Angelika Pokovba is a precocious journalist who is originally from the Carpathian Mountain Region of Western Ukraine, just a few hours outside of Hungary. She loves to write and explore, and she lives a fairly cinematic life for her profession. She's obsessed with Mexico City, mentions Marseille as the city she'll keep going back to, and is currently dreaming of visiting Panama.
A quick learner who pays attention to everything around her, Angelika is dedicated to her craft. I ask her if she has any favourite journalists. “Christiane Amanpour is the most genius person I’ve ever heard speak!” she gushes. She also finds Lindsey Tramuta quite knowledgeable and well-spoken. "Language helps us create the world that we envision and want to be part of," she says. She speaks six of them: Spanish, English, French, Italian, Russian, and Ukrainian.
When theSkimm first started, Angelika was an intern, and you can find her work in L'Officiel USA, Messy Nessy Chic and Frenchly. She's presently an editorial and fashion assistant for Essential Homme Magazine. But her work experience wasn't always so prolific.
"My mom is a doctor and my dad is a vet, but always did his own thing. So I was this sort of petulant, stubborn little kid, enacting her will on everything and everyone. I was a horrible writer," she tells me. "I was eight when I moved to New York City, and spoke very little English. I was awfully shy. I wouldn't even raise my hand in school until well into high school."
Yet somehow her dreams drove her to do big things. Like reading Andrea di Robilant's work in Departures magazine and moving to Rome at the age of eighteen to learn how to write from him. "I was still a pretty bad writer at that point," she confesses. "My Italian writing mentor was somehow not really concerned with my writing, but rather what I thought about and what I liked and wanted. He would tell me stories about traveling through Sicily chasing a mysterious dessert or little-loved, almost extinct towns in Italy. I didn't know it then, but he planted this seed and desire in me to explore and and not to rush writing."
We agree that artists need a better support system -- financially and sociologically. "In America, culture [as it promotes the humanities and the arts] is just not a part of our understanding and life as much as it is in France for example," Angelika says. The twenty two year old doesn't have a set life plan that's she's working towards. Sometimes when she's overwhelmed emotionally or in the workplace, she wishes she had more defined goals, but she says “it's not necessarily a bad thing” to live such an open life, and she prefers it this way.
"I like being alone, but I'm scared of being lonely," she confides. "I'm totally neurotic and a bit demanding. Maybe a little 'intense' too." But it is Angelika's unapologetically authentic nature that has shaped her into the woman she is today. She was a University Scholar with a full-tuition scholarship at City College of New York. When she realized that her university did not offer much time abroad, she created her own majors: International Journalism and French Language & Culture. [Read more about the City College of New York here.]
For someone who hates elevators, Angelika is certainly moving on up in the world. ///
RS: Why is Puerto Rico so special to you?
AP: It’s only a few hours away, it’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s just my “happy place.” I always say that I have family in Puerto Rico and that’s both true and false at the same time. My friend’s family welcomes me to their home like a relative and even call me their daughter. Beyond the natural beauty, tropical weather, and great food, the people are the nicest you’ll ever meet. No one ever asks me where I’m from there. Of course they can tell I’m not a local, but I love that it doesn’t matter to them where I’m from.
RS: I hate that question too.
AP: I’ve been asked all my life, no matter where I go, where I’m from. Sort of like, where do you belong? And I just don’t know! I don’t necessarily feel connected to Ukraine or that I represent a typical Ukrainian, but, American, I'd rather not identify as that either. I’ve gotten more comfortable with saying New Yorker though.
RS: What's a day in your life like?
AP: I hate saying this, but my life is somewhere in between Sex and the City and Devil Wears Prada. I spend most of your days going to fashion preview appointments and interviewing designers.
RS: You can also be found at every NYC party, so it seems.
AP: Anything and everything. In between all that I manage to write for the magazine too. My boss is amazing in giving me freedom to make my own schedule, but I do get very tired. It seems very glamorous, and it is, but there's always the life behind the lens where I just like to sit on my fire escape or go to yoga.
RS: I do see a lot of pictures of you on your fire escape. You're really an outdoor gal, eh?
AP: Yes. I have probably tried every possible sport. I absolutely love skiing and paddle boarding, and practicing yoga in Bryant Park. I feel like people have less inhibitions outside, in nature.
RS: What are the main challenges of your work and how do you overcome them?
AP: When I say that I'm a journalist in Paris, I get a sort of nod of approval. All my French friends actually read my work when I share it on Facebook (which is rare). Most of my American friends have probably never even seen my work. I'm not sure how to get past this but while I have endless perks on this job, it's not as well paid as you would think. I really wish writers would be better compensated for their work.
RS: You almost can't support yourself off of what you earn?
AP: I love my job so much, but it's increasingly becoming a problem. NYC is expensive.
RS: Speaking of expensive cities… tell me about your year in Paris.
AP: I lived in the 5ème right above Caveau des Oubliettes on a historic little street. You should go listen to jazz there. I was studying media and communications at the Sorbonne for visa reasons. Things were honestly very hard at first, but, little by little, I got back into writing about travel.
RS: We met in the Messy Nessy Chic ambassador group. How did you first get involved with Messy Nessy Chic?
AP: My friend suggested that I apply for an internship. I did. And I forgot about it. Then I broke up with a boyfriend in Paris about four months later and I was so excited to leave… the next day I got an email from Nessy. I obviously stayed.
RS: You've always said you want to be a 40-year old Parisian.
AP: They have so much class and confidence. I guess that being put down so much by this city you learn to just not give a f... It’s such an intimidating place. Somehow I know I’m not going to stay in NYC forever. I’ve been here most of my life, so I really think Paris for good might be an eventual step to take. Except that a fortune teller told me I’d never move to Paris. Who knows?
RS: So you miss Paris now?
AP: Paris changed me entirely. Somehow gave me confidence too. I dream of going back and continuing with that, but NYC's fashion industry drew me in.
RS: What do you love about fashion?
AP: I love that fashion is a community and it brings together so many people. It really takes a village.
RS: Anything you dislike about the industry?
AP: The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry. I hate that fast fashion exists. Fast fashion and couture are mutually bad for each other. It kind of forces couture to hike up its prices but ideally I’d rather have one expensive item, well-crafted and made by efforts of so many people than something that will fall apart in the washing machine. I still don’t know how I really feel about fashion but I think there’s a better way to make it work. Theory and Adidas and Everest Isles are projecting to go plastic free by 2020-22 and I think that’s a huge progress!
RS: What do you look for when putting together an outfit?
AP: It needs to be ME. It must feel right. I wear a lot of vintage actually.
RS: How are you a hopeless romantic?
AP: Don't even get me started. I find romance in everything. Waking up early to watch a "Paris wake up" by the Seine in freezing weather, roaming the streets of Williamsburg with a French stranger I met the night before. Also breakfast and coffee. My love life is probably the most interesting part: endless stories, broken hearts, and so many happy moments. Also, I guess romance doesn't only pertain to love. Life is romantic. Taking chances, being adventurous, and putting your confidence on the line is just as romantic.
RS: When was the last time you felt truly happy?
AP: Oh, I feel happy all the time. I'm the kind of person who easily falls in love with everyday life. Even a really fragrant strawberry can make me happy. Last time I was extremely happy I was in Mexico City. I was alone and it was Friday night so I didn't bother dressing up, but headed over to a bar a fellow journalist once suggested. I met someone special there and spent the whole night roaming around Mexico City's parks (don't do this, it's kind of dangerous). We then left the city for the suburbs where my new friend was playing a soccer game that morning and had breakfast at his parents’ house before I flew back to NYC.
RS: You felt like you had been missing moments like that in New York?
AP: Totally. On my flight back, I was smiling for five hours just reminiscing on the fling. By the time I landed he already had tickets to NYC.
RS: Have you read any good books lately?
AP: I just read Autumn in Venice, Ernest Hemingway and his Last Muse and I thought it was pretty good. I’m also reading Champagne Baby.
RS: What's your favourite bar?
AP: While I’ve been to many bars, my random favorite is a tacky bar in the Financial District (who would have thought?) called Underdog. The walls there are from like 1730s! It’s super historic, but all their cocktails are amazing! And cheap too. They’re just simple, good drinks and everyone kind of knows each other inside. It’s an incredible vibe. And they make the best grilled cheese and tomato soup in NYC!