Creative Interviewing Creatives: Jackie Lipson, a Los Angeles based pop singer-songwriter interviews queer creatives making waves in their field of artistry.
Mila Jam is a force! Mila is a broadway actress, dancer, pop artist, “artivist” and transgender star based in New York. Mila has toured internationally with the Broadway musical RENT and has performed alongside James Brown, Mark Ronson, Laverne Cox to name a few. Mila has an upcoming collaboration with Taiwanese star, Evangeline王艷薇 and chatted with me about her inspirations and upcoming work.
You were in the national tour of Rent, one of my favorite musicals! While touring Rent, you began creating parodies on YouTube under the name Britney Houston. Your parodies of songs such as Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” Pussycat Dolls, and others had over two million views. What inspired you to create the parodies?
I love pop culture. I think the two things that connect people the most is music and comedy. I grew up on music videos and often learned how to fit in by making people laugh. There’s a sense of acceptance & safety when u can entertain people with your silliness. As someone always picked on for being different, one could say it was a coping mechanism. I just felt innovative and inspired to push the envelope. Some of it was boredom but It was mostly living up to the thrill of youtube! I also wanted to be memorable and to just be seen.
Have you always wanted to be a pop star?
Always. As an 80s baby, I think there was a very strong desire to stand out and be one of a kind. It was a time to be completely unique and disassociate with conforming. I wanted to be a household single named icon: Michael. Madonna. Prince. Janet. Whitney. Tina. Cher.
Pop stars are my superheroes. I feel like they save the day with their music, inspiration, influence and style. I never read comic books growing up. I believed Michael Jackson would save the world more than Batman.
What did you learn from your musical theater career that you still use in your pop career today?
Revisiting the work. Even when It’s something you create..there’s always newness to discover in it. You learn to master things through repetition and muscle memory. Also, remembering that I am a storyteller helps. Even without a script, I have a message to get across that should touch people in a certain way. We always remember how someone made us feel instead of what they did.
I love that you call yourself an “artivist”! In what ways do you see activism within the music industry?
Yes! That is Art and Activism in one.
I can’t take credit for making it up, but it describes me so well.
I see it in bringing awareness to many different issues people face. Speaking out about what affects me and my community.
We musicians have a lot of power with our platforms. We are the soundtrack to life, so its Important to me to advocate for change while I’m on this ride of life.
You’re a powerful visible advocate for trans women in the entertainment industry. As an artist and creator, what would you like to see more of in regard to trans and TPOC representation within the entertainment industry?
Less tokenizing. Most production companies and organizations feel like they check off their list of requirements by having one of us in the room. We need more inclusivity in lead roles, as well as behind the scenes. There is a lack of positive representations of black trans women. Why are we not celebrating the accomplishments of a demographic of women that overcome extreme adversity? We are beyond prostitution. We are more than secrets.
You have a new single coming out called Just Sayin with MAKJ on Armada Records. Can you tell us more about it?
Just sayin is the dopest nod to iconic 90s house music. Think Crystal Waters meets MILA JAM! Ha! I think it’s gonna be huge. There are some songs you just know are special. I wrote it to express how we feel when someone takes interest but doesn’t really show up the way we deserve. They play games. When you’re giving your time to someone you must know your worth. They can have lip service but are they stepping up to the plate? I can’t wait for everyone to hear it!!
You have another upcoming single with your trans sisters. Who will be on this single? What’s the story behind it?
It’s a project with my sister and Broadway trailblazer Peppermint. We’ve worked together before on a project with Sir Ari Gold called If I Steal Your Boyfriend off of his album Between the Spirit & the Flesh. We decided to work on a music project to give back to the trans community: for Trans women by Trans Women. I can’t give out too many details, but there are some amazing Trans Recording artists involved.
It is a throwback cover with a powerfully uplifting message. That’s all I can say for now!
What’s your next venture?
I just presented for the Fragrance Foundation Awards and kicked off my open dialogue of racial and identity conversations called #woketalk on IG live with Tom Ellis from Netflix’s Lucifer. I’m working on a project with Todd Sears & Out Leadership; more music, and my first T-shirt collaboration with the Phluid Project. I’m excited to keep bridging the gap with important conversations and working towards a global takeover.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have three songs on your playlist, what would they be?
Obviously I would want to choose more than just 3. But I love songs that make me want to get up and either perform or dance.
My number one would be Crazy in Love by Beyoncé. I’m actually obsessed with the original song it’s sampled from which is Are You My Woman by the Chi-Lites. My second would be Air Mail Special by Ella Fitzgerald because it’s a masterclass in jazz and scatting. It makes me feel jamazing. And lastly, Working Day & Night by Michael Jackson…it’s probably his most infectious song.