iemi Hernandez-Kim is a Girls Write Now mentee alumna from 2003-2006. She’s excited to be an employee of an organization that brought her so many opportunities over a decade ago. She graduated from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and worked in advertising with brands such as Carol’s Daughter and Tiffany’s. She’s a member of the Children’s Media Association. She loves Blue’s Clues, Riverdale, Pretty Little Liars, and Pocoyo.
Before joining Girls Write Now, you experienced the program up close as a mentee. What is it about Girls Write Now that resonates with you? And why did you return/what do you hope to give back and learn in your new staff roles?
I was 14 years old when I went to my first Girls Write Now workshop. The old location was in Union Square. Modern windows and zig-zag layout. I ate hummus for the first time ever. The mentor who told me about Girls Write Now had a tattoo of a circle on her wrist. The second mentor to talk to me wore a black and white jumpsuit that flared at the bottom. I was awkward and they stood with their shoulders leaned back.
I remember the atmosphere that I was introduced to more than anything. Girls Write Now provided me with a scholarship to Columbia University’s summer program. I went to an HBO reading of the Def Poetry Jam. I read my work out loud to literally hundreds of people at major venues.
More than 10 years later and I’m back —28 years old and a pretty decent adult.
Before this I was working in advertising as an editor/animator. I am passionate about young adult TV and writing. Working with curriculum is very new to me so I’m learning a lot. I hope to build upon all my new and old skills.
What experience can you share with us from your time in the program?
Whenever I look at the mentees I see so much of myself in them. It brings me back to that age. I’ve already had a lot of experiences in the short time I’ve been on staff but that teenage nostalgia is what I enjoy the most.
Who are your mentors and what have they taught you?
I think my older brother is my latest mentor. He rollerblades and has a dog. Really chill guy. So he tells me to chill out a lot. However he doesn’t walk around with rose-colored glasses. I like that about him.
What was the last book you read that you’d love to see incorporated into the Girls Write Now curriculum?
PreSchool Clues by Angela C Santomero. Angela is the creator of my favorite show, Blue’s Clues. I got my copy signed by her because Blue’s Clues is amazing.
Any last thoughts that you want to share with the community?
Well…I’m a proud member of the LGBTQIA community. Right before I came out, I thought that the only thing that was going to change would be my dating life. I was wrong. Everything changed. Even my socks felt different. I never thought that falling in love with how delightfully queer I am would be the one thing to ground my feet. Fighting for one’s safety and identity has a tendency to unearth unshakable confidence. I believe self assurance is vital to everyone in every walk of life — especially to teenage girls who usually lack it. This is just how I got mine. I hope I can bring a sense of calm security to the mentees at Girls Write Now and beyond.