Interview: Comedian Wyatt Cenac on his Emmy-Nominated Webseries
Back in the fall of 2017, I got the chance to talk with Wyatt Cenac about his latest project, a web series on Topic called aka Wyatt Cenac. The series follows Wyatt as a vigilante called The Viceroy, and his band of companions. Wyatt wrote, and starred in the show. He also made his debut directing a scripted series.
It is part-superhero series, part-commentary on being a minority living in a gentrifying Brooklyn, and all comedic heart. I still can’t walk into a yoga class or pass a cellar door without thinking of Wyatt and his gang of buddies.
Fast forward to the summer of 2018 when Emmy nominations are announced. Wyatt’s most recent project, Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas on HBO, is wrapping up it’s first season and has already been renewed for a second. And aka Wyatt Cenac is nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series. I got the chance to catch up with Wyatt on his Emmy nomination over the phone earlier this week.
First of all, congrats on the Emmy nomination!
Thanks very much its very exciting.
How did you find out that you got nominated?
How did I find out? Oh, I think I got a text message from my executive producer/head writer of Problem Areas that morning. She sent me a text message to congratulate me and I wasn’t sure if we had gotten nominated for Problem Areas. We were kind of wondering if we would get nominated. There was a little bit of like “oh, wait, did we get nominated for something?”. She was like “no, your web series!” And I was like “oh, that’s awesome.”
It was a little bittersweet we didn’t get anything for Problem Areas, but cool still to get nominated for something. And [for] something that meant a lot for me to get to be able make and write and direct and actually see come to life.
How did it feel to get the nominated?
It was definitely unexpected…That web series was actually something that I had been pitching as a scripted series; so there was a real sense of accomplishment. I had sat with a few different networks and talked about it… And they had passed on it. So to get the opportunity that one, Topic [would] do this as a web series…and they were so supportive, incredibly supportive…And two, for it to be recognized, that meant a lot.
Because I think when you go around and you’re pitching shows, and networks decide to pass on ideas for any number of reasons…You can’t help but take it somewhat personally and think “oh this idea isn’t good.” So to still get to do the idea, get it put on a screen and to have it be met with the reception that it was met with. And getting nominated for an Emmy. It feels like a very nice validation. Not just the work everyone has put in to make it what it was. But also that the idea actually was worthy of being made.
Will you be doing a second season, since this one went over so well?
I’d like to and I think they’d like to as well. I think we just gotta figure timing-wise when it would happen. Obviously my schedule is pretty busy with Problem Areas. So there’s down time in the summer and there’s others moments, little pockets of down-time. So maybe in one of those pockets we can try to figure out how to shoot another season because I’d definitely like to do another one.
aka Wyatt Cenac is streaming on Topic now. And the Emmy’s air on September 17th on NBC.