Queens, N.Y., native Speedy Morman has made a name for himself as a culture journalist who’s interviewing some of the biggest names in entertainment one minute, and going viral for snapping Ray J’s “unbreakable” glasses the next.
Thankfully, his latest endeavor, Facebook’s On the Map, doesn’t require Morman to inflict any more unspeakable violence on luxury eyewear, and instead serves as a community-inspired travel series that follows the Complex mainstay as he “meets young creators who are defining the culture of their cities across the country,” according to Facebook.
In the first episode, he descends upon my old stomping grounds of Phoenix, Ariz., to link up with local entrepreneurs doing the damn thing, and in an exclusive interview with The Root, the popular anchor and host explained what made him decide to partner with Facebook for this project, why he zeroed in on Phoenix for the show’s first episode, and the lack of diverse representation in travel shows.
“There aren’t many entities that have impacted our lives like Facebook has,” Morman told The Root when asked about his partnership with the house that Mark Zuckerberg built. “So I jumped at the chance to work with them. I honestly felt an instant connection when partnering with Facebook for On the Map because we have a common interest: A desire to support the growth of communities led by next-generation cultural innovators and creators countrywide.”
To that end, in the first episode, we’ll be introduced to sustainable fashion creators Samantha Vo and YEK, as well as others in the Valley of the Sun making major moves. Which begs the question: What made Phoenix the ideal location to kick off this travel series?
“When you think of Phoenix, the [Phoenix] Suns may come to mind, or even the climate, but it has an unbelievable amount of untapped talent,” Morman said. “It’s a place that’s been underrated and overlooked for so long, and we wanted to see what was really going on with the creative community there!”
On the Map also brings to light an uncomfortable truth: While travel shows are extremely popular, there’s a noticeable lack of people of color (and Black folks specifically) hosting them—or even being guests. Morman is more than happy to help disrupt that trend by not only being the face of the franchise, but by ensuring that that same level of representation exists behind the camera.
“It’s important to me because I’m a Black man,” he told The Root. “People of color are marginalized in nearly every facet of life, and travel shows are no different. Not only am I happy to host, but I’m also honored to work on a show where nearly every single person on the crew, down to the camera operators, is a person of color.”
Morman also hopes that aside from helping to diversify the genre, audiences will learn more about some of the cities they have yet to experience themselves.
“I know the audience will not only be entertained, but will also learn what’s poppin’ in cities across America,” he said. “Best case scenario, viewers who have plans to travel to Phoenix and cities featured in future episodes, will tap into the show first as a tour guide on what spots to hit up.”
He added, “It’s fun, it’s educational, it’s real.”
One the Map is available now on Facebook.