Anisah Odums is a young African American whose curiousity about her origins led her to discover that the incredible strength of the African woman could have its roots in the tribal women of old. Project Afrikan American was born.
There is no doubt that our ancient culture has influenced our culture today, including our fashion, as Anisah said, “Many of the styles millennials wear today have similarities to the different tribal wear.”
We caught up with Anisah and talked to her about Project Afrikan American.
Tell us more about you?
I live in California and I struggle to find my own way, financially, just as every other person my age I think. Going to school and working the simple 9-5 (which I still do) was never enough for me; I’m a creative, and delving into that creativity keeps my mind open to the possibility that there’s nothing in the world I can’t reach.
I started modeling in November of last year as a way to regain the confidence I let someone else strip from me. I never thought it would become a serious passion; I was very camera shy, but determined to make something out of this. I’m in the middle of writing a book, I write poetry and spoken word, and modeling became, for me, a way to reconnect with those things. If I could overcome my stage fright, my shyness what couldn’t I do? as I got over the fear it began to open more doors for me in the creative world.
What inspired Project Afrikan American?
Growing up in California, you’re surrounded by so many cultures. If you listen to them speak about any of their histories it began thousands and thousands of years ago. Culture changes over time no matter what, but the pride, the honor, the important aspects of what makes a people unique is retained.
Now look at the black people in America. Where was my history? It starts with slavery. We never hear about what was before, we’re not taught it in school, most of our parents don’t know; so where is it? I don’t want to be lost. I want to have a strong sense of self-identity and I know there are others who feel the same. I accept that I am American, but what about my Afrikan?
Also! In America, there’s only one type of Afrikan: starving, Ebola ridden, mosquito bitten, skin covered in dirt, with hair matted to their skulls. Very, very negative.
No one mentions that there’s poverty in every nation you can think of, but for some reason we’re only shown the impoverished. What about everything else it has to offer? They look different just like we do. They have different languages, different landscapes, and different cultures within the universal. I just wanted to know where I fit. And every single one of them are beautiful.
Is Project Afrikan American your first project, and do you plan any more in the future?
This is actually the first project I’ve ever directed and it was difficult to plan that I HAVE to give so much credit to the team. I do have other projects in mind, I’m just trying to find the right models and committed team to help me bring them to life.
See the photos below:
Photo Set I focused on dance: the gracefulness and strength we see in their movements, even simply in the way they walk.
Photo Set II was more playful.
Though most women took on the role of nurturers and “farmers” we wanted to look at this one from a warrior’s perspective: if that was something you had to be taught versus if you had grown up with it.
Photographer: Deandre Evans
Models: Vanessa Ware. Anisah Odums.
Makeup Artists: Diamond Morrison. Corinna Ordoñez. Dejah Gardner.
Hair/Wardrobe Stylist: Anisah Odums