What’s your full name?
How old are you?
Where were you born/brought up?
London - born and raised.
What do you do for a living?
Singer-songwriter, recording artist and entertainer.
What’s your ethnicity?
British, Filipino, Sri-Lankan.
How did your mum and dad meet?
They both met in London.
How old were you when you became conscious that people saw you differently? What impact did that have on you?
I think I was around 5 years old… My mum brought me and my sister up single-handedly; my sister became very sick when she was young, which meant that I needed to go into foster care for a season whilst she was hospitalised. I was placed into different homes, all very welcoming, but I guess that’s when I started to become conscious of the colour of my skin and how it was different from the families that I was staying with. In retrospect, that’s when I learnt to keep myself to myself - I was quite shy and observant, and I learnt to blend into the background, as opposed to drawing more attention to myself. I guess it was later in life, when I started singing/performing, that I felt like I could safely step into the spotlight.
Describe your most memorable moments when you were made aware of being mixed race.
What comes to mind is my primary school teacher, Miss Walsh; I remember her saying often how unique and beautiful my skin tone was. She was a friendly, warm and ‘sunshine’ kind of teacher, and I remember how happy it made me feel to have the colour of my skin celebrated. In those moments, I saw my difference as beautiful, which over time, helped me to be more accepting of being mixed race.
Do you feel your parents prepared you for life as a mixed race person?
Not really; my mum brought me up as a Filipino, my education raised me as British, and I didn’t grow up with my dad so I didn’t experience or identify with being Sri-Lankan. It wasn’t until last year, after weeks in silent meditation, that I had the urge to reconnect with my dad and to independently travel around Sri Lanka. It was the first time in my life that I was able to comprehend this ‘other’ side of my identity.
What ignorant comments have you heard about being mixed-race that really rile you?
I’m not really triggered by ignorant comments. From my experience, I find that people are more intrigued
and I usually receive positive comments about being mixed race.
What do you wish people who aren’t mixed-race understood?
Being mixed race usually means that we have different races/ cultures that feed into our identity, so when we’re in a situation where one race gathers, inevitably there is a part of us that doesn’t feel like we belong. This sense of being ‘within and without’ affects how we see ourselves, perhaps like we’re not enough, or that we feel like we may need to overcompensate for our lack of being wholly one race, and this may affect how we engage with ourselves, each other and the world.
Do you think mixed race people/families are well represented in the media?
I think there has definitely been an increase in representation - more protagonists on screen and on stage are of mixed race, and I think the internet has given many mixed-race people the tool to represent themselves on a global scale… I think there’s more representation at the moment in terms of being black/white, and I’m hopeful and excited to be representing myself as someone who’s British-Asian mixed race in a public space.
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?
I think it’s definitely easier - with more time that passes, more people are aware, and there are more opportunities to grow away from holding racist perspectives towards understanding and acceptance towards all races.
Is being mixed race a burden or a blessing for you?
It’s a blessing for sure! Personally, I have two rich cultures to enjoy and to continue to learn more about.
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?
Definitely. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t grow up with my dad so this sense of absence and division seeped into how I felt and, therefore, how I approached the world. It wasn’t until I was 23, when I started to question who I was and my place within the world, that I started to do the deep work that is required to begin to face/accept all sides of myself. After my time in meditation, I realised that I needed to open up a line of communication with my dad in order to accept that he, too, is a part of me. I went to Sri Lanka, saw the incredible beauty and nature around me, and through direct experience was able to come to a place of peace within myself. I spent a lot of time song-writing and processing my experiences, and that time of my life has inevitably impacted how I see myself today.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be free! Enjoy spending time with yourself, with your own thoughts, and listen to what you’re trying to tell yourself. There’s no need to keep distracting yourself with everything else that is happening around you - just connect with yourself and you’ll realise that all anyone wants in life is to be happy. Once you realise that you too want this for yourself, you can begin your process from within. Do what it is that sets your soul on fire, and don’t let anyone, not even your parents, stop you. They have their own fears, but ultimately they just want you to be safe and happy - so trust in yourself and take that leap.
Is there anything more you would like to say?
Thanks for creating this platform! It’s incredible to find a space where people are talking honestly about their experiences of being mixed race, and to connect with others who are open to connecting with their perspective.