I have over 10 years of professional sales, Managment, and administrative experience. In 2020 I decided to make a huge change in career. My first step was to finish the digital music program at Hostos and continue on to a bachelor's program at Hunter in media and film studies. All while working as a legal Secretary for a general practice law firm in Queens, NY. Here you will find samples of my audio and writing work. Please enjoy!
Influencer Keith Lee
Simone Polanen is the host of a history-based podcast called Not Past It. She brings levity and a new perspective to the genre. Her love of pop culture shines through as the show explores how history shapes the world today. The show, although playful, does not shy away from telling hard truths. She describes the show as part reporting and part cinematic audio storytelling. Named one of the 50 best podcasts of the year by The Atlantic, Polanen gets down and dirty to uncover historical facts about our history that may be hard to swallow, but we are better off for it. I joined her today to find out what goes into creating the show.This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Not past it:q&a with simone polanen
December 7, 2022 12 pm
By Alisa Bush Padro
Q & A Piece
Q&A: Simone Polanen | 001
Q. Podcasts are such a new facet of media, what led you down that path?
A. I studied [at Harvard] sociology and film. But I was very much the kind of student that devoted more time to their extracurriculars than their classwork. I don't think I even knew what a podcast was. I graduated with a sense that I wanted to be a filmmaker and a toryteller. But what I did first was something totally unexpected. I was 22. I wanted to take advantage of this time. So, moved to Seoul, South Korea, to teach English. It was a wonderful experience. I was traveling and missing home, podcasts were a perfect companion during that time. A friend of mine sent me Serial and I got hooked. Then I heard about Reply All. And I was like, oh, what is this Gimlet thing? I started listening to their shows and then slowly started listening to different things. I was blown away by the quality of storytelling. Also compared to the film, it seemed like audio there's not as high a barrier to entry.
Even from an equipment standpoint, getting access to a microphone is a lot easier than getting access to cameras and lights and performers and all of that. After Korea, I came back to the States and decided I wanted to come out to New York. I always had Gimlet in mind because I just love what they're doing. I was such a fan. I applied for an internship, and they hired me for the show StartUp. At the time, I think it was a big case of the right place, the right time.
Q. What did you start doing for the show?
A. I wasn't writing at the time, but I was handling tape. I was sitting in on interviews, I was sitting in edits. It was a lot of time absorbing. I think I was lucky to have folks who were further in their careers who really took the time to train me and really asked me what it was that I wanted out of the experience.
Q. Do you feel the podcast medium has transformed media?What role do you see them playing in entertainment in the future?
A. Yeah, it's interesting. I think people are trying to figure that out. I feel like there was the initial boom, the golden age, this huge growth, and now I feel like podcasting is in its adolescence, where you've got the more established institutions coming in. Hollywood is sniffing around trying to figure it out. I also think different people use it as a marketing tool. It can be a big personality vehicle. I feel like when I first tuned into podcasting, it was very much like a public radio culture. And now yeah, it's just so many different things. I don’t think it's found its final form.
The 'Crying Indian' ad episode covers the impacted the way Americans think about environmental action.
figure out how to translate this medium into a live performance. I think I want to keep being ambitious in the types of stories we tell. I like the idea of going to the place that we are talking about. I want continued growth and continued boldness in our voice.
Q. What is some advice that you can share with aspiring media students going into this profession?
A. When I think about people trying to break in, there can be frustration with how to get your foot in the door and figuring out where you fit in. For me, I’d say, don’t wait for permission to do the work that you want to do. Try it and do it with the resources you have. What is accomplishable with those resources? When people start seeing you do your stuff they start to think, oh, you’re a maker you’re already doing this thing. I think that that can help in terms of finding opportunities and making your own opportunities as well.
Not Past It is a Gimlet production. You can listen to Simone on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. To find out more information about the show go to https://gimletmedia.com/shows/not-past-it
"Why are we talking about events from the past if we can't figure out what the immediate relevance is for the listener and for me. That's what I want to explore. "
Q. I know you’re the host, but what is your favorite thing to do on the show?
A. That’s a good question. It changes but right now I really enjoy the writing and editing process. I’m very lucky to work with a great team of agreeable people. It’s a good collaborative environment.
Q. What do you want for Not Past It going forward and what do you see for the future of the show?
A. For me a feel like I want to keep telling the types of stories we tell. My hope is that we can grow the audience and
"don’t wait for permission to do the work that you want to do."
Q&A: Simone Polanen|3
by alisa bush
december 20, 2022
Nyla watson: high school musical to hadestown
“I get to be on stage and have permission to be superhuman. To be able to do that as a thick dark skinned black girl…that's not happening every day for someone who looks like me.”
“She was drama from the beginning,” said her mother, Marguerite Sanford. “She did everything fast, and very mature.”
Up until high school Watson was completely unaware that musicals even existed. “I had no idea that there was a structure of storytelling that used songs to propel a story forward,” she said.
Born on Christmas day, with the support of her godfather, she was always singing from a young age. Her mom shared a story of when she was four years old. She landed a solo at her home church choir, practiced for the big day, but when it came time to do her thing, she broke down in tears and ran to the safety of her grandmother's lap.
Through a teen performing arts program called Playhouse Square she ushered for shows at the Palace. With this program she joined the cast of High School Musical as a part of the crowd, and got her first taste of the spotlight.
ayla Watson was in high school when she saw the Lion King live tour at the Palace Theater in Cleveland, Ohio. It was the first time she saw herself represented on stage.
Her parents split when she was young but learned how to peacefully co-parent which gave Watson the foundation she needed to thrive. She was always busy doing extra curricular activities and attended private school for most of her life.
“My mother is the facilitator of dreams,” said Watson. “She counsels a lot of church pastors. She's a giant of the faith. She's a secret weapon.” It's apparent this is where Nyla gets her reserved strength and confidence. Her father she says is the most like her. They have a close relationship and has his support in everything she does.
Nyla did not like to sing solos especially in front of large crowds. She did enjoy singing in her church choir as a part of small ensembles but never wanted to be in the spotlight.
While singing in the hallway of her high school she was discovered by her teacher who suggested she audition for the school play. That season she played the urchin in The Little Shop of Horrors and was hooked on performance from that moment.
The actor who played Seymour shared he went to Baldwin Wallace University for performing arts. Unaware there was such a school she was inspired to audition for a chance to follow her dream with the help of her choir teacher. On her first attempt she was turned down but that did not stop her.
“You’ll see me again,” she said. “Though I may have been discouraged because I had to pivot, I wasn’t discouraged to the point of paralysis.”
She was accepted at her audition the second time to the conservatory of music at Baldwin University. She went on to book her first job just months before graduation.
Watson has always known her limits and sets them clearly for others to understand. This is one of the ways she has been able to overcome disappointments and challenges in her life.
“Keep your mouth off people,” Watson said on a reel from Instagram. “If someone comes to you spilling tea, keep it to yourself.”
“You’ll see me again. Though I may have been discouraged because I had to pivot, I wasn’t discouraged to the point of paralysis.”
This is a mantra she follows daily, especially while on tour. Watson landed the principal role as one of three Fates in the broadway national tour of Hadestown two months ago.
It is a story of two fantastically intertwined couples, part god, part mortal. A renewed version of an old tale of fate, relationship challenges, and tragic twists all propelled by folk jazz song. Watson is also understudy for the role of Persephone to whom she related closely with when she first discovered the show.
“I get to be on stage and have permission to be superhuman,” said Watson.
In this role she is able to explore her vocal range and body movements like never before. “To be able to do that as a thick dark skinned black girl…that's not happening every day for someone who looks like me," she said.
Watson was offered the role after a long and emotional audition process of over 2 years. During this time she was auditioning for other roles. After receiving several denials she constantly reminded herself to be humble and patient. Finally, in the fifth round of auditions she signed a year contract and will tour 24 cities for one week stays all across the United states.
hunter college journalism
The show challenges her “artistic prowess” but that has not always been the case in previous roles. “A lot of times it’s like, don’t give me all you got, give me this one thing.” Hadestown pushes her to new heights mentally and physically.
Nayla attributes her skills to being “in the incubator of what makes you good.” That's theater.
Being on tour is nothing new. Watson has been a member of the touring companies for Wicked and the Color Purple. She describes being on tour as an honor. The loneliness can be challenging but she figured out a way to remedy it by reaching out to her close friends and family when she needs to the most. Her vulnerability is her strength.
“There's a level of loneliness that can come in."
“There's a level of loneliness that can come in,” she says.
There is also an awareness that the show has a larger purpose. Broadway tours visit cities that do not have regular access to theater of this level. Some goers she has encountered have never seen a show before.
"It's available now because these national tours come to them,” said Watson. “I knew this was a viable way of living because a tour came to me in Cleveland.”
Watson has come full circle in her performance journey. In a few months, she will perform at the same theater where she got her start at the Palace theater.
Nyla is grounded in her faith in God. She looks to her mother as a guiding light and a model for community service, who has taken in many foster children growing up. She is the first of her family to move out of Cleavland, paving the way for others in her family, like her niece, to have the courage to do the same.
After completing the vocal performance and vocal pedagogy graduate program at NYU, she founded her master class studio, Queens Studios of Voice and Acting. She enjoys spreading her love for music and acting to the younger generation.
While on tour, she teaches group lessons with the organization Broadway Plus. In the future, Ms. Watson plans to plant her roots in New York City to focus on roles in film and television. For her, there is no limit to the places she can go and the things she can do.
Hadestown is a Tony and Grammy award-winning Musical.
Music, lyrics, and book written by Anaïs Mitchell. It has been developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin.
You can find the list of announced tour stops here. More dates will be announced. Check the site for updates.
The assignment was to replace all of the original effects with original sounds created from layers of audio from nature.
The Bronxville Police Department charged an officer and detective with vehicular manslaughter after fleeing the scene of a hit and run accident involving a 67 year old woman.
Vivian Hoffman was struck by an unmarked car Monday morning as she walked along the road just four blocks from her home. Detective Marlene Griffin arrived at the scene and reported no witnesses. Three days later the department announced Burnes as a suspect in the case.
“No one–not one of our officers, not even me–is above the law,” said police chief Barry Kopperud. “Sadly today, I have to take one of our own into custody because he failed to live up to our motto to protect and serve.”
Burnes received a call to respond to a car accident and struck Hoffman as she walked on the road. There were no streetlights or sidewalks and Burnes stated visibility was low.
“I did not see the victim,” said Burnes. “I heard a loud thump. I honestly thought I hit a dog or a deer.”
He later returned to his home at an apartment complex and noticed the damage to his front fender. Complex residents witnessed Burnes inspecting his fender and later reported him returning with more damage to the same area. He later filed a false police report stating he lost control of the vehicle which caused the damage.
Griffin was assigned to investigate the hit-and-run and told the officer to wait to make his report. Burnes told investigators he was in a relationship with Griffin who agreed to falsify a police report to cover the damage to his car. She told Burnes to report false damage after they sideswiped a utility pole in an abandoned parking lot.
Burnes has been an officer for four years. He has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, fleeing the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident, failure to render assistance, and filing a false police report. Investigators discovered wool fibers on the vehicle’s fender that matched the coat Hoffman was wearing at the time of her death.
Witness reports from the apartment complex were sent to Internal Affairs which led to the questioning of the officer and detective. Charges are still pending against the detective Griffin for conspiracy, aiding and abetting a crime, and filing a false police report.
Reporting and Writing for News
Media and Film Studies
Hunter Media Dept.
Zine on a prominiant figure or group in LGBTQ history
Safe Spaces Through the Years:
drag and ballroom history
By Alisa Bush Padro
“Good Morning revolution: you’re the very best friend I ever had. We gonna pal around together from now on.”
I cringe whenever someone asks my cultural identity because the answer is always complex. I’m Filipino mixed with Mexican mixed with Jamaican mixed with Italian mixed with Latvian.
Explaining that mixture has been a drag for as long as I can remember, but I admit it has also created an advantage. It has allowed me to float between groups with ease my entire life. In other words, I understand the cultural nuances of a broad range of people and it’s my secret superpower in working well with others.
My superpower also fuels my approach to the creative arts, particularly music and theater. I learned audio recording and post-production editing at age 18 in an artist development studio in New Jersey. Since then, I’ve recorded tracks for songwriter Bilal, R&B singer Joe and many unsigned artists.
But roughly four years ago, I decided to pivot from music and explore other careers. Working in real estate sales taught me grit, but I decided that wasn’t my true passion. What I really want is a chance to be creative, work with my hands, and be a part of a project that would tell a meaningful story. That’s what brought me to theater. I learned what it’s like to bring a show full circle during a class I took at Hunter College called Play and Performance Analysis and I’ve been hooked ever since. I have come to realize that honing my skills in theater is the creative step that makes the most sense.