Afromodernist muse spotlight
photography — Vincent Rutherford
interview — Liana Jaime-López
Well-traveled and well-known, photographer Amarachi Nwosu talks creativity and her journey to Japan.
Give me a sense of how long ago you started on this journey, and grappled your sensibilities as a director, photographer, and writer. Where did you pull from?
I feel like I was always working on visual projects, whether it was personal, or something I could share with a mass audience. But, I think it started when I was younger, really wanting to document my travels. At a young age I learned that traveling was a privilege. Coming back and showing my friends images of my experience, I saw the change it created and it understood that it was something I wanted to do on a mass scale. At the age of 20 is when I really took it serious, that’s when I began developing short videos a scale for a mass audience that could translate in content that I wanted created.
How did the experience of living in Japan transcend into your more mature bodies of work, as well as your outlook?
Really, I just learned so much more about myself. I was able to hone in on who I wanted to be. Just in general the discipline in Japan is at a whole other level. People work very hard, that was the biggest takeaway from my experience there. More specifically, it affected my work ethic and the attention to detail I have while producing. When it comes to streetwear I definitely take to the Japanese sensibilities in its approach.
In general, I do think I definitely reference a lot of the cultures that have impacted me, having roots here in the states, Nigeria, having family in London, so in having an understanding of Asian, African, American and European cultures, I’ve been able to take from all of those things.
Now working in your own field, how do you feel about the landscape of women, particularly those of color in the workforce?
I feel like there are a lot of women of color in the creative field. However, there needs to be more visibility placed on these women, visibility that can translate to a mass audience. And with the visibility comes a certain level of respect. Women of color are doing great things, there’s no question about it. The ways in which they’re constantly striving for education; the rates at which black women are graduating is at an all-time high, figures that didn’t seem realistic 15 years ago. Women in the industry are breaking ground, and subsequently women are realizing that we need to support each other because we can’t wait for anyone to do it for us. We are really amidst a revolution, and talent has to be fostered and pushed in collective support.
"I gave myself permission to do what I wanted to do. I development more of a clearer I alignment within myself and God and from that relationship from within I was able to create content that much more in tune with my vision and who I wanted to be and who I will become.
Spend more time with yourself. Spend less time consuming and more time producing."
Who are some of the female forces who have inspired you to create a space for women whose genius you want to support and create visibility for?
There are definitely women whose journey has inspired me, for example Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for being an incredible writer and creating awareness about the African experience, and moreover the African female experience. I would also credit people like Oprah for just being a boss and really using media to create visibility on a mass scale, especially to motivate people, director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay, Grace Ladoja who was just able to take music and culture coming out of London and project it into the world, and being a driving force, all the while keeping an ear on the ground and making an impact there. Now growing older I can align myself with the vision of the plethora of women who in the last year alone have been given visibility and are pushing us forward. Growing up I can only really recall Oprah, and because she was particularly much older than me, the age gap didn’t allow me to see the vision she was pioneering. But in this this space now I am definitely in alignment with those ideas.
How do you feel the black diaspora culture and Japanese culture meld?
Historically the two have always been connected. However, there is a lack of information being presented that correlates just how much of an impact we’ve had on Japanese culture in the African American space. From historical context I have there is quite a lot of directly related history between Nigeria culture and Asian culture, particularly Japanese. There are instances where the connection is clearly made as far a pop culture references, and just how much we’ve made an impact around the world, which just goes to prove that Africa is the source of the sauce.
What was the moment if you can recall one where you realized this was what you had to do? And what is your advice as a young creative person for those looking to pursue a career in the creative industry?
I gave myself permission to do what I wanted to do. I development more of a clearer I alignment within myself and God and from that relationship from within I was able to create content that much more in tune with my vision and who I wanted to be and who I will become.
Spend more time with yourself. Spend less time consuming and more time producing.
What do you want to do with Melanin Unscripted?
What I really want to do is invite people to be the best version of themselves, despite their backgrounds, breaking boundaries and creating their own script. I want people to see that they don’t have to be subjected to the script that someone has given them in society and to be their best selves, and the best way to do that is living your truth. I want to shape a new generation to see a different side of content creation and really develop work that fulfils them and helps the world around them.
How have you seen the product of your work transform the minds of those around you?
The power in radiating good energy. I learned really early on, it’s that thing that really stick with people, the way you make them feel about themselves. I think in all my work I just try to make people feel empowered. I see my work, and my energy and my presence just stick with people in a way that makes them feel like they too can be a content creator, they can inspire others and really do what they want to, what is in their hearts to do.