MOVERS: Brittany Pierce
One of an occasional series
Every day, Black men and women are stepping into the travel world as tour operators, entrepreneurs and difference makers. This is one of them.
Images courtesy of Brittany Piece, “Rhythms Abroad.” All rights reserved.
When she left San Diego television news in 2009, she moved back to her native Los Angeles in search of her dream job as a TV travel show host, only to find out fast that she wasn’t what the TV travel world had in mind.
“What they wanted were white males in their 50s,” she says. “I wasn’t any of those things.”
Ignoring the naysayers, the 29-year-old says she took the advice of a higher authority.
“I heard God whisper to me, ‘Hire yourself,’ ” she says. And in effect, that’s exactly what she did.
She formed a plan, reached out to friends who could help her. Perhaps most important, she persuaded Julie Rosendo, producer of the award-winning PBS travel series Travelscope to come on board.
The result is “Rhythm Abroad,” PBS series that combines three of Brittany’s life passions — dance, music and travel.
The show began airing last month. It’s currently airing on PBS channels in 16 US states and the USA Virgin Islands. Her inaugural season has taken her to French Polynesia, Spain, Switzerland,Alberta, Canada and Thailand.
In each, she gets into the local cultural, the music and traditional dance — not merely as a presenter, but as a participant and performer.
She’s never been a professional dancer, she says. She just loves dance.
But while her dream job may now be a reality, don’t think for a moment that it’s not a ton of work.
“People imagine my job is sipping mai tais on a beach,” Brittany says. “We’re out before sunrise and we don’t make it back to our hotel until well into the night. The next day, we do it again. Most days, we’re getting four hours of sleep and we’re going all day.”
So where will Brittany’s show take her next?
“I would love to do South Africa, Kenya, Bali. I’d love to hit South America hard — Argentina, Brazil, Peru, the Dominican Republic. They’re all thriving, with a vibrant dance culture.”
She also would like to take “Rhythm Abroad” to more places, as in more channels. But the same PBS outlet that gave Brittany her break also poses a challenge.
“I love public television and all it has to offer, but it’s hard because it’s not a network. Each station determines its own broadcast schedule. I’m always getting calls and emails from people, asking me if they can see the show on their PBS station, and I have to say no.
Her goal now is to take her globetrotting rhythms to a full-fledged network — “Like Oprah,” she says.
Until then, Brittany says she’ll continue to dance her way around the world — and would love to see more familiar faces for company.
“It’s great to hear the viewers’ responses about how inspired they are — or how happy they are to see a person of color on TV who looks like them and enjoying traveling the world.
“I know people who’s idea of traveling is going to some beach and resort. I encourage people to get out and experience in the local culture. There’s so much to see If they did it once, they’d never go back to their old way of travel.”