Tyron Hoisten on how and why he created Zoom-based pandemic web series “Nova’s Quarantine”

by Charlee Harris

Nova’s Quarantine is a web series that centers on the lead character, Nova, and her balance of work, life, and self-discovery during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Creator and Akron native Tyron Hoisten edited most of the series on his iPad over one weekend. 

Tyron, who also wrote and directed the series, had the idea and was quickly able to bring the cast together from different cities and states, using the video communication platform Zoom. The end product is a relatable series that forces us to use the new free time brought on by quarantine to self-reflect. 

I had the privilege of discussing the series with Tyron over the phone in great detail.

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Charlee Harris: The lead character, Nova, is a very educated young professional woman who seems to have a pretty balanced work-life flow. Was it important to you to cast an African-American actress in this role?

Tyron Hoisten: Yes, it was important for me to cast all African-Americans in the majority of the roles. I was very strategic about that, and there’s a reason for that. It’s not to put down or say that there is something wrong with any other race. It’s just that typically in the media, whether it’s narrative content or otherwise, you tend to see us occupy a certain role. When you think of a doctor, a police officer or a judge, for some, the first person to come to mind may be a white character. That’s how we have seen it in narrative content. So it was important for me to show us occupying more multifaceted roles. I wanted to show us not just as African-Americans but as human beings, because that’s who we are. 

CH: Although Nova’s character seems to have it together, her time in quarantine kind of forces her to do some self-evaluation, and she has to confront some hard truths about herself. What has quarantine forced you to realize about yourself?

TH: I learned that I make a lot of excuses, and that sometimes I spend so much time thinking about projects I want to do that I end up thinking myself out of the idea. I have found that I have a lot at my fingertips, and if I just allow my ideas to say in my head too long, they may go away or I may think myself out of them. So I’ve learned to think innovatively and creatively to do the things I have inside of me to do, tell those stories and be flexible with the mediums I use to tell them. 

CH: In the first episode, we learn that Nova’s relationship with her boyfriend Dwayne came to an abrupt end. Later in the series he finally details why he ended things. Why do you think it was difficult for him to be honest with her during the relationship?

TH: It was difficult for him because they didn’t have good communication, or also what happens to a lot of us is, we are worried about how the other person will interpret it. He was worried his feelings maybe would not be received, and it was easier to just not say anything at all. 

CH: As more states move to start reopening and quarantine seems to be coming to an end, what’s next for Nova’s journey?

TH: I’m kind of OK with ending her story here and letting the audience determine what they think may happen next. I could change my mind, but for now, the story ends here for me.

Tyron uses the series not only as a social commentary but also as historical documentation of some of the misinformation and statistics the African-American community has faced during the COVID 19 pandemic. He uses news clips from various news outlets that show a larger number of deaths among African-Americans in New York, Atlanta and Chicago, which dismisses the early claims of immunity that circulated in African-American communities online. 

The series also showcases the effect the pandemic is having on people who suffer from mental illness. Nova, played by LaChrisha Brown of Brooklyn, can be seen helping clients who are suffering from anxiety and stress brought on by the quarantine. 

The series is funny and smart, making it a breath of fresh air in our current mask-filled world. 

To watch the series, search for “Nova’s Quarantine” on YouTube. To keep up with Tyron Hoisten’s work, find him on Facebook or follow @tyronhoisten on Instagram. 

Charlee Harris was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. She loves her family, her community and has a passion for creative expression. As an avid arts advocate, she volunteers for the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance, is the creative director for the East Ave. Flea Market and has contributed to many local projects. 

Photo: Used with permission from Tyron Hoisten.