noun || yəNG ˈhefā
April Kae of Imanigold has found a way to juggle her 5-grind's (yes — more than one), pay her NYC rent on time and educate those around her utilizing todays technology. Her "Instagram fame" has helped her create a foundation that will change her world and ours through music + social justice.
TA: What’s your current hustle?
AK: I’d be liar if I said my biggest priority right now wasn’t paying bills and saving up enough to have a little safety—net and not live paycheck to paycheck. But hey, it keeps me sharp. I’m also working on a record with Sorry For The Silence and my music project, Imanigold.
TA: Describe the difference between your 9-5 and your 5-grind?
AK: Because my mental health is so important to me, and because of the way I’ve organized my mental health care, having excellent health insurance is crucial. I was unemployed for three months during my first year in the city and none of the marketplace plans available to me allowed me to continue seeing the therapist I’d had a relationship with for years—I realized that to continue to receive the type of mental health care that has kept me afloat (and hopefully helped me thrive) over the past few years, I need to be on a company plan. I know my college education and various other privileges give me this option, and one day, hopefully within my lifetime, everyone in this country will have access to whatever type of healthcare they need to thrive.
The Affordable Care Act mandates health plans cover mental health just as they would physical health (which in my opinion are one in the same, anyway), so I feel fortunate to have graduated college at a time where I can reap the benefits of Obamacare. To some extent, I see a salaried job with a company with integrity (that won’t fire me out of the blue), as a way to insure my mental health needs are met. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I lived in a country with universal health care where I could do whatever I wanted job wise and not worry about my health… A girl can dream.
With all of that said, I love my 9-5. I work at a non-profit that’s mission is to end the injustice that is education inequality. I’m the editor-in-chief of the organization’s blog, so I source, write, edit, and market our blog content. I get to work with some incredible people. The piece I’m most proud of is an interview between a formerly incarcerated teenager and his mentor, where the young man discusses how prison changed him for the worse, rather than “scaring him straight” (or whatever other delusion our country has around prison as a positive learning experience).
I’ve also picked up a job teaching music to two and three year olds in east Harlem, and another designing a website for an African store in Bed Stuy. I don’t go out much or go on vacations or go shopping, and New York is still so expensive. I don’t mean to complain, because I opted into this, and for good reason—I love all of the option here—so I just do what I can to make it work, and still have time for the things that really drive me: relationships with friends, family, and community; social justice and mentoring; and music.
TA: Who gave you the most memorable career advice?
AK: I went to a very white college in the very white city of Portland, Oregon, and was really struggling to feel like I had a home there. Then, one of my professors, Crystal Williams said, “This place is never going to be what you want it to be.” And she didn’t mean that in a cynical way, it was more a call to be realistic about where I spend my energies.
TA: Has what you’re doing now been a life-long interest? Or was it discovered later?
AK: Yeah, I’ve pretty much always loved music, and I can’t seem to shake it. I can’t say I thought I’d be modeling or writing though—icing on the cake.
TA: Has there ever been a time you didn’t think you’d make it to this point in your career? What kept you going?
AK: Jeeze, I mean, who would’ve thought I’d be able to live in this city and make my art? I’m not even saying I have a lot, but wow, I’ve had some beautiful experiences. I’m allergic to sitting still, I’m diagnosed with ADHD, and my brain is wired to constantly be on the search for solutions. That’s why I like song writing. It’s part art, part science, and mostly, just feeling.
TA: If you could tell your younger self one thing about work ethic and what you’ve learned, what would it be?
AK: BE FUCKING ANGRY!!!!!!!!! It’s taken me years to appreciate the degree to which being institutionally silenced as a black woman has affected my ability to engage with the world around me. For fear of being labeled “angry black woman,” I’ve avoided being angry at all. But, I’ve learned that anger is actually a gentle and important emotion. It tells me when to act, it shows me when I care, it keeps me safe.
TA: What has been your favorite “project,” so far? Why?
AK: Can I be cliché and say “the one I haven’t started yet”?
TA: Who are your 3 “must-follows” on Instagram?
TA: In a few words, Describe your friends (inner circle)?
AK: Tough love, femininity, integrity, creativity, support, intelligence.
TA: Closing statements for the viewers?
AK: One thing I’m angry at right now is celebrity culture, which is why I think publications like Truce matter so much. I have acne, I don’t have abs, I’m broke af, I have a three year old phone, I suck at taking selfies—and I’m doing things I love. Late stage capitalism says we must keep wanting. Well, you know what I want? I want to be able to pay my rent on time, go out to eat a few times a week, travel twice a year or so, and tour with my music. I don’t want to be a celebrity. I don’t to be a person who opts-in to unethical behavior—for any reason, be it violent intent, or willful ignorance.
I want to learn more about myself, and through that process become more myself. If I were to say that in a judgmental way, I’d say I want to be the best version of myself I can be. But in actuality, no version of myself is better than any other. So, I just want to continue being me—living my truth and passionately believing in the dynamism of the human spirit.
Images by Malcolm McNeil.