2015 ASPiRE alumnus Saidu Tejan-Thomas puts his love of storytelling into action at podcasting company
Saidu Tejan-Thomas, ’15, an ASPiRE alumnus who majored in public relations, has been hired as an associate producer with Brooklyn-based podcasting company Gimlet Media. Tejan-Thomas was previously an intern with the company and was able to work on the show “Uncivil,” which won a 2017 Peabody Award for its first episode.
According to the award, Uncivil “intertwines public history and family stories for a retelling of the pivotal role 250 newly-escaped slaves played during the Civil War in South Carolina.”
Born in Sierra Leone and raised in Northern Virginia, Tejan-Thomas always had a love of writing and acting, and during his time at VCU, he was involved in various poetry and slam poetry competitions. On a chance interview with the Wall Street Journal about his involvement in the poetry scene on campus, Tejan-Thomas happened to mention his interests and asked the reporter if he knew anyone in radio he could connect with. It was this networking that brought Tejan-Thomas to participate in The Transom Story Workshop, a nine-week, full-time residential program for beginning radio producers located on Cape Cod, Ma.
After attending the workshop, Tejan-Thomas successfully applied and completed an internship at NPR in Washington, D.C. During his internship, he was was able to work in the organization’s Story Lab, which serves as an incubator for new/creative ideas in radio storytelling, and the weekend edition of All Things Considered. From NPR, he landed the internship with Gimlet.
Tejan-Thomas said his time with ASPiRE helped him to identify and inform his own opinions, in a space filled with people who are passionate about many things and don’t always have the same perspective.
“I look back on that communal aspect of ASPiRE - of taking classes together, working together on projects and talking with my roommates about all kinds of things that we cared about,” he said. “To have those important conversations with people who pushed my ideas - it shaped me as a young adult. We were all trying to do something good. Just approaching it with different mindsets.”