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Iru Magazine - Akira-Adel

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Makeup By Trice, Fine Art by Tim Okamura, Hair by Malcolm Cuthbert

Akira-Adel is a natural muse; her excessive beauty has been inherent since birth, when she was encapsulated in a drawing only days after leaving the womb. But Akira is so much more than just a pretty face, in fact she seems to have a light that draws people to her. Akira radiates creativity and art, and I believe it is her passion for expressing her creativity which draws people to her.

Throughout her years in the industry Akira has hobnobbed with the likes of everyone, gaining notoriety as a model and disco dancing mover and shaker. As she puts it, “If it’s out of my reach it’s not out of my realm.” Akira’s realm must be gigantic because she seems to have her hands in a little bit of everything. Along with modeling she has dj’d at clubs throughout New England and New York, where she has also promoted and hosted countless events. Comfortable on both sides of the camera, Akira has appeared on several TV shows, including Gotham and the opening credits for Saturday Night Live, and even appeared in Jidenna’s music video for Classic Man. I asked Akira to shed light on her many facets, and see what title if any, she gives herself:

“It’s so funny with the many facets that I have, somebody always wants to pigeonhole me with a title. The title is ‘I’m that bitch.’ Formally, I call myself a creative consultant, because that's an umbrella for a slue of things I can do without someone pigeonholing me into one thing. I’m not that type of artist that can just be known for one thing. I have to have my hands in it all. I have to have at least three things going on at all times, ya know? It’s a balancing act, I pace myself.

So a creative consultant formally, and I will always associate myself with being a muse.. And I’m not just a muse because I sit in front of a canvas, I have people that literally just want me around while they do things. They know that I can just sit there and they can bounce ideas off me and be creative. I’m about executing visions as well. And not just my vision, other people’s visions as well. Because not everybody is a visionary. Not everybody has to be a visionary. Me being a creative consultant is about executing somebody’s vision.”

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        Photograph by Roger Derrick

Upon asking Akira who inspires her, I was not surprised to hear her say Josephine Baker or Sade. However, hearing her say that Kelis has been one of her biggest inspirations caught me off guard. She told me specifically what resonated with her about her idols:

“Well Kelis is one of the artists to have the biggest impact on me. When I was 13 or 14 years old, she was a wild girl with curly hair and an ‘I don’t give a f*** attitude.’ Not in the sense of f*** you, but very much, ‘I’m gonna do me and continue to do me no matter what.’ It was just something I connected with, it almost brings me to tears, cause it was like ‘you’re weird as hell but you’re dope.’ And she’s the most unbothered person in the world. She is not bothered by anything. And Sade; you don’t know any person that doesn’t like Sade. I also like her because she’s so well known but you don’t know much about her because she keeps to herself.Josephine Baker; the way that she moved and her style of dance. Hery cookiness- she was definitely a cooky one but people loved her and she was a writer. Selena; how she just walked, that’s one person that you can tell walked with light and love in everything she did. You can tell that every time she performed she did it from the heart, when she did interviews she was pleasant, she was kind. She wasn’t over the top and she was one of the most beautiful women with the most beautiful voice, but it was the way that she carried herself that had an affect on me. I’m also inspired by eras, the prohibition era and the 1970’s disco era, are both very near to my heart. The speak easy life, the burlesque dancers. Women were finding ways to make money, and it wasn’t about being in the workforce. First of all, just the glamour that the 1920’s and the 1930’s provided, aside from the societal roles [women were ladies and men were gentlemen], it was the edge of what they were doing. [Burlesque] was against the law, and it was still done with class. The costumes they used to wear,” her eyes light up, “The sequins, oh my god, they would wear these 20 pound outfits and dance. Swing dancing, the charleston, the sound of the music, the way that their voices sounded, something about it twinges in my heart, there’s something about it that I resonate with. The decadence, the style.”

While discussing the eras that inspire her I asked Akira how she felt about the typical gender roles of the 1920’s

“And yes, I do believe that it is a man’s job to take care of a woman. Do I believe that a woman should work? Yes! But if they have a man that’s taking care of them, they have the option. I think a woman should have the option to not go to work for a month. That doesn’t mean sit around and not do anything for a month, that means she has the option to work on other ventures. If a man wants to come home to a warm home with good food, clean, beautiful, be entertained in the bedroom, you take care of the house and you take care of me and you make sure I want for nothing. Cause trust me, God forbid if something happened to him the roles would be reversed. It’s a give and take. Men will always owe more to a woman regardless. Not because I’m biased, but because we don’t need them. Yes it’s helpful if men are around, but it’s not needed. After a man has planted his seed in a woman it’s going to grow regardless. We’re the first source of nourishment for anybody.”

Throughout her childhood Akira was bullied, and told she was ugly. She learned from her difficulties and now seeks to help others find their own inner strength.

“Well I was bullied a lot growing up, so with that I learned to be humble and very appreciative of things because I was told that I was ugly every day. And I’ve gotten past that, and the way that I deal with difficulty is that I remember my own value. And I remember how much energy it takes to be angry at something, and I think about how I can take that same energy and put it towards something that I need to accomplish, and how much further that would make me. When you get angry you allow somebody to have power over you. I’m not gonna allow anybody to have power over me the only person that’s going to have power over me is me. I’ll allow myself to be upset for a couple of hours but then I’m over it. You can’t be hurt about something you can’t control. I wipe my hands clean of it and then I walk away, that’s how I deal with difficulty, if it’s not something that I can control then it ain’t got sh** to do with me, I can walk away from it freely. And self-love has a lot to deal with difficulty as well. Because you could be dealing with a lot of sh** that you don’t deserve because you don’t remember your own value. You accept a lot of sh** because you don’t respect yourself. If you don’t know your value you don’t know what kind of life to view yourself in, in order to move forward and in order to know how to deflect things.”

Akira gives back to the community by truly being there for people and supporting them with genuine love, “For instance, I have a friend who calls me Mom, that is trans. I do her hair, I give her makeup tips, I dress her for her performances, I nurture. The way that I give back to my community is, I nurture. The way I give back to my community is I give back interpersonally with people that are close to me because that’s still means something at the end of the day.”

Akira continued, “I always try to be there to give back to people. I’ve been heavily involved in supporting the LGBT community. And I feel such warmth from the LGBT community, me not even being gay, there was a comfort and a safety in the LGBT community I have not felt around straight men. There is a certain sense of safety in the gay community that you can’t really find in the straight. I would give back to my community way more, but I couldn’t find the right organization to align myself with. I came across a friend of mine from awhile ago who is one of the founders of this organization called, Mastermind Connect. They made a post about this youth initiative that they were doing, a workshop with young black men. There were a variety of different programs all targeted towards the advancement of young men; there were mentors for them, they were doing karate, they were doing business classes, they had anything a young black man in this day and age could use to develop himself. So I reached out to him and got involved. I said, Hey I would love to send my cousin out to this, and I have a bunch of ties, that I inherited from my uncle, can I donate them to your cause? I met up with him at the event he was having in Queens and I brought this huge bag of ties, like 2,000$ worth of ties!"

Akira said she felt close to the mission of Mastermind Connect because,  “I have younger male cousins. If you are born a Black man in America, you are going to be walking into situations that you don’t even know about, just because you’re Black. You’re going to have everything against you just because you’re Black, and it takes a certain kind of structure for Black youth to be prepared for success and to overcome the challenges they’ll face in America.”

    Speaking with Akira was an enlightening process. I would love to just take a walk around her mind, but since that isn’t an option we had to do this interview. Stay on the lookout for more beautiful photos, appearances, and art from your favorite muse, Akira-Adel.

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Photograph by Mastermind Connect

//Aisha Marie Sho @Shaka_Sho