Name: Michael Nelder Henderson III
Stage Name: Michael Nelder
Industry: Poetry, Spoken Word, Public Speaking, Facilitation, Personal Development, Motivation
Location: Los Angeles, California
KAT: How long have you been in this industry?
MIKE: I've been writing since 2010. For the last 3 years I've really been working in this industry.
KAT: How many people are on your team?
MIKE: I have a videographer, a manager, and a lawyer...so 3 people.
KAT: When you feel like giving up what keeps you going?
MIKE: The power of expression vs. impression. As a poet, I'm always trying to produce art that is authentic to my voice. When you've tasted validation from a piece of art, it's easy to write for the applause of people rather than the affirmation from knowing you told the truth. As a writer I'm always asking myself, what am I really trying to say. On the days where someone didn't call back or that opportunity didn't pan out, I think about why I began writing in the first place; as a form of survival, as a way to push back against a society that knowingly and unknowingly pushes you to be like everyone else. I think about how poetry was a gift given to me first and I should always treat it as such irregardless of people's recognition of that gift.
KAT: What is one thing you weren't prepare you for?
MIKE: People pay you based on your perceived value, not your actual value. Perception plays a role in how people view your art. I've been on both ends of the spectrum, where I was being paid for something and I thought, how they heck did I get here? I've also been in situations where I felt like my value was not recognized. My solution: to set boundaries by accurately communicating to people who I am, what I offer and what I will do and not do. I had to stop taking opportunities just for a check and take them because there was conviction behind why I was moving forward. Typically I find my value as an artist is perceived accurately in the spaces that resonate most with who I am and why I do what I do.
KAT: Who or what inspires you?
MIKE: Extracting the beauty out of mundane things, watching people fully express their passions, hip hop instrumentals, classical music, people's stories, vulnerability, good movies, good books, good food, meaningful conversations, spirituality, scriptures, being able to guide people to their own unique voice and then helping them to channel it effectively, my journal, just about everything inspires me. Even people who are lazy inspire me because I can look at them and see latent potential. Wonder what people are missing when other people sit on their hands.
Lately, Lin Manuel Miranda (creator/ writer of the play Hamilton), has been really inspiring to me. I love that he took hip hop and spoken word poetry and wasn't afraid to infuse this art form into theatre and history. I love the novelty in just being yourself and I see so much of that in Miranda.
KAT: What has been one hard knock moment for you?
MIKE: One hard knock moment. Actually a lot of my hard knock moments have come from faith based institutions. My assumption is that they should be on the vanguard of valuing people's uniqueness and gifting but often times, it's a harder fight there than somewhere else to be valued.
I remember one organization reached out to me to do a poem for a themed event. Up until the event correspondence and direction were regular, the poem had to be about a certain topic, certain length, rehearsed with the band, performed for a number of services. After I finished performing I was so surprised that the musicians and other who served were handed something for their time while I had to talk with the director about payment. This left a very bad taste in my mouth because I assumed that I would be valued. This experience taught me how to set boundaries, never to assume and to educate people's exceptions about the time it takes to create something out of nothing, rehearse and then present that body of work.
KAT: How do you stay organized?
MIKE: Organization is my downfall, lol. I have always had a problem in this area because I'm such a big picture person, have a hard time planning anything. I do have this website called "Trello" that I use. It's a project management tool that business use to collaborate and I've sort of made that into my Self Management System. It's creative enough for me to stick with so it's helped!
KAT: How would you define success?
MIKE: I would say success for me has to do with the inward expression of who I am matching the outward expression of who I am. I am successful to the extent that what I say and what I do is in alignment. I think my success is also caught up in what I leave behind for other people, what lives on after me. I am successful when people can see themselves in my art.