How I made my podcast with disabled people in the arts sector

Zara Jayne started her own podcast last year. Now it’s back for a second season. She explains how it came about, and what it was like to make a podcast.

Screenshot of three people smiling on a Zoom call.

I’m Zara Jayne and I’m an actor, but I have always been dabbling in writing. As an adult I’ve been working as a professional performer and writer, and since lockdown I’ve given podcasting a go. I really got into it when there was nothing else to do apart from my writing. I started a mission and it’s been a very exciting journey.

I wanted to interview people with disabilities

I decided I’d like to interview people with disabilities, from the arts sector. To see their view of the politics of art, how they cope with their disability, as well as trying to work in the industry.

I’ve known Sense for a long time because of my disability, CHARGE syndrome. They’ve supported me and I’ve done lots of projects with them, on and off throughout the years.

One time, I was presenting something up in Birmingham at Sense’s TouchBase Pears centre and I said I was interested in making a podcast. The team there said they might be able to help. So we teamed up and they helped me direct and edit the podcast. I have a team of people supporting me with the project.

Three very different artists

It’s called The Zara Show, and I’m the host. In the first series we had three interviews with three very different artists. I started by interviewing visual artist Tanya Raabe-Webber, who was working with Sense at the time, focussing on inclusion and doing lots of workshops.

For the second episode I talked with an autistic musician called Robin Jax. He’s got his own a record label called Tiergarten Records – a label for neurodiverse musicians.

The third interview was with a mixed-media blind artist called Clarke Reynolds, and he does a lot of work with braille art and education and campaigning. He’s just very, very interesting.

A screenshot of a Zoom video call. There are three faces on the screen. One woman , Sam, with pink lipstick and hair tied up is smiling with her mouth open. Another woman is beaming with a smile to the right. That is Zara Jayne. Underneath, there's a third image of a woman. She's Miss Jacqui and she has long black hair, and headphones on. Behind her, there's a book case with colourful books on.
Host Zara and director Sam chat to Miss Jacqui as part of the recording of season 2 of The Zara Show.

When I was recording the podcast, I had a script and a set of questions, but there was also space to go off-topic. It made the podcast flow better. The final podcast that goes out is edited quite a bit though. Like if someone’s phone rang or a cat came in, unless it adds something then we’d cut that out. There’s so much that you don’t actually see or hear.

I can see from different perspectives

As I’m interviewing people with disabilities, I find having a visual and hearing impairment helps me connect with my guests. I can see from different perspectives.

Like the fact I have a visual impairment, I can see where someone blind is coming from. If someone has hearing problems I can connect to them too, in some ways but not all. The umbrella of disability is huge, but I understand some of the setbacks.

I can say to people, ‘look, I did this’

Now, I’m just about to release the second series of the podcast, with three more very exciting guests. All with different disabilities and from different creative backgrounds. It’s been fun. It’s been collaborative, it’s been interesting and you get to learn a lot, from the team helping me – my director Sam and the Sense arts and wellbeing team, but also the guests too.

And I’m proud. Proud of having something out there that I can say to people – ‘look I did this’.

So you should try listening to the podcast. It’s something new to listen to. You’ll learn about the arts industry or an artist and you might just pick up some new fun ideas.

Listen to the Zara Show

The second season of The Zara Show is out now. Available to listen for free on all podcast platforms. Listen now.