Filipina’s podcast for social good catches Bill Gates’ attention
NEW YORK — The story of Camille Laurente, 34, and her journey towards creating the podcast Sincerely, Hueman, developed during all those long hours she spent on the train.
“For me, the podcast is ideal if the train is so packed, and you can’t bring out a book,” she said. “You need the least intrusive means of shutting out the noise.”
She got hooked and began to follow popular programs, like “Serial,” “Gimlet Media’s Startup” and NPR’s “How I Built This with Guy Raz.”
From Upper Manhattan where she lives, all the way down to the Chelsea neighborhood where she works, the podcast would be her daily commuting companion. At the time, she had already been talking to friends about bringing inspiring stories of social impact through digital media. Listening to podcasts to block out the city’s noise, she discovered that there was a void — specifically, a lack of narrative — of well-produced podcasts that featured individuals making a positive difference in the world.
After completing her master’s in International Affairs at Columbia University — where she specialized in media and communications – she launched Sincerely, Hueman, a novel storytelling podcast focused on social good.
“At the time, podcasts promoting social good were half an hour to one-hour long Q&A interviews which I thought did not capture audiences with a compelling story,” she said when interviewed by The FilAm. “I thought nonprofits and social impact organizations were not utilizing podcasts in an engaging way to create awareness around their mission.”
The show has nine episodes so far. One of the most moving stories is that of classical pianist Emma Yang who was born in Hong Kong. Growing up, she was left with her grandmother while her parents were at work. Over the years, she witnessed her grandmother’s decline. She feared she was losing her to Alzheimer’s. At the age of 13, Emma, who is also a coder, developed an app called Timeless that uses facial recognition software to help Alzheimer’s patients remember and stay connected with family.
Through her podcast, Emma was able to raise $10,000 on her Indiegogo campaign. And the most surprising part, said Camille, was “Bill Gates sharing Emma’s story on Twitter!”
Other episodes Camille produced have similarly brought attention to important social issues, such as mental health, child hunger, and school-lunch shaming, making a significant impact at the intersection of social good and digital media. The show has been ranked as one of the top social good podcasts on iTunes and Player FM.
“I created Sincerely, Huemanto feature the remarkable advocates, philanthropists, and everyday people who have changed the lives of strangers and communities around the world,” she said. “The show gives people access to incredible stories of change agents on demand, while informing listeners of how they can get involved.”
Camille won two platinum awards in the recently concluded Hermes Creative Awards, which recognizes the work of outstanding creators of traditional and emerging media. Emma’s episode was picked up by Fast Company, CBS Evening News and other international news organizations in Brazil, Spain, Turkey, and China. The show itself has received thousands of listens and has generated press reaching millions of audiences.
Camille was born and raised in the Philippines, the younger of two siblings. Her parents came from humble backgrounds but strived to build an import business that enabled their daughters to get a good education. Her older sister is a medical doctor in Manila.
“I’m blessed to have loving parents who’ve worked extremely hard to support us,” she said. “They firmly believed that education was our ticket to a secure future.”
Camille did not disappoint. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Ateneo de Manila University and a Juris Doctor degree from Ateneo Law School. She left her corporate law job in Manila to pursue her master’s degree at Columbia University. While at Columbia, she interned at the United Nations Population Fund and worked with nonprofit organizations.
“It was a great experience, but I felt that my skills were underutilized and I wasn’t moving the needle from where I was,” she noted.
Soon after launching Sincerely, Hueman, Camille was engaged to write and produce the SHE Innovates Podcast to support the UN Sustainable Development Goal on Gender Equality. It has featured celebrities and experts, such as Arianna Huffington, Sarah Jessica Parker, NASA’s Deputy Director for Technology and Investments Research Dr. Christyl Johnson, and others.
“The podcast is hosted by leading global gender expert and UN Women’s Head of Strategy for Innovations, Michelle King. Apart from producing the show, I lead creative strategy, marketing and PR as well,” said Camille. SHE Innovates is the second show under her Hueman Group Media.
Today, she is building a great career in NYC with her husband, Maverick Aquino, a graphic designer and producer whom she met back in Manila.
“Our company plans to launch more shows this year,” said Camille, a digital innovator and “a proud Filipino in New York.”