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‘Central Ave’ Is Centralizing Women Of Color In Entertainment One Show At A Time

Get to know the ladies behind "the right show for right now."

Culture & Entertainment

What happens when a four-time Olympic gold medalist champion and a veteran television host of BET's 106 & Park walk into a room? They get together, turn the cameras on and star as the co-hosts for Will Packer's Central Ave. Sanya Richards-Ross and Julissa Bermudez have made history as the first two women of color to host an entertainment magazine show - and this is only the beginning for these two ladies bringing us "the right show for right now," as said in their description.

xoNecole had the chance to speak with the ladies of Central Ave about their working chemistry with one another, how their backgrounds led them to where they are today and their hopes for the future of Central Ave in the realm of entertainment and media. Here's what Sanya and Julissa had to say.

On their individual career paths and how it led to co-hosting ‘Central Ave’:

Sanya Richards-Ross: It's so funny and Julissa has said this so often but it's the truth - you never know who's watching. I was on the track for the majority of my life. My dad would always tell me and make me really focus on my interviews as part of my job. When I transitioned out of sports, I kept saying that I'd love to commentate for track and field because that's my love, but I didn't want to get boxed into doing just sports. I was very prayerful about other opportunities coming. I literally couldn't believe when Will Packer and Monique Chenault asked my agent to ask me to audition for Central Ave because this is a dream job for me to contribute to pop culture. Talking about topics that I care about outside of sports feels like a real blessing so I have to say that it was a lot of hard work, a little bit of luck that Monique Chenault was a track fan, saw me on the track and appreciated my interviews, and allowed me to have this great opportunity.

Julissa Bermudez: Personally, it's just been leading up to this point in a sense. I've been sort of wishing for a show like Central Ave to come around and to be part of it is even more special. As a TV personality and host, you dream of a gig like this. That's why when I say, "I've been waiting for a gig like this to come around like this," I've never really had an opportunity. I've kind of co-hosted as a guest on different entertainment news shows, but to be the actual co-host of a show where I can lend my flavor, personality, who I am and represent where I'm from on a weekly basis is very special and different. The opportunity came when my agent called and said the same thing when Will Packer and Monique Chenault wanted me to audition. It snowballed from there.

"I've kind of co-hosted as a guest on different entertainment news shows, but to be the actual co-host of a show where I can lend my flavor, personality, who I am and represent where I'm from on a weekly basis is very special and different."

On the chemistry the two share on and off the set: 

Julissa: Off set, we are FaceTiming each other, checking in with each other, encouraging each other as much as we can - a lot more relaxed obviously. On set, we try to have as much fun as possible and we've actually learned to figure out how we work. She can be very pumped up with music, ready for the day and as I would imagine getting ready to run a race. I could be a lot more moody, I can own that. There [are] some days where I'm the same way and other days I wake up super focused, I don't want to hear music and I'm in my own zone. That can be challenging when you have to work with someone, but I think we've managed to figure out our rhythm.

Sanya: I have to say that for me, especially coming into this space as a newbie, Julissa has completely taken me under her wing and I feel so supported and inspired every single day. We both understand that chemistry is something that grows and builds and I could say that every single day we get on set, we can feel it happening. I'm finishing her sentences, I can tell what she's gonna say and I can't wait to see where we go from here but the starting point has been really magical. I'm so excited to be working with someone who has so much experience, is willing to teach me and allows me to grow at the same time.

"We both understand that chemistry is something that grows and builds and I could say that every single day we get on set, we can feel it happening. I'm finishing her sentences, I can tell what she's gonna say and I can't wait to see where we go from here but the starting point has been really magical."

On being the first two women of color to host an entertainment magazine show:

Sanya: Many times when you're the first at something or you look and say, "It's 2020, how come this hasn't happened before?" It just reminds you of how important and significant this time is. Obviously, we couldn't orchestrate any of the things that are happening right now that really does make it feel like the right show for right now. I take this as a huge responsibility as a Black woman to represent us well, make the most of the opportunity and continue to open doors for other women of color. It's not until you hear this that you'll realize that opportunities are very limited, we're overqualified to have many of these opportunities and we don't get them. I feel so blessed and honored to have this opportunity. I pray Black girls and brown girls will look at their TVs and say, "That can be me one day," and then aspire to be even greater than we are.

"I take this as a huge responsibility as a Black woman to represent us well, make the most of the opportunity and continue to open doors for other women of color. It's not until you hear this that you'll realize that opportunities are very limited, we're overqualified to have many of these opportunities and we don't get them."

Julissa: The people have to watch! That's the only way it can happen and the only way that we're going to continue to have opportunities like this and for future generations, other women and anyone considered a minority. Numbers don't lie and at the end of the day we are an entertainment business with an emphasis on business. When shows like this are on the air and they're not supported, that business aspect of it kicks in big time. That's why it's so important to put out a show we can be proud of, where we can be seen, heard, and represented, and once you tune in, you stay locked in. At the end of the day, we can only do this as a collective.

For more information on Central Ave, check out their official website and Instagram page. Follow Julissa on her Instagram and follow Sanya on her Instagram.

*Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Featured Image Courtesy of Central Ave/Allied Moxy Marketing Group

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