Anna Akana | Moroccan Lounge

by Dona Ibrahim

I really do believe in empowerment of the self and that everything that’s happening is happening for you and not to you”—Anna Akana

Photographed by  Haley Lux

Photographed by Haley Lux

She’s a successful YouTuber, activist, comedian, actor, author— and now singer. And at only 29 years old, it’s clear that Anna Akana isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

With the unfortunate passing of her younger sister in 2007, Akana decided to pick up comedy and perform stand-up as a means of self-therapy. However, having had issues with anxiety and panic attacks on stage, Akana decided to venture into the YouTube space in 2011.

With an impressive 2.5 million subscribers on YouTube, Akana talks all things mental health, human sexuality, female empowerment and everything in between—all while captivating the viewers with her irresistible charm.

The LA-based artist can be seen everywhere. From a book shelf at your favorite book store, on your tablet, on your TV, and now on stage performing hit singles like “Intervention,” “Alone Together,” and “Pretty Girls Don’t Cry.”

Photographed by  Haley Lux

Photographed by Haley Lux

I got the privilege to sit down and chat with Akana before her electrifying performance at the Moroccan Lounge this past Wednesday in LA.

Ms. Akana, you are a woman of many talents. You are a comedian, an author, a YouTube star, an actress and now a singer! Can you tell me why you decided to venture into the music world?

I was doing stand-up comedy for about 12 years since I was a teenager and half of my set would usually be acoustic comedic music. But, as I’ve gotten older, I went through this really bad depression phase, and I thought I was going to kill myself—music is what really sat with me and held my hand and like comedy is great, but it’s an escape. Now I’m going to be 30 next month, and I thought “I don’t want to escape anymore, I wanna feel my feelings, I wanna process things in a healthy way, and I want to give back to the world in a beautiful vulnerable way and for me, music is….music is what that answer was.

You’re very open about the battles you’ve faced with mental illnesses such as depression & anxiety, addiction, abuse, and toxic relationships. Among your other forms of self-expression, would you say that making music could also be another form of self-therapy? You’ve spoke about it a little, can you go into more detail?

Yes! It’s so therapeutic! You get to write all about a feeling you have! One moment can have like 5 million songs in it because there’s so many ways to talk about it. I find music super therapeutic; it’s almost like closing a chapter on something that you’ve felt about.

Your lyrics to “Pretty Girls Don’t Cry” and “Intervention” are extremely empowering. Plus, I especially loved the LGBT representation in “Alone Together’s” music video! What sort of message are you trying to send to your listeners?

I really do believe in empowerment of the self and that everything that’s happening is happening for you and not to you, so that you can take your tragedy and you can make something beautiful out of it and also help yourself come out of it. If people take anything away from my music, I would hope that it’s ‘everything’s gonna be okay.’

I also wanted to say congratulations for your book being picked up by Warner Bros. for a series adaptation! Can you tell me a little about “So Much I Want To Tell You: Letters To My Little Sister?”

Thank you! We just sold the pilot! We’ll see if we get picked up to a series! The book is a memoir that I wrote when I was 26, and you know….a 26 year old writing a memoir is like wait a minute…(Laughs) But the book contains all of my life lessons that I’ve learned that I wanted in part to my younger sister. We wanted to adapt the book to talk about death in a real powerful, positive way. The show is about death, but it’s a half hour comedy.

How is it like juggling all of these responsibilities on so many different platforms at such a young age? How do you find the time to relax?

I schedule time to relax! (Laughs) I literally schedule my down time.

What’s next for you?

The visual album is being released track by track every month complete with a music video. I’m also going to Toronto from September and October to do a new Netflix show called “Jupiter’s Legacy” and then I’m writing the pilot for the show.

Do you have any more upcoming shows?

We’ll build a tour off of the success of this show, and I think we sold out? Or we’re very close? So hopefully we’ll be doing a North-American tour in the Fall.