Writer and Radio DJ Mwaturura Wins ‘Private Affairs’ Award – Dating as a Black Woman in Australia

By theage.com.au

Christine “Kix” Mwaturura strips bare in her podcast Private Affairs, which details the highs and lows of being a black woman dating from a recently adopted country. And it paid off: The 36-year-old writer, radio DJ and podcaster won the Jesse Cox Audio Scholarship, worth $15,000.

The scholarship was established in 2019 in honor of the late award-winning ABC audio producer Jesse Cox. It was created by Cox’s widow Que Minh Luu, Chief Content Officer at Netflix ANZ, and a group of her relatives, including Benjamin Law, Clare Holland, Kali Reid, Jess Bineth and Scott Spark. Offered in partnership with podcast studio Audiocraft and production studio Unison, it offers a great opportunity for budding audio producers and is designed to support local and underrepresented voices.

Hailing from Zimbabwe, Melbourne-based Mwaturura will be known to PBS radio listeners as the host of Afro Turn Up, a weekly show about contemporary African music.

She describes her fictional six-episode narrative podcast Private Affairs as a romantic comedy-drama, similar in tone to the HBO TV show Insecure. She has big ambitions for her audio series, given that many listeners have suggested she make it into a book, a YouTube series, or even a TV show. The podcast was inspired by a character from a dating blog she started shortly after moving to Melbourne in 2014.

With the scholarship money, she plans to create a second series of the show, which also won Podcast of the Year and Best Fictional Podcast at the 2021 Australian Podcast Awards.

Despite being semi-autobiographical, Mwaturura is driven mad by people who assume the podcast is all about her. The presumption is understandable, however, as the main character, Veronica, shares some similarities, including being recently transplanted to Melbourne from Zimbabwe.

“I don’t like telling people what’s real and what’s fictional, but I put a lot of myself into the story. Even the things that are made up, the emotions behind those fictional feelings are very real. I could borrow from other parts of my life,” she says.

Dating in Australia and America, where she lived before coming here, is very different from dating in Zimbabwe. “I find it very difficult to decipher if a guy is flirting with me or just being nice. Compared to being back in Zimbabwe [where] if a guy likes you, he will tell you very clearly,” she says. “Here, it’s much more subtle in general. It is much more difficult to decipher people’s intentions.

Mwaturura at the Australian Podcast Awards 2021

“Guys usually don’t really approach me [in Melbourne] and I’ve heard – and I’m speculating a bit – that maybe it’s because I’m a black woman. There aren’t many of us, so I don’t know if people are intimidated by this or don’t know what to say or how to approach.

“When I went to Europe, I had no problem starting conversations with people. The men in Europe seem to be onto something,” she laughs.

An economist by training, Mwaturura worked full-time in a bank until September last year when she quit to devote her time and energy to her audio work.

The judges for this year’s Jesse Cox Audio Fellowship were Jess Bineth, JCAF Board Member and Audio Producer, Head of Development at Dreamchaser Monique Keller, and 2021 JCAF Fellow and Podcaster Jay Ooi.

Bineth says the fellowship was created to support bold, innovative work and to play a role in uplifting and supporting voices that are otherwise unrepresented in the audio space. “Audio fiction is really hard to do well and in Australia, Christine is at the top of the pack. She does the writing, the sound design, the direction of the actors, and she does all of that on her own accord. .

“She quit her day job, that’s what she wants to do and she has a really big vision for the Australian audio industry and how she wants to take people,” she says. “She’s enterprising, she’s a businesswoman and she does it very professionally. I can really see her as a leader in this space.

Bineth adds that the fellowship values ​​of supporting and elevating underrepresented voices are things that Jesse Cox has truly championed on a daily basis.

“We really want to honor his work.”

The shortlisted candidates were Gurindji, Pertame Arrernte and Worimi man Kieran Satour, co-creator and creative director of the Garuwa First Nations-owned production company, and Ruby Schwartz, producer on 7amSchwartz Media’s daily news podcast.

Patrick Abboud won the first Jesse Cox Audio Fellowship in 2020, using it to develop his eight-part investigative series The greatest threat, who won a Walkley Award this year. In 2021, the scholarship was won by Ooi, whose podcast Shoes Off went on to win gold for Smartest Podcast at the 2021 Australian Podcast Awards.