While hanging out one February afternoon during Black History Month, Beedie Luminary Oromiya Ali made the decision to step out of her comfort zone and participate in an opportunity that she felt a sense of responsibility for.
Growing up, Oromiya did not often find herself represented across various forms of media. Now, as a young Black Muslim woman, she is dedicated to changing that for young girls looking to follow her footsteps.
On this mission, Oromiya had the exceptional opportunity to be a part of Vancouver-based commercial photographer Jada Jennifer Jimpinu Hill’s photo series, entitled “Black Education”. In the original article by DailyHive, Jiminpu states that “[her] photo series sheds light on the Black educational system in Canada… and it promotes and advocates representation, awareness and support for Black students in a school environment”. With permission from Jiminpu and DailyHive Vancouver, we were so excited to interview Oromiya on her experience through it all.
In an interview with DailyHive Canada, Vancouver-based photographer Jada Jennifer Jimpinu Hill said that “[her] photo series sheds light on the Black educational system in Canada… and it promotes and advocates representation, awareness and support for Black students in a school environment.”
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Hi Oromiya, thanks for taking the time to chat. Let’s get into it!
How did you get into this experience? What were you thinking when you applied?
OROMIYA ALI– I remember stumbling upon an exceptional opportunity that would help me step out of my comfort zone and embrace new experiences. The chance to participate in a photo shoot for Black History Month caught my eye while browsing through the SFU Student of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA) group chat. With a sense of excitement and curiosity, I decided to apply and see where this journey would take me.
Unfortunately, there’s a lack of representation of Black Muslim women so I felt a sense of responsibility to put myself out there, and to showcase the diversity of Muslim women of colour. I had never participated in such an event before, but that only made me want to embrace spontaneity and explore this new experience. I wanted to challenge myself and push past any insecurities or doubts I had, to fully immerse myself in this opportunity and make the most of it. And so, with a leap of faith, I applied to be a part of the photo shoot.
Ok, so that notification popped up on your phone asking you what you’d like to wear, the details of the shoot, etc. What did that feel like?
When I received the news that I was selected to participate in the photoshoot, I was filled with a mixture of nerves and excitement. I could not wait to embark on this new adventure and explore what it had in store for me. Jennifer, the talented photographer assigned to capture the essence of Black History Month, was a true gem throughout the entire process. Her kindness and helpfulness made the experience even more memorable.
From the very beginning, Jennifer provided valuable inspiration for outfit ideas, assisting me in choosing the perfect ensembles that would accentuate my features and make me feel confident. Being my first time participating in a photoshoot, I was a bit anxious, but Jennifer’s supportive demeanour and the relaxed atmosphere that she created made all the difference. She made sure that I was comfortable and at ease during the entire process. For the photoshoot, we needed to showcase three different outfits, and Jennifer was there every step of the way to guide me in selecting the perfect attire that complimented my style and personality. Her eye for detail and creativity helped bring out the best in me. In addition, one thing that made me feel at ease was the location of the shoot, which was held at SFU, the school that I am attending. Being in a familiar environment helped me to relax and be myself, making the experience even more enjoyable.
Talk about the schedule on the day of. Share some photos of you on set!
The day of the photoshoot was packed with excitement and anticipation, with the schedule packed with things that kept us busy from the moment we arrived at SFU early in the morning. Jennifer quickly set the tone for the day, providing us with an overview of the looks we would be working on, and getting us prepared for each look. For our first look, we made our way to the locker area, where we took our first shots. The day was off to a fantastic start, and the energy among the team was amazing.
Adding to the excitement of the day was Daily Hive Vancouver, who was present to document the event and interview Jennifer, the brilliant photographer behind the lens. During the interview, Jennifer shared her vision and advocacy for using photography to educate and shed light on the significance of Black education. Moreover, our second look was us in athletic wear and so we headed to the gym to take some shots. It was an exhilarating experience, and Jennifer’s talent and creativity truly shone through as she captured the essence of our unique styles and personalities.
How has this experience transformed into something more? Tell us about how that shifted your perspective, what you learned, and how you feel now.
Overall, this experience was a defining moment for me, and one for the books. As a first-timer, I was a little nervous at the beginning, surrounded by experienced individuals who were well-versed in photoshoots and modelling. But as the day progressed, I began to feel more confident and felt proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and representing my Muslim and Black identity. Through this experience, I learned the value of being spontaneous and the importance of taking chances. I never would have thought that putting myself forward for this opportunity would yield such incredible results, including the overwhelming support and encouragement I received from those around me. Seeing the final product of the photo shoot was truly an awe-inspiring moment for me. It was amazing to hear from so many individuals who told me how much my representation meant to them.
Being Black and Muslim is such an integral part of my identity, and I knew that I had to use this platform to amplify the voices of other Black Muslim individuals. Meeting other Black individuals at the photo shoot was an enlightening experience for me as well. I learned so much from them, and it was heartening to be surrounded by people who shared similar experiences and perspectives. Their kindness and positivity throughout the day helped to create a welcoming and inclusive environment that made me feel comfortable and supported. In the end, this photo shoot was a truly transformative experience, one that allowed me to embrace my true identity and celebrate the richness and diversity of Black culture.
Thanks, Oromiya. We’re so proud of you.
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