SHIRT: T BY ALEXANDER WANG. TURTLENECK: HILFIGER COLLECTION.PANTS: LOEWE. BELT: SUZI ROHER. EARRING: ERIN CONSIDINE. STYLING: ELIN SVAHN. 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.
“The greatest advantage to living right now is the internet. Visibility is invaluable. People are able to seek out communities that best fit them.”—Emmanuel Olunkwa
OCCUPATION: Student, artist. I am a photographer, writer, and filmmaker from Los Angeles, currently attending Eugene Lang College at the New School in New York. I have always been interested in photography, but it was not until January 2015 that I took it seriously and started planning shoots. I started making visual diaries and short films in October 2015 to see if I could do it and have not stopped since.
WHAT COMPELLED YOU TO TAKE ACTION? I had that kind of switch-flip moment the second semester in an Intro to Cultural Studies class, when I realized my blackness. We were reading the essays “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance” by bell hooks and “Stereotyping” by Richard Dyer. It was in that moment that I realized the weight I had been carrying all those years. The color of my skin is what set me apart from all of my white peers. I refused to be silent anymore.
WHAT ARE THE GREATEST ADVANTAGES TODAY? The greatest advantage to living right now is the internet. Visibility is invaluable. People are able to seek out communities that best fit them. Because of Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, one can engage with people who are more like them or share their interests. That exposure goes a long way.
WHAT KIND OF LEGACY WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEAVE BEHIND? I want to provide people with resources. Growing up, I did not see myself or my interests represented in the media. And that made me feel like my experience was not valid. It has taken me 22 years to love myself and the color of my skin, and I want to teach as many people as I can to love themselves sooner rather than later.
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