Nola Haynes: Host & Executive Producer of Nola Haynes TV
Nola Haynes is the Host and Executive Producer of the indie, docu-style, YouTube talk show, Nola Haynes TV (NHTV). NHTV was inspired from a period after Nola graduated from Harvard and was unemployed. NHTV is the creative expression of this frustrating time in Nola’s life. NHTV shines a light on unsung entrepreneurs and innovators in different cities, towns, and communities. Through NHTV, Nola can talk to people in their environments about their professional and personal journeys. In the end, Nola is a natural researcher, she loves to talk to people and to get answers to questions. This love of people, places, and narratives is where Nola Haynes the academic and creative merge.
Nola is a New Orleans native and she accredits her dual love for creativity and scholarship to her upbringing there. However, in California is where she began to truly nurture her creative side. Starting with a local talk show in high-school to becoming a Stanford Meisner trained, union actress for many years. In addition to being a creative, Nola is a UCLA, Harvard alumna and is a fourth-year doctoral student in Political Science and International Relations at USC, researching the intersections of national security, identity, and US foreign policy.
Q: It is not very often that we meet a woman of color in the field of national security and terrorism. Where did your interests in this industry originate and what led you to pursue a Ph.D. in this field of study?
Nola: My academic interests grew over time. When I decided to return to college after Hurricane Katrina, I thought I wanted to be an environmental engineer. My father is a retired engineer and I was convinced that I wanted to physically go back to New Orleans to help rebuild it. However, I took a Political Science class and from there I fell in love with it. So, by the time I transferred to UCLA from community college, I changed my major from Geology to Political Science. While at UCLA, I was able to travel to the Middle East and West Africa and it was then when my interests in identity, (race, religion, gender, and class) started to expand to include a global perspective. By the time I started my master’s program at Harvard Divinity School (HDS), I was thinking globally. When the Boston bombings happened, I started thinking about identity in a different way. I started thinking about who are terrorists, are they “always” brown and Muslim? Of course, the answer is no and right now in the U.S. we are experiencing an awakened terror only equal to the country’s first terrorist organization, the Ku Klux Klan. Long story short, I wanted to ask and answer questions about our laws and policies that impact bodies of color. My philosophy is, scholars of color should ask these questions in every discipline.
Q: Living in LA gives a natural exposure to the entertainment industry and can build a desire of wanting to be the focus of a show, movie, or documentary feature. While that path is a great pursuit, what drew you towards building NHTV where you are the Host of this series that looks to shine the spotlight and focus on others rather than yourself?
Nola: It’s simple, when I graduated from HDS, I did not have full-time employment right away, so I needed to direct my energy and anxiety elsewhere. Creating is a huge release me, I use it as a form of self-care and emotional therapy. During that time, I constantly second-guessed myself. Instead of relishing in that destructive headspace, I got my jar out and started making lemonade by reaching out to Hollywood friends from my acting days, to help me create something that was important and progressive. I adapted to my LA circumstances in that regard. So, NHTV was less about wanting to be seen and more about using my creative skills as a form of art therapy.