Happy Holidays y’all! It’s sometimes hard to believe that we’ve once again made it this far to the end of another long year and what an extremely difficult year it has been. While we continue to process all the atrocities that have happened in the past twelve months and beyond, we hope that you can find brief moments of respite and can huddle up with friends & family (virtually if need be of course), good ol’ holiday favorites and some well deserved comfort food. I know I need it these days.
We’re all striving hard to find balance and create a sense of a new normal and breaking molds within our society, from deconstructing antiquated civil systems or even the holiday traditions, whose historic motives we’ve only in recent years decided to question. Whatever the category, it is clear that from this point on, we’ll be continuing to head into new territory.
This month we’d like to celebrate the holidays by introducing a member who’s quite used to breaking molds herself in what she does best. Farah, who has lived here for about five years now and is progressively expanding her career as a foreign talent/model in Japan, was kind and willing to give a brief overview of her experiences.
Black Creatives Japan: So Farah, where is home in the US and how did you come to find yourself here in Japan?
Farah: I’m from Brooklyn, New York and it took me a while to get to Japan, but I was always interested in the language and culture. I studied Japanese in high school and college, just the basics though, and didn’t have the opportunity to do a study abroad program. So after I finished graduate school, I thought “I’m young, I still have a dream of living in Japan and using Japanese, so why not go now?”. I bought my plane ticket and ended up in Kumamoto prefecture.
BCJ: So you started in Kyusuhu Prefecture, very nice, and what would you say inspired you to start modeling/narration and how did you get started?
F: In college I competed in a small nationwide online Natural Hair competition. During the competition, we had to set up photoshoots for the theme given to us by the judges. It was my first time really behind the camera and I really loved it!
BCJ: That’s really cool! Can you recall your favorite moments during your career so far?
FA: That’s hard to say…but I would say being a host on television for a local Kyushu idol group. It was extremely challenging because they made me speak Osaka Ben ( Osakan dialect) and only gave me the script an hour before shooting. I didn’t have many lines, but at the time it was a bit intimidating, since I honestly forgot all my Japanese at this point, let alone could speak Osaka Ben. However, after seeing the show, many young Japanese girls found me on Instagram and sent me encouraging messages and support. I even took pictures with many of them. It really warmed my heart to see that I could connect with them!
BCJ: Aww, that’s really sweet and good to hear that you’ve already received such great support from the local community. Even so, would you say have there been a lot of roadblocks for you in this industry?
F: Yes, I would say the main roadblock for me is trying to debunk the “image” of how Japanese casters and photographers perceive Black women. This limits us to only being casted for certain looks and themes. It can be a bit frustrating when I want to broaden my skill set and push myself to become a better model.
BCJ: What drives you to keep moving in that direction you want to take and what advice would you give to others to do the same?
F: Honestly, I really enjoy modeling and I have fun being creative and coming alive behind the camera, even though I am a bit shy. But I think what really caused me to keep moving forward were those young girls, who truly were rooting for me throughout my first modeling job here in Japan. I posted it on my Twitter a while back, but I always look at this before I go to an audition or before a modeling gig.
For all you Black women entering spaces in Japan that you are normally not seen in. Don’t dim your light for those who refuse to see it. Don’t dim your light for those who treat you as if you were invisible. You belong. You deserve to be there. Keep shining.
BCJ: Right on, that’s an awesome message! Some people have been traveling here and there with extreme caution for social distancing, but where would you like to go/travel to when things finally get situated and we can get to a new normal?
F: To be honest I would like to go visit my home. It’s been 5 years since I’ve been back and this year I was supposed to go during Christmas vacation but unfortunately Corona killed those plans.
BCJ: I hear you and I hope you are able to physically be with them soon! So cheers to a better experience in the new year! And in the spirit of the current season, what is something that you’re thankful for?
F: It may be a bit cliche but I’m really thankful for all the friends and family members who have unconditionally supported me through my endeavors.
Thank you so much Farah for sharing your experience and motivational spirit with us! We wish you the best on your continued journey and to those who are interested in please follow Farah on her IG account: @afroabroad. And if you’re looking for a few fun social distancing events occurring in our local area:
For a bit of fresh air, come deck the halls and join us for the Holiday Roll Out charity event with @unitedwefallkansai on Sunday December 6th 2020 at 3pm in Osaka Castle Park. The cost is ¥1000 or ¥500 if you’re suited up in your best Xmas colors, and all donations will go to Stacey Abram’s Fair Fight organization!
Additionally, you can also prepare for the new year and clean out some extra skeletons from your closet with our favorite thrifty Kansai witches at the Vanishing Footprints Clothing Swap & Vegan Sweets Pop Up on Sunday December 13th at 3pm in Lingua World Cafe. Directed by our lovely hosts Taylor & Rosi, please bring ¥1000 to swap in six old items for new ones, eat some devilishly good treats, and stick around for a special donation raffle of various prizes. Remember everyone, stay masked up. Stay safe. Keep your light shining! Shop local, small and black-owned businesses. And please share information and/or if possible donate to our Black, LGBTIQ+, Indigenous and other brothers and sisters in need this holiday season.