Introduction: Honestly, thank God and Philip Emeagwali for the internet. Because if the internet didn’t exist we’d never be able to witness the abundance of talent many people have and Alonge Hawes is a man with talent who has utilised the internet to make use of his talent. Alonge Hawes is the man behind the hottest new web series named Blu Collar Hustle and once we learned he was a hip hop fan 808sandblues contacted him for an incredible insightful interview.
So, tell us about yourself?
How did the idea of Blue collar hustle formulate?
Blue Collar Hustle formulated about 11 years ago as a title that popped into my head. I was always taking the Marta (Atlanta’s Public Transit) to and from work at all hours of the night. I would listen to Nas, Jay-Z, and Common and think about if I ever became a rapper I’d name my album Blue Collar Hustle and it would be a concept album about how the different stations on the railway represented the working class hustle in the city. Fast forward to present day and the themes of the web series resonated with the same feelings I had travelling on the railway. So the name found a home.
What is your role on the show? How you a writer, producer, and director on it?
I am the creator, writer, and executive producer. I also play one of the series main protagonists Ajani Garvey. I juggle all the roles by putting them into their proper perspectives. As the creator it was my responsibility to outline and create the characters, world, and message that I wanted to portray. As the writer it is my responsibility to make sure that the dialogue and situations are properly attuned to each character and that the plot continues to make sense. As an actor it is my responsibility to properly convey my character’s motivations and feelings. As an executive producer it is my responsibility to make sure that the show goes on.
What is the character you play, do you enjoy playing him and why?
My character is Ajani Garvey. He is an African American who defines himself by his blackness. He literally wraps himself in a metaphorical armor of black history and heritage. He is sort of the leader of the collective of main characters and comes up with the plan that launches the entire series. I very much enjoy playing him because he is a young, hard working, black man who cares greatly for his family, which is still a rarity in mainstream media portrayals.
Whose your favourite character in the show and why?
All of the characters, as my creations, are my favourites in one way or another. During a humorous scene, Anthony is my favourite, because I can use him to write dry humor. During a scene involving music, Quan is my favourite, because I can explore making music and crafting lyrics. During a scene involving black pride and progress, Ajani is my favourite, because I can explore the mindset of the modern day pan-africanist. During a scene involving raw honesty and grit, Jose is my favourite, because I can write from a more direct and edgy perspective. During a scene involving the resilience of black women, Anaya or Asha would be my favourite, as I can write strong, independent black women who are portrayed in their proper flavor.
The series contains incredible writing and humor. Did you write all that yourself or do you have a group of writers. If so who are they and how did you meet them?
Tell us more about the other casts on the show and how did you meet them.
Quentin Williams (Quan Banneker) Roberto Cruz (Jose Torres) and Howard Woodburn (Anthony Lee) I met while were working at Best Buy. I was the Assistant Store Manager so I was in charge of making sure the sales floor was taken care of. Howard and Quentin were the two best sales people in the store so we bonded quickly over that and over our shared love of Hip Hop. Roberto worked the Loss Prevention desk and we’d always get caught up talking about Hip Hop and new album releases. Over time we just all grew as a collective of friends. Shani Hawes (Asha Luna) is my sister, and we’ve been playing make believe our entire lives. Tijuana Agnew (Anaya Bassett) is a professional actress who our director, Geoffrey Henderson, brought to my attention when I was attempting to cast the part of Anaya. I literally told him “find me a strong black woman with natural hair” and Tijuana was the gift that made the cypher complete!
Whats the meaning behind the name and overall the show?
Blue Collar Hustle, on its surface, is about people striving to make it the old fashioned way. Through hard work and dedication. The deeper exploration is the Hustle that young black millennials find themselves doing in order to adjust to the world after graduating college or leaving their parents homes. How do you survive in a world where presenting the best version of yourself every day might still not be good enough? How do you live up to the legacies of your ancestors who marched, protested, and died so that you could have a fighting chance at equality? How do you reconcile your career with your aspirations? How do you measure up to the ideal of black excellence? Is your hustle THE hustle that’s going to get you on you the right path?
Race and rap music play a huge part in the show. How do you use both to convey a message or rather make a statement?
Web series are a niche area in the industry what advice would you give an indvidual who is thinking of making one?
What was the budget of the entire series and how did you raise capital for it?
I paid for the series out of my own pocket. Almost seven grand. Some of the cast, family, and friends, whom I love to death, stepped in and helped me (thank you Steve, CJ, and Cordarol) but I knew that for the first crop of episodes it was going to have to come mostly from me. It was me who created it, and me who recruited all of the talent, so I had to prove to everyone how serious I was. You cannot call yourself a leader of men and not step up to the plate when its your time to lead. So I took the money out of my personal savings and went to work. That, plus working loads of overtime, paid for the first three episodes. One of our distribution partners, Go Indie TV, believed in us so much, that the COO started a Gofund Me campaign for us to assist in finishing the first season. If we can get 250 people to contribute just $10 to the campaign we’ll reach our goal.
Who are your favourite writers and directors and why?
Some of my favorite writers are Donald Glover, Walter Mosley, Nasir Jones, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Michael Eric Dyson, and Kendrick Lamar just off the top of my head. My favorite director of all time is Spike Lee, pure genius. I also like Ryan Coogler and Ava Duvernay. All of them I feel like contributed in some shape or form to my views on black identity and how it relates to entertainment.
Whats your top 10 films and why?
Whats your top 10 TV shows and why?
Who are your favourite musical artists
Who is the goat rapper?
What are your top 10 favourite rap albums?
What about your top 10 overall music albums?
What do you hate most in this world
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies are reading, writing, and listening to music.
How many episodes will the series have?
Will there be a season 2 and when can we expect it?
If we can maintain funding and our audience continues to expand, then yes, Season 2 is already outlined.
Any plans to get the series on TV?
Not network tv. Network television would simply take the show and bastardize it. My goal is remain digital and hopefully be shown across a multitude of apps and online channels.
As a writer myself and many others, what is your writing process and any hints you can give us?
Is there anything else you would like to add on?
I really appreciate you taking the time to ask me these questions brother. And I appreciate everyone who supports the show!
YOU CAN CHECK OUT BLUE COLLAR HUSTLE BELOW