We are here for another great professional highlight from GirlMuch.com. Introducing, Courtney Camille Yamamoto, also known as Milli Moto. An accomplished Actress/Artist-Songwriter/ Brand Ambassador, Photographer, College Graduate-Educator, & multi-talented entrepreneur wearing many hats in the process. Born April 13th, 1988, in Inglewood-Los Angeles, California.
I had the honor of attending RMC 2015 (Revolt Music Conference) where I was standing right next to producer, Dot Da Genius, watching Jhene Aiko’s outside performance from the side of the stage in Miami, FL. Of course, I also saw Mili with notorious ICM Partners booking agent, Caroline Yim, running around like crazy in every direction for Jhene at the time. I knew it probably wasn’t necessarily the right moment to bother her, & introduce myself. Which makes this Q&A-interview all the more fulfilling. It’s funny how the universe re-connects people at the appropriate time. Without further ado, introducing Milli Moto!
Milli Moto: Honestly, it took much time and patience. Finding your niche in the industry can be hard, especially when you are a multi-faceted person who just enjoys being creative in all aspects. I remember when I started acting, it was something different about theater and becoming a character, that I had never felt before in other areas of entertainment. After I finished a monologue or a scene, I just felt exhilarated and excited. I craved it! I knew I wanted more of that feeling and had to work hard to get to the places where I wanted to be.
Milli Moto: I love yoga because it makes you take a break from life and use your mind and physical body to literally focus on your well being. Through meditation and stretching, mentally you have to devote your concentration level. When I was pregnant with my daughter, my love for yoga led me to Pilates. Pilates is a little more active and engaging for me. Sometimes with a trillion things going on in my head, my thought process can’t stabilize itself as much as I would like. Pilates keeps my super active, mind more engaged, and focused on where I am and what I am doing in that moment. Now I’m a Pilates freak! Haha, I just can’t get enough! Probably need more lol
Milli Moto: Accomplishing a good freaking picture led me to photography. My friends and I always complain about how our guys or even other friends never take good pictures of us. I’m just one of those “do-it-yourself” kind of girls and I pretty much said “f everybody, I’ll take my own pictures and I’ll take yours too!”
Growing up, my dad was always the photographer. He was great with lighting, knowing which way we should be facing and he was awesome with focus, so in a sense for me it was like a no brainer. I see what I like, I make the camera and the lens work for me (& not the other way around), I shoot it, and tadaa a perfect picture! hehe
Milli Moto: Back then and even now, nothing has really changed. I was just working and grinding my butt off. I live in Los Angeles and at the time, Think Like A Man Too, was filming in Vegas. I had an opportunity for a role, I was willing to take, and I literally hopped in the car and drove to Vegas, went right to set, and got a hotel after working a 14 hour day in the scorching dry Vegas heat.
I stayed for a couple more days and after we were done filming, I drove back home. All of it was well worth it though, paying dues taught me work ethic and the meaning of sacrifice. With anything worth having in life, you have to ask yourself, how bad do I REALLY want it? What am I willing to sacrifice to accomplish what I want?
Milli Moto: Haha, I have to laugh because Jhenè and I have the best creative process in the world and I think she would agree with me on that one. She and I grew up like twins, we’re a month apart so we literally do whatever feels natural for us and when I say us I mean “BamBoo” or generally the collaboration of her art and mine. We’ve had so many God-given moments together, that we know whenever we come together greatness is in the making and we won’t have it otherwise.
If she has an idea or a spark, then I can supply the eye and the vision and it’s as simple as that. For “Sail Out” in particular, what you guys see is what you guys got. Jhenè and I drove out by the water and once we achieved some privacy we were able to accomplish the shot you see in the most tasteful way possible. I think our collaborations are special because we truly know each other’s heart, that helps a lot when mixing personal and business connections.
7.) Donnel: With such a busy acting & television career, what led to your interest in music, becoming an artist, & releasing music as Milli Moto?
Milli Moto: I’ve actually been doing music since I was 14. I first started in a couple of girl groups when I was younger. Jhenè and I were even in a girl group together for a brief moment. For me, I’ve learned patience with my music. I cradle my music like a baby and I’m a total perfectionist.
I have an issue with letting things go or releasing music that I’m not completely satisfied with. With my music, I use the “Quality > Quantity” rule. I rather drop a few diamonds then flood you with a bunch of rocks. So in other words, I’ve actually been creating music for years now, but just strategically drop bombs whenever I want to. lol I’ve learned to not really stress my music and I create it more so for the love than anything else.
8.) Donnel: I know you have a Master of Arts in Teaching English, with such an accomplished career in entertainment, do you even have to be an English teacher? Were you doing both at one point in your life?
Milli Moto: I was an English teacher for a year. Do I have to be? No. Would I want to be? Yes, eventually. When I taught English, I was in my graduate program at USC, working at 2 different schools, teaching 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th grade honors. I’ve always been very connected to kids in general, but working with some of my students everyday made me empathize with them more.
I literally could feel what they felt and were going through. With my teenagers, it was a mess. Their emotions were everywhere and home lives weren’t always the best. I did what I could to show them the support they needed when they got to school as an escape from their reality. Some people would say teenagers are dramatic and emotional, but honestly, aren’t we all?!
I decided to step away from teaching for the moment and concentrate on the entertainment career that I had already been establishing for myself because emotionally, I was drained. At the time, I didn’t have a kid of my own so internally I was taking all of these kids issues and problems home with me every night, literally wrecking my brain about how I could change their lives.
It was a lot for the young 22 year-old I was and honestly, teachers have one of the hardest jobs on the planet. They get paid not nearly what they deserve and it’s terrible. Teaching isn’t a 9-5 type job, it’s more like a 6:30am- 2am job when you count going home to grade papers and making time to eat dinner and do whatever else you have to do personally. My plan is to go back and become a Entertainment Communications professor at my alma mater USC when I retire from entertainment. My passion is there, I’ll just know when the time is right.
9.) Donnel: How is it balancing being a mother along with having a career in entertainment & business? It seemed like a very cool moment for you and your daughter being at the Disney’s Pixar cars 3 premiere?
Milli Moto: Balancing my career and my mommie life can be difficult at times but having a great support system helps. My mom literally lives a mile away from me so she definitely helps me out tremendously when it comes to my work. She’s retired, an awesome grammy and I appreciate her so much.
When my daughter and I attended the Cars 3 premiere, that was actually her very first movie ever!!! She loved it. The movies are totally her thing; chilling, eating popcorn, huge recliner chair, big screen…she loves living the lux life. hahah I don’t know where she got that from. #MilliShrug haha
Milli Moto: Apryl invited me out to a wine tasting of hers a while back and we hit it off right away and have been friends ever since. She knows I love my wine and of course when her wine finally launched I knew I would be the first one in line to support.
Apyrl Wines are amazing by the way, I’m not just pumping it up for kicks. If there’s any mommies like me out there, I definitely have a glass at night once I put my daughter to sleep and turn my shows on. I’m a deep, dry, red kind of girl! That Amei La Vie is too bomb for words! Seriously.
11.) Donnel: Will you ever release the record, “iRoll” prod. by Hidef?
Milli Moto: I did. I released it for free on soundcloud as a little #tbt treat. I sat on that record for a while, had performed it a bunch of places, but still never released it. One day I said to myself, you know what, I think it’s time the world hear this. I was just in that particular space at that particular time. That’s how I am with my music, just very much in the feeling of things. The feeling has to be right all the way around for me.
12.) Donnel: How did you end up connecting with Nascar and doing on air reports for the local news?
Milli Moto: Nascar had done a partnership with Toyota and at that time I was a brand ambassador for the Toyota brand, so the connection was made between us two and I was able to represent Toyota while attending the Nascar events. Doing on air reports for the local news was actually a role I played on the CW’s “Jane the Virgin.” I know it looked pretty real, but I was playing a reporter for the local Miami television station.
Milli Moto: I’m so random with my music choices, but I had been making these freestyles as selfie videos on my phone and one day I just woke up and said, “I want to start putting out freestyle visuals” and that’s what I did. Everyone seemed to love them. Some people didn’t even know I could rap, so it was great to have people see a different side of me they had never seen before. I appreciate everyone’s support with my #MILLIMONDAYS and #MilliMuse #FreestyleFridays.
14.) Donnel: How did you end up connecting with West Coast legends Dr.Dre & Snoop Dogg?
Milli Moto: I shot a Grammy promo for Dr. Dre for the NWA movie and that was actually the first time I got to meet him. Couldn’t believe in all these years, being a California native, I had never met him or even been in the same room with him before. He was super cool peoples though and I got to witness a lot of what he was doing for his community. It was really dope to see an example of someone’s growth and mindfulness of not forgetting where they come from.
As far as Snoop Dogg, I can’t tell you one specific connection we’ve had because we’ve had so many over my whole lifetime. Snoop is like a constant in my life, he never goes away, nor do I want him to. I channel his energy a lot in what I do and our demeanor’s are very similar. It’s kind of like having that one uncle in your family that you’re always around and has taught you a lot then over time you start to notice that you’re low-key becoming him too. lol Yeah that’s me and Snoop, never a dull moment on each connection or encounter. I truly admire that guy!
15.) Donnel: I saw you mention PuffyAmiYumi, how did you end up finding out about them?
Milli Moto: So when Jhenè and I were kids, well I’ll say teenagers because at the time I had just gotten my first car… my dad lived on Slauson and every time we exited or entered the freeway ramp to his house we would see this billboard with two asian girls, doing this cute asian girl pose, that sort of reminded us of ourselves. So overtime we would pass it, we would say “look at us! Puffy Ami Yumi!!!” and in our pictures we would attempt to replicate the billboard we saw. hahaha
We are some super silly girls, but we loved them because they were us in our minds. We couldn’t be them because we had never seen the show! haha Not sure which one of us was Puffy Ami or Yumi, but we developed or own spinoff of that anyways called “BamBoo Crew.” Now our “BamBoo Crew” is x2 because our daughters, Nami & Isa, became members too! We don’t die, we multiply ayyyeee!!!! lol
16.) Donnel: How was it making the official cover art for Childish Gambino & Jhene Aiko’s “BedPeace”?
Milli Moto: To tell you the truth, at that moment I had no idea really what was going on. I was slightly familiar with Donald, personally. We had gone to dinner with him a few times, but I didn’t know his music or brand. I knew the concept of what Jhenè wanted, but I went in blindfolded in a sense. I always walk into the room with really no expectations and it always ends up being greater than what I even thought it would be. That’s how it was with them. Both Donald and Jhenè have great auras and positive vibes, I’m chill af… it was like how can we go wrong today folks, let’s channel this John & Yoko and knock it out the park! Mission accomplished!
Milli Moto: Well, as far as music goes, I have a new single that will be dropping this fall. I also have two shows that will be airing before the year is over and a super kawaii accessory line that I’m currently test marketing, but will be releasing in the near future. The details are confidential right now, but I’ll make sure girlmuchdotcom is the first to know about everything. 😉