The School to Slavery Pipeline”.

Comfort is all about eating disorders and being an obese kid.

Taysha Canales

Taysha Canales

Noted Philly actress Taysha Canales (she plays Hermia in the Arden’s fantastic Midsummer Night’s Dream, which closes this week), performs Velazquez-Rivera’s sad, insightful monologue, and local clinical psychologist Samantha DeCaro weighs in with her experience treating teens with eating disorders.

By the third episode, we’ve arrived at an examination of race.

Mouthful, Episode Three: Pedestals tells us what it’s like to be a student of color in a school that’s mostly white. In Pedestals, Latty interviews high school students of color who attend private schools in the area, including Olivia Nelson-Haynes, a Penn Charter student who made a video called The Black Boy Project, in which she interviewed black male teens about their experiences.

Nelson-Haynes is also the daughter of Mouthful executive producer Lisa Nelson-Haynes, the head of Philadelphia Young Playwrights. That’s the organization behind the Mouthful podcast.

The episode also includes some perspective from Latty and her own daughter, Nola, a student at Friends Select School.

Yvonne Latty

Yvonne Latty

“As a parent, I am constantly amazed by the complexity of being a teenager today,” says Latty, who has raised two teenagers of her own. “It is not an easy time, filled with rapid change, struggle and awareness. Working on Mouthful has opened my eyes to so much. It has helped me be a better mom, because when you hear these kids express their joys, fears, and hopes so honestly, it opens you up. It makes you look at your own kids and want to listen, really listen, in a way you didn’t before.”

Mouthful officially launched on Thursday, April 13th on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Soundcloud.

The first season of Mouthful is currently slated for ten episodes. Its launch coincides with Philadelphia Young Playwrights’ High School Monologue Festival at the Drake, which features performances of new monologues written by 18 high school students from across the region. Thursday’s opening night show is sold out, but it runs through April 22nd.

As for Mouthful, it will make you change the way you think about Philly teens — and teens in general — and if you have kids who haven’t quite hit those years, it may be a real eye-opener.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter

OPINION: We Can No Longer “Agree to Disagree” About White Privilege in America

Aslan Alphan | iStockPhoto.com

Aslan Alphan | iStockPhoto.com

As the hand-me-down celebration known as Black History Month settles, I’m reminded of the legacy of my ancestors and the inheritance that has historically been denied to me. Culturally, racism is still viewed as a social issue, a realm in which “allies” (those well-meaning white people) can absolve themselves of their white guilt by verbalizing how supportive they are of diversity efforts and interracial harmony. But often missing from our collective narratives of black history and what it means to have such skin color in America during a Trump era is the role that race plays in financial equity and access.

Racism is more than just an individual character flaw and act of social misconduct — it’s the expression of a pernicious system that can’t be defeated with promises of moral sobriety and personal concern. One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding race, in fact, is the illusion that class position can somehow negate white privilege. Read more »

Want to Solve the Mummers’ Diversity Problem? Just Call It “The White Heritage Parade”

"Make Mummerica Great Again" truck at the 2017 Mummers Parade. | Photo by Ernest Owens.

“Make Mummerica Great Again” truck at the 2017 Mummers Parade. | Photo by Ernest Owens.

It’s a new year, and the older I get, the more I have begun to realize that some stuff won’t change because it really doesn’t want to.

Case in point: the Mummers Parade, the age-old Philadelphia tradition that marches along Broad Street every New Year’s Day. You don’t really need me to detail the parade’s racist, anti-LGBTQ, sexist, and culturally insensitive history — there have been plenty of reports in the past of Mummers in blackface, and some mocking transgender individuals and uttering sexist/racist/homophobic slurs. Read more »

Philly’s Biggest Losers of 2016

Background image by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia™

Background image by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia™

Now that the last shreds of wrapping paper have been vacuumed up and the good dishes are finally put away, we revisit our time-honored tradition of taking a look back at the year and the losers, miscreants, and ne’er-do-wells it spawned. (For a more optimistic view of Philadelphia, consider Holly Otterbein‘s Biggest Winners of 2016.)

Ed Rendell

The once-lovable former champion of the everyman now spends his time being largely irrelevant and making facepalm-worthy comments in places like the Washington Post. But when you’re pulling in a cool $5,000 each month to do virtually nothing for a casino in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you probably don’t care. Read more »

That Time (Last Week) a White Man Joked That I Must Be the Coat-Checker

Photo: shironosov/iSotck

Photo: shironosov/iSotck

Holiday parties: for me, either the best of times or the most uncomfortable of times.

As the editor of G Philly, Philadelphia magazine’s LGBTQ channel, and one of the few Black gay journalists working in this city, I’ve become accustomed to a routine that rarely varies. I walk into an event and take stock of the sea of whiteness about to embrace me as if I were Tiger Woods at a PGA golf tournament. The hosts tell me how very happy they are that I came. After that, there’s a round of step-and-repeat photos in which my partner and I are the cute young Black couple that makes event planners feel even more flattered about the “progress” in our “community.”

Read more »

OPINION: As a Black Gay Man, I No Longer Support the Human Rights Campaign

Courtesy of Human Rights Campaign.

Courtesy of Human Rights Campaign.

Just one week before Election Day, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization — the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — is causing a stir. On Saturday, HRC president Chad Griffin, revoked the organization’s endorsement of Illinois GOP Senator Mark Kirk after Kirk made racist remarks against Democrat challenger U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth during a debate. This was the first time in HRC’s 36-year history that it had rescinded an endorsement of a candidate from either political party.

Read more »

Trump Diehards Love the Wheely Wheely Good Food Truck

Alanna Li and Bailin Chen with their Wheely Wheely Good food truck.

Alanna Li and Bailin Chen with their Wheely Wheely Good food truck.

If you decide to go to the debate-watch party at the Republican City Committee headquarters on Cottman Avenue next week, you might see some familiar faces: the owners of the food truck deemed racist by Philadelphia City Councilwoman and second-generation Korean American Helen Gym. Read more »

« Older Posts