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ISSUE #95 - MAY 2019

by Catherine Powell

AISHA DEE


letter from the editor: Dear Readers, On July 1st, 2011, NKD released its first issue. I was 17-years-old, just a week out of my junior year of high school, and had a sense of confidence and excitement only a 17-year-old can posses. Over the course of eight years, NKD has exceeded any and all of my expectations. I didn’t think anyone would read the first issue, but 1,000 people did in the first hour. I didn’t think we’d release five issues, let alone 95. And I didn’t dare think that the intense urge to tell stories that has been my driving force since I was in middle school would resonate with people, and yet, 54 million sets of eyes from 189 different countries have stumbled upon this little magazine that could. So, it is with nothing but immense pride that I must inform you all that the end is near. I spoke about the ending in length on the Directionally Challenged Podcast this week, but it felt right to put something in writing, too. I could ramble on about the stats - the near 1,000 different creatives we’ve featured, the hundreds of events we covered, the dozens of writers we gave their first byline, etc., but the core of NKD has always been the heart. I started this magazine because not only did I love music, I needed it. It was my lifeline in my darkest moments. All I wanted was to be a part of this incredibly special world; to share the stories of the artists that meant everything to me. As my personal taste expanded, so did the magazine’s reach. We evolved from a pop and rock-focused publication to a platform for all genres. We took a left turn into film and television and found a strong community within the world of fandom culture. We’ve featured designers, poets and influencers. There was always something for everyone. I learned before the first issue was even released that NKD would be nothing without a vocal group of readers. It’s why we always asked who you wanted to see in our pages, and why every name that was thrown our way was at the very least pursued. It’s why so many of our covers were a person’s first cover. We trusted you and you trusted us, and we never took that for granted. If you ever opened an issue, retweeted an article, shared our shoots on Instagram or liked a post on Facebook, you have contributed to the success of this company and I am forever indebted to you. So much of NKD has been a direct reflection of my dreams: as a writer, as a photographer and more importantly, as a 25-year-old woman who deep down, is always trying to impress her 14-year-old self. She’d be so proud of what this magazine would accomplish, though I doubt she’d believe a word. And she especially wouldn’t believe me if I told her that one day, she’d give it all up. Our October issue - our 100th issue - will our last. It will be a celebration of over eight years of telling stories, and just like you could when we started, you’ll be able to read it all for free. NKD has been my entire life for a third of my life, and while closing this chapter is incredibly difficult and sad, I am nothing but grateful and proud to have it be a part of my story. Thank you for believing in a high school girl with no real purpose or direction. If at least one person we featured inspired you in some way, I accomplished exactly what I set out to do. NKD was always supposed to be my stepping stone and with an incredible staff of writers and a tremendously loyal base of readers, it became an island. This will forever be the greatest thing I ever do. To quote the great Tony Stark, “part of the journey is the end.” I hope you stick with us until then. Until it’s over,

Catherine Powell Co-Founder, Editor-In-Chief


MAY 2019 18 JAKE MILLER

06 ANDIE CASE

on taking the reigns on his career + his latest EP, based on a true story

08 ROBERT BUCKLEY

on her time at radio + her role as alice on good trouble

14 RYAN HURD

on feeling the need for a blank state + what’s to come

on not pleasing everyone + being an independent artist

on what attracted him to izombie + the show’s final season

on starting off as a writer + developing himself as an artist

36 AISHA DEE

24 SHERRY COLA

on her early acting days + what she loves about the bold type

28 THE DRIVER ERA

on graduating high school at 15 + her current gig on tacoma fd

34 IAN VERDUN

on her love of collaboration + her cover of “running up that hill”

46 HASSIE HARRSION 50 MEG MYERS

on wanting to give up on auditioning + joining siren

CATHERINE POWELL

publisher, editor, photographer, designer, writer

SAMANTHA BAMBINO

HILLARY MAGLIN writer

VANESSA SALLES

writer

OLEVA BERARD

NICOLE MOOREFIELD

LEXI SHANNON

writer

IAN HAYS writer

writer

writer writer

OLIVIA SINGH writer


andie case Words by HILLARY MAGLIN Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

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Singer-songwriter Andie Case isn’t afraid to shock the world – or at least the internet. A quick scroll through her Instagram profile reveals the 26-year-old isn’t afraid to show a little (or a lot of) skin, and her Facebook page’s “about” section states, almost brags, that she was expelled from her high school. On top of that, anyone who’s listened to her original songs could tell you this girl is an open book when it comes to her personal life. But the thing is, the synth-pop wild child doesn’t care what you think. “Normally, when people [push back],” she says, “it doesn’t make me hold back. It just makes me go even further.” Andie, who began her music career on YouTube, credits her success in part to the naysayers -- over the past couple of years, the Seattle-based vocal powerhouse has amassed more than 1.3 million YouTube subscribers, released a collection of original singles, and won Usher’s Megastar talent competition. In March, she released the sexy, high-energy music video for “Stuck In My Head,” one of her most successful videos to date. Yet, like most people in the public eye, she still experiences plenteous criticism. “The video is this ideal situation of what a one-night stand would be for a girl. I was scared to see how my fans were going to react, because I get shit for being sexual and being a little out there with my sexuality and stuff,” she says. “It’s gotten a little bit of hate, but that comes with putting out any type of

content. You’re not going to make everybody happy.” Despite a handful of haters (who seem to have a bigger problem with her outfits than the music itself), the video racked up over 284,000 views on YouTube in a month, and her fans have given her a wealth of positive feedback. And though Andie has been toiling away at her YouTube-propelled career for the past half a decade, she may have Megastar, Usher’s app-based talent competition, to thank for some of her good fortune. Megastar, like it’s television predecessors America’s Got Talent and The X Factor, gives aspiring musicians, comedians, and miscellaneous performers a platform to impress judges for a chance to win a prize. But unlike the televised shows, Megastar is a mobile app, meaning viewers watch the competition entirely on their phones or tablets, and people can tune in from across the globe to vote for their favorite contestants. Andie competed in the app’s first ever competition, and in December of 2017, she placed first, winning a $1 million prize. So why did Andie go out for the unprecedented mobile app contest, rather than one of the well-known televised competition shows? “It gave me more control as an independent artist,” she explains. “A lot of times when you sign on with [TV competition] shows, you’re signing your life away, and you’re signing a lot of your work away that you already put out.”

What’s more is that Andie’s Megastar prize has catapulted her career in more ways than winning a major TV competition likely ever could. As an indie artist without a record label to appease, Andie used her hefty new check to bring her own artistic vision to life for the loyal fans who made her a champion in 2017. “It’s cool because the fans were the reason why I won,” she says. “So, it’s like this is their present back for helping push me – I’m able to give them new music.” And lucky for those fans, more new tunes are on the way. Andie plans to put out three more singles in the coming months (the first of which she calls “vibey”), and hopes to release an EP, or even a full album, in late 2019 or early 2020. Until then, her followers can catch her posting covers on Instagram, chatting with fans online, and captivating crowds at live shows. And later down the line? Who knows. Andie would love to nab a couple Grammys and tour with artists like Halsey and Jessie Reyez, but she’s taking her time hitting those checkpoints. For now, she’s just aiming to make music that’ll inspire her fans, and maybe gain her a few new followers in the process. “Obviously I’m not going to win everyone over, but I want to try to win everyone over,” she says. “I think that’s what every artist does. They just want to pour themselves out to the world and hopefully get accepted.” NKD NKDMAG.COM

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robert buckley Words by NICOLE MOOREFIELD Photos by CATHERINE POWELL Grooming by EMILY DAWN using OROBE & GET JACK BLACK


You might not know it from his steady history of dramatic roles, but Robert Buckley is quite the comedian. An entertainer by nature, Robert began performing as a magician in elementary school. “I did that grades four through eight,” Robert recalls, because “puberty is such a relaxing, comfortable period of your life, why not add some extra spice to the variety?” A fan of comic books and Dungeons & Dragons, “you’re probably going to be shocked to find out I didn’t have my first kiss until much later,” Robert jokes. Although today, his toned physique is a staple of the characters he plays, Robert was a self-professed chubby kid who always wore a shirt into the pool. “I’m still that inner child, so the irony is not lost on me,” he remarks. “I had a relatively normal childhood,” Robert shares. “I didn’t join the circus, I didn’t do anything wild.” Aside from a third-grade production of The Emperor’s New Clothes, Robert didn’t find acting until college, where he studied economics at UC San Diego. “I liked it in high school and I had no idea how much math was involved in it,” he explains. “By the time I realized it wasn’t just sliding graphs and theories and it was a ton of calculus, I was already a year and a half in.” His last semester, however, Robert took an introductory acting course as an easy elective and loved it. “I thought, if I don’t get any of the positions I’m applying for after graduation, I’ll go to L.A. for a year and I’ll try it,” he recalls. He ended up at an

economic consulting firm known for econometrics (“that’s, like, Olympic-level nerdery,”) and immediately felt out of place. “I wanted to resign on day two,” he recollects, and even called his mom from his cubicle to say he had made a mistake. She advised him to stick it out a little longer, and he did, but “the acting seed had been planted.” A little over a year into the consulting job, Robert met a woman at his cousin’s wedding who told Robert he was wasting his time as a consultant: instead, he should be acting or modeling. “She was a complete stranger, but this is how ready for a life change I was,” he remembers. The consultant that Robert replaced at the firm had quit to become a photographer, so she took Robert’s first headshots in the company parking lot. The woman from the wedding passed Robert’s pictures along to a friend, and soon after, he got his first agent. “I never looked back,” Robert shares. “I lied to my firm. I said I was leaving to go travel Asia and then get my MBA,” he reveals. “About two months later,” he recalls, “my first commercial was on the air … dancing like an idiot for Ross Dress for Less.” While he would never want to go back to that job, “I’m so grateful for the experience because even on my worst day in acting, it beats arguably my best days in consulting.” Robert’s first television experience was nighttime soaps. “They were an amazing training ground,” he remarks. “We were block shooting,” he explains,

or shooting all the scenes in a certain location at once. The first 2 weeks of shooting were at his character’s location, which meant filming 15 to 25 pages a day (as opposed to the typical 2 to 8). “On the very first day, the first AD looked at me [and] said, ‘If you can get through this, the rest of your career will be easy,’” Robert remembers. “You just had to learn to be fast and get stuff right.” After running the soap circuit for a few years, Robert got his big break on Lipstick Jungle. Getting to work with experienced co-stars like Kim Raver was formative for Robert, and he found a mentor in executive producer Tim Busfield. However, iZombie was the first role where Robert got to let his comedic flag fly. “I’m naturally a very silly person, which is why it’s hilarious that most of my career has been a lot of melodrama,” he remarks. “So iZombie’s been great in that it let me run in a new lane.” Going forward, Robert hopes to find more roles like iZombie that let him explore comedy. “I would love to get to bring that silliness to the workplace and actually have that be appreciated rather than admonished. Like, if I was doing a drama and being silly, that wouldn’t be appropriate.” The same balance of comedy and drama that drew Robert to the show made it hard to market in the early days. “I remember saying to everyone at Comic-Con, this is going to be so much easier next year once people have seen it. But it’s such a hard show to describe before anyone’s seen it,” he remarks. NKDMAG.COM

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“We jokingly referred to it as the zom-com-rom-dram because it’s a zombie show that also has comedic elements, romantic elements, dramatic elements. And I like that it’s not one note.” Growing up, Robert loved John Hughes movies for the same reason. “They’re funny, they hit you in the feels, there’s a great story — but it’s not one thing, it’s this really nice blend of several genres.” The show, which beautifully balances serious situations with hilarious banter, centers around Liv Moore (Rose McIver), a young doctor-turned-zombie who takes a job at the morgue to secure an ethical source of brains. Liv soon discovers that each brain comes with the personality and memories of its owner, leading her to become the Seattle Police Department’s newest “psychic” consultant. Robert plays Major Lilywhite, Liv’s seemingly perfect, on-again-offagain ex-fiancé. As the characters learn more about Seattle’s growing undead population, they must find a way to prevent the impending apocalypse. Robert discovered the show through creator Rob Thomas, whose writing he loved. Although, “there wasn’t a whole lot of Major in the pilot,” Rob explained the long-term character arc he had planned for Major, and Robert was hooked. In the early seasons, Major was characterized by “a lot of Don Quixote, white night type of behavior where he’s willing to lead with his heart and just throw caution to the wind in the name of what he believes in.” In 12

Season 5, however, “we see him having to take the reins at Fillmore Graves, and all of a sudden he has to make decisions that are going to be affecting the entire population of Seattle.” Now that his mistakes no longer impact only himself, “there’s a lot more responsibility on his shoulders,” Robert notes. “It forces him to grow up quite a bit.” As the final season gets heavier, fans will see a new side of Major once hidden behind his self-deprecating quips. And while it was Major’s sense of humor that first drew Robert to the role, their similarities run much deeper. “We [both] care about others, especially our friends and loved ones,” he recognizes, sometimes to a fault. “You could say it’s being a good friend or being a raging codependent. Either way, that’s something I see in both of us.” Beyond that, “we’re both romantics,” Robert notes, Major more than himself. “He’s still holding a flame for Liv — and, what? Come on. At a certain point, guy, cut your losses,” he laughs. As for the future of Liv and Major, Robert remains hopeful, but “not everyone’s relationships go well,” he admits. While some relationships grow stronger, others won’t survive. “That’s probably the sexiest way I could tease it. Again, my fingers are crossed for them, but not everyone gets a happy ending.” However, Robert is confident that long-time fans will find closure in this final season. “We went into it knowing it was going to be our last, and what’s kind of nice about that is that it really

lets you finish the story on your terms,” Robert notes. “There’s nothing worse than watching a show that’s been unceremoniously canceled,” he adds. “We’re very, very fortunate that we were given that opportunity. So, we blow it out. We get to tell big stories and we get to wrap it up without having to leave it open-ended.” “I love this job,” Robert says. Whether it was getting to be silly on-screen, bonding with the cast and crew, exploring beautiful Vancouver six months out of the year, or stretching himself professionally, the past five years “[have] been such a fun adventure.” From hilarious antics on teenage brain and wrestler brain to intense fight sequences, “it’s been this incredible opportunity that was just an absolute blast to do,” he reveals. “I get to have fun doing it, but really, at the end of the day, I just hope it does for other people what my favorite shows do for me,” he shares. “If iZombie is just a show where people can escape to [a different world] and enjoy it, and it makes them feel good for a little while, then we did our job.” “And because it got to end the right way, you know — we didn’t try to drag it out too long, it didn’t feel like it was over too quick — that’s about the best you could hope for in a show,” he adds. “To get to do anything for five years straight in the entertainment industry is unheard of, let alone to enjoy that experience and the people you work with and to get to go out on your own terms. That’s it, man. That’s the deal, right there.” NKD


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ryan hurd Words by OLEVA BERARD Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

While streaming has taken over as one of the main methods in which people are consuming music, songwriters and musicians alike still hold onto the dream of one day hearing their songs play on the radio. Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Ryan Hurd grew up listening to some of the most influential artists on country radio and eventually made the move to the heart of the genre: Nashville, Tennessee. Surrounding himself with the voices of artists like Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley and Willie Nelson as a kid, he would later build a reputation as a well-trusted songwriter and eventually launch a blossoming career as a musician in his own right. Shortly before turning to songwriting as a career, Ryan graduated from Belmont University with a degree in Sociology. While the shift in focus to an industry where the odds are immediately stacked against you would deter most, Ryan was up for the challenge. “I have always been good at doing the thing right in front of me,” Ryan says. “You can do anything when you

graduate from college so I took a look around Nashville and I thought, ‘I think it would be cool to be a songwriter.’” Getting started by writing with friends in town and later gaining a publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group, Ryan began to work his way into writing sessions for songs that would become hit singles for staple artists on country radio like Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan. While writing these songs however, Ryan found himself wanting more control over what people heard from him. “I can write a song and think that it’s a hit,” he explains. “But unless somebody records it or puts it on their album, potentially no one is going to hear it.” Ryan’s latest single, “To A T”, gives him the chance to hear himself sing the words he’s written on country radio waves after years of work behind the scenes in Nashville. “There’s still this romanticism about the radio. Still to this day it’s the No. 1 driver for music success.” Ryan says, “So still I feel really excited about it every time I get to do that.” Though he started by penning

songs for other artists, Ryan was always incorporating personal details into the lyrics he was crafting. “I’ve always written like I’m an artist,” Ryan explains. “I’ve always just written what I’ve wanted to write and thrown it up against the wall to see what stuck.” As a songwriter, he relies on the autobiographical storytelling that is characteristic of traditional country music. He made a name for himself in Nashville songwriting circles by focusing on crafting specific stories that strike a chord with listeners. The transition from writer to being behind the microphone was just a natural progression of his creative process. “It comes back to people telling me I was an artist, not that I had to call myself one, but I was one and I always had been,” he says. He eventually made the leap and started putting together a team, producing a songwriter EP called Panorama and selling out a coinciding release show at The Basement East in Nashville. In 2017, he released a self-titled EP, yielding two singles that would help solidify his position as an artist to watch. While he NKDMAG.COM

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stepped into the spotlight to take more control over what he was creating, he also recognizes the unique challenges that come with artistry and embraces them. “There’s so much about this that has so little to do with music and that’s the surprising part,” Ryan says. As Ryan navigates his career and the work that comes with stepping outside of the writers’ room, he has been able to experience some of the biggest honors in the industry alongside his wife, Maren Morris. The couple met back in 2014 in a writing session for what would become Tim McGraw’s “Last Turn Home”. They just celebrated their first wedding anniversary and continue to not only be each other’s muse, but a vital resource in writing sessions. “We had a creative relationship before it was ever romantic so it’s really cool whenever we get to work together or sing,” Ryan says. Maren’s sophomore album Girl, which broke the record for the largest streaming week for a country studio album by a female artist, features two collaborations from the couple. His writing chops and vocals are credited on the tracks “Great Ones” and “All My Favorite People”, also featuring another country staple, Brothers Osbourne. “It was a hard record to get on,” Ryan explains. “I wrote probably 20 songs with her for it and two of them made it.” The couple continues to collaborate and support each other on every creative endeavor, with Maren also making an appearance on Ryan’s latest single, “To 16

A T”. The track is currently rising on country radio charts and bodes well for what is to come for the breaking artist. With the rising success of “To A T” and anticipation for future projects from his growing fanbase, Ryan is able to plan ahead for the future of his career as an entertainer. “I’m excited about the fact that people want an album from me,” he says, “It’s fun to have a song that people want to play on the radio and listen to and you don’t have to beg them to do it.” He is currently on tour and still finds time to write for other artists, continuing to contribute to the community where he first got his start. “I think this is a really fun time to be a part of music, not just country music, but all music,” Ryan says. With the ever-changing landscape of modern country music, Ryan continues to focus on making music that is not exclusively pigeonholed to the genre, but is simply good music. Ryan says, “I think the truer to myself I’ve been as an artist and as a performer, the more success I’ve had.” Ryan has seen every side of the industry, whether it be writing hits and opening for other artists, or headlining his own shows and attending some of the biggest award ceremonies in the industry. While his star continues to rise, he strives to keep his authentic voice behind his craft and stay true to himself. “I’ve kind of had this really cool, odd career already,” Ryan says. “And I feel like we’re just getting started.” NKD


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jake miller Words by SAMANTHA BAMBINO Photos by CATHERINE POWELL


Two years ago, pop/R&B/rap singer-songwriter Jake Miller was in the midst of a new, nerve wracking chapter in his career. That summer, he announced his departure from Warner Bros. Records, which he originally signed with in November 2013 at the age of 20. Due to the dwindling creative freedom enjoyed since the making of his debut Us Against Them, which features the hit single “Collide,” Jake decided to embark on the “independent” path. He set up a studio in his bedroom, taught himself how to produce, and released not one, but two full-length albums – 2:00am in LA in June 2017 and Silver Lining in March 2018. “That was when I was all on my own. I was going through a lot of changes and a lot of labels and managers, and I decided to take it all into my own hands and just learn how to do it all by myself,” Jake says. “So, for the past two years, I’ve been learning how to write and produce all of my own music in my bedroom.” Throughout those years, Jake experienced drastic growth as both a person and an artist. He learned how to fight for his dreams, even when things seem bleak, and was able to recognize just how strong he truly is. But those days of fending for himself are finally over. In July 2018, Jake took a major leap forward by signing with RED MUSIC, a label division of Sony Music, and joining the ranks of artists like Russell Dickerson, New Year’s Day and lovelytheband. Under this new representation, Jake released on 20

March 29 the EP Based On A True Story, which is accompanied by the Wait For You Tour, which is underway. According to the 26-year-old Weston, Florida native, getting picked up by RED MUSIC has helped him take his artistry to the next level and put out his best music yet. Though he will forever take pride in the music created under Warner, including the EPs Dazed and Confused, Rumors, and Overnight, there’s something unexplainably special, in Jake’s opinion, about the fresh material. “I’ve kind of just taken it to the next notch in terms of production and melodies and lyrics. I think all six songs on the EP are my six proudest songs that I’ve ever made. They’re all very different. Some are very upbeat, some are very slow. I tried different things. I have a choir singing on one of the songs. I have a lot of live instruments, a live guitar, a live saxophone,” Jake says. “I’ve just been trying to do what I haven’t done before in the past, and I’m trying to push myself to get better.” One such example is “What If You Fell In Love,” the last track on Based On A True Story that Jake was especially excited for the world to hear after an incredible recording session. “It’s got an amazing, beautiful outro with a choir. The song is really just about thinking you had somebody in your back pocket your whole life, and then wondering, ‘What happens if they fall in love and move on?’ And it’s too late to call them up and rekindle that flame because

they have already moved on,” Jake says. “So that’s what that song is about. It’s really personal and really emotional, probably one of the saddest songs I’ve ever written.” Ahead of the release of Based On A True Story, Jake teased his fan base, widely known as the “Millertary,” with a slew of ear worm-inducing singles – “Nikes” and “Wait For You”. He also dropped a music video for the latter, which boasts more than 167,000 views on YouTube and hundreds of positive comments, mostly all praising Jake for his art (and looks). So far, listeners are latching onto the new material with as much – or more - unbridled passion as they did in 2014 for “First Flight Home.” Both this song, which has yielded 7 million views on YouTube, and “Wait For You” climbed to Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40. “It’s been amazing. I think the feedback I’ve gotten from ‘Wait For You’ has been some of the best feedback I’ve ever gotten on my music before,” Jake says. “I’ve gotten so many new people and new fans coming out and telling me they just discovered my music because of ‘Wait For You’ and hearing it on the radio and stuff like that. The reaction of ‘Wait For You’ and ‘Nikes’ has been exactly what I hoped for it to be.” Still, fans’ current support shouldn’t come as a surprise when taking into consideration their constant backing of Jake. Even during his independent journey, which unfortunately coincided with the breakup of his longtime girlfriend, the “Mil-


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lertary” was by its idol’s side. As Jake spent countless late-night hours in his bedroom studio, it was this sense of unwavering love from his faithful fan base, which includes more than 1 million Instagram followers, 700,000 Twitter followers, and 600,000 YouTube subscribers, that gave him the strength to keep going. It’s also what prompted him to dig deep into his inner scrappiness, finding ways to continue booking gigs and visiting numerous cities without the backing of a label. In 2017, Jake performed for fans across the country in the Back To The Start Tour. The stretch of shows saw impressive turnouts, venues chock-full of attendees singing every lyric back to Jake, and diehards littering the streets, hoping for a glimpse of their idol getting on or off his tour bus. It was just like old times, and Jake couldn’t have been happier. “That felt amazing. I think they’re even more excited these days just knowing that I have a label behind me that is giving me what I deserve and treating me like a priority, which is what every artist wants, and what every fan base wants for their artist,” he says. Now, fans can once again breathe the same air as Jake by attending a date on the cross-country Wait For You Tour, which commenced on April 11 in Las Vegas and will conclude on May 17 in Los Angeles. For Jake, it’s a thrill to finally be back on the road, a place he feels most comfortable and confident.

“I’m so excited for tour. I thrive when I’m on tour, on a tour bus with some of my best friends for a month, and getting to see the fans. Just being faceto-face with the people who support me every day, that’s important to me,” he says. “And I can’t wait to play the new music. It’s going to be an amazing time.” The opening act for the tour is label mate Logan Henderson, whose former Nickelodeon group Big Time Rush collaborated with Jake on the 2013 single “Lost In Love,” which is featured on the band’s album 24/7. “I didn’t even know him then, that was all over email,” Jake says of the track. “But we’ve become close friends.” Jake encourages new and old fans alike to come out to one of the concerts. Even if someone isn’t familiar with his pre-Based On A True Story work, he promises they won’t feel out of place, bored or disappointed. “My shows are very energetic, very fun. It’s just an amazing atmosphere and an amazing time, whether you’re 10-yearsold or 60-years-old. You can come to one of my shows, stand in the crowd, and appreciate it,” he says. “My music is, I think, universal. People can relate to it. I’m talking about real life things in my songs. Some of them are about anti-bullying, some are about suicide awareness, some are just about growing up.” These include “A Million Lives”, a song from 2013 that highlights Jake’s mission to inspire fans who may be going through a rough patch; “Steven”, which chronicles the chilling tale

of a boy who’s beaten, bullied and neglected, and is ultimately contemplating suicide to escape it all; and “Number One Rule”, another track from Us Against Them that tells people to never settle for less, and to keep climbing until they’re where they want to be in life. “I think my songs make for a good show and a really good vibe in the venue,” he says. “Hopefully, everyone leaves my shows feeling great and escapes the world for a few hours to enjoy good music.” Of course, while a portion of the set list is dedicated to Jake’s latest work, favorites such as “Collide” and “First Flight Home” aren’t, and will never be, forgotten. “I always play some of the OG songs for the OG fans,” he says. As Jake quickly adapts to the swing of tour life and revels in the early success of Based On A True Story, he’s already looking ahead at what’s next for 2019. As any member of the “Millertary” knows, Jake isn’t one to ever sit back and relax. In good times and in bad, he’s resilient and ever-dedicated to his craft, and will never stop the daily grind until he’s No. 1. “We’re going to be on the road a lot promoting and doing a lot of shows, radio shows, and hopefully another tour toward the back end of the year,” he says. “But I’m just going to continue to make music. And we’re going to put a lot of music out, a lot of remixes, a lot of DJ collaborations in the works, a lot of music videos. It’s going to get really busy. It’s going to be awesome.” NKD NKDMAG.COM

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sherry cola Words by LEXI SHANNON Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

For Chinese-born comedian and actress Sherry Cola, there’s no better feeling in the world than making audiences laugh. The star has been on stage as a stand-up comedian all across Southern California, on screen portraying Alice Kwan in Freeform’s Good Trouble and on the radio as an on-air personality. A trio of feats she attributes to the saying “everything happens for a reason.” Her reason? Entertainment. Comedy. Teaching audiences. And most importantly? Carson Daly. Sherry’s inspiration for career in comedy started at a young age. After moving to California’s San Gabriel Valley with her parents in the early 1990s, her passion for making people laugh started to take shape. From a young age, she enjoyed making “funny videos” to share with friends and family. In high school, she was a member of the school’s film club, as well as hosting talent shows throughout the year. “[Comedy] was something I was I was always passionate about, making people laugh from day one, even,” she says. “From an early age, [come-

dy] was always something that made me happy.” Little did she know, a degree in entertainment studies would later help her land a dream job at a radio station, which would ultimately land her in the hands of Carson Daly. Sherry attended Cal State Fullerton and was an active member of the campus radio station, where she worked as an on-air personality and DJ. “I went onto college and I did major in entertainment studies. I figured I wanted to be adjacent to [comedy]. I did a little bit of everything. I was a part of the campus radio station, I did that for three and a half years. I fell in love with [radio],” she says. Immediately after graduating from college, Sherry landed a job at 97.1 FM AMP in Los Angeles. There, she did “literally everything you can name,” working in street teaming and promotions, social media, and even operating the board on weekends. She spent over three years at AMP before her first try at stand-up, which changed her life forever. Flash forward to 2016, Sherry had

been working on her comedy career, filming and releasing her infamous Lil Tasty videos on Facebook. One of her characters, “Lil Tasty is a rapper, she’s constantly in a Kobe Bryant jersey, and she’s adorable.” Her first viral Lil Tasty video coincided with the week of her first stand-up gig. “[The Lil Tasty] video went viral that same week I did stand-up, so it was one of those moments where I was like, ‘What am I doing? Let’s dive 100% into comedy.’ That summer I ended up going to UC Berkeley and taking some improv classes just to sharpen my chops, and that eventually led into acting.” Then, morning show host Carson Daly caught wind of “Lil Tasty”. Sherry, still working in radio, worked in the same building as Carson at the time. “He was like, ‘Wait, this chick is IN the building? Like, why aren’t we utilizing her?’ so that was dope AF because Carson Daly wanted to meet with me. And you know Carson Daly, that’s old faithful,” she says. Carson helped Sherry land her own radio show near the end of 2016. There, her and a co-host would NKDMAG.COM

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showcase new records and interview up and coming artists, all while allowing Sherry to showcase her humorous side during commercial breaks. With her own show, she had the opportunity to interview artists like Khalid and Fifth Harmony on air. “[Having a radio show] was really cool and still something I love. I love interviewing and being a host. That lasted a little under a year because radio is its own beast and the company got bought out. Whatever, everything happens for a reason,” she reiterates. Sherry’s new reason was an old friend from college, Colin, who she knew through her time at the Cal State Fullerton radio station. “[Colin] always thought I was really funny and we kept in touch. When I was doing the standup and Lil Tasty went viral, he hit me up and was like, ‘Dude, I love what you’re doing, I want to see you do standup.’ So the second time I ever did stand-up, he came to see me and I was just thinking it was my friend Colin coming to see me do my thing. The next morning, he hit me up and was like, ‘I loved it. You’re killing it.’ And I was like, ‘Wait, what do you do again?’” Colin had been working as a manager, soon enough, he’d be managing Sherry and her talents. “I knew he was entertainment related but I forgot what he did exactly. He [said he was a manager] and I literally thought he meant like a manager of a Cheesecake Factory, but he’s a talent manager and basically the rest is history after that,” she says. After putting together a good team, Sherry started landing gigs on stage and on screen. Her first show, 26

I Love Dick starred Kathryn Hahn and Kevin Bacon. Later, she landed a spot on MTV’s SafeWord, before landing her most recent role and the one of a lifetime - Alice Kwan in Freeform’s Good Trouble – a spinoff of The Fosters. The show, which features the “same heart and focus on social issues as The Fosters” features Sherry as Alice Kwan - a queer, Asian-American woman who is yet to come out to her parents and is trying to find her way in the world. The first season wrapped up early last month and sent a wave through the nation’s emotions. The season ended with Alice coming out to her parents, whom everyone assumed to be traditional Asian-American parents who aren’t familiar or accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. For Sherry, this role and scene offered her the opportunity to reach out to millions of viewers. “Throughout the whole season, we underestimated Alice’s parents. We thought, ‘Oh, they’re close-minded, Asian parents who will never accept Alice as gay but the true plot twist is that they already knew. They still accept her and love her,” Sherry says. As Alice, Sherry had the incredible power to showcase to the world a “light at the end of the tunnel outcome.” “We’re giving hope to people that are not out yet. It’s really difficult to put into words. It does give a more liberating feeling to the idea of coming out,” Sherry says, “At the end of the day, what I think we’re trying to teach is growth and just being comfortable in your own skin, and if people can’t accept that, their loss. It will get better, you are strong and you will make it through.” NKD


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THE DRIVER ERA Words by OLIVIA SINGH Photos by CATHERINE POWELL


Rocky Lynch and Ross Lynch of The Driver Era are in Salt Lake City, Utah in the midst of their first tour as a duo when they get on the phone to talk about their latest music. But it’s not their first time being on tour. They’ve performed more than 350 shows across the globe (in Europe, North America, and Asia, to name a few destinations) for years as part of R5, a group that consisted of Rocky, Ross, siblings Riker Lynch and Rydel Lynch, and close friend Ellington Ratliff. Now, Rocky and Ross are starting their next chapter in the music industry with a blank slate and new sound. The idea to form a new band began in late 2017 while Rocky and Ross were in South America as part of the Sometime Last Night tour with R5. After playing music for 10 years, and being signed to a major record label, they felt like the need to change things up. “We had such a great fan base as R5, but towards the end of it, we started to get a little frustrated and we wanted to start new,” Ross explains. “We wanted to create music under a new project because we wanted to have a new blank slate.” Rocky and Ross brainstormed band names, eventually landing on The Driver Era, which felt representative of the kind of music they wanted to release. “Towards the end of R5, obviously, we had thoughts and ideas of like, ‘Alright, cool, 30

what’s the next step?’ And really, there never was the right time and we never really had the right songs,” Rocky says. “It just never was perfect timing and The Driver Era kind of came around right at the right time.” “We’re all in our mid-20s now,” Rocky continues. “We toured the world a ton of times. We’ve made a ton of records. We’ve worked with tons of writers and producers. We’ve just done the whole thing to where we just kind of get the music industry now.” By 2018, The Driver Era was well underway and Rocky and Ross released their first song, “Preacher Man.” The track, which they describe as “rebellious,” has accumulated more than 7 million streams on Spotify, while the music video has racked up 2 million views on YouTube. “It was the perfect first song to release as The Driver Era,” Ross says. “It was catching ears, everyone loved it, it had a really nice, rebellious feel to it, and it was enough different from anything else that we had ever released as R5.” They followed “Preacher Man” with two songs that were a departure from the fast-paced track that played on alternative radio stations – “Low” and “Afterglow.” The former was spearheaded by Rocky, who led the vocals, wrote, and produced the song while his brother was in Vancouver, Canada filming the first season of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Net-

flix’s dark take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch that stars Ross as Harvey Kinkle. Although the song-making process was challenging with Rocky and Ross being in different locations for months, they made it work. “The first nine months, it was pretty difficult,” Ross recalls. “We didn’t actually collaborate a lot, which was not a bad thing, because that’s how we got ‘Low.’ And that’s one of my favorite songs, maybe ever. I can say that because I didn’t write that one.” “I think it was actually really beneficial for Rocky and I as individuals, because we learned how to create without being dependent on another person because we oftentimes look to each other for validation and creation,” he adds. “It was really healthy to be on our own and to have to write songs like that.” Rocky began producing around 13 or 14 years old after his grandparents gave him a Mac. He experimented with programs like Logic, wrote “absurd” songs that were probably too explicit for someone his age, watched tutorials online, and read up on how to mix tracks. He learned even more once he got involved in the music industry and began to interact with other writers and producers. “Now we’re entirely self-sufficient,” Rocky says. “I can write and produce an entire song by myself and Ross can do the same, and we love


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it that way. We love the fact that we don’t need to get a song going, send it to an A&R and have them give us their notes of what they think will work for whatever reason, when they don’t know more than anyone else in the music business. When the Driver Era announced their first tour, they had only released three songs at that point. Regardless, they were determined to get on the road in the small window of time that they had before Ross would travel back to Vancouver to film the next season of Sabrina. They opened each show on the tour with “Feel You Now”, a carefree, feel-good song that was officially released in late March. In April, they released “Welcome to the End of Your Life,” which Ross describes as a straight up existential ‘90s punk song. Many of the songs that were included in their setlist were created about a month prior to touring. “I feel like we talk a lot about cycles and balance and purpose in life,” Ross says. “And that’s kind of what we’ve been writing about a little bit recently.” Given the range of sounds and styles used by The Driver Era, it’s tricky to pinpoint what genre they fall into, but that could also be an indicator of how the music industry has evolved. “The term genre, I think, will eventually become out-

dated,” Ross says. “Nowadays, people listen to music based on the mood that it gives them, rather than a certain genre. People go to Spotify and they click on a rainy mood playlist. It’s not so much about the style of the songs, more about how it makes you feel.” “A lot of people create music with a style in mind, but when Rocky and I make music, it’s more about really giving ourselves to the present moment and creating whatever feels good in that time,” he adds. After their NKD interview, Rocky and Ross will play a sold out show at Salt Lake City’s Kiby Court, an intimate 200-capacity venue. But it won’t just be them on stage. They’ll be joined by Riker, Rydel, and Ellington, who have been accompanying them on tour. “We haven’t met a better drummer [Ellington], or more entertaining bass player [Riker], and Rydel shreds the keys,” Rocky says of their decision to incorporate the R5 members. “There’s no reason to not keep playing with the rest of them because we have 350 shows under our belt.” “This is a dream team, for sure,” Ross chimes in. “We’re looking at hours and hours playing together and the chemistry that we share is just too valuable to give up.” Another added benefit of being on tour and performing unreleased music is the ability to get to change up the songs on the spot, get instant feedback from the audience, and

see what people respond to. “There’s a little more energy that comes with a live setting,” Rocky says. “A&R have their own opinion, we have our own opinion, our fans have an opinion, and that’s okay,” Ross says. “Not everyone needs to like every song. And at the end of the day, we need to make music for ourselves, and for the love of music that we have, and hopefully people like it. And so far, when we make music from a pure place where we’re not worried about what people might think, that’s when we get the best reactions and that’s when the fans can feel that our work is authentic. So that’s really what we’re striving for.” For the remainder of the year, Rocky and Ross plan to release more videos and new songs that will undoubtedly be an “eclectic” mix. While Ross films in Canada, Rocky will produce for other artists, continue working on new material, and focus on “keeping the momentum going.” “Everything’s been working out perfectly,” Ross explains. “The fact that we exist in a digital age where it’s about every song that you release, rather than a record, really complements our style of writing because Rocky and I spent a lot of time and effort on every single song that we write. We never ever want to release anything that’s half-assed.” “We say it regularly, we’re trying to fuck the system up,” he says. NKD NKDMAG.COM

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IAN VERDUN Words by SAMANTHA BAMBINO Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

Ian Verdun’s journey to becoming a successful actor was far from easy. In fact, it took a decade of uncertainty, failed auditions, and living off an apple and bowl of oatmeal a day before that coveted “big break” came along. Now, at 34-years-old, Ian is widely known as fisherman Xander McClure on Freeform’s sci-fi thriller Siren, which returns for Season 2B on June 13. Though landing such a major role is an achievement Ian desperately craved for years, he wouldn’t trade the bumpy journey for the world. Those hardships shaped Ian into the man he is today, and he’s using his personal story to inspire others. Born in Anaheim, California, Ian became accustomed to a not-so-privileged life from the get go. After his father entered a downward spiral of drug addiction, he was raised by his mother, an artist from Texas. As a child, Ian explored her old art books, quickly becoming obsessed with expressing himself creatively. For some time, Ian had plans to become a comic book artist. That is, until he was cast in his junior high school’s production of Mulan. “I hated my role so much, but I really enjoyed the work. I enjoyed being on stage, the energy of it,” he says. “I caught the bug after that.” In a risky move, Ian applied to one college - California Institute of the Arts. If he wasn’t accepted,

he figured an acting career simply wasn’t meant to be. But he got in. Still, his education was far from the positive experience he anticipated. During his first year, one teacher told Ian he should reconsider acting as a profession. “I remember getting so upset and so pissed off, and I really wanted to prove him wrong,” he says. Ian ended up attending the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, where he was truly able to hone his craft. It was a transformative time, and Ian returned to the states as a completely different actor. Upon graduation in 2007, Ian moved to New York in an attempt to land a job in the midst of the writers’ strike. Unfortunately, it was practically impossible for new actors to break into the industry. “I was so poor. I was making $75 a week,” he reflects. “It just took me back. I had never experienced anything that hard.” While working as an usher trying to make ends meet, Ian went on countless auditions, but to no avail. This seemingly-endless cycle continued until 2014. By that point, Ian had enough, and took measures into his own hands by writing the comedy Life’s A Drag, which follows a down-on-his-luck actor who turns to drag in an effort to earn money. Life’s A Drag played at several festivals and had the chance to be pitched at a network. Things were finally looking up, and Ian was OK

with not going on anymore auditions. As luck would have it, the Siren audition fell into his lap the same week as his big network pitch. Shortly after, he officially joined the cast. So, what made this audition so different from the rest? “I had released all of the expectations and all of the pressure I was putting on myself to book and work and prove to everybody that I could be a success. It liberated me,” Ian says. Siren, which takes place in the fictional town of Bristol Cove, follows the culture clash between humans and a horde of predatory mermaids. Ian is thrilled to play Xander, who he says isn’t afraid to show vulnerability, something often lacking in lead men. “I feel that more often than not, when there’s grief or loss with a male character, it’s immediately gone over to violence, rage and anger,” he says. As Ian gears up for the premiere of Season 2B, he’s looking back on how far he’s come with nothing but pride, and hopes his struggles serve as inspiration to other dreamers. “Most people are living paycheck to paycheck. They’re stuck between trying to pay the bills, take care of family, and pursue their dreams at the same time. More often than not, the dream is what’s sacrificed,” Ian says. “The journey is way more important than the exact destination.” NKD NKDMAG.COM

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AISHA DEE Words by OLIVIA SINGH Photos by CATHERINE POWELL Make-Up by DANA DELANEY Hair by MARCIA HAMILTON Styling by SARAH SLUTSKY


Before starring as Kat Edison on Freeform’s The Bold Type, Aisha Dee was riding horses, singing, doing group hugs, and “lots of cheesy stuff ” as part of her first acting job ever. Aisha, who grew up in the tourist-filled area of Australia called the Gold Coast, booked a role as Desiree Biggins on a children’s show called The Saddle Club when she was 13-years-old. “We had such a great crew,” Aisha recalls. “They were so nurturing and our producers really encouraged us to speak up and to contribute creatively.” Being on The Saddle Club also set a foundation for her future career and “taught me everything that I know,” from the types of camera shots to the equipment used on set. “I’m incredibly grateful to have learned in an environment like that and I think that’s kind of what made me fall in love with it [acting],” Aisha says. “I just fell in love with the environment and being on set.” Growing up, the 25-yearold actress was obsessed with shows like Sesame Street, but she also took advantage of the VHS tapes that were free and accessible through the library. There, she discovered older movies, musicals and films that fell into the blaxploitation genre – which featured black actors and were initially geared toward a black audience. “It was the first time that I kind of saw myself reflected back at me other than when I looked in the mirror, because I 38

didn’t really grow up in a super diverse environment, and I was raised by mother and she really encouraged me to celebrate who I was,” Aisha says. “And I think that was really when became interested in TV and movies.” Aisha admits that she “could go on forever,” gushing about actors who she adored watching in films and TV shows, but the ones that immediately come to mind are Pam Grier, Shirley MacLaine and Sammy Davis Jr. in Sweet Charity, and of course, the children from Sesame Street. “I don’t know their names, but all the kids from Sesame Street, I’m sure they’re grown now, but I would like to just give them a shout-out and say, ‘Thank you for inspiring me,’” she adds. Aisha knew that she’d become an actress, but she was also aware that she “didn’t really have the resources to do it” and wasn’t able to attend drama schools like other aspiring actors, which is why she feels so fortunate to have got her start on The Saddle Club. From there, Aisha landed parts on series like Dead Gorgeous, Chasing Life, Sweet/Vicious, and Channel Zero. While Aisha was starring as Kennedy on MTV’s Sweet/Vicious (a show about two college women who become campus vigilantes and go after sexual abusers), she heard about The Bold Type, but wasn’t initially sold on the premise. The plot – three women in their 20s named Kat Edison, Jane Sloan

(played by Katie Stevens), and Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy) who work at a magazine called Scarlet in New York City – wasn’t one that hadn’t already been told in numerous movies and shows. “I think I discounted a little bit what it could be at face value and my rep urged me to read the script and give it a chance,” Aisha says. “And I did and I’m so glad that I did because it’s really been such a rewarding experience to be a part of this show.” Aisha decided to give The Bold Type a shot because she recognized that it offered a fresh perspective. “It just felt like the conversations that I have with my friends,” she explains. “I think everyone has their own fashion closet where they get to dissect their relationships and what’s going on in their lives with their friends,” Aisha adds, referring to Scarlet’s glamorous room that the women go to when they need to discuss relationships, work concerns, and other topics away from the eyes and ears of their co-workers. “It just felt so real and honest to me and I honestly, I just loved the depiction of female friendship. It felt really genuine to me and I lucked out with two amazing co-stars, Katie Stevens and Meghann Fahy, who pretty much are my sisters now.” Going into the auditions, Aisha didn’t think that she’d get the part. “I thought that they were going to cast someone else, so


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I was like, ‘It’s OK, it’s chill. I’m glad you guys are making the show, good luck,’” she recalls. “I never thought I would get it.” Aisha first met Meghann while testing for the show in Los Angeles. “I think like right away, we just clicked and I loved her pretty much the moment I met her,” Aisha says. “I was so happy when she got the role of Sutton.” On her way home from the screen test, she was told that she got the role. After learning that Katie would be playing Jane, Aisha checked Twitter and saw a message from her co-star and they started communicating online until all three women met up in real life. In a scene that sounds like something straight out of The Bold Type, Aisha, Katie, and Meghann met in an elevator in New York on the way to see Katie’s then-boyfriend and now fiancé, Paul DiGiovanni, perform with his band Boys Like Girls, and immediately embraced each other. “The second we all got in the elevator, we started hugging, like, ‘Oh my god, we have jobs! We can pay our bills, and we’re going to get to hang out,” Aisha recalls. On The Bold Type (which is modeled after Cosmopolitan magazine and former editor-in-chief Joanna Coles) Kat, Jane, and Sutton work in different departments at Scarlet, a publication run by Jacqueline Carlyle (Melora Hardin).

Kat serves as the social media director, Jane is a writer, and Sutton works her way up to become a fashion assistant. Throughout their journeys, the women are mentored by Jacqueline, who appears intimidating, but is nurturing and strives to help her employees reach their full potential, even if it means pushing them a bit. “I love the fact that she’s confident and that she knew who she was and she was not apologetic about it, I just found that really inspiring and honestly, kind of scary, too,” Aisha says of Kat. “I didn’t think I would be capable of being that person because I aspire to be like her, but I certainly don’t think I’m as brave as she is, and I just love that she throws herself into everything.” Aisha continues: “Everything she does, she does it to 100. She’s not into half-assing things and I love that about her. I love that she’s impulsive and maybe has some flaws too, because I think all of that is really real.” The fact that viewers can recognize themselves in Kat (who’s self-assured and tuned into social media trends), Jane (a writer who wants to publish impactful stories), and Sutton (a people person who has an effortless eye for what’s stylish), also explains why fans relate to the show. “It’s funny, because I feel like I see a little bit of myself in all three of them,” Aisha says. “And I think that that’s what makes the show resonate with people, is that you get to see yourself in at least someone on

the show, whether it’s Oliver [Sutton’s boss], Jacqueline, or Nikohl Boosheri’s character, Adena [a Muslim artist who was in a relationship with Kat during the first two seasons].” “I hope that everyone gets to see themselves in the show,” Aisha adds. “And if you don’t, hit me up on Twitter and I’ll tell the writers we need another character. I think we still have a ways to go in terms of representation, but we’re definitely doing our best.” Over the course of the first two seasons, fans got to see Kat grapple with her sexuality, her race, and her position as the head of social media. She learned how to pick her battles with Jacqueline, how to fight for diversity in the office, and how to handle bullies online. For Aisha, one of the most challenging storylines to tackle was Kat addressing her biracial identity during Season 2. After being asked to create a professional bio, one of Kat’s co-workers advised her to make her description stronger by specifying that she is Scarlet’s first black female department head, but she didn’t want her race to define her. After talking to her parents, Kat realized that she was raised with rose-colored glasses and decided to include “black” in her bio because it felt “important” to embrace her that side of herself. “I think that’s something that everyone deals with at a certain point in their life, just kind of coming to terms with who you are,” Aisha says. “For NKDMAG.COM

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me, it happened when I was a lot younger, because I was always kind of acutely aware of my blackness because it was pointed out to me, but I definitely knew what that was like and it made sense to me that Kat would maybe go through that a little bit later in life because she was a bit of a late bloomer anyway. She discovers her sexuality later.” When the show premiered in June 2017, Kat repeatedly declared that she was heterosexual. But after meeting Adena, a photographer who identifies as lesbian, Kat started to reassess her convictions. She began a romantic relationship with Adena, but during the Season 2 finale, Adena and Kat broke up, with the former explaining that she needed freedom in order to be creative and feel inspired. When The Bold Type returned in April, viewers got to see Kat deal with the aftermath of her and Adena’s breakup. For a majority of the Season 3 premiere, Kat led her friends to believe that she was doing fine post-breakup. She even began posting more glam selfies on social media, for her followers and Adena to see. Near the end of the episode, Kat posted an unfiltered, makeup-free video online and spoke honestly about how her life wasn’t as sugar-coated as she made it appear. In doing so, she inspired others to open up online by “We all want to show the best version of ourselves, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that,” Aisha says. 44

“But I do think it’s important to also be honest about what we’re really going through.” “I love that we got to tackle that on the show,” she adds. “I hope that we get to do it some more because I think we only kind of scratched the surface of what that really is. Even in our lives, even in the world, we’re showing people a version of ourselves.” As Season 3 of The Bold Type progresses, fans will get see Kat continue to push boundaries and even get involved in politics. After volunteering for a local campaign, Kat ends up running, which may seem a bit “far-fetched,” but Aisha says it will hopefully feel “real and grounded.” “I think it still makes sense,” she explains. “She’s been becoming more and more vocal. And she’s been exploring what it is to be a leader, more and more as we’re seeing the show progress. And I’m excited for people to see that and hopefully be inspired. Maybe people go out and volunteer for a campaign in their district, or run, which, I mean, all the power to you, because there’s more women and diversity in politics than ever before and the world actually needs it.” For people tuning into The Bold Type, Aisha hopes that in addition to relating to the characters, they can feel inspired. “I don’t think every workplace is as sunshine and flowers as Scarlet magazine,” she says. “And we can’t all be blessed with an incredible angel of a

boss like Jacqueline. But I hope that the fact that we’re aspirational, that inspires people to go out and spread more love in their own world and be that light in their own workplace or school, and lift up their friends the way that these girls do.” “No one can do anything alone,” Aisha continues. “We’re not wired to be alone, we’re wired to lift one another up and help each other. Every episode for me, that’s the thing that I try to keep in the back of my mind. So I hope that people watching can take that put a little bit of that in their own world, too.” Looking ahead to the rest of 2019 and her career, Aisha wants to release music. She last released an EP in 2015 under the name Dee Dee & the Beagles. “I’m taking my time with it because it’s something that I can creatively control, so I want to make sure that it’s all me,” she says. “I want to be able to produce my own stuff and write my own stuff.” In addition to “slowly but surely” working on music, Aisha wants to develop more original projects. “I’ve been inspired by Kat and I want to be a boss lady. I want to be able to bring other people up and make the content that I think needs to be out there and put the talented people that I think should be showcased in it,” she says, “Watch this space. It’s probably 10 years away or something like that, but eventually, we’ll get there.” NKD


hassie harrison

Words by IAN HAYS Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

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Like all artistic expressions, comedy requires serious dedication. Take Hassie Harrison. Her quick wit and southern charm steal and hold your attention. But her current role on truTV’s Tacoma FD is built upon her dedication to doing whatever it takes to reach her goals. Growing up in Dallas, Texas, Hassie’s mom was involved with the Dallas Children’s Theater. This cemented an early love for the arts in young Hassie. Another strong suit for Hassie was school. Having tested out of some courses and loading up on AP classes, Hassie graduated with her high school degree at 15-yearsold. Her plan was to move out to L.A. and pursue acting. But her cousin, an actor himself, gave her some brotherly advice. “He told me that I should go to college, get an education – figure out who I am as a woman before coming out to L.A. I’m really glad he gave me that advice. He’s seen young girls get eaten alive,” she says. So, in typical Hassie fashion, she went full out on her education. Studying business and traveling abroad, she was given alternate perspectives of not just the arts, but of “Hollywood” and how the industry is looked at by non-Americans. Its these insights that kept Hassie going through college. Being 15 as an undergrad had its challenges, but Hassie buckled down, taking advantage of this opportunity.

But even her dedication is perfectly tied to her humor. “I remember telling my dad that I hated school. He jokingly said there were things I could do to finish school sooner. I took it as a challenge. I looked up what to do that night. I was like, ‘Oh, I just need to like, memorize the periodic table of elements and then I’m good to go!’” she laughs. With her mission completed, Hassie knew that she still wanted to pursue acting. While she’s always been an old soul, being so young at college helped her grow up fast. Although, it must be said she had the guidance of the senior citizens in her glass kilning class. But when she arrived in L.A., she quickly realized it’s a whole other beast. But that was just another opportunity for Hassie to learn and conquer. She worked with a casting director her first year out and credits the insights from that on her approach to auditions and understanding it ultimately is a numbers game. And eventually Hassie’s time did come. A slew of indie roles was coupled with a recurring spot on Hart of Dixie and performing in a video short with Hayley Kiyoko. And now she plays a main character, Lucy, on Tacoma FD. The show follows the antics of the firefighters in the “wettest city in America”. Written and produced by Kevin Heffernan and

Steve Lemme (Super Troopers, Beerfest), Hassie landed the golden egg of comedic television roles. “They are so fun and lovely, and I got that energy from them right away. They are exactly as they seem. It was such a comforting feeling. Growing up I had all sisters so it’s like I have five big brothers now,” she says. What is key for Hassie is that for all the joking and poking fun at each other, it ultimately is a safe space. The comedy comes from that comfort and trust they have with one another to be able to sincerely push it and see where each person can take the scene. “One of things I admire about this show is that while it is goofy, the characters take their job seriously. We get the job done and leave the shenanigans for the other parts of our lives,” Hassie says. Working with a cast of acting, writing, and comedy veterans is a dream for Hassie. She sees them as not only friends but mentors. Your education never stops. And while Hassie completed her formal learning sooner than most, that never stopped her desire to learn. It’s no secret her show partners have a very specific brand of comedy. For Hassie, her biggest compliment came when filming Episode 6 and they said, “Harrison is getting it.” Hassie has always been a quick study. Thankfully, she shows no sign of slowing down. NKD

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meg myers Words by VANESSA SALLES Photos by CATHERINE POWELL

With a sound and style that’s unapologetically herself, alt-rock artist Meg Myers is an artist you won’t want to miss. “Growing up, my family was very musical,” she says. “My dad bought me my first guitar around 9-years-old. It wasn’t until I was 12 or 13 though, when I really started taking an interest in writing songs. I started playing bass in a band with my brother called Feeling Numb and the first song he taught me was Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. I was always writing songs on keys and guitar and I can remember just always having this big need to express myself – gravitating towards music was easy for me.” A strong believer in collaboration, Meg credits teamwork as her fuel for writing new songs. “I have a difficult time finishing things on my own,” she explains. “I would probably be playing quarter or half songs if it weren’t for my collaborators. Generally, I write a lot of my ideas on piano and guitar and bring them to whoever I am working with at the time and we finish them together.” Having recently released a powerful cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill,’ the

singer reveals she had always felt a special connection to the track. “I always loved the song sonically and lyrically, so deeply,” she explains. “I was never interested in covering songs but this one felt important to me. Even though I already knew the song pretty well, it took me a second to figure out how to sing it in my own voice. It’s a very challenging song to sing and I even had to lower it a key. I’ve been joking about how that must be why Kate [Bush] stopped touring. Also, I wanted to keep it as close to the original as much as possible – can’t mess with a masterpiece! I hope people feel inspired and connected to love when they hear the track. It’s a beautiful song about having compassion for one another in many ways.” With a magnetic stage presence, Meg makes it a point to tap into her own authentic feelings and movements while performing. “I just try to let go everything when I’m up on stage,” she explains. “Growing up, I think Kurt Cobain and The Police were my biggest inspirations. Currently, I’ve been really into Florence and the Machine – she completely blows my mind and I can’t not

cry when I listen to her music. They’re all inspirations to me but I don’t think I try to channel anyone when I perform, I just find my own zone.” In regards to the music industry, the singer notes that evolution and change will always be apart of it. “I feel like the music industry is exactly where it needs to be right now,” she says. “Everything changes and evolves and it will always continue to do so. I like to do my best to focus on what makes me feel good about it and not really focus my attention too much on what I don’t like, as that just creates more of the problem.” As for what’s up next, the singer plans to hit the road in just a few months. “I’ll be touring this fall,” she says. “I’m excited to see fans on the road and connect with them over new music.” Of course, music isn’t the only thing Meg has on her bucket list. “There’s a lot that I want to get done,” she reveals. “I have this itch to make some sort of collaborative film. I don’t know if that will actually happen this year but it’s pretty high up on my to-do list. I also really want to do some pottery.” NKD NKDMAG.COM

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NKD Mag - Issue #95 (May 2019)