(SEXEE) Congratulations on winning the Mission Award at this year’s WEEN Awards. Karen Civil remarked that your acceptance speech was about the accomplishments of several other women and not yourself. Is that sort of your calling, to highlight the efforts of others? To popularize and help make them famous with your personality and platform.
(Angela Yee) Firstly, thank you. And, yes. I think that part of it is due to my having a background in management. The needs of everyone else come before yours and playing the background is the position you most often play. And then with WEEN, there are so many young women in the room who want to be in the entertainment industry. They are 18, 19, 20-years-old. I wanted them to look around the room and meet and know these other young women surrounding them, women who they are going to build careers with and reflect on just like Karen and I are years after first meeting each other. Women have a tendency to feel like, when it comes other women, we are all in competition with one another. Instead, we should know each other are there for support. We all came up together during our college years. And we can all come up together in the industry, helping each other further our careers.
(SEXEE) What is your earliest experience being a cross-communicator? The girl galvanizing all the varying audiences and pulling people together, influencing them to get along?
(Angela Yee) Even back when I was in elementary school, I would be the person on the bus cracking jokes, starting conversations. Always in the middle (Laughs!). I knew everyone and would always introduce people, hoping we would all become friends. Didn’t always work, but more often than not it did.
(SEXEE) How was early life for a West Indian/Chinese girl growing up in East Flatbush Brooklyn? How would you describe your early childhood?
(Angela Yee) My early childhood was growing up in Flatbush and only Flatbush. Brooklyn and just Brooklyn. I didn’t know much outside of my own neighborhood. Up until seventh grade I didn’t really leave my neighborhood. And then I was selected to enter into a program for gifted children called Step-by-Step. That’s when I got to see Manhattan and other areas. We visited my mother’s side of the family in the West Indies during the summers, so traveling plus studying in Manhattan introduced me to a whole other world. I was always very focused on education and got things done. I always read and studied a lot, even though I liked to hang out and be outside with my friends. I was always the cool nerd (Laughs!).
(SEXEE) You took us to your old neighborhood in Brooklyn on the new BET web series “Blocks”. How has the community changed from the days of your youth?
(Angela Yee) I’m in Flatbush a lot to go eat and stuff, but not to visit. It seemed like the biggest place in the world to me as a girl and now it seems so small. I guess that’s because I was little (Laughs!). During the “Blocks” taping it was raining, but everyone still came out and embraced me. I only know one person that still lives in the neighborhood, though. Everyone else has moved away. It’s a different place.
(SEXEE) You studied at Wesleyan, a prestigious liberal arts college. While there, did you foresee your career being in the Hip Hop, syndicated radio, and entertainment industries?
(Angela Yee) I did a lot of internships while I was in college, but my career path wasn’t something that I necessarily premeditated or planned out. I really thought I’d be a photographer and a writer, and also a teacher. I interned at MTV, at Wu-Tang, and then it became a thing where this is where all the people I know are and where my experience was. The job offers after college all came from within the industry.
(SEXEE) You have interviewed hundreds of A-list celebrities, and also a number of emerging artists. What was the worst interview incident you’ve ever had? Sort of like your version of Charlemagne’s encounter with Fredro Starr.
(Angela Yee) (Laughs!) I think it’s when I had a bad experience while at Sirius. We interviewed an artist, this young woman, and my co-host and I didn’t know anything about her (Laughs!). It got really awkward and I didn’t know the right questions to ask her, and neither did my co-host. It makes you look bad and I felt terrible. I’m looking at him like ‘Make Something Up!’ (Laughs!).
(SEXEE) I think the obvious choices are Beyoncé, Drake, or Rihanna, but name a celebrity you feel needs to be on your show, The Breakfast Club, but hasn’t yet.
(Angela Yee) Maybe someone like Kobe (Bryant) or LeBron (James) would be fun. I would love to interview Serena Williams, too. I interviewed her when I was with Sirius and she was really fun and interesting.
(SEXEE) The Breakfast Club moved to Revolt TV back in the spring. What are some key shifts or changes in the show since the move?
(Angela Yee) Nothing content-wise really because the whole point of it was to keep the show the way it was. The main things are like taking the tags off the water, removing certain logos or visible brands. And then at night we can’t be on set anymore. We used to be able to sleep on set, get some rest there in the studio, but now the lights are always on. We can’t make it all dark and romantic like we used to.
(SEXEE) You recently brought the Lip Service series back, your original show. What has been the response thus far? When is the show headed to television?
(Angela Yee) Initially my idea was to bring it back, have fun with it, and see where it goes from there. That’s a no-brainer for that to happen, for it to be on television, but for now I’m just doing something I love. It’s something I love doing and I brought it back so people could enjoy it again.
(SEXEE) Your career has been an impressive series of significant strides upward and onward in the music, marketing, and media worlds. And although The Breakfast Club is a huge step, what do you see as the ultimate platform for you, your voice and vision?
(Angela Yee) I still want to be a writer and that has been a passion of mine ever sense I was really young. I will make that happen sooner than later. I want to fulfill that goal of becoming a writer, an author.
(SEXEE) You have endorsed several products from alcohols to apparel lines, but not a hair brand. What was attractive about Echelon Hair that made you want to be a brand ambassador for their hair and hair-care products?
(Angela Yee) You’re right, I don’t normally do weaves, but a lot of women do and it’s really fun. It’s like an accessory. I do like Echelon a lot. It was a great idea for me and I’ve been working a lot with them. And I would like for more women to have a greater product like Echelon as a go-to, because a weave is really just a fun accessory. A way to change your look up and have fun with it. Echelon is a quality product. Love them.
(SEXEE) Your Echelon Beauty Contest is gaining popularity fast. What do you feel the contestant who wins will be able to spin that five seconds of fame into if she really hustles?
(Angela Yee) The whole reason I had that idea for the contest is because weaves are so expensive. They cost so much money. A lot of people can’t afford to have the right product and then a stylist to do it on top of that. For women, hair can change your entire day or your entire month. You feel so much better when you look great and feel amazing, and Echelon feels natural and looks natural. Women can really accessorize because this gives them so many options. The contest winner will definitely have the spotlight.
(SEXEE) We haven’t seen a signature clothing or accessory product from you, like Angela Yee Makeup or couture clothing. But I have a feeling you have something cool and glamorous in the works.
(Angela Yee) I would go with the idea of doing a line within a line. Work with an established designer to create a great, high quality line. I wouldn’t want to do something just for the sake of doing it. I would want something I could stand behind, a quality product that will really resonate with people. I don’t want to just put my name on something that I wouldn’t wear, or that I don’t believe in the quality of.
(SEXEE) Being of both Chinese and West Indian decent, is there a side of your heritage you are more in tune with than the other?
(Angela Yee) I’m fortunate to have had a nice balance of both cultures growing up. As far as the West Indian side, I grew up in Brooklyn with all Black kids. I went to school with all Black kids of different nationalities. My dad is Chinese and has nine brothers and sisters, so I grew up with a big family and a strong presence on the Chinese side. We celebrated Chinese New Year every year. My mom is an only child, so I didn’t have as large a family on that side but feel like I got so much just growing up in Brooklyn where there were other West Indian families. We also traveled to Montserrat in the summers and visited my grandparents. I grew up with a full mix of both sides and embrace both to this day.
(SEXEE) Asian-Americans aren’t really represented in Hip Hop. Do you think there’s a lane for a breakout Chinese or Japanese rap star?
(Angela Yee) I definitely think so. Even in sports people were so excited for Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin in the NBA. For the rap artist, if they were incredible – and I mean really, really incredible and super talented – it could be huge all over the world.
(SEXEE) How have you managed to keep your private life, specifically your dating and romantic side, so quiet? You are in the public eye more than just about any young woman in the industry.
(Angela Yee) Really, the thing is I don’t want to tell Charlemagne and Envy because they’ll mess it up (Laughs!). The real reason I don’t ever say anything about my dating life is because of them. And if I feel like I’m in a real situation, those two will always be talking about it. If you are so happy and in love, though, you won’t be able to hide it. I don’t purposefully try to hide anything. I’m just discreet, especially from those two (Laughs!).
(SEXEE)What will it take for a guy to sweep you off your feet though, Ang?
(Angela Yee) I am a heartbreaker only because I’m very busy and completely self-sufficient. But a super confident, funny, and ambitious guy would be the one. He wouldn’t have to be where he’s going, but working hard to get there. And I need someone I can learn from. At the end of the day I feel like I take care of everyone’s needs, so someone who can take care of mine. And I see that as fair.
(SEXEE) What is the most Brooklyn aspect of Angela Yee? The part of your character and personality that is just so undeniably BK all day?
(Angela Yee) (Laughs!) Some people think it’s crazy that I still live in Brooklyn, so that may be it (Laughs!). Everyone lives in Jersey or Long Island. But I stayed here and bought a house here. And then when I get mad they say my Brooklyn accent comes out (Laughs!). I do feel like staying in Brooklyn gives me life, real life. And that is what I deal with and do for a living, the culture. So living in Brooklyn and living it every day gives me an advantage, I feel. But I was here for eight years living in Bed-Stuy and got an opportunity to see the area change so much. I did a lot of research when shopping for a home. I saw the housing market and where it was headed. It was just the right time for me. If you can afford to do it, Brooklyn is a great investment. And my place, it’s a two family house, and I have a tenant so it helps make the mortgage even more manageable. A lot of people say I could have gotten more house for what I spent, but I get more culture and life being in Brooklyn. Its home.
(SEXEE) Finally, I want to close with a very SEXEE but abstract question. What do you feel is the relationship between the ocean and the sky? Do they make each other sad and blue, or give each other hope and purpose?
(Angela Yee) I feel like the ocean is a reflection of the sky. The water is mirroring the air. Whatever is going on up top is reflected down at the bottom (Laughs!). And that goes for everything!