BA Parker can't get enough K-Dramas

BA Parker was a film teacher in her twenties when she had to rush her students out of the room so she could speak with Ira Glass. She w...


BA Parker was a film teacher in her twenties when she had to rush her students out of the room so she could speak with Ira Glass. She was interviewing for a fellowship with her show “This American Life.”

“They hired me to do stories for them, and I wanted to be a black woman David Sedaris,” she said. “It’s not quite happened yet, but there is hope.”

This led her to produce and co-host New York Magazine’s “The Cut” podcast for a few years, exploring trending topics like “Himbo cultureand life in historically black colleges and universities. This month, the Baltimore native, who first moved to New York to attend Columbia University film school, will join NPR’s podcast about race in American society, “Code Switch.” , as a host.

“Having my voice and being on a podcast has always been about sharing my position with everyone and making them suffer,” she joked. “It’s about discussing something really serious, that makes people scared and angry, and using my goofy smile to say we’re getting through this together.”

During a video call from her apartment in Bed-Stuy, she went through a varied list of essentials that mirror a Brooklyn podcaster’s creature comforts. These are edited excerpts from our conversation.

1. Naps I feel like we totally underestimate naps as adults. I think if we all took a good 20 minute nap every day, we would be a lot more enjoyable. This work-from-home situation has been pretty cushy – I know it’s a privilege that I have – but it’s been so exhausting since 2020, and I’m still working on this whole self-care stuff, and I’m down for a 2 afternoon nap. You’re only supposed to do 20 minutes or 50 minutes, and I’m a 50 minute nap; 20 minutes is not enough, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to wake up tired anyway.

2. K-Dramas I feel like they’re the closest thing to a modern-day Jane Austen. There’s one I watched recently called “Start-Up” where a girl holds a guy’s hand for the first time on the bus, and he turns away because he’s wiping tears from his eyes. And the man is about 32 years old. It’s very chaste and lovely and cathartic and by episode eight you’re just sobbing. All these shows, their hearts are wide open. I find that very calming. There’s an artifice to the drama, obviously, but you just want to embrace everyone.

3. A collection of spices from a friend For my birthday this year, my friend sent me this collection of spices from a place in Greenwich Village that has Berber, za’atar, and all those Moroccan spices. I’m trying to expand my kitchen. Working from home, you’re tired of trying to cook for yourself. And you get into those bad habits of working until 8 p.m. and then trying to cook a meal? I do not think so. Now I am trying to be aware of this and figure out how to make lamb meatballs. I took pictures of the things I do to send to her and her husband and say, “I’m trying.

4. Donny Hathaway I feel like his voice is the truth. There is this stirring desire that stirs something inside me and makes me want to feel. He has a great live version of “Yesterday” by the Beatles where all the old black people in the room are really digging and screaming. I usually listen to his live album while I try to cook, it makes me grow a little. You can feel when it’s in his pocket, at a time when everyone is feeling, and you’ll hear a group of black women screaming, “Yes! Oh my god, yes!”

5. Jeff Bridges in “Fearless” I’ve been in love with Jeff Bridges since I was 9 and my dad showed me “White Squall”. “Fearless” is that 1993 film about a rather privileged guy who survives a terrible plane crash, feels invincible, and begins to test his limits. So it’s Bridges and Rosie Perez crying and trying to figure out what it means to be a survivor. I saw him again in July 2020, when we were all an open wound and dealing with so much loss, and trying to process that. It’s a film I came back to wondering what it means to survive.

6. Reading like you’re 15 again You know when you were 15 and felt like you had all the time in the world to sit on your parents’ couch and read a bunch of stuff? I decided to do it this summer, even though I have a job. I love having the freedom to read all the time. Especially with this job, if I have to read, it’s for an interview or something, and that takes the fun out of it. So I bought a bunch of plays and essays by Bell Hooks and Audre Lorde for myself. I’m still highlighting lines, because there are really interesting, uplifting things in there, but I want to read on again without having any questions in mind.

7. Baltimore foods like Otterbein cookies and cream crab soup Otterbein’s is a local Baltimore cookie that I order when I’m homesick. They are thin and flavored differently. Everyone’s always talking about Berger’s Cookies, which is also from Baltimore, but don’t get confused.

Trying to explain cream of crab is telling people it’s not lobster bisque. It’s much richer. Eat it maybe twice a year or something; don’t try to get more because it’s rich as hell. It’s the only thing I’m really homesick for. You can find a pierogi on any corner, but this soup is an elusive thing.

8. The third row in a movie theater I am shortsighted. But I still have this idea from childhood that if I’m near the screen, I’ll get the movie faster than the people in the back. And no one wants to sit there. I just saw “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” and I had no idea going into an 11 p.m. screening at the Alamo Drafthouse that the movie was going to be like this. I laughed, cried. People in the theater also didn’t know it was going to be sad and I heard this woman say “Oh, no…” behind me.

9. Her grandmother’s prayer book Years and years ago, my grandmother gave me this little stapled blue book, which she got from a funeral home in the 1980s. There’s a prayer for success, a prayer for fear, a prayer for mourning, things like that. I grew up kind of sheltered, and with a village behind me, so when I first moved to New York, I read it to inspire me to go raise my hand first in class or something like that. It has become this totem that I cherish and that comforts me. I’m pretty religious, but not in an anti-science way. I believe in climate change and gay rights and am pro-choice; you know, ordinary human things.

10. Try to be softer I think as I get older it becomes more difficult to be kind to myself and others. With the kind of work I do, it can be easy to see people as stories, not people. So I try to be aware of how I help or hurt the world. It happened because I saw the movie “Cane River” at BAM a few years ago, which was made in the early 80s, but didn’t come out [in the United States] until about four years ago, because director Horace B. Jenkins had a heart attack right after directing it. The film is only vibrations; they are black people holding hands in a field, being tender with each other. If I had seen my aunts and uncles being so loving and gentle with each other back then, it would have changed the direction of what noir cinema looks like.

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