Creator spotlight: How Yowei Shaw is flipping the narrative through Proxy

June 24, 2024

Turning setbacks to comebacks.

When life tossed her lemons…

A year ago Yowei Shaw was laid off from her job as co-host and producer of NPR's popular radio program and podcast, Invisibilia. And as an audio journalist, her reaction was apt as she recorded herself hyperventilating.

That drive to create in the midst of a moment of intense emotion was Yowei’s first step toward what would eventually become a new, independent podcast: Proxy.

The birth of her new podcast Proxy

In the coming months, Yowei found herself talking to experts, friends – even strangers – about the experience of being laid off. This was a process she called “emotional investigative journalism.” Hearing their perspectives helped her understand her own feelings by 'proxy,' ultimately inspiring her next move.

As she explained to her Patreon community:

"I want to help you "report on your feelings" - the niche emotional questions that no one in your life can relate to, and therefore, you're having trouble getting the comfort or advice you need."

Owning her creative vision

Yowei pitched Proxy to a few production companies, but they wanted her to hand over her idea, cutting her creative control over how it would be run and developed. So instead, she decided to take a risk, financing and producing Proxy on her own.

In a full circle moment at the end of May, Yowei launched the podcast with three initial episodes she called “The Layoff Trilogy,” where she and her proxies help people who lost their jobs get answers.

“With every layoff, there's the black box of what's really going on behind the scenes. Why did it go down the way it did? Was it really not about your performance, like they told you? How does the layoff list get made anyway?”

And layoffs are only where Yowei is starting.

“I have a whole season of episodes about niche emotional questions I can't wait to make. Conundrums like: how to be in an extroverted world as an introvert, how to have sex after surviving prostate cancer, how to stop feeling dumb for having a bad memory - all kinds of hangups that people feel alone in.”

Proxy has struck a chord with her fans:

You can check out Proxy on Patreon, and anywhere you listen to podcasts. You might just find that 'proxy' for the question you've been grappling with. Make sure to check out the music video she made from her experience below as well!

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