"I was teased a lot about the colour of my skin."
Akiva Rose Pacey is an inspiring young Indigenous woman with big dreams. We recently sat down with Akiva to reflect on her experience modelling for Gillawarra Arts and her views on positive body image, representation and the importance of youth having strong role models. Being closely connected to the ocean, she has strong views about climate change, and wishes to be an environmental advocate and believes that the heart is the embodiment of beauty.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who’s ya mob, how old are you and where are you from?
A: I’m kiva, I’m 16 years old and I’m Worimi/Biripi from Forster, NSW.
You recently have been featured in Gillawarra Arts campaign, how was that experience and why did you want to model for Gillawarra Arts?
A: My experience was great and I’d do it a thousand times again! Because this is an Indigenous business and because it was created from my mob I love feeling like I’m at one with my culture and ancestors.
Q: What are some of your favourite pieces in Gillawarra Arts’s collection and why?
A: I absolutely love the 3 tier shell necklaces [Gathang Necklace] because when I wear them I feel like they were made for me. I love the ocean and they are so beautiful.
Q: What are your hobbies or favourite things to do?
A: I also make jewellery, I was taught by my Aunty Krystal (business owner) and singing.
Q: What something people don’t know about you?
A: I’m really passionate about the environment and all things to do with wildlife.
Q: How did you get into modelling? What other brands have you modelled for?
A: My mum got me into modelling from a young age. I've modeled for big names like Myers, David Jones and Big W. At the time, I modelled under an agency called Bambini Elite.
Q: Who are you role models and why?
A: I have 2 big role models, Samantha Harris, she’s the first Aboriginal model I saw growing up. I used to cop a lot about the colour of my skin but she made me think I could be anything. My other role model and most influential person in my life would be my Aunty Krystal, she taught me how to make jewellery and made me realise I could get far in life.
Q: Do you feel the pressure of modern beauty standards? What advice would you give to young girls?
A: Yes, but you've always got to remember no matter what size, colour, shape, anything! Being real and kind is the most beautiful thing. Your heart is what makes you beautiful.
Q: What are your goals and aspirations?
A: My big goals are to some day contribute to saving the Great Barrier Reef and to educate people on my culture and help with environmental issues impacting our Country and communities.
Q: What advice would you give to young Indigenous people interested in getting into the fashion industry?
A: Do what ever you strive to do! It doesn’t matter where you start from as long as you know what you want, you can achieve it!