We had the good fortune of connecting with Josiah Bradley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Josiah, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Historically for me, “What do I have to lose?” is the question I think about most when considering risk. Next to that would be fears and concerns about the unknown. I wish I could say I jumped at risk or laughed in the face of danger, the heart of a lion beating in my chest. More often than not I feel pretty terrified.
My move from the east coast to the west coast was the first time in a long time that I approached risk from a point of view of what I could gain. I had no job lined up and had been laid off mere months prior to moving. Granted I had my family with me. My government worker father needed a change of scenery working in Washington DC, and my mother and brother were just down for a new adventure. And I always knew I wanted to be a Hollywood screenwriter, so everything aligned for the big move. But there were still unknowns. Where would we live? Would I find work? That’s right, we didn’t have a place yet, and the few contacts I had in LA didn’t turn up any steady film jobs for me. But we embarked nonetheless, found a place, and for a while everything was okay.
I didn’t have a job, but I had some savings and a side hustle, and I was posting my resume everywhere. I’d soon learn that it’s not just what you know but who you know. And still there were unknowns, things I hadn’t anticipated. Like a furlough, which hit my dad hard as the main breadwinner in the family since my mom had retired. This put more pressure on me to find a job because rent was high, and it was due. This was my first year in LA. Then a pandemic hit my second year in LA, and right after a friend was able to get me a steady job on a talk show. I was laid off once again after 5 months of work. One step forward, two steps back. When was I going to catch a break?
I wish I could end this story with a triumphant finale about how I’ve since sold the best script I’ve ever written or signed a massive overall deal with a top network therefore changing the face of Hollywood as we know it. I wish I could tell you that. But I can’t. I’ve been in a year-long writing slump, and as I’m writing this, I’m battling inside with whether to quit a job that I’m so grateful for on a top-rated show because the work doesn’t allow me to be my most creative self. I’ve got no prospects lined up, and again I’m asking myself, “What do I have to lose most?” as well as worrying about what others will think about my decisions. I’m 32-years old, still living with my family (#grateful), in the highly expensive City of Angels, trying to figure out my next step.
But if I’m being honest, I’m starting to feel more aggressive. And fed up. And reflective. I’ve been here before, only this time I have more experience and a stronger grasp on what makes me happy. I have a larger network now and even helped my friends get jobs. I launched Josiah’s Voice Podcast and showcased friend’s businesses even in the face of a pandemic. I stopped posting on IG about books and scripts I thought everyone else wanted to see and started taking classes on TV pilots, reading books that resonated with me, all in order to stop comparing myself and better develop my own artistic voice. I’m the son of a man and woman who in an effort to create a unique and strong bond with their child, took a risk to homeschool me and instill in me strong values, creativity, identity, and adventure. They didn’t know how it would all turn out either, but they tried anyway. So here I am, looking over past risks, and I’m thinking about something my dad said. He once suggested to me that it’s not even about risk, it’s about curiosity. Instead of a question consider the statement when walking through life, “I just wanted to see what would happen”. I wanted to see what would happen if I packed up, left the only home I ever knew and my friends and family behind, drove cross-country, bombed job interviews, worked on commercials with friends, survived the longest government furlough in history, and the deadliest viral pandemic in decades, launch a podcast, write my first TV pilot, and work on a popular cable network?
I’d get to tell you all about it in an LA-based magazine, further reminding myself of how daring I am and the successes I’ve had. How do I approach risk?
I just want to see what happens next.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Friendship, family, and humorous free and easy themes run throughout my art. I’m really proud of the work I’ve made with my dad. The novel, Noteworthy Tribute, and the YouTube series ShaneequaPVA are comedic, family-friendly stories we made together about Black folks just living life, chasing their dreams, and relating with one another.
I bring the same themes and energy to my podcast, Josiah’s Voice. It’s an easygoing conversational podcast I launched in April 2020. I think of it as an audio diary of my journey as a writer and overall creator. I’m most excited about the newly added interview segments to it. At first, I was nervous about interviews and booking guests but the next thing I looked up I’d already released 10 of them and counting. A lot of them are my close friends but lately, I’ve been expanding to creatives I don’t know personally or just met and I’m having a blast talking about individual artistic processes with them. I’m also planning to launch merch soon and a YouTube channel for the podcast, so stay tuned.
I’m not even sure how I’d define “where I am professionally” right now. But what I will say is whether it’s my own personal creations or working on a professional film set, wherever I am is due to friends and past crews I’ve worked on helping me get to the next chapter. I’m very introverted and can still even be shy and I used to think networking was the extrovert’s game. But I’ve since realized that anyone with friendly energy can network, just find lines of commonality, be curious about someone else’s path and before you know it you’re on set together or making a podcast or writing a book together because you just vibe and you want to see each other succeed. People have gotten me jobs and I’ve gotten others hired on stuff and that makes me feel good, this creative ecosystem we have going grows every day, from the smallest to the greatest. I’m even seeing it in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement as film and other industries are sharing opportunities and welcoming artistic voices that were otherwise previously shut out.
Two lessons that stand out come down to doing exactly what the job requires, and following your own path. I was once an assistant to a stage manager and after a few days on set with her I realized she mostly only needed me to office errands, printing out scripts and schedules or stocking writing supplies. That’s it. When she didn’t need me I was allowed to watch her, the host, and the crew work to bring the show to life. At first, I felt self-conscious because as a production assistant I was used to always being on the go, doing a million things a minute. But all was required of me was what was required of me. And my stage manager just the nicest most professional person, interested in my growth as a filmmaker. What she needed was what she needed when she needed, and that helped her do her job and run the show.
And the second lesson about following my own path and sticking to it has been most evident with running my podcast. My aesthetic is very light and relaxed and when I’m not talking to guests I usually just wax poetically about what I’m reading, lessons learned from webinars, and movies I’m watching. Or just whatever. Sometimes I incorporate environmental sounds like the ocean or park sounds like birds chirping, and people walking their dogs, I just sit in the space and talk into my phone. Currently, my podcast equipment is very low budget, but people seem to enjoy it. I have plans to upgrade soon, but something I learned in college is that the artist’s mind is the bets tool, not solely the mic or camera, so I take that mentality into producing my Josiah’s Voice Podcast.
I’m still new to this whole brand thing, but I want people to take away originality when they read, watch, and listen to my work. And part of that is sometimes just going with the flow, whatever strikes my fancy. Usually, my work is very light but I’ve spoken out about police brutality and the value of Black lives. I wasn’t sure I could add anything to that conversation but then I set up at the beach and just spoke stream of consciousness about how much I love the culture and want to see us thrive. I don’t know how many creatives approached that topic in that way but in that example, it felt right to me. Or when my dad thought of a web series about a “Black Siri”. We just thought it would be funny to watch a story about an overworked young guy with dreams of being an actor who befriends a lovable A.I. It’s not unique to me per see, but I’m hearing a lot of Black creatives are eager to see us laughing and smiling and seeing the world and creating beauty and I want to be a part of that in my own way, and I hope people of all backgrounds feel refreshed and connected when they experience my art.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m introverted and can entertain myself easily with my phone or a good book, which I never leave the house without. I also love being in the outdoors by myself just relaxing. So I’d probably take my friend to Kenneth Hahn Park or Dockweiler Beach which aren’t too far away from me. I’m just chill like that and actually so are most of my friends, kickbacks at the park or a friend’s house with good food and video games or a movie were more our style. A lot has happened in my first couple of years in LA so I don’t know very many hot spots for food, I do want to visit Little Ethiopia and try their food!
And I do love the Getty Museum though and can’t wait to return. After taking them there we’d make time to visit the California Science Center, Griffith Park, and maybe brave the crowds and check out the beaches and bluffs in Santa Monica and Malibu. We’d have to check out The Illiad and the Last Bookstore as well. In another life we’d hit a movie at the Cinerama Dome, I never got to go and I’m hoping it comes back in some form or another. I look forward to going to the movies again one day.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m grateful to God, my parents, my brothers, friends and family who helped my family reach Los Angeles safely and supported us. Thank you to readers it warms my heart that you enjoyed me and my dad’s novel, Noteworthy Tribute. Thanks to my podcast supporters and guests, I’m having a blast making Josiah’s Voice Podcast. Thank you to Rachel Roth, sylvia Purvis, and Zach Geschwilm for helping me and giving me my first couple LA jobs. Last but not least, thank you to CA_IN_LA for recommending me for The Shoutout series and for being instrumental in my filmmaking career, your friendship, and all of the adventures. I’m just grateful for all of the love and support, really.
Michael “M.J” Johnson (portrait: Josiah w/ Syd Field book). James Nelson (portrait: Josiah w/ Story Ideas book)