What’s your full name?
How old are you?
28 years old.
Where were you born/brought up?
Born in the States. Grew up in Italy, Nigeria, Denmark and UK.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a model, content creator and co founder/features director of a new publication, POSTSCRIPT.
What’s your ethnicity?
I’m Italian Nigerian.
How did your mum and dad meet?
I believe in a bank in South Eastern Nigeria.
How old were you when you became conscious that people saw you differently? What impact did that have on you?
I’m not sure there was an AHA moment as such. I had always been aware that I was viewed differently than my peers but because I had older siblings who I saw myself reflected in, I didn’t feel any particular way about it. Growing up in Nigeria, I was regularly seen as different but as a child I interpreted it as being more about my shyness than the colour of my skin. It was only really when I moved to the UK at 11, away from my family, that I was made aware of any racial differences.
Describe your most memorable moments when you were made aware of being mixed race.
Again, there wasn’t really a stand out moment. I grew up with older siblings who were mixed race so it was really normal in my household. In fact, we were the majority in my home. Plus my mother made a point to raise us being proud of our mixed-race heritage. Even though she split from my Italian father when I was very young, she made effort to still speak Italian with us at home and cook Italian food, regardless of us living in Nigeria.
Do you feel your parents prepared you for life as a mixed race person?
My mother constantly encouraged my siblings and me to be proud of our mixed-race heritage. As previously mentioned, even though she split from my Italian father when I was very young, she made the effort to still speak Italian with us at home and cook Italian food, regardless of us living in Nigeria. Both my Italian and Nigerian cultures were celebrated in my house. However, I don’t think she could have prepared us for the emotional feelings of belonging or non-belonging because her own experiences were so different e.g. the feelings associated with not being viewed as truly Nigerian by Nigerians or truly Italian by Italians. Those emotions and experiences are things that I just had to figure out for myself but it helped that I had older mixed siblings to guide me through the process.
What do you wish people who aren’t mixed-race understood?
I wish people understood that being mixed isn’t about chopping us up into easy to categorise parts. I am not half anything. I am fully Italian and fully Nigerian. I am all of my lived experiences.
Do you think mixed race people/families are well represented in the media?
I think we do see mixed-race people in the media, a product of being perceived by European audiences as more digestible POC. Yet I feel like I come across more white and black mixes than anything else in the media, so that’s something that also needs addressing. However, whilst they might be physically represented, I’m not sure that the complexities of the experience of being a mixed-race individual is adequately represented as of yet.
Back in the late 19th century/early 20th century being mixed race held a stigma, as it was clear proof of interracial relations which was seen as an affront to society’s morals. Do you think it’s easier nowadays to be mixed race or is it more that racism has become subtler?
Yes, I do believe it is easier to be a mixed-race person in this era than 100 years ago. We (or our families) aren’t being persecuted for our existence. But of course, there are still stereotypical and/or pre-conceived notions of what it means to be mixed-race. Not to mention the festishisation by the media. I always find it so interesting that people who aren’t mixed race still have such a strong opinion about mixed-race identity, which often presents itself today as microaggressions.
Is being mixed race a burden or a blessing for you?
A blessing. I love being mixed-race and I consider it an honour to be able to represent my cultural background. It’s such a beautiful thing that I take much pride in.
Have you felt a struggle with your identity? If so, how did you deal with it and if you are now at peace with who you are, how did you come to a place of self-acceptance?
As a teenager, I was so desperate to fit in (as I’m sure we all were to some extent) so I definitely struggled with my identity. Whilst at a boarding school from 11 years old, I struggled to fully connect to anywhere, mostly because I was away from my family or people who would celebrate my differences. I rarely saw myself reflected in my peers, so felt unsure of who I was, particularly because others seemed so desperate and insistent on categorising me - as if putting me in a tidy box would help them understand how or even if they wanted to interact with me. Trying to navigate through the cultivation of my identity as a teen was particularly difficult in the UK (outside of London) because it seemed like there was only one way to be and anything ‘other’ was outside the norm and therefore improper. As I grew, I found that spending time around people that celebrated my backgrounds, whether in familial, platonic or romantic relationships, helped me to find peace with being an amalgamation of various cultures and experiences. And that being a jumble of different things was just fine. In fact, it’s more than fine, it’s really very beautiful.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You can’t know who you are until you know where you’re from, so try to spend more time with both sides of your family. As much as you’re desperate to be accepted, don’t fight your differences and don’t worry so much about standing out. Celebrate your uniqueness.