Mila Jam is what I like to refer to as a “Jacqueline of all trades” as opposed to Jack. The New York City veteran can do it all from belting out an amazing song to acting something fierce all the way to delivering a powerful speech for the LGBTQ community and our supporters (she’s even done a TEDx y’all).
She has spent years whetting our appetites with so many delicious tracks that have kept us dancing and singing in an out of our apartments (especially while stuck inside during COVID). And from the looks of it she’s just getting started out.
The talented performer chatted with me about her very high high’s and low low’s of 2020, what she’s hopeful for with our new administration, new music that will keep the party going throughout the year and so much more below.
What’s been the peak and pit of your life over the past year?
The high for me of 2020 was when I spoke at the Pride Vigil on June 1st for the trans lives that were lost. I was so uncertain what that day was going to bring. I remember being asked to speak and to say the names of our deceased trans family and Marti Gould Cummings called me and said, “Would you come and speak?” I had no intention of speaking. My intention was to just be present and to read names. I remember biking down because I didn’t want to get the train. It was my first time being out of the house in four months. I was just really nervous because I didn’t know how many people would be there.
I ended up speaking with no intention, and it was just a moment of unity for me that I don’t think I’ve been apart of in a long time. It was sort of my speech on Stonewall. One thing I hope I’m remembered for decades from now will be some of the words I delivered that day, which were about how much we need each other and how no matter what we disagree on or how divisive we can become as the LGBTQ plus community that we really are reflective of each other. And our experiences are so much more parallel than they are different. We need our friends and family that are in a condition of hierarchy or power to lend a hand when they’re able to and to support, especially cis, white, gay men looking out for black trans women at better.
That was a highlight for me. It opened up a world of opportunities to speak more and to bring to light more conversations around Black Lives Matter and Trans Liberation. That’s probably one of the high highs of my 2020, while a low low was just trying to breathe through my mother having COVID.
There were times where I thought she wasn’t going to make it. She had appointments with her doctor a few days after she’d sort of gotten out of the woods, and they basically said to her, “I didn’t want to tell you, but you were not going to make it, but you actually did.” Luckily she fully recovered.
But there were other aspects of her diagnosis that I had to deal with. Depression and our own personal fears can really get the best of us when we’re not well and when we’re not healthy. I think they contribute to our demise. If we’re not in a good place and you feel like you’re going to die and you’re actually not doing well, it’s just not a good combination. It was a lot of work for me to actually try to keep my mother from it because she in Georgia. She’s very far away from me and lives alone so trying to keep her up in spirit and optimistic was really difficult too. She pulled through though and we talk every day and she’s just so thankful for life not to mention her being so proud, loving and supportive of me.
On a more positive note you have a ton of new music on the way!
I’ll start with “Fierce”. “Fierce” is a single & anthem that is really dedicated to black women, black trans women & the community overall. It’s about making noise and celebrating kind of a throwback to the 90’s style where we’re giving you just that. It doesn’t have a real house vibe, but comes from the underground scene of the “work it” vibe. Ultra Nate, who is an iconic dance artist, was first on the track. Then I was asked to be part of it. It’s something that’s been a few years in the making. Lots of people think these things happen overnight, but they don’t.
The producers, A2 Productions, were all for doing this project. They brought me on and I recorded my part and then Angelica (Ross) came in and did her thing. It was one of the formulas that we never really thought about. The universe kind of got to it and took it, and we just ran with it. It turned out to be something really special because we’re each individually so dynamic in what we do. We each bring a different flavor. It’s almost a little bit of a Destiny’s Child moment. You know, if it was a Destiny’s Child work-for-hire kind of thing because we’re not a group but we definitely created this moment.
And I think the kids and the community really want feel good music. This song is for a lot of the younger generations to kind of have something to unify them and be like, “Oh my God, people are evolving.” Because the song is all the people that they know. And maybe someone that they don’t know. Ultra Nate may not be on a lot of younger generation’s radar, as she should be, but this is a way to sort of connect all of the thoughts. I think this year is really about celebrating black women and I’m really proud to kick it off with a track like “Fierce” because I know the hustle and I think we’re all hustlers at the end of the day and we’re all doing it by dressing to the nines, serving looks and giving inspiration.
And my EP, pretty one, is an experience I’m very excited about. It’s essentially about claiming your light, the journey of going through your self-discovery. Finding out who you are, and how you can own your power and your deity or your goddess-ness, comes with a lot of adversity. And we all experience that. It’s something that’s real deep for trans women of color, typically, and the resiliency you need to just kind of live through all of that and then to be able to celebrate yourself. So pretty one is a little bit of a love letter to my inner light and how we all have to find that pretty one within us.
So it’s kind of the best of both worlds then I guess, right? A little upbeat, little laid back, a little bit of everything.
Yeah. The songs are touching, introspective, poetic pieces that are also a group. It’s atmospheric. It’s an atmosphere and a mood.
I know how excited you are about the new administration. I wanted to ask you what are you hopeful for particularly with how they take on trans issues?
I’m really excited about them electing trans people and giving them space within the cabinet & staff. It’s great that they’re repealing and taking back some of the things that Trump put into order and getting rid of the stuff that really just caps us and puts us at a glass ceiling. And I think as trans people, we are more and more just looking for the ability to exist in ways that I think anybody can without having to be so othered and nuanced because of the journey of our discovery of our lives and who we are. I’m excited for them to create the space in our administration coming from the top down, showing that trans people are everyday people who can be doctors, lawyers, engineers, sex workers, your cousin, best friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, any and all of those things.
I think we’re going in the right direction. I’m glad to see that the inclusivity is going to be there. A lot of people have strong feelings about Kamala Harris, and I think one thing I would say about that is she is someone who really has wanted to be involved with trans issues. I’m still doing research on that, but I believe that she’s really here for lightening up what that means for the world and the conversation around trans women and trans people or trans folk. And even if there are people in political positions that often change their point of view, they start out thinking one thing or saying one thing and end up doing something different.
It’s really about the action at the end of the day. And people are always saying what they’re going to do. I really want this administration to just do the work, like tell us whatever you want to tell us because they’re really focusing on putting it to us plain and simple and raw. That’s like the goal of the Biden administration is to give it to us real because we haven’t been getting it real over the past four years. I’m excited for them to give us the real talk, but also the real action behind that.
I agree with you on that, and I hope the same happens with every other letter of our community. I really am faithful about these two.
I’ve lived as a black female American. I think there’s so many issues and topics that we keep discussing that are really, I don’t want to say they’re no-brainers, but it’s like they’re constantly stating the obvious in this country. We need to be represented by our administration in ways that reflect who we are and what we are as a country. And I think it’s, I mean, obviously this is the first time the White House is going to see such diversity, which is great, but it’s like better late than never, right? We should have representation. There should be Latin representation. There should be Black and Asian and Trans and queer. And we need to have all of those things at the table to really make space for everyone or else it just won’t work. It’ll be one demographic, which it has always been. And we have all been trying to curtail ourselves to fit into that.
In conclusion, besides all the fabulous music that you have coming up, what else do you have planned for this year that our audience should know about?
I am now a part of Out Leadership, which is an organization that centers LGBTQ plus people in the workforce and in the workspace with a lot of global contacts, corporations and businesses. I’ve come on as part of their trans initiative where I spearhead all of their conversations with companies and corporations about having trans employees, dealing with trans issues and what ways they could be supportive of the trans community. We have a monthly panel discussion that we’re kicking off in the first week of February, Another thing we’re doing in the upcoming months is a LinkedIn live series with Mila Jam and Out Leadership. I’m very excited about that.
I’m also working on a lot of other projects that haven’t landed yet. This year is really just going to be full of surprises & releases that will help me solidify my reign.