By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
WITH the aim of providing a safe space for women where they can engage in and enjoy unscripted, relatable and candid conversations about pertinent issues, Jillien Mortimer started her podcast Mommy on a Mission early last year.
Now, as she’s about to celebrate the podcast’s first anniversary, Jillien talks to Tribune Woman about how the programme has evolved, what impact it has had on the community, and what she hopes to achieve in the future.
Mommy on a Mission, despite its name, is not only for mothers, but for women from all walks of life and social situations. Most episodes feature guests from different backgrounds who discuss topics that affect women like herself. No topic is off-limits or too taboo to be discussed.
“When I first dreamed of starting a podcast, my goal was to create an environment that allows me to connect with all women on a larger scale, on all things that we find ourselves experiencing throughout our daily lives,” said Jillien.
“To paint a clear picture: It’s moments like when you and your girlfriends catch up over a glass of wine, or when you and a close co-worker connect in the lunchroom to discuss the realities of being a wife or a mother. Those moments inspired the creating of Mommy on a Mission podcast for all listeners. The reason was to share my personal perspective stories and the stories of other women by tackling issues that impact listeners from every background. As each episode premieres, hopefully all listeners will utilise each conversation as a lesson and inspiration to navigate through stages of their lives and experiences.”
Episodes usually range from 30 minutes to an hour; sometimes, depending on how intense the conversation becomes, they go over an hour.
Throughout the first season, Jillien featured special guests with different expertise and from different careers. The conversations focused on the importance of setting personal goals and building a ‘village’ with parents, teachers and schools to cultivate children to reach their full potential. She also sought to create more awareness of mental health issues and promoted positive co-parenting relationships; she even gave out advice on skincare and dating.
“The first episode premiered on January 22 of this year. So next month it will be the podcast’s first anniversary. Honestly, when I recorded the first episode, I was not equipped with any fancy podcast equipment required to start a podcast. It was a Friday night, and I only had three things” my cellphone, my laptop, and God’s grace. I think at that very moment, God gave me the push to record that first episode where I just spoke my truth. The first episode that premiered was an introduction episode where I talked about my life as a single mother, the struggles I endured to achieve my goals and the reason why I wanted to create a podcast environment filled with inspiration for every listener. Today, the podcast is on season two, with 12 episodes and counting,” said Jillien.
Having made some great connections while living in the United States during her college years, and being a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Jillien said most of her guests have been her sorority sisters and close friends that she met in Alabama who are now prominent within their communities and careers.
“For season one, the second episode, ‘Don’t Decrease the Goal, Increase the Effort’, I had Delronda Grant, a successful entrepreneur from Atlanta, Georgia. Throughout the second season, I brought on a handfull of inspired guests such as (healthcare consultant) Jermeisha Purdie on the episode ‘Taking Care of You’, where we shone a light on Mental Awareness Month and conducted a conversation concerning the mental health of Black women and the importance of us to start taking care of our mental and physical health.
“The third episode of season two, ‘Keeping the Sanity of Co-Parenting’, I went a little personal by bringing my daughter’s father, JaMarkus Coleman, into the Mommy on a Mission community, where we discussed our co-parenting relationship, followed by the episode ‘Skincare: Everything About Your Melanin Skin’, featuring Ashley White, a licenced aesthetician based out of Chicago, New York, and Atlanta…We chatted about numerous skin issues experienced by Black women and the importance of protecting our melanin skin; she provided an extensive skincare regimen.
For episode five, Jillien introduced a new segment called the ‘Hey Girl Convos’. She invited Chassidy Simmons and Ashley White, who joined her for a juicy topic: “Black women: Successful and still single”.
Jillien said they spoke about their own personal dating experiences and what they look forward in dating as Black women in their careers.
“The episode that gained the most play is my co-parenting episode that featured my daughter’s father…We discussed our dynamics of maintaining a positive co-parenting relationship while raising our daughter. Also, we shared some insights for other co-parents on how we overcame the obstacles to develop and maintain an effective co-parenting style due to him living in the United States and my daughter and I living in the Bahamas. That episode is near and dear to my heart, because a private as I am, I made the bold move to step out of my comfort zone and provide a closer look at our co-parenting life,” said Jillien.
She is thankful that the feedback from the podcast episodes have been uplifting, especially from her very own village filled with family, friends, co-workers, and church family. Jillien remembers when she shared the first episode on Facebook where almost everyone tuned in and shared it on their social media pages for others to listen.
Not putting down any other lifestyle podcasts out there, Jillien said she wants Mommy on a Mission to be more than that.
“At first, I was so afraid of how everyone would think of Mommy on a Mission because there are so many similar podcasts out there. Fortunately, since the creation of the podcast, I have received lots of positive feedback from Bahamians and even listeners living in the United States. Mainly, the main goal of the podcast is to relate to all my listeners and be a source of inspiration when their backs are against the wall with little to no support and deliver vital advice throughout each episode,” she said.
“I reflected on my journey when the podcast was just an idea in my head. I remembered how difficult it was for me when I went through personal issues such as depression and financial struggles. Those experiences became the reason and motive for creating this podcast, because I wanted to provide a safe space for the listeners and me to connect, dealing with similar issues.”
Navigating life as a mom, graduate student, full-time employee, and now her new role as a podcaster, is a lot to juggle. Therefore, her personal life and podcast life tend to often collide. However, she is trying her best as a podcaster to provide listeners with new episodes every three to four weeks. She said it isn’t about the number of episodes she can produce each season, but about the quality of episodes and their message.
And she hopes she’s delivered an impactful episode for this holiday season.
“The holiday episode officially premiered on Sunday, December 19, under the topic, ‘Mommy Talk: Managing our Kids Expectations in a COVID Christmas.’ One of my best friends, Kourtni Land, a wife, mother and career woman, joined me in the conversation. In this episode, we shine a light on how we as parents handle the pressure of managing the loss of Christmas traditions due to current COVID health restrictions enforced because a new variant emerges. Additionally, many families are still experiencing a financial burden due to job loss and layoffs, so purchasing gifts on their children’s Christmas list is not the same compared to past holidays before the pandemic. It was so important to provide parents with some ideas on creating ways to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in their kids without setting their expectations too high,” she said.
For 2022, Jillien said her hope is for the podcast to continue to bring reassurance to all listeners. She wants them to know that they are not alone, no matter what they might be going through.
“I want to continue to provide more mental health awareness topics because it’s not a secret how most people within our community believe that a mental health condition is a sign of personal weakness. The podcast needs to feature more conversations with local health experts on how we can shatter that negative stigma and provide vital advice for many Bahamians who silently live with mental illness for fear of being judged. Moreover, the goal is to feature more Bahamian female guest speakers who continue to make positive moves within our community,” said Jillien.