New channel offers closeups of Bronx life

Co-op City resident Tyler Dow auditions for theBloxTV. Photo: Manolo Morales

A new Mott Haven-based media channel wants the world to see that the Bronx has got talent.

Its creators hope it won’t be long before the neighborhood takes them up on the offer to trot out their stuff.

At theBloxTV‘s second audition in mid-January, two of the show’s producers asked one participant, Tyler Dow, what he is passionate about. Dow started listing his interests, but one producer then dug for a more specific answer. “I’m passionate about making people passionate about something,” Dow responded.

“We want to create content that is both driven by the Bronx and also for the people of the Bronx,” said Gillian Todd, the venture’s co-creator and producer. “I think that’s really the immediate goal: to get people watching it and liking it and wanting more.”

Todd and her partner, Marco Shalma, co-founded Round Seven, BloxTV’s parent company, in 2014. Their projects are financed through a combination of their own money and private investments, but they hope for sponsors and viewers to eventually help grow the enterprise.

One of the channel’s new segments, Bloxpedia, will feature one-minute videos with a focus on attractions, establishments and organizations from the borough and beyond. A Bronx Tale will feature short profiles of local entrepreneurs, artists, and musicians. And for a little bit of everything viewers can tune into Up the Blox, a newsy segment about lifestyle and current events.

The team’s staff will help participants write their scripts and Todd will provide them with tips on acting in front of the camera. What makes the show different, said Shalma, is that the end product is “not like a façade. It’s not like you’re playing a character. You come in and we help you discover what it is that you want to do.”

BloxTV’s studio space at 2413 Third Ave. has a screening room and a space where community members can meet or hang out.

“Everyday a different group of people show up,” said Shalma. “It’s more than a channel, I think it’s a community experience.”

Though just four people came to take part in the January audition, Shalma and Todd are hopeful that lines of Bronxites will be streaming out the door someday soon to audition.

One of the participants at the recent audition, Jesabel Irizarry, said she came “to try something new.” But because Irizarry is only 16, she will be limited to four hours of work per week if the producers think she’s a fit as either a host, writer, or content-creator.

Irizarry’s mother, Isabel Garcia, is hopeful about her daughter’s chances.

“Instead of her being on her phone, on her Instagram, or her twitter or stuff like that she’s doing something more productive,” said Garcia. “When she’s at school she’s super shy at the beginning and then when she opens up she’s just great to be around.”

For Tae Day, auditioning for a part is nothing new. The spotlight is her real comfort zone, she said, pointing out that she has performed in off-off Broadway shows. She also wrote and produced her own film last year, “A Storyteller,” though she works as a housing assistant at a local NYCHA complex in order to pay the bills.

“I think that I bring this vibrant persona that people are gravitated to, just kind of make you smile,” said Day, adding that theBloxTV will have a variety of local “comedy shows, hip hop shows that we can showcase.” Day hopes to become one of the channel’s hosts.

Co-op City resident and freelance artist Tyler “Pswitch” Dow,25, the final participant in the afternoon auditions, said he could conceive of many ways the new project can find and spotlight the borough’s talent.

“When you bring a bunch of people together in a small spot, a diverse people, you just find innovation in places you never expect,” he said.

For updates on the Blox, check out their Facebook page for updates and to see their new videos. https://www.facebook.com/pg/thebloxtv/about/?ref=page_internal. Their social media handle is @thebloxtv and they can be reached for further inquiry at [email protected]@thebloxtv.

The story was updated on Jan. 23.

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