April Wilkerson, a Texas native and YouTube DIY icon with 1.48 million subscribers, recently landed a TV role as co-host of The History Channel’s new TV series “More Power” starring former “Home Improvement” celebs Tim Allen and Richard Karn.
We chatted with her recently to ask about her unusual journey to fame.
Tell us a little about yourself and how your interest in metalworking and woodworking began.
I got into building because of necessity. I couldn’t afford to buy the things I wanted to make my house into a home so I thought “I wonder if I can build them.” I borrowed a drill and saw, then spent all my free time in the evenings and weekends learning how to build the items I was wanting. It was a steep learning curve because at the time, there were hardly any videos showing people how to build things. So as I got more into it, I decided to change that and create instructions on how I was building things. At the time I didn’t know it could turn into a career or that millions of people would find value in them. I figured a few random people here and there would stumble upon them, appreciate them, then never come back. However, I quickly started to gain a following, so I’ve never stopped. I uploaded my first video in 2014, quit my corporate job a year later in 2015 to see if I could somehow turn making videos into a living, and thankfully I’ve never had to go back to working for somebody else. Now I actually staff 13 people of my own.
How did the idea come about to do YouTube videos?
When I first started, my main goal was to pass along information. I was so motivated to figure out how to build but the information simply wasn’t available to me, so I decided to take the long way of figuring it out as I went. After I completed a project, I thought it was wasteful to not take everything I learned and somehow pass it on to the next person that came along. So, I taught myself how to film projects, then how to edit a video together, then how to post it online so it was able to be found by the public.
You will be starring alongside Tim Allen and Richard Karn in The History Channel’s new TV series “More Power.” How did that come about? What do you hope the show accomplishes?
YouTube is now such a massive platform that when The History Channel went searching for a real life tool/project enthusiast, they found me. I had a quick chemistry test with Tim and Richard, and when I started the conversation off by explaining the difference between three-phase and single-phase power to them, the production company said they knew they had found me.
What is it like working with Tim Allen and Richard Karn? Have you ever seen “Home Improvement”?
I grew up watching Home Improvement so it’s a little surreal to be working with Tim and Richard now as a co-host. It’s a blast though. Both have very different personalities from each other but they are perfectly balanced and work together so well.
What is your “go-to” tool (or tools)?
I personally jump across so many different specialties that it’s hard to define my tool belt. I can go from electrical projects, to roofing, to furniture building, to welding and every tool belt is different. I’m a Jill of all trades and will continue to grow more knowledgeable in all fields instead of just focusing on one.
My favorite tool is whichever is right for the current job. Again, I jump across so many specialties, but what’s cool about that is now I know all the cool tools for each individual trade. These days, you almost can’t put a tool in front of me without me knowing what it’s for and how to use it.
How do you inspire or encourage others who want to build something but are afraid to try?
An awesome by-product of what I do is inspiring others. I started this journey by trying to reach those specifically looking for the information I was generating. However, it’s morphed into reaching people who like watching building for entertainment and general inspiration. Maybe they don’t end up building the same thing I did, but they take the general mindset of “if she can do it, so can I.” And that is 100% true. There is nothing special about me that makes me more capable of doing this over anybody else. ….well maybe my mindset. I have a very resourceful mindset where I firmly believe there is a solution to all the problems. You just have to be stubborn enough to find it. Resourcefulness is the number one tool in my mindset toolbox.
What does the future hold for you?
Who knows about the future. If you would have asked me one month what my future looked like before I found building, I would have had a completely different answer. Then the same thing if you would have asked me in 2021. My path is constantly evolving and what I’m doing is sort of unprecedented. I’m figuring it out as I go, but I can say that I got to this point in life by leaning into the things that make me feel alive inside so I don’t see any reason to change the formula now. I will continue to lean into things that make me feel passionate and organically motivated.
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Cover photo from April Wilkerson
Bob Valleau is a freelance writer living in McKinney, Texas.