Bearing Witness to Intimacy & Truth: Christy Carlson Romano, Anneliese van der Pol Launch ‘BNB Podcast’ During ATX TV Fest 2023

Exploring the complexities and nuances of identity, vulnerability, and navigating adulthood.

Christy Carlson Romano Anneliese van der Pol ATX TV Fest 2023 True Hollywood Talk
Photo Credit: True Hollywood Talk

This interview was conducted by Andrew Rossow, Esq. and Jhanelle Dionne.

Launched twelve years ago by Emily Gipson and Caitlin McFarland, ATX TV Festival is an annual festival in Austin, Texas that has since developed into a year-round event that is entirely focused on the television medium via its most engaging programming that brings together industry leaders and fans every June for a four-day event that consists of panels, premiere screenings, and late-night events. 

True Hollywood Talk attended this year’s ATX TV Fest Season 12, which among the many panels and discussions, brought podcast programming front-and-center. 

During this year’s ATX TV Fest, The Podcast Company (PodCo) certainly sparked waves of conversations as its sweet, ever-expanding line of podcast programming brings together many of the former Disney Channel child stars who have worked hard to build something that’s entirely their own – putting their Disney character personas behind them to have those uncomfortable conversations and discussions that play a much bigger part in our everyday lives. 

PodCo, a podcast production startup, founded by former Disney Channel star Christy Carlson Romano (Even Stevens, Kim Possible, The Vulnerable Podcast) and her husband, Brendan Rooney (The Vulnerable Podcast, I Hear Voices Podcast), has undeniably carved out a niche that is hard to compete with, bringing together a spectacular lineup of podcasts hosted by former Disney Channel stars and their journeys in navigating adulthood beyond the characters they’ve played on television for years. 

Since its February launch, PodCo now plays host to:

Bearing Witness to That Intimate Moment

During ATX TV Fest, Romano and Anneliese van der Pol (That’s So Raven) announced the launch of PodCo’s latest podcast – the BNB Podcast, which will discuss topics surrounding vulnerability, parenthood, musical theater, their time on Disney Channel, as well as the current status of the world.

True Hollywood Talk sat down with both Romano and van der Pol, diving into vulnerability, authenticity, and adulthood.

As for van der Pol and Romano coming together, van der Pol told True Hollywood Talk that their lives have “paralleled each other in a weird way,” and this was an opportunity for them both to explore a friendship they always wanted, but were never given the chance to experience.

“We were sort of robbed of a friendship, and we like each other a lot, and always knew that,” said van der Pol. “When I came on to do Vulnerable, we realized we weren’t being so vulnerable; we were having a lot of fun, and I think [Christy] is ready to take a bit of a departure from that.”

Anneliese van der Pol to True Hollywood Talk

The Vulnerable Podcast, hosted by Romano, invites her friends, celebrities, and experts for in-depth conversations discussing the good, the complicated, and beauty of being human, while exploring the nuances of vulnerability.

One of the things that Romano says will distinguish BNB Podcast from a lot of the “girl duos” that are really wonderful and trending 

We’ve literally been everyone’s big sister or role models for a long time, but they’ve never had the chance to talk to us,” Romano told True Hollywood Talk.

“The note that I get a lot from folks, is that podcasting as a whole is so popular and has such a great future ahead of it because you’re sharing an intimate moment, you’re bearing witness to people that you really would love to listen to. I think we’re offering a way in for folks that maybe grew up with us and really want to know what we think about the industry,” she continued.

Christy Carlson Romano to True Hollywood Talk

van der Pol also added the point that when people come to the program to listen to them, they know they’re going to be getting the truth, while also having the ability to showcase her own voice independent of Disney. 

I just don’t care about being famous…it doesn’t bring me any joy. I really just want to be a person in the world talking and having a voice that’s my own voice. I do think I have something to say and people who would want to listen,” she stated. 

Romano jumped in, emphasizing that “[w]hat we want to do with this show is to give [Anneliese] a platform to be herself and to shine,” Romano emphasized, noting that we’re no longer in an “influencer culture, but instead, a creator market where if you’re creating something special and unique that is “authentically you, then there’s a place for that now.”

Hair Color For Women and Becoming “Authentically You”

Fans of van der Pol who grew up watching her play ‘Chelsea’ on Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven, often associated her with her red hair, which during the show, she said she purposely changed to blonde. 

“One thing I think she did great was changing her hair color, because everyone knew her as a redhead,” Romano said. “I think it’s so funny how there’s certain things you do in hair color for women, which is something else we should talk about on the program.”

And when it comes to being authentically you, hair color for women and men, is an equally important piece to the puzzle of understanding you. 

We briefly spoke about Disney’s live-action film of “The Little Mermaid,” starring Halle Bailey as Ariel, which is now out on Disney+, and how it’s already left its mark on pop culture in more ways than one.

Since the original animated movie’s release in 1989, fans of “The Little Mermaid” have come to expect any depiction of Ariel to “look” a certain way – including how her hair and makeup are done. 

Oscar-nominated celebrity hairstylist Camille Friend, who was responsible for creating Bailey’s hairstyle to play the live-action Ariel, did so with intention. 

While there were widespread discussions from people on wanting to see Bailey rock the bright cherry red hair that the OG Ariel has always exhibited, the move away from tradition and taking into consideration what was best for Bailey, was a priority for Friend. 

Friend told PopSugar that when the topic of hair color came up, she was concerned about dyeing Bailey’s entire head red and the damage it would cause. So, Friend came up with a workaround solution, partnering with Extensions Plus, which provided three custom shades of red, 30-inch hair extensions made to encase Bailey’s locs. 

We just started mixing the colors, starting from darker and working to lighter and, literally, taking and wrapping each of her locs with this hair,” Friend said. According to Friend, that process required a total of three stylists and took two days, which allowed for it to stay in Bailey’s hair for six to eight weeks.

By mixing the three different shades of red, Friend and the makeup team were able to completely transform Bailey’s brown hair into Ariel’s red hue, which gives off golden-orange reds to help bring out the golden-sunshiny color out of Bailey’s skin.

Being a Mom (And Not Being a Mom)

When it comes to exploring the complexities and nuances with today’s understanding of ‘identity,’ the two co-hosts bring a unique perspective to the program when it comes to motherhood and independence.  

We asked Romano and van der Pol for their advice to parents and kids who do have that dream of wanting to get into the industry:

“I am making sure that my daughters have an appreciation for the arts first, before commodifying it. I think that it’s important that they just love it – that they love just being in a theater. What I think most importantly is ambition. Ambition in children is so rare, but if you have an ambitious child, you have to serve that ambition to them, because it’s healthy for them. Hopefully along the way, they aren’t so ambitious that they lose sight of their values and their agency, but overall, when it comes to the parent and the choices to do this, this isn’t an after-school activity,” Romano emphasized. 

van der Pol says one of the biggest pieces of advice she can share with parents (and kids) revolves around the amount of “power” that presents itself when you’re making people laugh and bringing in large sums of money:

“I had a very smart mother, a mother who was a big avid arts-goer, theater watcher, anything and everything. She told me all the right things, but it still didn’t matter, because when you’re making all of that money young, and you’re making people laugh, you’re so powerful. You have so much power (or you think you do), and you’re an adult taking care of your family,” van der Pol told True Hollywood Talk.  I would just keep telling myself ‘girl, you’re not an adult, and this isn’t going to last. Just because you’re naturally talented, doesn’t mean you don’t have to work hard. I would have told myself not to drink and make so many mistakes, to be honest.’”

I would have told myself to focus more and do better. I made a lot of mistakes,” van der Pol confessed. 

Are you grateful for any of those mistakes? Do you ever go back and say ‘I’m glad I fucked up in that area, because it created this new perspective?” Romano asked van der Pol.

I wish I could, but no, I think regrets are important. And I have a lot of them. I actually think all the mistakes I made were a detriment – I drank too much, I dated older guys on set. Disney was really freaked out about that, because I was dating a much older guy when I was 18, and that ruined it. They didn’t trust me anymore, it worried them. But, no, I wish I hadn’t made those mistakes, unless it’s a good thing that I’ve learned from it now and am able to tell you that,” van der Pol replied.

How Should Listeners Approach PodCo Programming?

With a pretty stacked lineup of podcasts already embedded within PodCo’s programming, and more on the way, how should listeners approach each of these shows as a homegrown company in Austin, Texas?

“PodCo is trying to be as conscious as possible. This is an extremely sensitive and saturated marketplace for content. We are trying to be collaborative, inclusive, sensitive, and surgical. We are a baby company and putting everything into it – using all of our resources and our friends. I think we’re just going to grow and use our instincts. I think knowing us and investing in us would be wise as a listener, because we have the best intentions, and it’s hard not to root for people that have the best intentions,” Romano said.