MADELINE WELLS: Visibility is key

For Madeline Wells’ identity is an unquestionable strength that runs proudly through the lineage of her family and intertwines with her connection to country. Growing up in Tasmania, Wells has faced many challenges and stereotypes of what it means to be Indigenous in Australia.

As a strong, youthful, leader and advocate for social change in her community and the country, Wells has a specific interest in the rights of First Nation People, especially young Indigenous Australians living in smaller local communities.

In addition to the many accolades for her work, last year Wells was selected to attend the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law in Geneva; discussing ‘Widening the Democratic Space: the role of youth in public decision-making’. Back in her hometown, Wells continous to work with her community and provide an affirming representation of proud Aboriginal woman.

AFRIKA SPEAKS BACK: Words have power

What do you do when your history is written by someone else, and you are made out to be the villain of your own story?

The Pin was invited to attend Afrika Speaks Back at the newly opened Afro Hub for Africa Day.

Curated and hosted by Sista Zai Zanda (Pan Afrikan Poets Cafe), Afrika Speaks Back brought forth young and talented artists who, by way of expression, created a broadened sense of identity as they performed works that touched on a variety of subjects, punctuated by musical performances (that raised the roof!).

What’s really important about Afrika Speaks Back is that regardless of the day that it falls on, it gives a voice to Afro-diaspora and Indigenous people. Both Afro-diaspora and Indigenous people share written histories that have been authored by the explorers that colonised their ancestral land and diminished their societies - finding power in words Afrika Speaks Back aimed to set the record straight and the stories too.

JONATHAN STIER aka ESKATOLOGY: You Will Overcome

Brought up by his Indigenous nana and non-Indigenous pop, Jonathan Stier has always had an understanding of his ties to country and a sense of pride in his identity. Jonathan Stier is a rapper that found his solace through music and 90s rap, it is through music that he overcame a lot of demons and became Eskatology

Relating to both sides of the bloodline Eskatology finds his voice through music, aiming to inspire people to overcome their demons whether they be substance abuse or ignorance.

TRUE VIBENATION: A Proud Difference

It's an exciting time to be alive as more and more diverse voices are finding their way on to our TV's, radio's, stages and online platforms around Australia. On such act that is bringing the hype to a city near you is True Vibenation - a combination of hip hop, horns and conscious afro-beat.

Against the backdrop of white Australian mainstream media and black American conscious hip-hop, twin brothers Vuli & Bheki (aka Moody), along with their friend Klue clasp difference like a badge of honour, constantly growing and redefining what is means to be present, proud, gifted and black.

ZELIA ROSE: Beautiful and fearless

Zelia Rose is in the world’s top 50 burlesque performers, the titleholder of Miss Burlesque Australia in 2014 and has been selected as the first Australian performer, by the world famous Dita Von Teese, to join her US and world touring show.

So when Rose told us that she was surrounded by strong independent woman her whole life, it was no wonder when that she stumbled into the world of burlesque she found her calling.

Igniting the stage with power and prowess, Rose discovered the true joy of loving her identity whilst also navigating herself through the world. Creating a power shift from feeling like the odd one out to compelling audiences around the globe.

JARMAN CUTRONA: The new cookie cutter

With audiences and consumers no longer having to rely on being told what is good, we find ourselves in a time of self-reliance and empowerment.

Taking things into our own hands, we are now seeking out our niches throughout the online global communities of the world-wide web. Now, the force that is social media is helping to lift the profiles of people who wouldn't normally fit the mould of the main stream cut out.

For this reason content maker and artists alike are in more demand than ever, not only by consumers but, also big industry and fashion too.

CATH MOORE: Talk it Out

Cath Moore is a freelance writer and filmmaker.

Born in Guyana, Moore had a global upbringing - and spent part of her childhood in the USA before moving to Australia. Growing up in a single parent home and with her white mother, Moore was aware of a perceived difference but found inclusiveness within her own home. 

As an adult, she continues to unpack this experience - and regularly explores the topic through her freelance work.

YEO: To Be A Quiet Achiever

The Australian music scene is changing the way we see women in the industry, but the call for more diversity still remains in the distance. Yeo is a songwriter and producer who has tackled many genres in music; just as he has tackled the stereotypes that pursue him through his career.

Through his music, Yeo finds a place of confidence that allows him to take the stage and explore the perceptions of the asian-male identity.

VIKA & LINDA BULL: Sister Act

Coming to prominence in the ‘80s withThe Black Sorrows both Vika and Linda Bull have had amazing music careers that, as a duo, has taken them from stage to stage across Australia and the world, as well as the theatre and television circuit.

With a bond that breaks through the walls of vocals harmonies, the Bull sisters have an enigmatic charm that echoes across the Australian music scene. When you listen to the two sisters sing you are struck by Vika Bull’s voice with it’s lightning bolt power, grit and gusto complemented by, and in contrast to, Linda Bull’s voice. A soulful, sweet and melancholy voice reminiscent of the country singers of old.

UNCLE JACK CHARLES: Black Presence

Uncle Jack Charles is a national treasure. An elder and self-made feather-foot, Uncle Jack is respected by the arts community, Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike. Bastardy, a documentary about Uncle Jack, followed the re-ignition of his career from thief and addict to an esteemed Indigenous elder and Australian icon. 

TUMI THE BE: The Realest

Tumi the Be is a spoken word poet, rapper, and music maker hailing from Melbourne, Victoria. Born and raised in Botswana, before travelling the globe with his mother and brother to settle in Australia, Tumi found the need to create music that reflected his own experience of life as a middle-class kid living in the suburbs of Melbourne.

Tumi creates music solo and with his partner Gabriela Georges, who shares his love of beats, storytelling and creating music that is true to you.

TONI HASSAN: The Water We Swim In

I was nervous at the prospect of interviewing Hassan. A well traveled Walkley Award-winning journalist and former advisor in politics, Hassan has also has worked extensively in media as a local reporter, foreign correspondent, and producer. Given Hassan’s background it was not surprising then that the first question asked was by Hassan and not me. ‘Why now?’. My answer was long, broad and at times personal, sparking a conversation between Hassan and I that could easily be continued.

STEPHEN CUTTING: Words from my Father

In the 1980s, when Australia seemed to have reached the peak of poor fashion decisions and overwrought music, Stephen Cutting made the decision to leave and seek a different life. He responded to an advertisement seeking teachers to work in Nigeria and, with little knowledge of the place, packed his bags and moved overseas. This was a life changing decision for Stephen and one which resulted in love, marriage and a baby carriage [make that three].

Stephen Cutting is my father, and a man whose lived experience is reflected through conversation. He is aware of his place of privilege as a white man, has experienced the racism that comes with marrying a black woman and raising mixed race children, and actively seeks opportunities in his older years to understand and support his children's own experience of this. Above our family ties of father and daughter, Stephen is a friend and confidante, and a person I respect. 

SHAUN TAN: Straight Talking Dreamer

Interviewing Shaun Tan is a humbling experience. An Australian who enjoys great local and international success, with an Academy Award to boot; Tan is surprisingly open to engaging with The Pin and discussing all things race, identity and culture. We spoke with Tan over the Christmas break, he apologised for having not been in touch sooner and diligently provided eleven pages worth of responses to what we now acknowledges as...a few too many questions. Here’s a snippet of that fascinating conversation.

SAMPA THE GREAT: Spoken Proudly and Unapologetically

The underground hip hop scene is slowly but firmly breaking into mainstream music; bringing new and diverse artists to the surface and allowing us, as the humble listener, an opportunity to broaden our listening horizons.

Sampa The Great is one such artist, carving her own legacy through the music industry.

When you listen to her music, pride is something that beams through the lyrics of her songs. Sampa's artistry is a journey that continues to evolve, exploring who she is: poet, rapper, African woman, person of colour and more. 

REMI and SENSIBLE J: Identity Built with Music

The Australian music scene is forever evolving. Much like the society we live in, we are seeing the effects of diversity in our music genres with new and enigmatic musicians breaking out onto the scene, and bringing with them a richness of new sounds and ideas.

Since the release of their first album Raw x Infinity, Remi and Sensible J have worked hard on their sophomore album, Divas and Demons, bringing to light their experience of love, loss, substance abuse and the struggles of being black men in Australia.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH: Words. Language. Perspective

I was first introduced to Randa Abdel-Fattah through her book Does My Head Look Big In This? (2005) I had changed schools and made the conscious decision to stop straightening my hair and embrace more traditional ways of African hairstyling. Though I am not Muslim, the story captured a lot of themes I could relate to as a biracial teenager growing up in Australia. Most important amongst these themes was the female voice.

Abdel-Fattah's newest book, When Michael Met Mina (featured as this month's EXPRESS) looks at Islamophobia in Australia from both sides of the protest.

PRIYA VUNAKI-SINGH: Comfortable in otherness

Born and raised in Tasmania, Priya Vunaki-Singh is a local artist and DJ (Puffy Pank) of Fijian-Indian and Scottish heritage. As an adult Vunaki-Singh has found confidence in her identity and does not shy away from expressing it in her artwork, which she describes as fantastical, utopian and psychedelic.

PATTY CHONDROS & MAREE BOUTERAKOS: Great Expectations

There are many stereotypes about Greek culture. Most of us have heard about the feasts, commitment to family and expectations placed upon younger generations. The Pin sat down with Patty Chondros and Maree Bouterakos, a mother-daughter team and two generations of Greek-Australian women, to discuss the stereotypes and realities of Greek Culture.