Meet the man at the forefront of the world’s big­gest pod­cast

We meet Em­manuel Dzotsi, 25, Sarah Koenig’s co-re­porter on Se­rial

Grazia (UK) - - Contents - Se­rial is re­leased every Thurs­day, from all pod­cast providers

‘hang on to your hats Amer­ica, Em­manuel went to school and col­lege in Ohio, but he sounds like an English­man… long story.’ That’s how pod­cast su­per­star Sarah Koenig in­tro­duced her co-re­porter, Em­manuel Dzotsi, to the world. But it wasn’t just the Bri­tish ac­cent that got us in­trigued – Em­manuel is the first re­porter to co-present Se­rial, the world’s big­gest pod­cast. For its third out­ing, the show has taken on in­ves­ti­gat­ing the en­tire jus­tice sys­tem, by telling the sto­ries from a Cleve­land court house – and has proved as pop­u­lar as ever, top­ping the charts and winning critical ac­claim.

It must be daunt­ing. ‘ The morn­ing of the launch was a bit like walk­ing into the high school cafe­te­ria – like I know some­where out there peo­ple are talk­ing about us, but I’m not sure what, or whether it’s good – and do I even want to know?’ he told Grazia from New York, where the series is still be­ing edited.

Born to par­ents of Do­mini­can and Ghana­ian de­scent in Eng­land, Em­manuel’s fam­ily moved to Bel­gium when he was seven, then five years later ended up in Toledo, Ohio – just a cou­ple of hours from Cleve­land where he re­ports for Se­rial.

The series is in­stantly shock­ing – in the sec­ond episode, Em­manuel spends months in the court of Judge Daniel Gaul, who likes to in­clude pro­hi­bi­tions on de­fen­dants hav­ing chil­dren when he sets their bail con­di­tions. ‘I’d spent some time in court, but I’d never sat down and watched the day-to-day and I think if you’ve not done that, it’s shock­ing. I re­mem­ber the first time I watched a trial and, at the con­clu­sion, the de­fen­dant was found guilty on a cou­ple of charges that meant she’d be serv­ing any­where from 20 to life – she was a 55-year-old woman. Watch­ing some­body lose their lib­erty when you’ve not seen that be­fore, it’s sober­ing.’

But what of work­ing with the now in­ter­na­tion­ally-lauded Koenig? Surely that’s an added layer of daunt­ing for, es­sen­tially, a first per­ma­nent job? ‘I think one of the great things about Sarah is that the in­tel­li­gent, cu­ri­ous per­son you hear is the per­son that she is,’ he says. ‘She’s down to earth, she’s a great boss. She’d travel four hours by car each way to Cleve­land, away from her kids for days at a time, back and forth – I’d al­ways be struck by how much en­ergy she’d bring to what we were do­ing. It’s so nice when some­one brings en­thu­si­asm to things. She makes all of us a lot bet­ter.’

His Bri­tish ac­cent is con­spic­u­ous in the quintessen­tially Amer­i­can show and, he says, has been a mixed bless­ing. ‘I think some­times it’s a weird one for peo­ple; es­pe­cially in Ohio, there aren’t ex­actly a load of black Bri­tish peo­ple walk­ing around. But it so­lid­i­fies you as an out­sider and some­times peo­ple are more will­ing to be hon­est with out­siders. Some­times, if any­thing, it can lead to con­fu­sion. But one of the things that’s al­ways sur­prised me [ is that] Amer­i­cans think a Bri­tish ac­cent gives you a level of cred­i­bil­ity I won­der if I de­serve!’

Em­manuel, the new voice of Se­rial, with co-pre­sen­ter Sarah Koenig

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