The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond

Creative Survival in Academia & Beyond ft. Dr. Carlos Camacho & Dr. Omar Ramadan-Santiago

October 20, 2021 Carmela Season 1 Episode 1
The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond
Creative Survival in Academia & Beyond ft. Dr. Carlos Camacho & Dr. Omar Ramadan-Santiago
Show Notes Transcript

Sociologist/writer Dr. Carlos Camacho and anthropologist/visual artist Dr. Omar Ramadan-Santiago are The Millennial PhD's first guests. Together we talk about the value of art and creativity as a liberatory practice, and as a survival tactic for getting through academia's exploitative conditions.

Who will survive in America? Oop, we mean "academia".

Follow The Millennial PhD on Instagram for podcast updates + other creative alt-ac content at: @TheMillennialPhD.
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Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani - aka your host, Mela - is a sociologist, dancer, and creative consultant.

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Speaker 1 (00:15):

Welcome to the very first episode of the Millennial PhD, where we're gonna be talking about art, creativity, and radical humanity in motion. I'm your host Carmella and our first guests, our Dr. Omar Ramadan Santiago, and Dr. Carlos Em Camacho. In addition to being doctors and anthropology and sociology respectively, Omar is an amazing visual artist, and Carlos is a budding screen writer. Welcome guys. 

Speaker 2 (00:41):


Speaker 1 (00:43):

<laugh>. So you are two of my favorite people around and also kind of my academia comrades. Uh, and you're also two people with amazing artistic talents and creative vision for yourselves. We did do a podcast together in 2020 called Play Hype Dialogue, which was a highlight of a very tough year. Um, so you're also my OG podcast buddies. So guys, let's jump in and why don't you tell us a little bit about yourselves. 

Speaker 2 (01:10):

All right, so my name is Omar, um, Melissa, PhD in anthropology. I'm at these two clowns, uh, in our graduate school. I went to this dollar department to get a break from my people, and I met these two and I've never looked back, <laugh>. So right now I have a writing fellowship and that's what's been, that's sort of like, you know, my, with paying the bills that I don't have cause I moved back home. But, um, and also I do, uh, digital art on the side, usually focused on like kind of mythology and, uh, stuff related to my own ethnicity. So I'm enjoying that and that's sort of my creative outlet to give me some points of sanity in these times. So take it away. Car 

Speaker 1 (02:05):


Speaker 3 (02:06):

I didn't wanna jump in too soon. Um, so yeah, like, uh, Carmella said, I'm Carlos, uh, newly minted PhD in sociology. Um, also Woo, uh, <laugh>. Yes, finally <laugh>. We'll talk about it. Very excited to, uh, see what comes next, uh, with the creative pursuits, um, doing the screenwriting thing as well as doing some side consulting work, um, in addition to adjuncting to, uh, pay the bills and, uh, figure out my pivot. Figure out what I'm gonna do next. 

Speaker 1 (02:40):

Beautiful. Thank you guys so much for sharing. Uh, really excited to call you Dr. Kama. Uh, I wanna build on this by asking a question that I've been starting a lot of interviews for the season with, which is when you meet someone, how do you describe what you do now? 

Speaker 3 (02:57):

Um, because I'm newly minted, I have no clue what I'm gonna say going forward, <laugh>. Um, but what I've been saying usually is like, I'm a student, I'm a grad student. Um, occasionally I'll bust out that I'm a teacher, um, because I do, uh, teach, um, as an adjunct. Um, but I don't really bring up any of the creative stuff unless I'm with creatives or there's an environment where it feels safe to talk about those creative pursuits. It's not really something that in general we can talk about with more straight laced academic audiences. Be like, Oh yeah, I'm also working on this art project. It's like, and not a journal article and not a book proposal and not any of these other things. 

Speaker 1 (03:42):

<laugh>. Right? Yeah. That's hilarious. Why do you, why do you feel like that is Carlos? 

Speaker 3 (03:49):

I mean, part of it's the nature of the beast. Like to get tenure, to get a tenure track job to survive in academia, post Corona in particular. Like, it's the whole publisher parish thing that really gets driven into you in your pre-grad school application process. And then when you're in grad school from jump there, really driving this into you like, this is what you have to do, You must be focused on this. There's no, up until more recently, there's no real conversations about alternate, um, paths with your PhD TAC or non at gigs. Certainly not getting your PhD and then going to do art. Like no one's really talking about that, but here we are talking about it. <laugh>. 

Speaker 1 (04:33):

Yeah, definitely. I, I had mentioned to you guys before we started recording that the full title of the this podcast is the Millennial PhD Colon Creative Survival in Academia and Beyond. Um, and I put that kind of like that term creative survival in there to think a little bit about the fact that I feel like academia, um, really kind of like asks us not to be fully fleshed out mm-hmm. <affirmative> in humans. Um, and especially kind of when it comes to creative work or like artistic stuff, it's just oftentimes framed, I feel like, as like less, less intellectual and less important. I feel like that's stripping down. Um, for me it is like, it was very depoliticizing, almost like going through eight or nine years in, in the PhD program. Um, and just kind of like having to, um, sector off those parts of myself and see them as like, not, not valid. Um, I don't know. What do you think Omar? 

Speaker 2 (05:34):

Um, yeah, all of that. I think, uh, part of the issues that we're kind of expected, and I don't, it's not like we get this from professors, I get it more from like people in the cohort. You're just expected to like be this always working, always studying, always writing and researching. And it's like, if you're not, then it's like, well then what are you doing doing? You know? And, and I feel like we almost set up this weird comparison model where we're just like, Oh, this one's published this already. Like what am I doing? You know? And, um, 

Speaker 1 (06:08):

Oh yeah, for sure. Um, a and I think the reality is right now, as, as we all know, is that for most people who finish PhDs right now, there's not like a stable full-time job waiting for them in academia on the other end of it. Um, so the other thing I've been thinking about a lot is like, how do we envision new pathways forward, um, for ourselves as like, almost like a generation of academics. Not that this is brand new cuz it's been happening for a long time, but, um, Carlos, you mentioned like naac and alag, the different terms that come up for what it looks like to use these skills and passions that a lot of us have that are directed toward social change or are directed toward mentorship. Like I feel like a lot of us went into this to, cuz we wanted to work with students, we wanted to work on political education. Um, so how do we direct those skills that we put all this time into in different and creative ways? Um, because it's, it's real unstable out there <laugh> 

Speaker 2 (07:09):

Basically, if you have an answer to that question, let us know cuz we really need to know <laugh>. 

Speaker 1 (07:14):

Yeah, right. Call, call in Matt, call with your, your reflections. Um, and especially, you know, like it's very economically unstable. Um, and the three of us, I've talked about how like a lot of times creative work or artistic work is framed or seen as this like super unstable field or, or set of fields. Um, but academia is, is really like just as precarious in a lot of ways. 

Speaker 3 (07:40):

It's definitely fraught. Um, there's this image that it's this super stable thing that once you get in you're good, but it's, um, so I attended a, um, meeting, um, about how to sort of navigate academic promotions at a particular college campus and the, who do you have to jump through? It's hard and like you can fail a lot and that failure isn't really discussed in sort of more open circles the way failure is in the arts or in other, um, realms of like figuring out how to pay your bills. Like you can fail everywhere, <laugh>. Um, nothing is really stable, especially, um, again, we're recording this while the pandemic is still raging on, like there's a lot that has been, uh, sort of shattered a lot of illusions about what stability looks like, um, in this economy. And it's like nothing, nothing is stable. Um, so it's about how to figure out that pivot. 

Speaker 1 (08:43):

Yeah, I definitely feel like the people have been grappling over the last year and a half with many things. And among them is also like the, the burn, the like intense burnout and the intense like economic exploitation that people are experiencing at work, um, with poorly ba conditions. Um, you know, crappy work hours. No, no real space for like full humanity or full wellness. Um, so I think this is it. I mean we're talking about, we're framing it around academia right now, but I really feel like it's something that resonates with a lot of people around our age group and probably, you know, in any, you know, younger than us and older than us as well and what people are going through. Um, so in, in some ways I feel like it's like, well how do we reimagine our survival and um, the like economic lifelines that we can create for ourselves? 

Speaker 2 (09:38):

It was interesting because when the pandemic started it around that time, um, I was taking a bunch of like these online webinars of like new skill, you know, all that kind of stuff. And in the common amount of people let me live my life, the amount of people who were like, Oh yeah, I got fired and so now I'm looking for something else. Or like, Oh, my job is like, it's getting a little shaky so I need to see what else I can do. People being like, you know, I need to be able to have remote work, you know, as well, just in case like, it, it, I know it's surprised like it was people who were like, Yeah, I've been in my job 30 years, you know, 20 years, whatever. I thought it was gonna be a lot of like millennials in Gen Z. Just, you know, but I was surprised how many like older folk were also in there. 

Speaker 1 (10:27):

Yeah. And go go, go ahead Carlos. 

Speaker 3 (10:30):

No, I was just gonna say like, yeah, there, it's very widespread in this current moment. Like a lot of folks are, um, struggling, which is why I appreciate that subtitle to this podcast to think about creative survival, think about the multiple ways we can pivot and gain skills. Um, so for myself, I took a couple of screenwriting classes during the dissertation writing process, um, to Yeah, you did <laugh> to figure out like, can I do this? Like, cuz writing is, writing is writing, but the types of writing the way you formulate sentences, the structure is different based on what you're doing. Like writing poetry is not writing a novel, you're still writing, but it's a different skill skillset. You have to sharpen your tools in a different way. Um, and so I was like, in case this academia thing don't work or I no longer desire to do it after this whole dissertation process, Like, can I use the writing piece, the, um, the way you write observation notes or take interview notes or do your field notes. Be able to pivot that type of view of the world and use it for setting up a scene in a screenplay, setting up a scene in a play, um, doing something a little different, but then also thinking about the skills I have as a teacher Mm. As a researcher and what those can be used for in other arenas as well. 

Speaker 1 (12:07):

Yeah. It's in it, it's interesting because I feel like the couple of years leading up to finishing my degree and the years on the academic job market were so like harrowing <laugh>, um, in particular because like, it's, it's extremely competitive and it feels like all of your power is completely taken away from you or you never had it <laugh> to start with. Um, so doing, just like knowing that it's coming, um, the, you know, the time to go on the academic job market and then going for it and jumping through all of the like really intense hoops, um, that are associated with it. And then mm-hmm. <affirmative> basically working your ass off to just have some, um, you know, your prospects for whether or not you're gonna have a career at all in this field, be in the hands of, you know, kind of like nameless, faceless search committees at different institutions, um, was ex for me, like ex extremely, extremely disempowering and stressful. 

Um, which is no, not, probably not like news to anybody. Um, but one thing that was a little surprising to me and helpful Carlos, in the vein of what you were saying about kind of like having, um, ideas for how to pivot was having my like dance practice, which was never, like, never meant to be like the stable economic course in my life, you know? And not that it, not that it is like necessarily a super stable thing, but being able to like to have dance and be able to kind of like teach dance classes or teach dance privates. Even just having that like, I like kind of a lifeline. It was like a creative lifeline, um, but it also allowed me occasionally to have an economic source of some income that was outside the control of these institutions. Um, many academic institutions which present themselves as like kind of progressive minded but are really elitist and are really exploitative, um, and are really trying to like suck whatever labor they can get out of you, um, for the lowest possible amount. Um, having that kind of economic creative lifeline was, was really helpful for me. Um, it was really meaningful. Um, and that was kind of an unexpected piece of the process. 

Speaker 2 (14:29):

Remember when I was first reading about, um, Headed Sini, he's an Afghan author who actually, he was a physician first and he wrote his first novel while doing that. And so what I love is that like, sometimes the creative aspect is not even to get out of academia is just to have something else mm-hmm. <affirmative> that we can, you know, you have an outlet so you can do better if within academia. I mean, I mean I I actually just checked up on it and he ended up leaving his practice, you know, since he became so successful as a novelist, but yo good for him. You know what I mean? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's like, so sometimes it's, it's just also acknowledging that it's not even like you need to be able to make a living off of your creative mm-hmm. <affirmative> something like a way to, you know, change it up a little bit, you know, so you got reinvigorated even. 

Speaker 1 (15:24):

Yeah, definitely. And also, I mean, just to be clear, like it's not, I Art is not only valuable if you can make money off it, um, and it's nice to kind of make, as you said, Omar, like just kind of like have that, have that lifeline or have that practice available to you. Um, even if, even if it is kind of a passion project or, or a side quote unquote side hustle, um, to me it even just feels like if I lose my job at the end of this academic year, which is like always, always up for grabs, like always in question, um, would I have an economic cushion? No. But would I have a practice that could at least <laugh> Yeah, we thought I was gonna say yes. Is that right? I 

Speaker 2 (16:09):


Speaker 1 (16:11):

But I would at least have something, you know, like an option of like, well I guess I'll put my energy there and have something as opposed to, you know, really nothing because academia is, it's on, you know, for anyone listening that doesn't know, like it's on one basic cycle. Um, so the hiring portion only happens at like one particular time of the year. Um, and again, it's incredibly, um, contingent and incredibly competitive. So it does feel like my heart feels lighter knowing that I can at least turn to my creative practice, even if it would be like, it would be rough <laugh>. 

Speaker 2 (16:48):

No, that was, I remember when the pandemic hit and all of us were like applying to stuff and a lot of us of their applications, they were, you know, was canceled, the position was closed because they couldn't, we, uh, we went into like a little bit of panic mode, like, Yeah, what else we do else can we do mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, and it, it's not even, it is what create our creative pursuits also it's, you know, alternative academic pursuit. Like just something, because I think none of us really expected what was happening and Right. Was a big wake up call for a lot of people. 

Speaker 1 (17:23):

Yeah. It was. I and I think in higher ed and other industries, like things were already bad <laugh> for workers in a lot of ways mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then of course the pandemic really exacerbated it. Um, and I got, I got my job offer like on the day that we were going into lockdown, um, in the pandemic and the day that, I guess it was New York. York City. Perfect. 

Speaker 2 (17:47):

I remember you 

Speaker 1 (17:48):

Were, you were worried the whole time from that was March until the day I wa I started teaching that they were gonna withdraw it. Um, the, my job offer, because that was happening to people too, um, that people had gotten offers that were then rescinded, which is, um, a pretty big deal as well. Um, so it definitely felt, feels extra unstable. Um, so let's talk, let's like pivot a little bit and talk about the fun stuff, <laugh> 

Speaker 2 (18:20):

Now that we're like successfully sad 

Speaker 1 (18:23):

<laugh>. That's, it's rough out there. Um, Omar, can you tell us a little bit about your art? Like, first of all, when did you start making art, um, and how would you describe what, what, like what is the medium that you consider yourself? It's digital art, I think, but tell us a little bit about that. 

Speaker 2 (18:44):

Yeah, well I start, I mean it's, you know, I'm gonna do that like typical arts. I've been drawing since I can remember, which I mean, I mean it's true. I've always been like that kid that, um, you know, always, uh, drawing different, trying different me a lot of different mediums. I've done metal work and sculpture and clay and markers and, you know, um, wire work. That was a fun phase. But, uh, yeah, just trying a different bunch of different mediums and it was actually, I never thought I would get into digital art because there was a part of me that that was like, like, ah, I don't know, that's not real. Like there's no pencil on paper and then I did it. I'm never going back. I'm never going back. This is amazing. Um, and it was actually a gift to myself. I said, when I finish my dissertation and defend it, I'm gonna get myself, um, an iPad so that I can do digital art. 

And I did it and it, it's been great. And so that's my chosen medium now. And I think what's nice about it is because it makes, um, it makes it easier if you do want to sell it, in my opinion, because with traditional art you have to find either a very high quality scanner or reproduce or whatever. Whereas with digital, it's already in a final that's easily accessible. And accessibility was kind of like a big thing for me as well, um, in terms of my art. And so, yeah, I'm now a digital, it's weird to say cuz I'm still very new to digital art. Um, and I'm still trying to figure out my own style. But I think that's a fun part of it, is that you kinda experiment different, um, styles and like seeing what you, and you know, the art that I did a year ago looks nothing like the art I'm doing now. And, um, it's nice and then I'm, I'm able to, I I you forget that you can still use the art to still be a storyteller of sorts. 

Speaker 1 (20:39):

Mm. I love that. 

Speaker 2 (20:40):

Yeah. And I create worlds and so I'm, that's sort of what I'm doing now and I'm getting pretty, pretty excited about that. Cause then before I was just like sketching up stuff and it's, it's nice. I think every artist of any kind should have like a passion project where it's not about, um, sort of just like, Oh, what will the audience like? It's just like, this is what I've always wanted to create and so I'm gonna do it. So. 

Speaker 1 (21:07):

So if somebody turned to you today and they were kind of just starting out expressing themselves through visual art, um, what are some things you would tell them or recommend to them? 

Speaker 2 (21:20):

Um, the one thing that every, you always see, like other artist online is like, don't compare yourself to others, which is very hard. I feel like that's a good advice. But I think it's also really hard in the art world because, um, you're literally just looking at like someone's drawing and being like, Wow, I cannot do that. But, you know, so I think one thing is, you know, finding artists that you love but not comparing yourself to them. And then two is your style will develop naturally over time. Like a lot. One of the biggest questions, how do I find my art style? And everyone's always just like, just keep drawing and, you know, and it, which just sucks because it's like annoying, but it's, it's kind of true, you know, you, And I think a good way is to like, look at artists that you like and, and never copy, but you can, you know, take inspiration and see like maybe there's something about their style that you like, that you want to incorporate into your own, not the entire thing. Maybe you like their line work, maybe you like their, their shading technique, their co you know, obviously don't co copy everything. Don't copy anything unless you're practicing. That's like, that's like the big thing like, you know, in the art world. Um, but yeah, and I think it, it works with like musicians and like all kinds of artists and, you know. 

Speaker 1 (22:44):

Yeah, I definitely felt what you said about don't the compare, don't compare yourself advice <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Because for me as a dancer, like I just, I, it just, I feel like some people develop this understanding earlier, but it just took me years and years to stop seeing dance as like a, like a, a scale or like a continuum where it's just like, I'm he, I'm, you know, I'm this good and so and so is like this much better or I can't do this. And I have to be the best at everything to be, to have any place in the dance world. Not even to quote unquote be successful, but to like have a place here. Um, and I just like years, um, I'm still deconstructing that because den is also art and it's like people, you develop your own style and you everybody has strengths and things that they're kind of, they're drawn to or that they lean into, um, in, in powerful ways. And I just like, you know, I wish that I had had that orientation toward it earlier because I think there was definitely some years where the stress of trying to get better on like a, you know, one to 10 scale, like a very linear scale of what's good versus not good. Just kind of, not only was it stressful, but it also like detracted from my development as, as an artist I think. Um, because I call 

Speaker 2 (24:10):

It out now. What are your strengths? Let's hear 'em, 

Speaker 1 (24:12):

<laugh>, Don do this to me. 

Speaker 2 (24:15):

I really, I'm seeing videos and I already have an idea. Certain aspects of your, 

Speaker 1 (24:20):

Uh, um, I mostly like my big strength is like, I have like a powerful energy. Um, I think when I'm, 

Speaker 2 (24:28):

I was gonna say your face <laugh>, 

Speaker 1 (24:31):

My face is wild <laugh>. Yeah. Your face. 

Speaker 2 (24:34):

Like, do yourself a favor and look up these videos and one say you can see Carmella's face because it is fantastic. The, I I, because I, I honestly, because I did dance in college and Yeah, 

Speaker 1 (24:47):

You did. 

Speaker 2 (24:47):

Oh yeah. Little show. No <laugh>. But, um, but no, the big thing, any dancer, if they have that kind of stage presence and it's showing on the face that joy, they're automatically like the ones that everyone's looking at, you know? And, and people I feel like are more intrigued by that than technical, um, pr you know, maybe not like in a competition per se, but, you know. No, but I think even in competitions, like 

Speaker 1 (25:14):

You need that 

Speaker 2 (25:15):

Not attractive, what's the word I'm looking for? Um, compelled 

Speaker 1 (25:19):


Speaker 2 (25:20):

Yeah. Yeah. They're the ones that, you know, grab your attention, you know, So. 

Speaker 1 (25:26):

Yeah, for sure. And I definitely got notes over the years that were like, fix your face <laugh>. Like, Oh, you need to work on your expressions cuz like, what comes out naturally doesn't look right. And I was just like, we do not care. <laugh>. Right. 

Speaker 2 (25:40):

That was a critique I got in my academic writing that you're like, it's a little too colloquial and um, like accessible. And I was like, ah, these aren't problems to me. <laugh>, <laugh>. So I think it's also like what other people consider your weakness could very well be your strength and maybe this that's your weakness because they don't have it. So 

Speaker 1 (26:04):

Yeah. And it's always, I mean, it's always helpful to like get a note, but it's also another thing that took me a long time to develop is like, everybody's got something to say <laugh>, you know what I'm saying? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> like every audience member, every like, random social me with, you know, the, with art. And so every like random social media person that's passing through and having to glance at your stuff has, has a thousand opinions about it. Um, or, or potentially has an opinion to share. Um, and sometimes it's easy to get bogged down with trying to please everybody or being afraid of like, really of criticism or critique. Um, but I think that's a learning process and a curve as well. Just like, okay, well everybody's gonna have something to say. So at some point I can't carry it all. Um, I can only take what's useful from that and helpful and move from there. Um, so Carlos, let's talk about <laugh>. Let's talk about you <laugh>. Um, what inspired you to start taking the screenwriting course? 

Speaker 3 (27:05):

So I'll try to consolidate the story. <laugh>. Um, so in high school I went to an art school and did TV and film production. Um, 

Speaker 1 (27:18):

Wow, I didn't know that. That's so cool. What? 

Speaker 2 (27:23):

I was mad embarrassed. I was like, Oh, everyone knew this but me, but okay, 

Speaker 1 (27:26):


Speaker 3 (27:27):

No, no. Cause I don't really, like, once you get past high school, you never wanna be one of those people who's like, Well, in high school I did this <laugh>. 

Speaker 1 (27:36):

Yeah, don't tell that that end Drew <laugh>. 

Speaker 3 (27:39):

Speaker 1 (27:40):

Say, I used to ball in high school. I'm like, Yeah, good. So on 

Speaker 2 (27:46):

How many decades ago? No. Good 

Speaker 1 (27:48):

<laugh>? Oh 

Speaker 3 (27:52):

Yeah. So in high school I did TV and film production. Um, it used to be called communications, but there was, uh, a radio studio. We had a television studio, we did the morning news. So I was really into like media creation. Um, I did a documentary for, um, Buffalo Media Resources, Squeaky Wheel. Um, it was the portraits of Main Street Youth Media Project. I'm probably butchering the name after all these years. Um, so it's been a desire to sort of do the TV film thing. Um, but when you're planning to go to college as a, uh, young Puerto Rican person, as a sort of person who grew up working class, um, you're not really thinking about the arts as like a potential career as like a, uh, a real possibility. Um, so I was like, I'm gonna do psychiatry, so I'm gonna do psych and pre-med for my undergrad. 

Um, and very soon realized that that was not for me. Um, so in grad school, trying to sort of survive and deal with the ups and downs of being a PhD student, being, um, a PhD student in New York City who is doing tons of adjunct work to sort of pay tuition and pay the bills, um, I needed to have something for my spirit. Um, so I developed a legio spiritual practice that really sort of bolstered my confidence in a lot of ways and was a lot of the necessary healing that I needed. Um, but I needed the art piece to sort of balance that out. So I used to write poetry, so I started doing that again and I was like, 

I'm, I didn't think about poetry as sort of the way I was like, well, let me see screenwriting. So there's a podcast cuz of course there's a podcast, um, called the Bechtel Cast. Um, and the co-host was teaching screenwriting cuz she has a master's degree in screenwriting. She doesn't like to bring it up. <laugh>. Um, it's a writing joke from the show. Um, so she's like, Hey, I'm doing a screenwriting class, um, folks, if you're interested, let me know. And I was like, you know what? Fuck it, why not? Um, I hope language is okay, <laugh>, um, <laugh>, please. Okay, yeah, that's fine. So I was like, why not? Um, I should be writing a dissertation, but it just wasn't flowing. I was still doing data collection to a certain degree, so I was like, why not? Um, it would check the box of doing the, the, the writing piece. It would do the sort of fulfillment and creation piece. Um, and then it may become, uh, a financial thing, which now I'm sort of leaning into and like, Yes, please pay me to do this thing. Um, but it just, it, I needed to do something. And so taking the screenwriting class just opened the possibility. Um, especially not to be shady, but you watch some TV shows on Netflix or you watch some movies on Amazon Prime and you're like, I could do this. <laugh> 

Speaker 2 (31:07):

The opinions are, those do not match the opinions of all of us. Netflix and Amazon 

Speaker 1 (31:12):

<laugh> Omar was trying to get hired. He's like, Whoa, no, I I never see anything I don't like. It's beautiful. All of it. Um, Carlos, I wanna do some like dreaming visioning con conversation with you right now. Um, where, where could you see yourself taking the screenwriting, um, in your, in your, what's like, what could be the big dream vision there for you? 

Speaker 3 (31:46):

I mean, big 

Speaker 1 (31:47):

Dream, no pressure, <laugh>, <laugh>. 

Speaker 2 (31:51):

Like tell us all your hopes and dreams right now. 

Speaker 1 (31:53):


Speaker 3 (31:55):

Speak it. A podcast that's gonna forever on the internet. So if I fail 

Speaker 1 (32:01):

Or if you succeed, we got night evidence. 

Speaker 3 (32:07):


Speaker 1 (32:08):

You be that guy that, um, played Ch Chi and then like had the tweet from when he 

Speaker 3 (32:15):


Speaker 2 (32:16):

When you said like, what's your dream? I was like, he's like, he's clearly gonna be the green writer for the Marvel film. Ladi Kenya, Boom, 

Speaker 1 (32:28):


Speaker 3 (32:29):

<laugh>. Talk to me from your mouth to God's ears <laugh>. Um, yeah, to be honest, and I'm getting more comfortable admitting this, honestly, it's like doing the writer director thing. Yeah. Like writing my screenplays and then directing them and bringing them to the screen the way I want without some of the, the racist, sexist, homophobic fuckery that we critique on our other podcasts. Um, and that, uh, we do in some of our academic work, sort of calling out the, the structures that are in play, not reproducing those for the next generation to consume in their media. 

Speaker 2 (33:10):

How dope would it be on a play, have dialogue to be like, And now we're gonna be discussing Carlos, 

Speaker 3 (33:19):


Speaker 1 (33:19):

My god, the latest Kama film coming out the, 

Speaker 2 (33:24):

You already your first folks. 

Speaker 3 (33:26):


Speaker 2 (33:27):

Is Oscar Win? We have, 

Speaker 1 (33:30):

Oh my God, stop. I'm 

Speaker 2 (33:32):


Speaker 1 (33:34):

I love it. 

Speaker 3 (33:35):

But yeah, no wildest dreams it would be doing that. And so right now I'm doing some consulting work, freelance, um, sort of engage with like racial equity stuff and the teaching. So it's like, 

Speaker 1 (33:49):

I don't know, let's talk about that for a minute because I, I do feel like consulting is one of these like, mysterious fields and that's like a theme in a lot of the conversations I've had with people. Um, people who do write for TV or they work for, uh, you know, as a music director on Broadway or even work in the wellness industry. Um, and I feel like these are kind of these desirable careers or practices, um, practices, practices, projects, <laugh> things, um, that also can be really mysterious to people. But like what does that mean? Um, and how does one get started? So Carlos, um, what are you, what are, what do you mean when you say consulting? Um, what are you doing there? And then Omar, we could hop over you cause I know you do some consulting as well. 

Speaker 3 (34:40):

Yeah. Uh, so part of how I found this particular position, um, I follow a lot of people on Instagram <laugh>. Um, so we have a podcast, so I follow people because of that. And then the podcast I listen to, I follow those people and then they recommend folks. And so there's like this larger network of like people who know people that you know. Um, and so one of these comedians posted this, uh, posting, looking for an academic expert on, um, critical race theory and a couple of other sort of subfields um, and theoretical perspectives. And I was like, I don't know if I'm what you're looking for, but here's my cv, here's who I am, here's what I do. Um, and this particular, um, firm, she liked what I was, uh, coming to the table with. So she's like, Hey, this is the project we're working on. Can you help us write up this, uh, report, do these recommendations? So it's like a little bit of the academic work that I was doing, um, sort of citing your sources, talking about this historical trajectory, talking about recommendations, but then also it's in this realm of something creative. Um, so it's sort of checks, um, multiple boxes. And so I kind of stumbled into it. Um, but I'm sure with Omar there's a bit more, um, that you can say about that piece. 

Speaker 2 (36:07):

You don't know me? No. Um, 

Speaker 3 (36:09):


Speaker 2 (36:10):

It was, it was, honestly, it was, um, I think with the consulting for me it was about connections and knowing people. Um, one of my good college, uh, was working as a cultural consultant and I was saying like, that's something I think I can do. So I reached out to him and I was like, Listen, I'm gonna be honest. I'm very interested in what you're doing. I'm just wondering, you know, what's going on with that? Do you? And he was like, Listen, I know you from college, I know your work. Um, I could use like someone like you on my roster, you know, you know, cuz people hit me up asking like, Hey, do you have someone who can do this and this? And I know that you can do this and I can't. So, and it all started from there. And then I think, um, like with any work thing, it's just like if you do a good job, they will probably hire you back or will recommend you to people who are looking and it kind of just branches out from there. 

It's definitely slow because, you know, you, you, they're like moments when you don't get any jobs and then, but then like as you keep getting your name out there and people are like satisfied with your work, um, then it kind of just grows from there. Um, and then, you know, it, it also leads to like other stuff. Like, you know, you start consulting for like, I don't know, like a, like a role playing game and then you kind of like branch out into more different opportunities and different kinds and you know, uh, right now it's still in that like, kind of freelance like, Hey, hit me up if you need someone, but you know, you never know what you can do with that, you know? Mm-hmm. 

Speaker 3 (37:45):


Speaker 1 (37:48):

Super interesting. Um, and I do think you, you, there's similarities in what you said, which is basically I put yourself out there, connect with people where you can like let people know about your work if you can. Um, and it, you know, I mean obviously apply if there's a specific posting that comes up that might be of interest, but, um, I definitely heard a lot of networking and um, you know, I think that requires that we put ourselves out there a little bit, um, which is all tough I think, but, um, it can be important. Um, so let's talk about, um, we can maybe kind of like start to wind down a little bit. Um, I wanted to ask you guys, what would you say is a rose and a thorn, uh, of your, your entire kind of career right now? So you can put academia and whatever this mix of academia and creative work that we all do mush it together and like, what's, what's something that arose a thorn? I mean something that you love about it or something that's going well and then maybe something that's not so pleasant. 

Speaker 2 (39:01):

You go first. Carlos <laugh> 

Speaker 1 (39:03):


Speaker 3 (39:06):

Um, I guess one of the roses is meeting people, um, and building relationships and deepening relationships that you already have by having these new kinds of conversations. Um, so meeting, um, the woman who runs the firm that I'm doing this freelance work with currently, um, like I now know someone who's doing this dope work, um, and engaging with some of my other friends and was like, Hey, I'm not really filling the academic thing. I'm thinking about pivoting in such and such way. So it's like, Oh really? Cuz um, so like having the, the conversations things can really, um, sort of grow. And so I guess arose for me is sort of deepening those relationships, getting new relationships with people. Um, and then the thorn is starting figuring out how to put the pieces together, 

How to get things in line in a way that makes sense. Being able to sort of switch your hats going from, okay, I'm writing this academic article to, I'm, um, doing this report where maybe having tons of citations and work cited pages like is not as important as like, what's the meat of what can we do better as a company producing this particular type of media. Um, so I think it's just sort of that navigating the different realms, figuring out where to start. Um, and I guess for me, taking the plunge in the first place to say, Hey, this is what I wanna do. Um, this is what I would like to Yeah. Envision for myself. 

Speaker 1 (41:00):

Yeah, I definitely hear that. 

Speaker 2 (41:04):

So for me, uh, cuz as I said, I have a writing fellowship, so, um, the kind of the rose is, you know, you think you get sick of your dissertation and you do for a little bit, but then now it you're sort of, you get a little bit more free reign to kind of write what you want and work on a project that, you know, you're pretty passionate about for years. So hopefully it's still, so that's a rose for me, like getting to continue working on that manuscript and, and seeing what develops out of that. Um, and I think the thorn is, you know, kind of still not knowing exactly what the year, the next year will look like. I think that, um, it, it's different than a lack of stability because in a sense, like right now I'm stable. Um, but then it's sort of like if someone asks me, Where do you see yourself in five years? There's no answer there, you know, it's very up in the air, you know, And I think that that's one of the things, it's sort of like one of the beauties and curses of academia is you could be anywhere, but that can be scary if you don't know where that anyway's gonna be. <laugh>. 

Speaker 1 (42:25):

Yeah. Word. Yeah. I definitely felt all of that <laugh>. Um, do you all see yourselves just to like build into what Omar just said, <laugh> <laugh>. Do you all see yourselves in formal academia in the next couple of years or still up in the air or not sure. Definitely. No, definitely is 

Speaker 2 (42:55):

Seeing as home, applying to jobs. I definit see myself, No, no, 

Speaker 1 (43:00):

But no any future employers, <laugh> <laugh>. 

Speaker 2 (43:03):

But, um, I'll be honest, I I really loved, uh, teaching when I, when I was teaching, uh, back in grad school. And so I could see myself definitely continuing to do that. And I know professors, you know, in academia who do the consulting on the side, you know? Um, and it's sort of like a nice side hustle and who knows, you know, maybe it'll develop into something else further down the line. So I, I, I basically don't see myself leaving any of these interests. I see myself continuing to do the art, um, you know, seeing whatever freelance opportunities with the consultant comes up and also, you know, um, going as far as I can with academia as well. 

Speaker 1 (43:49):

Amazing. And still that, like what you just said, Omar is a world away from, I think the way that you and I both kind of have felt in some previous years, which is that like all your eggs are in the like, academia basket 

Speaker 2 (44:04):

<laugh>. Yeah. 

Speaker 1 (44:04):

Yeah. And just that is so, it's like so incredibly strenuous, especially because, um, these institutions are so exploitative and are so repressive, <laugh>. Like, shout out to, shout out to my job. By the way, <laugh> 

Speaker 2 (44:20):

The thoughts and opinions of Carmella do not reflect the thoughts and views. 

Speaker 1 (44:25):

<laugh> don't fire me, really 

Speaker 2 (44:28):

Prevent me from getting higher. This is what I 

Speaker 1 (44:32):

<laugh>. Uh, Carlos, what do you think? 

Speaker 3 (44:37):

Honestly, this is what I'm trying to figure out right now. Um, I'm applying to some academic jobs. Um, some of them are long shots. It is what it is. Um, I don't like my whole journey the last few years has been, I'll figure it out when I graduate. I'll figure it out when I graduate and I literally like, we're, we're recording. Can I say we're recording this in the beginning of October? 

Speaker 1 (45:02):

Sure. Okay. I think you just did <laugh>. 

Speaker 3 (45:06):

We're recording this in the beginning of October. Let, my degree was literally conferred yesterday. <laugh>, so, 

Speaker 1 (45:12):


Speaker 2 (45:13):


Speaker 3 (45:15):

So this is very, very new. I'm like, I don't, I hadn't thought this far. Like <laugh>, I, I really 

Speaker 1 (45:23):

Don't know 

Speaker 3 (45:24):

<laugh>. So that's what I'm figuring out now. 

Speaker 2 (45:27):

He just graduated, give him a break 

Speaker 1 (45:31):

Out of the fry band into the fryer 

Speaker 3 (45:34):

For real. Like I, I'll figure it out. So I'm not opposed to anything. Um, I would like to pay the bills so I don't become an unhoused person. Like that's, that's sort of my line. I'm like, what is paying my bills? I love the teaching. The teaching has always been the best part of academia, um, for sure. Like meeting the students, encouraging their growth and development. Um, but how that fits into the larger academic job market is sort of, it varies. <laugh> varies by place and time and all that. Um, so I'm figuring it out. So in five years, we'll see if you ask me again where I'm at 

Speaker 1 (46:15):

<laugh> follow up interview. 

Speaker 2 (46:16):

Yeah. Right. And like, let's see what's up in five years, I, it'd be funny. I think it'd be really funny to see what, where we're doing in five years and be like, Oh, I've quit everything. I've moved to remote cabin in the woods. 

Speaker 1 (46:29):

I mean, be 

Speaker 2 (46:31):

Right my own like Timber 

Speaker 1 (46:37):

<laugh>. Anyway, <laugh>, 

Speaker 3 (46:42):

I'm just trying to figure out the food situation. I'm like, I can't do dairy, so it's like I can't get a cow 

Speaker 2 (46:48):

<laugh>. That was timber the first thing I thought of. I'm like, I grow my own fruits and veggies. Like I go to Timber 

Speaker 1 (46:55):


Speaker 3 (46:57):

I mean, depending on where this cabin is, you gotta keep warm. So <laugh>. True. 

Speaker 1 (47:01):

Makes sense. Um, anyway, uh, is there anything besides timber that I didn't ask you guys again about that you would've liked to talk about or bring up? 

Speaker 2 (47:17):

<laugh> now I'm getting, I'm getting like how it feels to be someone I'm interviewing for my research. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Cause I'm like, what the hell? <laugh> like, I'm like, I dunno how to answer this. Um, you know, cuz I always ask them like, anything else you'd like to discuss? And they're always like, Wait, what? Like, I'm sorry. So, uh, short answer, No. 

Speaker 1 (47:40):

Well good. Carlos, is there anything else that you would've liked to talk more about? 

Speaker 3 (47:48):

No, I don't think so. I think you sort of, uh, covered the bases. I'm excited to listen to the other episodes that you released to see what other folks', um, experiences are with their particular, uh, realm of creative survival. Um, I guess just to folks listening who are trying to figure it out and figure out their pivot. Like what brings you joy? Like what, like wildest dreams like <laugh>, they asked me on this episode, like, wildest dreams, what do you wanna do? Like what brings joy? What lights that fire inside of you? And find little ways to do that. Do a meetup group when it's safe to do so. Uh, go to an open mic night to tell your jokes. Read your poems. Like whatever your thing is. Like, even if it's just a one off thing and be like, I hated that. I'm never doing it again. Like, give yourself a try. It's at least a new experience you can talk about with your friends. Um, yeah, I guess that's it. 

Speaker 1 (48:47):

Nice. Kind of an amazing like, period at the end of the sentence on this podcast episode. I feel like it's like Carlos is like, find your joy, lean into it. <laugh> other stories, not belongings. 

Speaker 2 (49:02):

Grow your timber <laugh>. 

Speaker 3 (49:05):

Yes. Harvest your lumber. Grow your timber <laugh>. 

Speaker 1 (49:09):

Oh, okay. So that being said, um, thank you guys so much for being here for this first episode. Next, uh, the next episode is dropping tomorrow. Um, cause this is our first week, so we've got three episodes dropping. Um, and it features, yeah, Dr. Nikita t Hamilton, um, who did leave formal academia to pursue television writing and has been super successful in that. But before we sign off you guys, um, Carlos, where can anybody listening reach out and connect with you? 

Speaker 3 (49:39):

Um, yeah, so, uh, follow me on Instagram. It's Carlos creates 2018. Um, that's sort of my main, um, space for my non-academic stuff. Um, if you want to find academic Carlos, it's carlos m 

Speaker 1 (49:56):

All right, and Omar, where can people see your artwork and or connect with you if they'd like to? 

Speaker 2 (50:01):

Um, don't bother. No kidding. Uh, 

Speaker 3 (50:04):

<laugh>. Let him have his cabin in the woods. See? 

Speaker 2 (50:08):

Right. Like I just told you, I am trying to escape from society. No, um, uh, you can reach out. It's such a long email. Um, o dot ramn sonta if you wanna talk <laugh>. 

Speaker 1 (50:21):

Okay. So that info will also be in the bio for this episode in case you didn't catch that. Um, and um, you can find me my personal Instagram at mela underscore moves. And you can please follow at the millennial PhD on Instagram for all kinds of, um, creative humanity, radical humanity, uh, academia adjacent content, and for more podcast episodes. Thanks so much for listening everybody. See you on the next episode.