Chicago's newest podcast duo launched a show about balancing the unknown... just in time for the world to change.
Alex Hanna and Alexa Pierropoulos had big plans for 2020. The besties-turned-co-hosts had finally taken the plunge to start the podcast they've always dreamed of thanks to the encouragement of an office pal who admired their chemistry and suggested they monetize it. They listened to the universe and by February, Twerk Lyfe Balance was born with the mission to connect with 20 somethings in Chicago who are balancing (or attempting to balance) work, relationships, health and partying.
But like everyone with ambitious 2020 plans (or just regular plans like going out to dinner), Hanna and Perriopoulos were hastily faced with the reality of navigating a global pandemic while advocating for #BlackLivesMatter and listening to nationwide outcries fighting systemic racism.
Rather than staying quiet or postponing their plans for a podcast, Hanna and Pierropoulos consciously continued on -- the message of balance remained, but priorities shifted. The strategy worked and Twerk Lyfe Balance recently reached the milestone of 4,000 listeners.
Here, Hanna reflects on their journey so far and teases what lies ahead for their fellow Twerkers.
Did Twerk Lyfe Balance launch at the perfect time or the absolute worst time? The start hasn't been what we thought it would be. The world was getting really difficult [and] it felt like a lot at one time. Alexa and I talked about whether this was worth continuing or if we should put a pause until the craziness subsided. Ultimately, we took it head-on and we're excited that we did. The environment we live in is uncertain, but us talking about it and having those conversations helps people feel like they're not alone. Authenticity is important to us. How are we going to make the world better? These are questions we didn't think we'd be answering when we started. The Twerk Lyfe Balance brand is about sometimes going out in Boystown or River North dancing the night away until 4 a.m. and the next day maybe you're crying in a session with your therapist. Honestly, having this podcast right now seems like it was supposed to happen. Alexa and I want to step up and learn from other people. Conversations change the world.
How was the responsibility to speak authentically about challenging issues daunting, especially as a new show? It was super intimidating. After George Floyd was murdered, we didn't know wha to do. Alexa and I didn't know whether we should record something at all. The first decision was, how do we use a platform like this; and the second decision was, how do we do it? We planned that episode for three or four hours beforehand. We re-recorded it, because we're not a news podcast. We should be talking about experiences people are having and [asking ourselves] how to step up and be better allies. What are things we can do? That's the real conversation Twerk Lyfe Balance wants to have. We want people to come away feeling hopeful and inspired. We stumbled upon something we didn't think would be so important. Everyone has to find balance in their lives. But now that the world is shifting, what does that look like?
What's a show or guest you've had to put on hold that you're excited to still do? We had a whole Pride month planned and we had to put that on hold. Pride is really important to both of us. I’m gay [and] she has a lot of gay friends and is the biggest ally I’ve ever known. In the podcast, I talk about navigating relationships with friends and family who aren’t super comfortable with me being gay. I want to expand on that. We were going to work with The River in Lakeview; they have drag brunches every Sunday. We were going to go record some of the queens after a drag brunch. We want to take our podcast out of our living rooms and go interview people and learn more about how they handle balance and what balance looks like to them. Also, realizing that we shouldn't go back to our old lives. There are problems in the world that we have to fix. We want to go back to those old days of going out and dating again and going to drag brunches, but now TLB will have an added emphasis of [incorporating] social activism.
You were both already so close before the podcast. What have you learned about each other during this process? Alexa and I didn't realize how close we would get. It's a partnership; it's literally like she's my wife and I'm her husband. Every day, we are texting about podcast updates, life updates and we've gotten so close. I think something Alexa and I love most about each other is that we can always make each other laugh. She means the world to me and I know I mean the world to her. We say it a lot, but we couldn't imagine doing this with anyone else.
Where will Twerk Lyfe Balance be in five years? [Alexa is] getting her MBA and I’m involved with a couple nonprofits. Both of us have really big goals, so it’s cool to be on this adventure together. We’re both ambitious people. Our goal is to have Cheesie's Pub & Grub name a grilled cheese after us. Thats how we’ll know we made it! It would be a sweet and savory combo... [like a] cool breakfast [with] maple bacon. Sweet and savory is a spot we want to hit.
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