Black Woman Creator: Angélique Roché
Angélique Roché is a journalist, attorney, content creator, and communications professional focused on the intersections of activism, policy, politics, current events, and nerd and pop culture.
As a writer and photographer, she has contributed to NBC News, Black Girl Nerds, and Rewire News. She is currently the host of Marvel Entertainment's Marvel's Voices podcast, SYFY Wire's podcast Geeksplain, co-host of the independent live podcast The Radical Geeks and a part-time host on SiriusXM Progress. Additionally, Angélique is a frequent guest on various shows focused on the intersections of pop-culture, current events, and social justice. We spoke to Angélique about being a creator.
What do you create?
I create a number of things. I create roadmaps for communications for folks to be able to take their message to the public in a very authentic way. I am currently working on a book and I write fiction. I also create connective analyses of geekdom. I try my best to create an integrated narrative of geek culture, popular culture, and social justice and tie that into the influences that creators had in creating, whether it’s a world, character, script, or episode. Creating those road maps is really my joy in life. But I also create podcasts. I currently have a brand new podcast that just launched with Karama -- theblerdgurl -- called The Radical Geeks. I’m also the host of Geeksplain at Syfy, as well as Marvel’s Voices from Marvel Entertainment. So I get to have really cool conversations with storytellers who create some of our favorite stories and characters. Whether they’re an actor, director, producer, or writer, they all kind of go into building the things we know and love so much.
How do the intersections of politics, activism, and pop culture come together in your work?
Being a woman of color, my existence is political. From our hair to the way we speak to how we exist in the world. I always use Star Trek, which is a great example. You have this society somewhere in the future where women are in leadership positions. You have a woman of color sitting on the bridge and there’s this fight to have a mission that is going to bring peace and prosperity and steady civilizations in the world. That is innately political. Having a time where women are being treated anywhere near equal at work, having a time where you have a woman of color who’s doing the most important thing on the bridge and is one of the smartest people on the ship, these things are innately political. If you look at the motivation behind it, if you look at the writers, Gene Roddenberry’s concept was “we can be better, we can do better.” We are better being who we are, diverse and human. Seeking this perfection and going through these extremes can sometimes cause the thing we’re trying to avoid.
Did you have to make a jump from fan to creator?
I’ve always been a writer. Since I was a kid I was a performer, whether it was karaoke, singing in the house, doing a Marilyn Monroe or Louis Armstrong impersonation, or doing accents. I was in drama club freshman year, I was in choir as a kid. I was a huge nerd in my own right -- very much a music nerd as a kid. And I remember watching Doctor Who and Red Dwarf and was such a Francophile because of PBS. I used to go to the library and copy Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, and then eventually started writing my own poetry, and became a performance poet for 12 years. I did drama club for 4 years and became president. In college, I did performance poetry and acting. And then I became a lawyer, which is writing and creating a narrative -- all of it is connected. There’s been some setbacks, some moments when I almost stopped writing but then there are those moments when someone reads your stuff and is like, “this is really good.” For me, it’s all about painting this larger picture, articulating an image and putting together a piece of content, whatever piece I happen to land in.
Why do you create?
It’s just like if you didn’t water a flower it would die. If I don’t create something I think I would literally be the most surly, miserable, rude, mean person you ever meet in your life. It is second to breathing for me. God, family, eating, being politically active and engaged is very big. But I remember the first time I saw this movie called Slam starring Saul Williams. I was watching it one day, and it’s not the first time this happened, but I remember waking up in the middle of the night, 3am, rolling over and writing. I wish I had some of the discipline of my other friends who write every day, I’m very jealous of those people, but I’m also the same person who took a pencil out in my first apartment and started drawing a tagline on my living room wall. I love the ability to be able to say no matter what our world is, it can always be bigger, you can always expand it, there are still more stories to be told. And so I don’t think I have a choice not to create.
Who inspires you to do what you do?
My mom, because she always knew I was a creative nerd and she was like you should go to law school and then be John Grisham. You can write after you get a law degree. My mom is a huge inspiration because you could always impress her. She’s not easily impressed but she always encouraged us to dance, sing, write. She showed up for every single play, she showed up for every single concert, and she pushed me to showcase it even though she was also like but go to law school because I need you not to be broke. She really does inspire me, and now my niece who is now drawing comic books and wanting to read Ms. Marvel and looking at Archie Comics. She’s 13, she loves musicals and wants to act and I wish I was her when I was a kid. And being able to show her that her shaved-side having, eleven-tattoo having, nine-piercing having, 3-degree earning aunt can be a creative allows her to see the world much bigger because of that.
How do you balance creating with the rest of your life?
My life is creating. Everything I do I view it as that. Even the way I set up my house is so I can be more creative in my house. I view relationships as building blocks, as creating a mutual experience with people. I honestly don’t see a separation for me because it’s not a job.
Why is it important for Black people to create?
Because we were the first to create. So many things came from the African continent. So many things come from the African diaspora and the Indian subcontinent. You talk about rhythms, drums, paintings, Aesop’s Fables, and philosophies, advanced civilizations out of the Indus River Valley, and Egypt and Mesopotamia. A lot of what we love and know was influenced by these things, and diverse stories paint an accurate picture of what the world looks like, so we have to create. My mom used to always tell me, and it’s an old African parable: the story will always glorify the hunter until the lion writes his own story. I did my thesis in college on a comparative study of African American comedies from 1950-2003. When you look at the idea of who controlled the airwaves in 1950 and you look at the concept of who was writing the stories, they were people without the perspective, who didn’t live those experiences, and who were just utilizing people of color as a device. When you look at this idea of telling authentic, genuine stories, it requires there to be the perspective of those who the stories are being told about.
Any advice for young creators or ones just starting?
Don’t be afraid of feedback. Don’t be scared to start, you’ll never finish if you don’t start. The vision board is a beautiful, amazing thing. It’s incredible. My vision board has a couple things on it, but one says “Write a letter, make a word. Write a word, make a sentence. Write a sentence, make a paragraph. Make a paragraph, to a page. Make a page, you get a book.” Sometimes, particularly women of color, have this idea that we have to be so prepared that we have to go through so much, and we always have something to learn. But the best lessons that I’ve ever learned -- as someone who spent seven years in school -- was just by doing. And it’s okay to make mistakes because they’re how you learn.
Any future projects?
I have a lot of things going on right now. I’m working on the book, that’s my biggest project right now. I’m doing more consulting producer work. Finding more platforms for people to be able to amplify who they are in the space they take up in the world.