Bri Hall – Love Is in the Airwaves

Photo courtesy of Bri Hall
Photo courtesy of Bri Hall

Bri Hall is a 27-year-old modern Renaissance woman. She has amassed over 1.1 million followers globally on various social media platforms, creating content that feels like a backyard conversation with your funniest, most interesting friend. She draws portraits, performs music as singer-songwriter La Hara, creates cosplay costumes and special effects makeup, is the founder of Smartista Beauty, loves learning more than anything, and probably wins at trivia a lot. She is—this cannot be stressed enough—delightful. And now she’s got a new podcast out called Count to Ten.

A first-generation immigrant, Hall was born in New York to a Jamaican mother and moved to Maryland when she was young. Her artistic talent was obvious at an early age, and so was her curiosity. “I want to understand as much as possible,” she says, “because I feel like a lot of hatred comes from a lack of understanding. I don’t have to agree with everything, by any stretch, but I like to still understand it at the end of the day.” She breezily discusses her ADHD; growing up different formed within her a great deal of empathy, and a willingness to self-advocate. For her, everything is interconnected, and the questions are always firing, demanding more information—in fact, she received the DSM-5 for Christmas last year. Learning is her hobby. “I know I am no expert,” says Hall. “I’m just a very curious person by nature and I love to continue learning. Expand my pallet. Meet many diverse people and be exposed to diverse people because I feel like that’s how you grow most is by being exposed to differences.” 

Photo courtesy of Bri Hall

Social media, and now podcasting, allows her to do just that. “I’m able to jump from concept to concept from episode to episode where I’m really able to explore these niche interests, or things that impact me,” she says. “Just being curious about things is something I’m able to explore. Like if I just say, Hey, I wanna learn about this really rare group of people that exist in this very purposeful location [for example], I can actually talk to somebody from that group and I can actually find answers and information at any time. I love being able to adapt and being able to switch things up. Because I can get bored pretty easily, honestly, and then when I’m interested in something I have kind of a tunnel vision for that thing. So I feel like podcasting, social media, music have allowed me to really hone in on what I’m interested in, release that to the world, and then move on to my next point of interest, you know?”

Count to Ten is a weekly podcast, presented by RedCircle Studio. The first episode premiered on January 18, in which Hall hosts Keziah Dhamma, creator and founder of Swirly Curly hair products and the Curl College educational platform. The two discuss their natural hair journeys, the lack of education surrounding natural hair, and the CROWN Act, which prohibits discrimination based on the wearing of natural Black hairstyles, and has so far been passed in only 13 states. They talk about the difficult search for products and techniques that have worked for their hair. It’s relatable in a way that somehow feels universal, even if you haven’t experienced it, because Hall’s sincere curiosity and authenticity bring humanity to the forefront of any conversation. Self-acceptance, psychology, and even evolutionary theory are all brought up during this episode—everything is connected, and all of it is interesting.

Photo courtesy of Bri Hall

Her future guests include Brittany Lackey and Germani Manning of The Black Girl Bravado podcast, Charlotte Nguyen, MANNYWELLZ, and author Jen Winston of Greedy: Notes from a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much, and a wide range of topics are covered—from living with invisible disabilities, to the model minority myth and the specific stigma bisexual people often face. “In that episode [with Jen Winston] we go in depth on bisexuality and biphobia, and stereotypes about bisexuality that kind of come from both sides,” Hall says. “So we might see stereotypes that happen from people in the heterosexual community, but you might also get stereotypes from the lesbian community as well as, you know, the gay community in general because of this belief that bisexuality quite literally does not exist, and that it must be an exact 50/50 spectrum. We also discuss the idea that being bisexual means you’re promiscuous by nature.”

Hall continues: “One thing that I thought was really interesting is, I was watching a series about asexuality, and some of the people on that series were like, Hey, I’m bisexual. I have a romantic interest in multiple genders, however I don’t have any interest in having sex at all. And I thought, Oh my gosh, this is such a riveting example to shatter the stereotype about sex drive, quite literally, and sexuality being directly correlated. It’s that people are trying to link things that aren’t intrinsically linked.” Everything comes back to her curiosity and empathy, her passionate quest for understanding and productive dialogue.

Hall seamlessly intertwines her lived experiences with the world around her, and is in a constant state of self-reflection. “One of the things I pointed out the other day,” she says, “is that if something makes you complain because you have to think about it, then that’s probably your privilege. This is the definition of privilege that I randomly thought of one day: privilege is the ability to not think about something, with little or no consequences to how you continue to live your life. Like financial privilege. As someone who has been unhoused before, that next meal was something I really had to ruminate on. Like, oh we have an internship and we have a buffet spread, so let’s try to quietly be like, hey, can I take the leftovers with me? You know, things like that—it was something I constantly had to think about.” 

Photo courtesy of Bri Hall

Given her experiences, her strong sense of community, and her knowledge of both psychology and history, she also has the skill to step back and look at the big picture, to see trends over time. In another episode with Aliza Kelly, she considers how Witchtok and recent interest in astrology could be related to the civil unrest we’ve experienced recently. “What is it about social movements that really draw people to the occult or to alternative spirituality, new practices, and new frames of thinking?” she says. “We explored how we saw this in the ’80s and ’90s with the increase in interest in witchcraft and the occult, and that was post the ’70s, ’60s racial movements as well as the societal movements that were massively happening at that time. And so I said, ‘Huh, that’s so interesting, I notice this pattern a little bit, every time we have a major movement,’ and I think movements encourage people to question where they were standing, quite literally. In times like this we don’t feel comfortable as a society to some degree—we knew there were so many things wrong, but we were able to kind of be in what we thought was normal.”

Bri Hall’s passion for knowledge is contagious, and her willingness to be vulnerable brings it all together. She came up with the name Count to Ten after a security guard in a mall physically blocked her from entering a store: “I was like, Oh my gosh, let me count to ten, and that was a lightbulb moment. Because I do this so often whenever I feel like my boundaries are disrespected, or I’m treated differently as a minority or someone on the margins of society… We have to have a space where we can talk about that.”  

Count to Ten is available to listen on Apple, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Amazon, and most podcast streaming services. You can also catch Bri on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

Lavender Magazine

5100 Eden Ave, Suite 107 • Edina, MN 55436 • 612.436.4660

©2023 Lavender Media, Inc.