On the heels of its debut season, which was set at this year’s Orlando Carnival, production of season two of the new carnival travel reality TV series, Road Ready, will begin this weekend at Miami Carnival.
The first season of Road Ready premiered on YouTube in July, featuring a cast of seven carnival revelers from around the world who embark on a wild, week-long carnival experience that included pre-parties, costume fittings, local eats, and the main carnival itself.
Filled with dancing, antics, and a surprising educational twist, the show’s sophomore season in Miami promises to be even bigger and better than season one.
Showcasing History & Culture
The series’ concept follows a house of seasoned Caribbean carnival veterans, as well as newcomers, who experience carnival in the Caribbean or the diaspora. Along with the normal carnival festivities, the cast also learns about the culture and history of the city they’re visiting.
The show manages to avoid the trappings of the reality TV genre, sidestepping the typical violent outbursts, manufactured animosity, and drama.
Jamaican Jodi Henriques, who is the show’s host and a producer-turned-cast member, explains that this was a deliberate decision. “It’s not about the drama,” she explains. “It’s about portraying carnival and Caribbean culture in a positive light.”
Jamaican Jodi Henriques
As for how Henriques became part of the cast, she laughs, “It was hard for me to go to these fêtes, be in the house and not be a part of it. As the host, I was supposed to be laid back and not a part of what happened, but mi did just have to Nuff up myself. I’m sorry!”
Henriques, who is a seasoned TV host and is also the wife of Jamaican music sensation Sean Paul, fell in love with carnival 20 years ago. She can still remember her first carnival, visiting a friend in Trinidad. “Just being there was a totally different experience,” she gushes. “There was a moment, passing under the bridge to St. James, I saw the sea of feathers, colors, and unity.” She admits to getting goosebumps just talking about it and remembering the sensation of being welcomed into a judgment-free space. “These are my people,” she beams.
Henriques was the number one choice for the host, both by the show’s creator Giovanni Moss and its Emmy award-winning Jamaican Canadian producer, Chara Hunter.
Casting was one of the components that the crew agreed they had to get right. Henriques knew she needed a young and personable cast from around the Caribbean who could adapt well to a new setting and was good on camera. But, she also had archetypes of staple carnival personalities she wanted to fill. These personalities included everything from the attention-grabbing confident “boasty boy” to the “carnival couple.” Another role she knew she needed was the “newbie” – someone who was uninitiated to the carnival, which would require the cast to explain the basics of the experience and therefore make the program more accessible to a wider audience.
The Series Creator
Road Ready is the brainchild of Moss, a lifelong community servant for the state of Florida and currently the director of strategic partnerships at Tetra Tech, an organization focused on sustainable development and post-disaster support for both American and Caribbean territories. Creating and producing a carnival travel reality series might seem out of the left field, but Moss sees the connections plainly.
Bahamas-born and a carnival enthusiast in his own right, Moss realized that vendors at carnivals in the Caribbean seemed to make more money during carnival week than any other time throughout the year. For larger markets like Houston or even Miami, he imagined that the small Caribbean-owned businesses could similarly benefit from this windfall. Road Ready is Moss’ attempt to market carnival while also educating anyone who may be wary of the festival.
Road Ready season one not only highlights what makes carnival (in this case, specifically Orlando Carnival) unique but also explores how it intersects with the history of Black people in the community. This season, the cast explored the Orlando area and learned about the history of segregation, visited a handful of cultural spots, and spoke to several community leaders in charge of sustainable farming and after-school programs.
While Miami is the next stop, Moss, Hunter, Henriques, and others have grandiose things planned for future installments of the show. “We are in the process of finalizing content agreements with major cable providers in the US and the Caribbean,” Moss shares, unable to fully disclose all the details.
Four of the six episodes of season one of Road Ready have already been released on YouTube, but Moss says if all goes as planned, the season finale should air in November on digital cable as well. Of course, more carnival stops are on the docket, but Moss suggests that there might also be other Caribbean festivals in the future. With one major goal being the de-stigmatization of Caribbean culture in first-world countries, it’s no surprise that carnival is just the start of this exciting, new creative venture.