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Kofi Siriboe is more than the handsome actor from Will Packer-produced Girls Trip and OWN’s “Queen Sugar.” The 27-year-old has been dabbling in the world of technology while integrating his love for 2000s nostalgia — a time of Sidekicks, Usher’s Confessions album and “The Flavor of Love.” What started as the star’s interest in financial literacy transformed into We’re Not Kids Anymore, Siriboe’s new media and lifestyle brand.
“In 2016, I came out to New Orleans to start working on ‘Queen Sugar,’ and that was a big transition for me. I was 21 when I moved out here and looking back, I was mad young,” he admitted to REVOLT. “I’d never made that much money in my life, and it’s been a shift ever since. Girls Trip came out 2017, and there were a lot of ups and downs in that transition. Mentally and financially, I had to adjust and learn a lot about being independent.”
For Financial Literacy Month, REVOLT caught up with Siriboe to talk about his new brand, managing his money as a techprenuer, and lessons that he wishes he learned earlier in his career. Check out our conversation below!
Talk to me about the inspiration behind We’re Not Kids Anymore.
I was mad young with a lot of money. I was traveling around, and I remember 2017, I was in New York, I went to London, Ghana, Barcelona, and I was doing all of this by myself. I was just enjoying my space and my money. When I was in New York, I remember thinking, “Yo, we’re not kids anymore.” The four words just came to me and and initially, I was like, “This would be a fire documentary, or it’d be a fire whatever.” I never did nothing with it, but I wrote it down...
Come last year during COVID, I was sitting here at the house in New Orleans and a lot of my old ideas just started coming back to me. Initially, it was the documentary, but at some point between that first inception and then 2020, I was like, “Nah, these words mean too much. It’s not no one-off.” I thought to myself [that] I should create a timeline and it’d be dope to have a timeline of everything that’s happened in the last however many years. I realized that’s really some tech shit in order to do it correctly. I’ve always loved Photoshop and all the nerd shit. I was like, “Man, that would be really dope on some tech shit.”
I connected with a Black tech dude named Julian Lane. He used to work at Flight Club, and he did a lot of the tech stuff as the CTO there. We’ve always been like, “Yo, we got to do something.” One day I told him the idea and I told him what I was thinking. I was like, “Bro, I see it clearly, and we have time to do it. You ‘bout that shit?” He was about it, we started developing it, and that’s where we at.
Why the focus on 2000s nostalgia?
I was born in ‘94. I’m a 90s baby. My teen years and the 2000s nostalgia is where I came into my identity type shit. I felt like we all romanticize the 90s and I think partly because we weren’t really there. From the fashion to the music, that shit is dope, but the whole idea is that we’re the next era. We’re a generation in ourselves. There’s kids who were born in the 2000s, like my little sis Yara Shahidi. She was born in the year 2000, which is crazy to me.
This is an era. Not only because of the people like Yara, but that was also where I became a young man. We know the 90s is there, and granted, we can always tap into that. But, if I had to choose a place to start, it’d be 2000. I was 6 years old and I can’t even remember that far back. Let’s really submit and focus on our generation. That capsule of 2000 to now really defined me as a young adult, and a lot of us ‘90s babies in general.
What did the launch of We’re Not Kids Anymore teach you about budgeting and really managing money?
I don’t feel like We’re Not Kids Anymore would exist if I didn’t really absorb those lessons about the ability to be independent. I didn’t have to go to anybody to get any loans, I didn’t have to ask anybody to fund this for me. I was able to fund this with my own money. Me and my boy, we’re self-sufficient and we’re young Black men with a little bit of a budget. Tyler, the Creator; he said something like he’s “an indie movie with a budget,” and I love that shit because that’s how I feel.
We indie as fuck, but we do got a little bit of a budget, and that honestly just means we didn’t have to go to no white people to ask them permission to tell our story. We get to really create this space independently, wholeheartedly and remain true because we got to work at our own pace. We got to talk about what we wanted to talk about, and there were no limitations granted. I ain’t got Oprah money, but I had enough to do what I had to do, and I’m willing to watch it grow, organically, into that place.
What are some difficulties of managing money when partnering with someone, as opposed to working by yourself?
In general, I’ve just been so used to being like a lone wolf and just be out here doing it by myself. I don’t have to ask permission and I just get to do me. I still get to do me, but the whole point of having partnership is because you want that perspective. Two young men who both are used to doing them and being able to be independent, it’s just taking that extra step to be patient with each other, and really be willing to listen, and be willing to give and take. Sometimes I’m like, “I don’t really agree with that, but I get it,” and then vice versa.
To be honest, with Jul, we’ve never really butt heads when it comes to money because we both have a love-hate with it. I love money a lot and for me, money is space. That’s the only thing that it equates. Money allows you to feel space. It’s all some joker shit. I love this, but I hate what it does to our people, I hate how they’ve used it to control access and to keep us out of certain conversations. You got to get it just to even the score.
What are some things about money that you wish that you would’ve learned earlier?
I’ll be very honest, I’ve said it before, but I spent all my money [by] season one. I had none of it left. It was one of those things where I already knew I was approaching a space that I wasn’t familiar with. Nobody in my family has ever had that much money. I was like, “I’m not even going to pretend like I know what to do. I’m just going to do everything.” I went to Africa, I shot my own movie, I’m taking care of the homies. Later I was like, “I pray to God we get season two, and come season two, I’m going to get it right.”
Honestly, every single year, I just got a little bit smarter, I tried to learn from my mistakes, and apply the information that I got from not knowing what to do. I had more conversations with OGs, did more research, paid attention, and slowed down. Of course, I would like to say that I’m a level-headed dude, but even being level-headed can’t prepare you for making a lot of money because it’s a whole different state. You have to really be humble and really admit that this is something that you’re going to have to learn. It’s a learning curve and the whole process of just admitting and acknowledging where I wanted to go, where I was, what I knew, and what information I didn’t know was very important.
What’s the importance of Black ownership in tech and media spaces?
We can’t afford to not tell our stories wholeheartedly. We can’t afford to dilute our stories based off of people’s perspective and perception. The only way to do that in a system like America is simply ownership. Beyond the financial element of all money and wanting to make sure I’m getting all my cuts and my splits, I just want to make sure the narrative is authentic. If I got to go through four white people to say what I would say to you right now, somewhere along the way, the message is going to get diluted and it might change. Now, the people aren’t getting the full story. Ownership is everything simply because if the truth is priority, then I can’t afford for nobody to get in the way of that.
What’s the importance of having young people in these spaces?
I think that’s why the brand is called We’re Not Kids Anymore. It’s kind of a troll because it’s like we said, what’s an adult minus time: a kid. When do kids become adults? Are you 18? Because we all know, at 18, you’re still a kid. I could say that I’m an adult when I’m 27. We need the Yaras. We need the kids younger than Yara, and we need the OGs, too. I don’t care if you’re 60, you’re still a kid. If you’re 50 years old to an 80-year-old, you’re a kid. If you’re 30 years old to a 60-year-old, you’re a kid. If you’re 18 to a 30-year-old, you’re a kid. It’s all perspective. What’s a kid and what’s an adult? We all have something to give to the conversation. All spectrums really matter.
How do you see media platforms like We’re Not Kids Anymore shifting the narrative around Black wealth and culture?
As much as I love being coined a media company, one of the other factors of We’re Not Kids Anymore is an education company, and that it really speaks to timeline. I feel like one of our biggest goals is to rebrand education as something that’s not boring or not cool. When was learning not fun? When was learning not cool? As a kid, that’s all you want to do: absorb and learn. As Black people, the things we’re given to learn aren’t usually aligned with our truth. The bullshit I learned in school and the things that I’ve been taught, I’m like, “Yo, that’s trash. That’s why I wasn’t interested.”
If I was actually taught about who we were, and where we came from, and the people that have done dope shit, I would have been gassed. We’re using media as an opportunity to bring the truth back to the forefront. While we can go back and bring things from the past to the present just by putting it in place, we also just want to make sure, moving forward, we have a space where, when anybody wants to tell the truth [when] or anything’s going on, we’re able to be here and document that correctly.