An Pham is an Art Director and hair colour specialist at Roman K Salon in Tribeca, New York. Having worked in the hair design field before leaving New Zealand in 2005 she is regarded as one of the world’s leading hair colour specialists.
For a Kiwi living in the US at present – through Covid-19 and now national unrest as the Black Lives Matter movement continues to push against institutionalized racism for African-Americans, the Art Director/Colour Specialist said on Instagram:
In 2020 it is a confronting reality to exist as an Asian minority and the daughter of immigrant parents from Vietnam and still understand that it is a privilege, in America to be that, and not a young black male.
Last week, Twitter itself decided President Trump’s tweet, threatening to release the US national guard on protesters, was a glorification of violence and took it down. An says this has been going on for African-Americans for too long now and that protests she’s participated in have been peaceful and “beautiful moments” to be a part of. Reiterating the importance of the media’s role in society, she says in the interview below more focus should be put on those moments.
Watching Lil Wayne’s new interview series on Young Money radio, Dr Dre told Wayne “this one feels different” referring to the awareness that’s being raised for George Floyd globally. Other black leaders have also echoed this sentiment.
She highlights the kindness she’s experienced during Covid-19 – because of social distancing restrictions she has been unable to work – but some of her clients have gone the extra mile to send her money and make sure she keeps her head above water. America still has the most Covid-19 deaths in the world and the possibility of going back to work still feels uncertain, but An says there’s no one to blame at ground level. For her, social progress and survival is orientated around kindness, self-reflection and love for those in her proximity.
Also a teacher, her boss Roman K described her style on his website:
An is a “World-class, ground-breaking educator across all courses. With her charismatic personality, creative ability and enthusiastic teaching style, she consistently provides an abundance of inspiration to both aspiring and experienced talent”. Her editorial work has been published in leading publications and includes work with Nike, British Vogue, Kiosk, Vice, Hard eats and Remix magazines.
S: What’s it like not being able to work right now?
A: The work thing is incredibly difficult, our lockdown date keeps extending because New York City is so densely populated that we can’t get the numbers down far enough right now for Phase 1 to begin.
S: Can you describe what it’s like to be going through the pandemic in New York, not having work, and now in the climate of the riots and Trump threatening the US military on protestors?
A: We have been in lockdown now for close to three months, and as per our visas, we aren’t eligible for any government funding/ benefits on unemployment. Technically being unemployed for over 60 days on my visa cancels it, so I am currently on furlough with my employer.
As for the riots, I think the focus shouldn’t be on that, and that is the problem with the media, that questions go to it. It is only a small percentage of what is happening right now in the states and New York. The focus should be that everyday I walk with thousands of others in peaceful protest and for awareness, and it is a moving thing to be a part of.
S: As someone who’s grown up in NZ it must be a very disorienting juxtaposition you find yourself in?
A: I don’t know if it is disorienting, because as Kiwis we are very in touch with what happens all around the world. This has been happening for a long time, it’s just now a time for me to be completely immersed in it and help seek change.
S: How long have you been in New York and what do you do there?
AP: I have been in NYC now for two and a half years as an Art Director and colour specialist in hairdressing for Roman K Salon.
S: Where is home for you?
A: New York is definitely home for me now. Even though I have deep love for New Zealand, this is where I am happiest and thriving.
S: When’s the last time you were in NZ?
A: I visited New Zealand for the first time in five years in February. Before New York, I was living in London.
S: Where do you live in NY?
A: I live in the East Village in Manhattan.
S: Describe your experience of lockdown in the US?
A: The lockdown has been difficult. New York City is so vibrant and engaging because of the people who are in it. And when you take that away you are left with a bunch of concrete buildings. This is when being in New Zealand is so incredible. Being in isolation in such a beautiful place isn’t so bad.
S: What are some of the best things of human behaviour you feel has happened or that you’ve seen?
A: There has been a great sense of community coming together even though we are all separated. I have had clients send me money for no other reason than to make sure I still have my head above water, I’ve opened my window everyday at 7pm to hear the city cheer and clap for our essential workers, and I’ve seen struggling small businesses have community support through gofundme’s, just to name a few.
S: What’s been the worst?
A: The worst is fear, and with fear comes blame.
S: What are your personal feelings of living in a country run by Trump?
A: You know it’s hard to watch the way we have handled this pandemic, especially when I am looking back at New Zealand and the way Jacinda has been handling the situation with such a compassionate touch, but it is what it is and there is no point blaming anybody. We just have to be kind, strong and work through and overcome.