We had the good fortune of connecting with April Yanko and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi April, we’d love to hear more about your end-goal, professionally.
I like this question because it really welcomes me to indulge myself! I think what’s funny though is asking about the “end of my career.” I’m sort of hearing it as “when you’re dead, what do you hope you’ve done?” My “nearest” dream is writing for Robot Chicken. If I was able to accomplish that and then –end of career- I think I would be happy to know that I’ve entertained people with a show that has entertained me so many times. But if I could accomplish all of my goals? I would want to create a studio mainly known for its 2D animated films. I love the nostalgic feeling of that style of animation, and with having a company, I would be able to help elevate voices to tell stories people didn’t know they needed to hear. I would also love to create the kind of work environment that makes people proud to say where they’re employed. I hope to also have created a few animated shows that I’m proud of, be in a John Green film adaptation, act in a role that people dress up as for Halloween, and publish at least two books. And lastly, I would like to buy Idlewild, the amusement park for children near my hometown in Pennsylvania, and give it a humongous makeover.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I like things that are goofy, weird, even gross, but use that as a way to get to a bigger message. I also like to make things that I would enjoy watching myself. That’s something I’m trying to embrace more, honestly, because while it’s easy to think “will people like this/what if they don’t,” the process is definitely more fun when I’m making myself laugh along the way. I am SO close to the end of post with my most recent short and have been laughing throughout, which makes editing a whole lot easier! It’s about a sentient sex butt, which yes sounds weird but I promise it’s in a good way. I’m also in pre-pro for a short I’m making with friends who are located in various parts of the country. I think I’m getting into a “production groove” finally, and I can’t wait to show festivals what my friends and I have accomplished together. I would say the challenge of getting to where I am now has been the ongoing process of accepting myself and being okay with showing it. I grew up in a way that trained me to be reflexively small. And while I know I’m strange and silly and can make people laugh with what I write and make, I also am easily sent back to that small space, which makes me feel inadequate and unworthy of the space I do take up. I can’t say this challenge has been completely overcome, but I will say that working with people that make me feel seen and appreciated, seeing characters I created being enjoyed by an audience, and just feeling a sense of community with others has made the process a little easier.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My boyfriend and I have enjoyed the trails by the old LA zoo, so I would tell my friend we’d go there and take one of my cats in his stroller along for the adventure. I’m not sure if telling the friend to see the walk of fame is a courtesy or a disservice, so I’d let them decide on that/the Hollywood sign/other “LA things” that are definitely touristy but also, like, I understand wanting to try at least once. If theaters were open, I would suggest seeing shows at the Pack Theater or at UCB, two places I’ve been fortunate enough to study with and would surely bring my friend a memorable time. And because some of my cats were adopted during the pandemic, many of my friends haven’t met them yet, so there would definitely be a lot of quality cat time on our to do list 🙂
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I really fell into myself when I started working on films with my friends in Pittsburgh. Benn Wilson, my dear directing partner for my first short, was so helpful with that process. He helped me learn from his incredible example and also showed me how to do the job on my own with confidence. All of “the group” in Pittsburgh, however, helped me feel like I could actually find success in the industry. How lucky I’ve been to work with such talented friends 🙂