AMA ROUGE

Credit: Amelia Karlsen

HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY YOUR PASSION AND THE WORK THAT SATISFIED YOU VERSUS WORK THAT JUST PAID THE BILLS?

Dance has always moved me since I was young, but I didn’t know I wanted to work in it – at that time I didn’t really understand it was a job, all I knew was that I wanted to dance and would do so in my living room at any opportunity I could get. So in that sense I didn’t have to identify it. I think I’ve been lucky in that everything that moves me or awakens my inner-hype man has been very clear and I’ve decided to take risks and embrace it. It certainly hasn’t been easy and I’m still learning in all realms – dance, writing, food, but I would 100% rather be freelance and doing work that satisfies me than working in a role that simply pays the bills. I’ve been there, its soul destroying.

I do think it’s important and honest to point out that no matter whether you are doing work you love, there will always be those jobs you take because you need to pay your bills. This is a reality, particularly in the creative industry. So, always the aim is to do less and less of the work that semi-moves me and increasingly more of the work that fully-moves me, until eventually I am only doing the latter.

WHO WILL ETERNALLY BE A WOMAN YOU ADMIRE AND RESPECT, AND WHY?

I can’t choose one, so here you go, My mother, My grandmother, Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde.
For strength in the face of adversity, for leading by example, for unapologetically being themselves.

IN LIGHT OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HASHTAG #WHYITRIBE, WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO WE ALREADY ARE TODAY?

Because it’s so easy to get caught up in the future, in the next thing we’re trying to achieve and in doing only this we fail to recognise how far we’ve journeyed and how much we’ve achieved. How brilliant we are. I’m talking to myself here too lol. Beth Kirby summed this up well on her Raw Milk podcast when she said “there’s no arriving, it’s a myth…the moment you arrive the destination changes so you better enjoy the journey cause that’s all it ever is”.

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF/HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Yesterday. I complimented my friend Locke’s dance video on insta telling him he’s a BEAST! aka amazing. He responded saying ‘We are BEASTS!’ I haven’t been feeling very beastly recently (I’m in the middle of a rebirth post-burn out) so I was unsure of how to respond, but after a moment I thought, irrespective of how you’re feeling right now Ama, you are a beast, reinforce this, remember this. So I responded saying ‘Yes we are’. It served as a good reminder that we are largely in charge of our state of being.

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH?

Because we have grown up in a society that favours men. Traditionally we have been taught to shrink ourselves, to take up less space than our male counterparts, to act like ‘ladies’, which in my opinion translates as quietness, neatness, staying inside the ‘lines’ that a male society has fashioned for you. We must never shout about our greatness, about our achievements, because then we are conceited and brash; whereas a man is confident and self-assured. We must never get too big for our boots, because external voices / the media are always waiting to tear us down – often based on something irrelevant such as the size of our boobs, motherhood choices, what we look like with or without make up. Cue self-deprecating behaviour. It is easier. (A lie). It is safer. (A lie). It is learnt. We are unlearning.

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN?

I pause. I pause and in doing so I override the automatic snubbing or reduction of self. And then I remind myself to respond with grace, I remind myself of my inherent greatness, of my lineage and most importantly that I promised myself I would allow myself to be loved on – and this is one of the places it starts.

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA THAT WE, AS WOMEN, ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE
TAKE THAT POWER BACK?

Society is constantly moving the goal posts for women. One minute you’re too ‘this’, the next you’re not enough ‘that’ – if as individuals we don’t grow deep roots we will forever be swaying and bending whichever way the wind blows. It’s important for us to discover ourselves, to stand in who we are and to be ourselves unapologetically. This is one way we take our power back. And I don’t care how clichéd this sounds – it’s the truth. The gender pay gap. – We can build our own organisations, our own companies, be our own bosses. And off the back of this year’s gender pay gap report we can call it out, shine a light on those accountable and loudly continuously demand change.

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?

Because women require and deserve supportive, inspiring, collaborative safe spaces – whether that be in the physical realm or online. We need to learn that it’s totally okay to shout about how beastly we are. We need to know it’s totally okay to be both a work-in-progress and a Queen. We need to learn to trust each other. For too long women have been pitted against each other by
society and as a result have generally observed each other with a wary eye, and have been less open and vulnerable with one another. This whole narrative is boring, I’m so over it. It’s divisive. It’s beyond time that we realised our limitlessness and our strength in numbers. I’m so here for it.

Occupation: Dance Artist, Writer, Foodie

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Instagram: ama.rouge