Trevor Noah, Lee Daniels, Eddie Huang, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Gretchen Carlson, and Michael Strahan are among the subjects of PBS half-hour interview series Breaking Big‘s inaugural season, debuting Friday, June 15 at 8:30 PM, the public broadcasting service announced this morning.
The series, first announced one year ago this month, sets out to interview well-known figures who took an “unexpected journey” to success in their fields.
“The conceit of the whole show is we’re living in unusual times,” series creator/host Carlos Watson told Deadline, saying the list was picked based on finding people who took “unconventional paths” to fame.
The first-season subject list is thick with media figures [full list below]. “I guess I hadn’t thought about it that way; maybe it speaks to the growing centrality of media in our country” Watson said, explaining he thinks of The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, whose interview kicks off the series, as a “first and foremost a comedian.” Ditto ABC comedy Fresh Off the Boat creator Eddie Huang, who is first-and-foremost a chef, former Fox News Channel host Gretchen Carlson who is first a “change maker,” etc.
Another subject, Lee Daniels, Watson described a “a gay black man responsible for one of the biggest TV how and movies of the moment” who “blew my mind” during the interview. “I walked away from my conversation with him believing we will have a gay president in the next 10 years,” the show host said, adding, “I would not have said that going into” the interview.
He also interviewed San Juan, Puerto Rico’s pugnacious mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, discovering that, despite her well-documented issues with President Donald Trump, “in some ways, stylistically” they “have some things in common.”
“Both have gone on journey,” Watson insisted. And, like Trump, “she does not hesitate to speak her mind,” he said, adding, “she won’t play by the rules, because the rules were built for incumbents.”
Watson believes the series – the third primetime television show PBS has ordered from his company OZY Media – “lays out the new rules of the road” for success in a country going through an “epic…moment of change.” Public broadcasting previously aired OZY-produced The Contenders in the wind-up to the presidential election, and topical talk show The Third Rail.
First season’s interview subjects:
Trevor Noah – Host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central
Eddie Huang – Chef and restaurateur, author of Fresh Off the Boat
Danai Gurira – Actress and playwright (Black Panther, Walking Dead)
Jason Aldean – Country music superstar
Ruth Zukerman – Co-founder of SoulCycle and Flywheel
Christian Siriano – Fashion designer
Roxane Gay – Author and cultural critic
Michael Strahan – Host of “Good Morning, America” and former NFL star
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – U.S. Senator, New York
Lee Daniels – Academy Award-winning director, Precious and Fox series “Empire”
Gretchen Carlson – Former Fox News anchor and Miss America
Carmen Yulín Cruz – Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico