Dear OZY Family,
We’re so proud to be launching The Carlos Watson Show tomorrow, with an exclusive YouTube sneak peak today for our subscribers — and a special nod to our friends at American Family Insurance. We believe it’s time for a fresh set of conversations, ones that are worth listening to — and this is the show for this moment. I wanted to share some brief thoughts, and you can read my full letter here.
As so many of you confirmed with your heartfelt responses to our #ResetAmerica effort, we are living in a moment that calls for action. But while striving to be true allies in the pursuit of racial and social equality, we have to ground our action in real understanding and listening. I’ve known Carlos for a decade as a colleague, co-founder and dear friend — and I don’t think there is anybody more qualified to facilitate the honest and genuine dialogue that we’re craving. He is an exceptional listener, and when I asked him where that openness comes from, he shared something profound. In fighting the odds to become one of the few Black CEOs in media, he has never had the luxury of choosing not to listen. There was no path available to him that easily sidestepped those with whom he might disagree — and he repeatedly, consistently had to choose to learn rather than walk away. And that is the spirit that animates this show.
There is a privilege in choosing not to listen, and it’s one I think we should shed. You may not necessarily agree with everything you hear on the show, but we offer these conversations as opportunities for us to listen and learn, together. Join us, starting tonight on The Carlos Watson Show, and tell me what you think. I promise I will read each of your comments and get back to you. And subscribe now!
— Samir Rao, co-founder and COO
the show of the moment
What Is It? The Carlos Watson Show is a half-hour daily interview show, available on YouTube, that goes deep with politicians, actors, entrepreneurs, thinkers and more. In the spirit of OZY, we want you to see more and do more. When you watch this show, we want you to come away learning something new, rethinking your assumptions … then texting your mom and your best friend to tell them about it.
Meet The Host. Born to teachers in Miami, Carlos Watson has an insatiable appetite for learning that’s led him to an Emmy-winning journalism career and to found two companies — including OZY. Things didn’t always look so promising: Young Carlos was so rebellious that he was kicked out of kindergarten. But he went on to find his academic stride, earning degrees from Harvard and Stanford Law School. Now he’s a journalist and television host who’s earned praise for his ability to persuade high-profile guests to open up about a wide range of topics on camera — interviewing everyone from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Condoleezza Rice to Karamo Brown to Jameela Jamil and countless others. Read more about Carlos.
What Have We Seen So Far? Across a wide spectrum of celebrity guests, many of them come away from the tapings saying: “I’ve never said that publicly before.” In this extended format — not the quick sound bites you’ll find elsewhere — guests get the chance to open up, as Carlos probes them to share a side the public often doesn’t see … but Carlos isn’t afraid to challenge them when the moment calls for it.
Sneak Peek. Subscribe to OZY’s YouTube channel for an exclusive sneak peek at the next episodes, starting with an interview with the woman of the moment: Rep. Karen Bass. She’s on the short list to be Joe Biden’s running mate. If you can help us get to 50K YouTube subscribers by the end of the day today, we’ll be giving one of our new subscribers the chance to attend a live taping over Zoom with Carlos and a celebrity guest next week.
Listen Up. If you want to experience The Carlos Watson Show on the go, subscribe to the podcast version, with help from our friends at iHeart Radio.
karen bass: carlos talks to a vp contender
The Next Veep? With Biden due to announce his vice presidential choice in the coming days, this Los Angeles congresswoman is a top contender. And we spoke to her about her unlikely journey, and what it would mean to be VP. Watch now.
Activist From the Jump. Bass was a precinct captain for Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential run in 1968 — at age 14. She went on to be active in the antiwar and international solidarity movements, before finding her calling with a social justice nonprofit during the crack cocaine epidemic. Read OZY’s 2017 profile.
Political Rise. Bass first ran for state assembly in 2004, then rose quickly in Sacramento, becoming America’s first Black female state House Speaker. One problem: there was a financial crash and she had to negotiate deep budget cuts with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. After hitting her term limit in the state house, she seized an open Los Angeles congressional seat in 2010. While unquestionably liberal, Bass is not known as a bomb-thrower. “She’s not an ideologue. She’s a practical realist,” then-Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican who worked on an African trade bill with Bass, told OZY in 2017.
More recently, she’s used her consensus-building skills to become chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and lead Democrats’ efforts on police reform amid this year’s racial justice protests. But now that her spotlight is heating up, so too are efforts to dig into her past. She’s currently taking flak, for example, for having visited Cuba at age 19 and for comments she made at a Church of Scientology event 10 years ago.
Touched by Tragedy. Both Bass and Biden know what it’s like to lose children. Biden’s first wife and daughter died in a 1972 car crash, and then his son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015. Bass lost her 23-year-old daughter Emilia and son-in-law in a car wreck in 2006. “The most difficult part of it was, and it was the same with [Biden], is when those accidents happened, both of us were in public life,” Bass tells Carlos. “So you don’t have an opportunity to grieve privately.”
Martial Artist: Bass tells Carlos one thing it might surprise people to know: She has earned brown belts in the TaeKwonDo and hapkido martial arts. Does she use the skills in politics? “Not in terms of physical fighting, but there’s a lot of the mental part of martial arts that you learn,” Bass says. “You learn how to navigate conflicts. And one of the goals of a martial artist is to not fight.” Watch now.
Here’s a taste of more of the big-time names we’ll have on the show in the coming days.
Terry Crews, “The Distractor.” You know him from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” White Chicks … and blowing up the Internet by warning about “black supremacy” in the wake of the racial justice protests sweeping the nation. But Crews’ road to stardom is a remarkable one: From growing up poor in Flint, Michigan, to walking onto the football team at Western Michigan to the NFL, he always had an artsy side: Crews would earn extra cash by drawing portraits for teammates. After leaving the game, Crews was flat broke — but picked up and moved to Los Angeles to attempt an acting career. He’s battled depression and a pornography addiction on his way to stardom — and is now a lightning rod. How will he explain his inflammatory comments?
Sean Spicer, “The Front Man.” To his friends and family, he’s Sean, but to the rest of us, he’ll forever be “Spicey,” the alter-ego Melissa McCarthy memorably played while miming the tight-buttoned White House press secretary on Saturday Night Live (if only his podium really did have wheels!). Spicer never quite found his happy stride under Donald Trump — his very first press conference including him having to lie for the president about crowd sizes and Spicer admits to Carlos that he made mistakes at the podium. Still, Spicer has found his legs since leaving the West Wing, even making it into the final six on “Dancing With the Stars.” And now the former Republican National Committee spokesman is living his best life as host of his namesake show, “Spicer & Co.,” on Newsmax TV. Will he say “Black Lives Matter”?
Malcolm Gladwell, “The Mischief Maker.” It’s impossible not to have a fascinating conversation when talking with Gladwell, the famed New Yorker writer whose work, from books such as The Tipping Point and Blink to his “Revisionist History” podcast, sheds light on the strange world we live in. The son of a Jamaican mother and English father, Gladwell grew up in Canada and bounced around a series of American newspapers and magazines before finding his stride … a testament to the fact that even the most talented among us benefit from experience, an idea he elucidates with his famous “10,000 hour” rule to mastering a craft.
Baker Mayfield, “The Disrupter.” Most remember him for his cocky persona on the college football scene, including taking an Oklahoma flag and pinning it at the heart of the Ohio State Buckeyes logo at midfield. But Mayfield is actually the ultimate scrapper, a real-life Rudy who walked on not once but twice at some of football’s most competitive schools before finding his stride as the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners. Now Mayfield is in the NFL, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, trying to prove once again that he belongs.
Andrew Yang, “The Outsider.” The New York City entrepreneur made waves as a Democrat running in the 2020 presidential campaign, going from the virtually anonymous founder of the nonprofit Venture for America to a political rockstar who body-surfed atop his fervent followers, the Yang Gang. Buoyed by his signature proposal, universal basic income, and his argument that the United States was facing a pivotal moment where massive job loss and technological gain would require a refocusing toward “Humanity First” policies, Yang outlasted most of the massive field but dropped out after placing eighth in the New Hampshire primary. Still, as unemployment runs rampant amid the coronavirus pandemic and a stimulus bill remarkably like UBI was passed in March, many see Yang as a visionary just a few months ahead of his time. And, as he tells Carlos, Yang is already in talks with Joe Biden about taking a new position in the administration — if the Democrats win.
Bethenny Frankel, “The Hustler.” She had a tumultuous childhood, often spending time at the racetrack with her father, before This reality star got her big break as the runner-up on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, in 2005, before becoming a main cast star of The Real Housewives of New York City. Those appearances led to a series of shows built around her dynamic character, as the author of four self-help books and the founder of both Skinnygirl, a lifestyle brand, and Bstrong, a disaster relief organization.
Maggie Siff, “The Badass.” She is the ultimate actress, having played powerful characters in some of the best shows on television, from Mad Men and Billions to Sons of Anarchy, where she won a Critics Choice Television Award for best supporting actress in a drama series. The 46-year-old Bronx native got an English degree from Bryn Mawr College and an M.F.A. in acting from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, showcasing her skills in regional theaters before breaking through on hit TV programs during the mid-2000s.
Who’s Next? You tell us who you’d like to see on the show, by emailing us or tagging #CarlosWatsonShow on Instagram or Twitter. There are plenty of good choices already in the OZY family, whether we’ve profiled them on our site, hosted them at OZY Fest or followed their rise on the TV show Breaking Big. Should we sit down again with Bill Gates for an update on the pandemic? Should we get political with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Kellyanne Conway? Learn White House secrets with Michelle Obama? Talk hoops with Giannis Antetokounmpo, or football with Lamar Jackson? Cook up something special with Padma Lakshmi or Eddie Huang? Cut through the BS with Trevor Noah? We want to hear from you.
Quiz Time. Which The Carlos Watson Show guest would see him or herself on TV and think: “Oh my God, I look like an angry leprechaun!” Answer at the bottom of this story.
transformative shows from history
In honor of the debut of The Carlos Watson Show, we’re celebrating the talk shows that changed TV forever.
The Nat King Cole Show. At the peak of his powers, the celebrated performer become the first Black man to host a nationally televised variety show in America in the fall of 1956 on NBC. The show did well in the ratings but NBC struggled to find national sponsors because of fears that their products would be boycotted in the South. “Madison Avenue,” Cole later quipped, “is afraid of the dark.” The show lasted just 13 months. Read and watch more on OZY.
The Phil Donahue Show. From humble beginnings in Dayton, Ohio, in 1967, Donahue became a national sensation by pushing the envelope. He sprinted around the studio, interviewing audience members, and covering previously unheard of topics from cross dressing to interracial lesbian couples who have children by artificial insemination. Read and watch more on OZY.
The Oprah Winfrey Show. It was clear from the very first minute of her first episode in 1986 that Winfrey was something entirely different, and within two months, the show had passed Donahue in the Nielsen ratings. She would go on to to transform the entire talk show genre, focusing on self-improvement, intimate personal issues and connecting with her audience as no host had previously. Read and watch more on OZY.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. The Comedy Central show may have started with Craig Kilborn, but it was Stewart who became an icon by mastering the art of skewering the news during his run as host from 1999-2015. Stewart always bristled at the notion that he was young people’s first source for news, but for many he was. And by calling out BS so skillfully and getting under the skin of the powerful with humor, he shaped the media landscape that exists today.
the global fight for justice
As part of our mission to Reset America, The Carlos Watson Show is built to chronicle this unique moment in our history. Here’s the latest on what’s been happening around the world with the protests for racial justice.
Them Too. Since protests kicked off more than two months ago in the U.S., protesters in countries around the world — including France, Britain and South Africa — have used its rallying cries to confront their own difficult histories, toppling statues and refusing to allow their own governments off the hook or paint police brutality as an American problem. Three officers in France have been charged with manslaughter over the January death of a Black delivery driver in custody. Read more on OZY.
On the Court. In Japan, biracial athletes like Louis Okoye have been key to keeping the conversation about systemic racism going, calling out discrimination in professional leagues and pointing to early stereotyping that goes on even in school sports classes.
Teaching the Truth. In New Brunswick, Canada, the local Black Lives Matter chapter says it’s gotten officials to agree that they’ll incorporate Black history into school curriculums in a meaningful way, hoping that changing the way history is remembered can alter the public’s outlook and make lasting change.
Favela Fight. Brazil’s slums are a prime target for violent police, who last year killed more than five times the number who died at the hands of U.S. cops. But the focus on worldwide police brutality sparked by the George Floyd protests — and outrage over the death of a Black Brazilian teen shot by cops — spurred Brazil to ban deadly police raids into the favelas last month.
Down Under. Police in Sydney, Australia, arrested six people who organized a BLM rally this week, saying their right to protest didn’t trump pandemic safety rules against large gatherings. Protesters showed up, but a police presence swiftly overwhelmed the gathering, which focused on indigenous man David Dungay, who died in police custody in 2015.
how to be part of the show
Insider View. You’ll get early previews, director’s cuts and chances to attend a show. Smash that subscribe button on our YouTube page.
Give Us Feedback. Email us here to tell us what we got right, what we got wrong, topics to explore, who you’d like to see on the show … and rate Carlos’ wardrobe.
Join the Discussion. Follow @carloswatson and @ozy on Twitter, as well as @ozycarlos and @ozy on Instagram to be a part of the after-show conversation. Plus, you’ll get behind-the-scenes insight you can’t find anywhere else.
Support Our Sponsor. A longtime friend of OZY, American Family Insurance helps bring The Carlos Watson Show to life. They also have a fantastic tool to get a quote now for renters insurance, to make sure all your belongings are protected.