VIOLET GREY editors transform Adele’s “angel,” and boss bi$h, April McDaniel, from understated L.A. lady to the coolest girl on the block, plus 16 QUESTIONS with Netflix’s C.M.O., Bozoma Saint John.
Photographer NAJ JAMAI
Creative Director CASSANDRA GREY
Wardrobe MONICA ROSE
Nails JOLENE BRODEUR
Production GIANNA SANTOS
FROM THE DESK OF CASSANDRA GREY:
Please allow me to introduce you to my friend, fellow founder, and VIOLET GREY’s most glamorous board director, Ms. April McDaniel. To know April is to love April. If you don’t believe me, just watch Adele (yes, the Adele) declare her love for April before a live audience of her A-list peers at a secret show that you, at this point, have likely heard about.
By looking at April in these iconic images, you might find it surprising that she isn’t a model or a movie star, or even someone that likes her picture taken––trust me when I say convincing April to sit for a SCREEN TEST took some doing. Selfishly, I have always wanted everyone to know that she’s on VIOLET GREY’s Board of Directors (because that makes me look smart), but also I just want everyone to understand her unique brand of SLAY––she sits on boards, she leads a team of powerhouse women at Crown + Conquer, her company and the choice marketing partner for Fortune 500 companies seeking cultural relevance and general cool factor, and she does it’s all as a widow, raising two sons into fine young men.
As though being close and personal with Adele, who dedicated her recent album to April, wasn’t the ultimate in boss friendships, she is also close and personal with another female tycoon of industry, Bozoma Saint John, who is at the helm of some of the most incredible marketing Netflix has ever seen, serving as their Chief Marketing Officer. And for the interview portion of her SCREEN TEST, who better to ask her 16 QUESTIONS?
Bozoma SAINT JOHN POSES HER MOST PRESSING QUESTIONS
BOZOMA SAINT JOHN: HOW DID YOU COME BY THE NAME APRIL? WHOSE DECISION WAS IT AND WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATION?
APRIL MCDANIEL: All credit for my name goes to my parents! My mom loves the name April and my dad has a sister named April, so it was already decided. Then I was born in April so it was a no-brainer.
B.S.J.: HAVE YOU EVER WANTED A DIFFERENT NAME? AND IF SO, WHAT IS IT?
A.M.: Not at all. I’m not someone who is really into names. In some ways, it was hard when I was younger because of the jokes––April Fools, etc.––but I feel like certain things are meant not to be changed. If that’s your name, that’s your name.
B.S.J.: YOU HAVE AN INCREDIBLE SENSE OF FASHION AND PERSONAL STYLE. SO IF YOU COULD, WHOSE CLOSET WOULD YOU RAID?
A.M.: Kelly Wearstler! I really love her style.
B.S.J.: WHERE WAS THE LAST PLACE YOU FELT TOTALLY AT PEACE? AND WHY?
A.M.: I actually have two places: the Amangiri Resort in Utah and recently I spent time at the Hoffman Institute. Both places are incredibly peaceful.
I just want everyone to understand [April’s] unique brand of SLAY.
B.S.J.: DO YOU HAVE ANY PHOBIAS? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ENCOUNTER WHAT YOU ARE AFRAID OF?
A.M.: I don’t really have phobias but I hate being nauseous so I don’t go on rollercoasters or any crazy fast rides, ever. In general though when I feel scared or worried, I rise up and get an immense amount of strength when I’m able to overcome anything that comes my way.
B.S.J.: HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU REALIZED THAT YOU’RE THE DOPEST, FRESHEST, BADDEST?
A.M.: At four I was really secure in myself and very much okay with who I was. By five I was pretty bossy.
B.S.J.: WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE FICTIONAL CHARACTER? AND WHY?
A.M.: Kerry Washington in Scandal. I relate to her a lot. In so many areas of my life, work, home with friends, I am a fixer. I like knowing that I can rearrange things for people to improve their lives or come up with creative solutions to their problems.
B.S.J.: HOW DO YOU BEST RECOVER/RESET FROM YOUR DAY? WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO HACKS?
A.M.: I am the queen of treatments. I always joke that I have more appointments than Beyoncé. Massages, facials, acupuncture, getting my nails done, any new holistic remedies to take care of my body. Also on days when I’m not being pampered, I like to take baths and try to sit still for a good amount of time.
B.S.J.: WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT WHAT YOU DO NOW IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO?
A.M.: While in college, I had an opportunity to ideate, manage, and produce the kinds of events that didn’t exist at the time, but that my friends and I wanted to go to. And while leadership has been in my blood since a very young age, this was the first time that I was able to realize two remarkably pivotal things: 1. My innate ability to galvanize people 2. I possess the power to create the things that I wish to see in the world. These revelations just felt like my purpose had finally found me, more-so than me finding it.
B.S.J.: WHO HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN YOUR WORK?
A.M.: My future, ever-evolving, best version of myself is what I aspire to most and what continues to impact my approach towards being a captain of industry. My continuous journey to my future-self embodies various admirable qualities and characteristics of people from my past and present, which have changed according to the various seasons in my life.
Early in my career, people like Noah Tepperberg and Jen Atkins taught me the importance of a “great follow up,” and the need to be “consistent and thoughtful,” respectively. Amanda Silverman taught me how to be TIGER!
As I have continued to grow in my profession, I have learned other qualities from people like Maverick Carter who set a standard of “being great,” tempered with the poise of Savannah James who reminded me that greatness can also “be graceful.”
These days, as I enter into the current season of my career I have people like Rich Paul that remind me to make sure that I’m laughing and having fun in what I do, while Adele continues to set an example of what it looks like to “be true to you, first.”
Every single one of these are important qualities, characteristics, and mantras that I always carry with me.
B.S.J.: WHAT EVENT THAT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED, WHICH YOU DID NOT CREATE, WOULD YOU HAVE LIKED TO CURATE/DESIGN/EXECUTE?
A.M.: I will always love the CHANEL runway shows from when Karl Lagerfeld was at the helm. He was such a visionary. Some of my favorites were Fall 2019, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019. The beach was insane!
B.S.J.: WHAT’S THE ONE WORD THAT YOU WOULD LIKE PEOPLE TO USE TO DESCRIBE YOUR LEGACY?
B.S.J.: WHAT IS THE CHARACTER TRAIT THAT YOU LOVE BEST ABOUT YOURSELF?
A.M.: I love that I’m reliable and consistent.
B.S.J.: WHAT IS THE CHARACTER TRAIT YOU HAVE THAT YOU WISH YOU COULD CHANGE (BUT PROBABLY WON’T!)?
A.M.: My delivery–I wish I could communicate with more subtlety.
B.S.J.: HOW HAS MOTHERHOOD MADE YOU A BETTER EXECUTIVE? OR NOT?
A.M.: Motherhood has given me more drive and purpose. Knowing that someone depends on me makes me work even harder.
B.S.J.: HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE THE PERSON WHO WROTE THESE QUESTIONS? :)
A.M.: Boz is a friend and very much an inspiration. We have such similar stories, both being widows. I admire her for her consistency, love, joy, and magic. Having experienced what we did losing someone you love so much, it’s not easy to come out on the other side and be on top of your game. But Boz proves to me every day that I’m not supposed to give up. Her drive and support are everything.
SHOP HER BAG
VIOLET GREY Board Member, founder of Crown + Conquer, mother of two, and general bad bi$h shares the products she has added to THE BAG.