Awesome interview sesh with blogella Diamond Newman.
Philadelphia. Early 2011.
I know your tired of seeing me in these leggings but I love em.
Throwback Chasefranco: The CREATIVE OOOH Series: Abena Ansah
(Photography: Vanessa Stella/ Creative Direction: Diamond Newman. 2010)
Leopard leggings, pink and blue stripped socks, black booties and a self-proclaimed, “white George Washington shirt” is what she wore as she walked up to my car. Her very cropped black hair cut was included. She applied her red lipstick as if we were going to a Nylon Magazine party at 3 in the afternoon. Her loud personality and geniune realness was already applied long before this encounter. This day was going to be interesting, of course. It’s Abena, bitch!
When I first decided to do this ” CREATIVE OOOH” series, Abena was the first person to come to mind! The CREATIVE OOOH series profiles people that give you expression, give you creativity in any segment and give you passion. “OOOH”. Abena does all of that. She exhudes self-expression, she exudes herself. Expect random blurts of Nicki Minaj quotes, despite Abena labeling the hip-hop chick “a gimick”. At the same time, expect the wisest shit that you will ever hear on a college campus; it’s like you’re speaking to Oprah, Cornel West and your grandmother all at once. Expect boldness and crazy shit. I mean the “say how you feel and feel what you say” crazy shit. You rarely experience that. That’s crazy shit.
Abena. Vanessa Stella. Me. Germantown, Philadelphia. Bargain Thrift Store.
Diamond Newman: What comes to your mind when you think of “a creative”?
Abena Ansah: A creative person/place/thing holds no bars. [This creative] is completely 100 with letting others view their most vulnerable feelings.
DN: Give me three words that should never describe “a creative”?
AA: I don’t get this question. Three words that DON’T describe a creative? Different. Original. Misunderstood. These are words to describe everyone in the human race. Yes even the person who chooses to work a 9-5.
As we walked through Bargain Thrift, I watched her as she swayed. She never seemed insecure by the stares that her image received. There were plenty of looks. That outfit was for the MIAs of the world. It’s no suprise that “underground” fashion icons such as Grace Jones reflect her style.
DN: Who or what are your inspirations, in terms of helping you to shape who you are as a stylistic and “expressionistic” individual?
AA: Melody Ehsani– She is spiritually in-tune with the spiritual world. Vashtie– She does not fall victim to the industry’s pressure of what a girl in the music industry should look like. Grace Jones– She realized that her gift was her flaw and her flaw was her gift. Grace made it into a success. Erykah Badu– She just isn’t of this world. You need people like that. Lupe Fiasco– I like to get inspired by people who are the best to themselves but not by everyone else. It shows a true fighter spirit. My Mom– She is funny.
DN: People mainly notice you for your style, how would you describe your style?
AA: You can’t describe it, unless you felt like it. My style is indescribable. My closet is full of surprise pieces. It’s a wonderland that keeps you wondering what I’ll pull out next. If I had to use a word? Eccentric and fun. For a long time I wasn’t into fashion, though. I wasn’t with what the fashion industry was doing. Sweatshops, their “idea of beauty”, and this [fierceness] that was needed to get in. I wasn’t into that.
DN: Do you feel that as a woman you are, almost, forced to be attracted to fashion?
AA: (Laughs) Almost seems that way. Personally, no. But, the new way women are being confined and forced to conform [deserves a] “yes” through fashion. It’s as if that is the only thing you’re supposed to care about. Girls don’t realize they can be authors and DJs. We don’t have to be designers or buyers. We also don’t always have to be fly.
DN: I know your real passion is acting. What do you have going on with that?
AA: I was in an acting program from 3rd grade to 12th grade. I’ve taken classes at HB studios in New York. As of now, no work. But that’s why I keep playing the vivid image of me winning an Oscar over and over again in my head because I know God will lead me there.
DN: What medium of acting are you looking to get into?
AA: Diamond, I told you this before. TV and movies.
DN: Abena, no you didn’t. Anywho, are there any other projects that you are currently working on?
AA: I’m working on Amor Fati, my blog/website. Amor Fati is Latin for “love of one’s fate”. It was Neitzche’s theory that we should accept the fate that we were given at birth. Nobody can control their fate, it was given to you by God. Once you’ve realized what you are really meant to do on this Earth, you have to take that craft to its fullest potential. So with my blog I will be mentioning, photographing, exploiting and interviewing people I feel who have taken life into their own hands.
DN: What are your views on Nicki Minaj? I think she just might be your bestfriend.
AA: She’s an industry gimic, of course. Shes’s a puppet, and Lil’ Wayne is the puppetmaster. She is the Lady Gaga of hip-hop. She’s not who she is. I grew up on Lil’ Kim, so I will always be a Kim fan. Nicki is hot right now and Lil’ Kim was hot then, no comparison. She is entertaining, but as an MC? I am not “Team Nicki”. Oddly enough, I can spit her ‘Monster’ verse verbatim.
DN: Yes, Abena! We ALL know that you are the African version of Nicki Minaj. [Laughs]. But, what thin line is there, if there is one, between entertainment and artistry? Which one are you going for?
AA: The line between entertainment and artistry is not there. They are interchangeable. From actors, directors and music producers, to rappers and singers, art is the execution of a person’s perspective on a subject. They are all giving us their own piece of art as they perceive it. So as an actress I am entertaining in an art form. You should advance and become better, not a joke. I know I’ll have to do stupid dumb love movies before I get to Oscar-winning movies.
DN: Why is expression important?
AA: If you don’t express yourself, you’ll turn into stone?
DN: So your hair is definetly a reflection of your current expression exercises. Am I right?
AA: TOPSHOP. Not exactly this. But, working at TOPSHOP in New York changed everything for me spiritually, physically…and everything. Everything was changing. I started observing and looking. If a bitch can walk in with a fur coat on for a 9-5, I can be confident in myself. I can wear my cut-off shorts with platforms. I also dated a guy who wasn’t right for me. He wasn’t the main purpose of me cutting my hair either. If I didn’t receive a call from him, I would have cut my hair later on in the day, that day. I cut it earlier that day though.
DN: If you had a famous quote, what would it be?
AA: Hmmmm. “Love the life you live.” It’ll probably change tomorrow though.
DN: At what age do you want to say,”I accomplished everything I wanted”?
AA: 35. What do you have to live for at 26?
DN: You know I come to you all the time for advice. I feel like we balance eachother out very well. Chasefranco, the creative group is beginning, and the blog is walking. What advice do you have for me and Chasefranco?
AA: Let it be as raw as possible. Don’t let it become formated.