Cameron Russell

By
Photography Gregory Harris

Published March 24, 2016

COAT AND TOP: CÉLINE. JEANS: DENIM X ALEXANDER WANG. EARRING: ERIN CONSIDINE. BELT: VINTAGE. STYLING: ELIN SVAN.  HAIR: TOMO JIDAI FOR MOROCCAN OIL/STREETERS. MAKEUP: SALLY BRANKA/LGA MANAGEMENT. MANICURE: GINA EDWARDS FOR DIOR VERNIS/KATE RYAN.  PRODUCTION: BO ZHANG. DIGITAL TECHNICIAN: ERICA CAPABIANCA.  

“Millennials must become an activist generation. I hope we continue to grow our political capital, our voices, and our power, and that more people feel like there is a place for them in building a better society.”—Cameron Russell

OCCUPATION: Model, multimedia producer, and writer. I work at the intersection of technology, activism, art, and culture, figuring out ways to leverage the access fashion has given me to mass media to progress social justice, with a focus on climate change. I am consistently inspired by creators of culture who are creators of change. But I only became an activist when people started applying that word to me in the press. Same goes for the word feminist. I grew up in what would certainly be described as a feminist, activist household, but I don’t remember hearing those words. My mom always taught us to use as few resources as possible—we shopped for used clothing, took quick showers, and recycled sandwich bags. But we didn’t do those things because we were being green, rather we were being thoughtful and trying not to create waste. Sometimes I wonder if being labeled an activist nowadays has more to do with being public, with some degree of fame, than actually just living in a way that is considerate. That said, I’ve never been afraid to see myself as political. It makes me sad that the realm of the “political” has become so stigmatized and exclusive. Everyone is political whether they want to be or not. Silence is political, money is political, decisions about where we send our children to school, where we work, who we hire, the products we buy, the way we dress, the transportation we use—all of those are political choices. Millennials must become an activist generation. I hope we continue to grow our political capital, our voices, and our power, and that more people feel like there is a place for them in building a better society.

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES FACING US TODAY? The big answer is climate change. The one degree the world has already warmed is forcing millions to migrate, millions to go hungry, violence, war, mass evacuations, the list goes on. For a while, I really didn’t see a place for myself in the climate movement. My friends and I would have this conversation, “Why are we so engaged with other types of injustice, but so unmoved by climate justice? Our generation produced the Dreamers, the Black Lives Matter movement, Occupy Wall Street, a resurgence of feminism. Why haven’t we seen a massive climate movement?” But we have been fighting the right fights all along. The reason our governments haven’t taken sufficient action on climate change is that they put short-term economic gain before the lives of women and children, people who are black and brown, and people who are living in poverty; that’s the injustice our generation has been fighting. I think what we need right now, more than a piece of legislation, is more people who want change.

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