“I’m always a little frustrated and disappointment with how the public conversations take shape here in Madison. We’re seeing that folks are a bit afraid to have conversations and to ask the questions that we are all thinking,” says Sabrina “Heymiss Progress” Madison.
Madison goes to a lot of local community events, forums, conferences, and panels but she seldom sees a woman of color driving the conversation with a bigger platform. “I did an overview of what was out there and we didn’t have a whole lot. There wasn’t a black woman or one of color who could talk about – and WILL talk about – anything and everything from the deaths that are happening at gas stations in Madison to who is running for office,” Madison tells Madison365 in an interview from her new office at Synergy Coworking space on Madison’s west side.
“And it ticked me off, too, that every morning I would listen to 92.1 [The Mic] driving to work and then one day after the election it was no more!” she adds. “There’s no talk radio format that is aimed towards issues that I want to discuss. And nobody is talking about the issues that I want to discuss on a platform that I can access here in Madison.”
With all this in mind, Madison, a well-known local social entrepreneur, has launched her very own “The Heymiss Progress Show.” The show comes out every Saturday on her YouTube channel and she promises that it’s going to be all about real stories, real conversations, and tough questions. Most importantly, Madison wants to be the person who talks about things that she knows black women and black families in this community want to discuss.
“Nobody wants to discuss these important but controversial topics because a lot of times people are so loyal to their relationships and friendships that they are afraid to bring these topics up,” Madison says. “It’s not the case! You should be able to talk about all of these things publically. It’s important that we do.
“People shy away from politics, but politics are in everything that we do,” she adds.
Episode 1 (that you can watch above) featured three African-American Madisonians running for election or re-election to public office on April 4 — Madison School Board candidate Ali Muldrow, Alderperson Maurice Cheeks, Fitchburg City Council candidate Wanda Smith.
“I started with them because Ali [Muldrow] has been an avid supporter of my son and when she was running I was like, ‘Wow! A black woman is running for school board! That’s dope!’ I was very interested to talk to her,” Madison says.
Next Saturday on her second show, Progress will be discussing black women entrepreneurship with special guests Angela Ferguson (Angels Joy Learning Center), realtor Dana Coates, and Angela Rose Black (Mindfulness for the People).
“We have a very open and candid discussion about what we as black women entrepreneurs need,” Madison says. “We definitely had that conversation of how our black friends have left Madison because Madison doesn’t do much to keep people here.”
Madison also has a show in the can, as they say in the business, with University of Wisconsin-Madison student services coordinator Joe Maldonado. “I was at a Latino Professionals Association event at the DREAM Bank downtown and there were a couple of young Latinas there and everything that they were saying made me think about how young black millennials feel as far as ‘there’s nothing keeping me here in Madison’ and ‘I don’t have access and nobody is willing to help me,’” Madison says. “These young Latinas were saying similar things that I have heard young black folks say. I contacted Joe right after that and said, ‘We have to do a show talking about this!’ We’re both over 35 and we both have been there and I thought that it was important for me and him to have a conversation to talk about how we can support young folks of color in this city.”
The video for her shows are shot and produced by Bria Brown of B. Brown Productions and the music is courtesy of Chuki Beat Productions.
“The first one went really well and we recorded those three different shows on that first day,” Madison says. “We are going to shoot four more episodes on March 25.
The YouTube TV show is just another step in the evolution of Heymiss Progress who just celebrated one year of leaving her job at Madison College to embark on this new, exciting career path that would see her start her Heymiss Progress, LLC, and host her First Annual Black Women’s Leadership Conference in downtown Madison. Madison hosts a variety of other projects, community work, and side hustles.
“One year ago yesterday, I walked into the HR [Human Resources] at Madison College to tell them that I was done,” Madison says. “I feel good now. I’m living a very full life. I feel great. I feel like I’m growing.”
Madison is really excited about her new office space at Synergy Coworking, a social business that provides flexible workspace on Madison’s near west side. “I’m so excited about this here. I think the office will give people more of that face to face interaction and people can actually come in and take something away – whether it be information or a product from a black-owned business. I’m more accessible now,” she says.
Can people come into your office and pitch ideas to her for the new Youtube show?
“They very well can. I will say that just because you pitch an idea doesn’t mean that I’m going to run with it,” Madison laughs. “I want people to know that I am not interested in talking about what everybody has talked about already. I am looking for interesting people and interesting stories. And I WILL ask tough questions.”
“I realize that there are people who have been helped by a post or a message on my thread and other people who I’ve met who have been impacted through my work,” Madison says. “So why not provide an even larger platform for them to access those conversations?”
There are a lot of aspects of being a TV host that are new to Madison, but that’s part of what makes it so enjoyable.
“This is new to me. I’m learning as I go in a lot of respects. All I know is that I’m willing to have the conversation weekly and I’m willing to have some engaging conversations online,” Madison says. “Eventually, I would like to have a sponsor, but right now I’m much more interested in having the discussion and providing people access.
“My goal is to just keep having those interesting conversations and finding those stories,” she adds. “My ultimate goal is to be on TV, eventually.”
You mean, like local TV?
“No, national TV!,” Madison says. “I always think big. Why can’t I be on a national show? Why can’t I have an international platform?
“Eventually,” she adds, smiling.