I’ve known about Ashton Zala for a while now, and he was on my radar. He’s from the UK.
We caught up and did some Q & A about:
- How he started.
- What motivated him.
- Projects Ashton is focused on.
- The future.
And tons more in this exclusive
There aren’t too many platforms shedding light on black anime creators in the space, and it’s important to promote it here at
Let’s get started!
Can you introduce yourself to
Anime Motivation‘s audience?
I’m Ash Beardguy aka Ashton Zala, the founder of Black Anime Podcasts and founder, co-host and producer of Giant Shooty Robots – A Gundam Podcast.
I’m a Jamaican-British Multidisciplinary Digital Creative and I have been enamored with Anime and Tokusatsu since the days of my childhood.
I also happen to be Autistic.
What motivated you to start Black Anime Podcasts in the first place?
The desire to start Black Anime Podcasts came from several different places to be perfectly honest.
The first and foremost reason I started it, was because I was genuinely exhausted at how monochromatic the English speaking anime podcasting scene and more significantly, western anime fandom were and still are.
The second reason, is because in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, I felt that I could be making better use of my talents as a Black Digital Creative, to build community and platforms where the voices of Black Folks who are marginalized within Anime Fandom, could be magnified and given the attention that they so richly deserve.
Did you focus on podcasts specifically because it’s a growing area for black anime creators? Or something else?
I focused on podcasts because I love them. They are my favourite audio medium; the talk radio of this digital age and I have a voracious appetite when it comes to consuming them.
From its very inception, I had always designed Black Anime podcasts to not only function as a website and platform on which the podcasts of Black Folks were magnified, but also as a “Podcast Discovery” tool for other Black Otaku like myself, who were just tired of the lack of diversity amongst the anime podcasting scene.
What are some examples of what you’re doing to bring black anime fans and creators together?
I’m glad you asked this question! So recently I started the Black Anime Twitter, twitter community, a safe space that allows not only fans, but also Black Creators in anime spaces, to network and chop it up about all things anime,
In addition to this, I also regularly use the
Can you talk about your upcoming Twitter space “Anime Diaspora” and your goals for it?
Anime Diaspora will be a fortnightly Twitter Space and Podcast where myself and a range of guests from across the African Diaspora will discuss the various facets of Anime Culture; from Fandom to Fashion all through an unapologetically Black Lens.
It will also serve as the official podcast of Black Anime Podcasts.
The idea for Anime Diaspora was really born out of the “#BlackAnimeTwitter” Twitter Spaces that I held over the past couple of months.
Not only was the engagement through the roof, with hundreds of folks tuning in, they were also safe spaces for us Black Otaku, free from the anti-black micro-aggressions typically thrown around in wider Anime Fandom.
In addition to this, what really made them unique, aside from the wonderful discourse that emerged from them, was the fact that they managed to capture an audience of Black Otaku from both sides of the Atlantic and other parts of the African Diaspora.
As for what my goals are with Anime Diaspora?
I would like it to become a place where otaku from all parts of the African Diaspora, can not only engage in thought-provoking discourse about their favourite medium, but do so knowing that they will not have to deal with the poisonous anti-blackness that runs rampant in mainstream anime fandom spaces.
What struggles have you had over the years with your projects, and is it getting easier overtime?
The main struggle I have always had with my numerous projects is keeping them organized, putting out content with regularity and growing their presence over the myriad
I am doing rather well by most people’s metrics and Black Anime Podcast’s following has kind of exploded over the past 6 months, however I still feel like I’m struggling in a sense with grasping how to grow over certain platforms, with TikTok being a key example of this.
What’s the future of Black Anime Podcasts, and yourself going forward?
The future of Black Anime Podcasts is an exciting one! Primarily, I would like to continue to use my platform to uplift the work of Black voices in anime spaces; with a focus on magnifying the work of Black Women and LGBTQ+ folks, who are more often than not further marginalized by people within our communities.
In the short term, I would like to focus on getting the podcast directory up to the magic number of 200 podcasts, establish Anime Diaspora as a successful Twitter Space and podcast that functions as a voice of Black anime fans from across the diaspora, and work on Black Anime Drip, a directory of Black-owned anime clothing and beauty brands.
How do you feel about the Black Anime space in general as far as creators, fans, and the industry?
At this moment in time, the Black Anime Space or Fandom is stronger than it has ever been! It’s very Americentric, but to be honest as long as you have Black Folks in general pushing the culture forward, no matter which part of the diaspora you find yourself in, we all win.
For example, in the States, you have folks like Worst Generation Podcast & Blanime Podcast joining together to host the Twitter Space, #AnimeAfterDarkCH, which regularly has industry heavyweights, like Zeno Robinson passing through and participating.
Then you have folks like Neysha (@NeyshaPlays) writing scripts for a PBS Documentary focusing on Anime Culture.
On this side of the pond, you have the mandem from Anime Freshmen doing live shows at huge conventions like the London MCM Comic Con.
I feel that Black Anime Fans are a huge reason as to why the medium has managed to move into mainstream popular culture in the west, however the industry recognition doesn’t necessarily reflect this.
As like with a lot of other industries, white creators, cosplayers and influencers receive the majority of the attention from brands and corporations, in comparison to Black and even Asian Creators.
Top 10 anime series of all time?
This list is constantly changing because there is a lot of dope stuff I tend to just end up discovering by accident, however my Top 3 usually stays the same.
- Welcome to the NHK!
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam
- Sk8 The Infinity
- Code Geass
- Darker Than Black
- FMA Brotherhood
- Cowboy Bebop/Samurai Champloo
Anything else you’d like to share?
You can find Black Anime Podcasts at https://blackanimepodcasts.com and follow the BAP on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok: @BlackAnimePods.
You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok: @AshBeardguy.
You can find my podcast, Giant Shooty Robots, at https://giantshootyrobots.com and follow us across
Thank you for taking the time to interview me!