Monday, September 17, 2012

Liquid Date with Ashleigh Davids

Who is Ashleigh?
I'm 20 years old, a matter which surprises most people, whether this is a compliment I don't know. I'm from Cape Town, where I stay in the Northern Suburbs (aching to move to the city though).

Telling people what I do or who I am is never easy, and most times I prefer them finding this out as they spend time with me and get to know me, anyone can paint a perfect picture of themselves you know?
However I can say that I am someone who is totally unashamed of her faith in God and her womanhood, I advocate those two matters strongly. Through my gifts, I aim to achieve the purpose for which I have been called, which I firmly believe is to teach and edify a generation who needs to be impacted. For interest's sake, I am a creative writer and journalist (Yes, there is a difference), and a vocalist & spoken word artist. I also fill a more senior role at my current place of work, Live Magazine SA, leading the team as Editor in Chief since June 2012. I consider myself a project coordinator as well, as I love facilitating projects and events where possible though I have very little to no time to do this now. I do not believe that what we do or achieve makes up who we are, identity can't be as superficial as that. I am made in the image of my creator, He is my identity, I'm fearfully and wonderfully made you know... ;) So are you! In relation to the 'who are you' question though, which everyone seems to write poetry about at least once in their lives, I would say I am ever changing, and ever growing, and I'd like to believe that my journey through life consists of chucking the bad elements that may exist in my character and habits, and improving upon the good in my being. I find that I have to die to self daily as well, this means constantly bringing my flesh/human nature under subjection to God, and what He says and expects of me.

What does being a youth mag editor entail?

Stress and many blessings for real! The module visible at Live is amazing, a young team (under 25) producing a print magazine for their peer group is no joke. Besides the usual pressures of working in an editorial environment or news room, there is the challenge of accommodating the fact that everyone has little to no experience in what they are doing at Live, and are literally doing something that may be totally new to them, and balancing that with pushing them to perform, excel and produce to professional/industry standards and beyond. Considering the age and nature of our work environment, the possibilities of friendship are not limited even though everyone may not like.. everyone - as a leader, not only do I have to relate to and be there for my team, but I also have to set boundaries and be an example so that people understand the nature of our work relationship and respect me, as I also need to respect them. I have learnt many lessons at Live, especially that you will find the most opinionated, outspoken, irrational, some times biased yet passionate people in a news room, I have to encourage myself and my team that their work is not about them, even though their stories, and their thoughts are a good spring board for where they're going they're representing the youth at large, and however challenging it is, they have to aspire to being selfless so they can serve effectively.

Practically, I oversee editorial and over all production.

Editorial - I work closely with the other editorial leaders which include Deputy Editor, Chief Sub, Features Editor, Fashion Editor, Photo Editor, Art Director, Project Director, Mobile Editor and our Youtube team to ensure maximum efficiency in terms of all of our roles being fulfilled. I lead weekly editorial meetings which in the beginning of the process entail induction workshops and brainstorms for the new issue, and continue into follow ups and other important discussions like choosing a cover story and cover star. As much as I need guidance in this process, I also guide my team, this includes answering their questions, discussing their concerns, assisting them with their stories and making other arrangements on their behalf. I have to consider how each link within the magazine affects the other and mention that to respective parties to avoid any conflicts. In terms of content, I have the responsibility of keeping the magazine as a whole in mind, and making sure the theme and feel chosen, is reflected in the tone and voice of the copy, images and design chosen. I also assist the photography and design team where necessary, relaying the voice of the journalists to them, this job also demands that I stick by the designers in those last moments before print, I have to be there, checking, checking and checking again. I have the hard task of making some really important decisions, and also being responsible for execution of tasks if team members don't follow through.

Corporate/Admin/Logistics - I remain mindful and keep the team mindful of matters that may be non-editorial yet relevant to the success of our brand and publication. This ranges from advertisers, to social responsibility, conduct, business, marketing and PR, I'm not an expert in any of these, but I understand how crucial each element is to the effectiveness of Live Magazine SA.

My hope has always been to impact people in my work place, that often starts with being an example and doing my best, roughly that's what my responsibility (it's not a glamorous title) as Editor entails.

What motto do you live by?

I live by the will of God. I don't know what my perception of anything, let alone 'motto' would be like if it were not for my relationship with the one who knew me before I was in my mother's womb. The Bible is an amazing source for me, if you truly tap into it, you have an abundance of insight no man can give you. I can say that knowing I am loved, that I have purpose, that I am called to be salt and light to the world and that my troubles are but light afflictions and that all will work out for the good of those who love Him stand me in good stead.

When do you feel most beautiful?

Physically - when I've taken a lovely bath and washed my hair and my 'fro is subdued and full of soft curls, this paired with a comfy pair of pajamas, some baby powder, my choice of scent, my bed and a cup of tea - and I'm glowing. I love pretty dresses and sandals too, so spring time is definitely my time to feel like I'm stuck in a neo soul/hipster/lilly of the valley time capsule.

Spiritually - When I go about life with my morals intact (yes, I slip up sometimes and that makes me feel horrible). When I understand unconditional love and partake in it I also feel really beautiful. Also, getting through adversity and achieving something I set out to do despite the hassles really does good for my confidence. When I'm mature, rational and put my best foot forward, I believe that puts me in my space too.

Self image is huge for women, I touch on it in one of my feature article in issue 4 of Live Mag, I've learnt that when it comes to beauty, one must understand the creator. You were made in His image and likeness, and when you demean yourself, you demean Him. Also beauty is not purely physical, the most physically attractive man/woman could be a down right nasty person because of a lack in character. If there are things about you that you aren't particularly fond of, dig into the most natural way of improving that, don't resort to unwholesome means to a temporary end to your dissatisfaction (like wearing heaps of make up and yoyo diets). A big part of beauty and discovering your own will consist of unlearning the falsehood spoken over you - a psychologist I spoke to about the article I did touched on how the first years of life and childhood affects a child and later adults perception of things - we often can't control what has/is happening to us as young people because of authoritive figures and other things which prohibit us to a degree, but it is crucial that we deal with words or actions we may have internalized growing up - as Paula White and many others have said, you cannot conquer what you cannot confront. Secondly, you'll have to adopt a whole new way of thinking, confidence or a healthy self esteem isn't built over night, affirmation is essential, providing that it is founded on truth, truth being the one who made you, beautiful :)

On that note, enter two songs I love a lot which speak on this - both titled 'Beautiful' - one by Fred Hammond and the other by Musiq Soul Child :)

What do you wish everyone knew?

About me? I dislike immaturity, especially in adults or people who should no better, I'm not perfect, never claim to be, and I will always be vocal about my flaws and where necessary, even my struggles, I believe those are my biggest testimonies and also make me relevant.

I am a Christian, but will never force my Christianity on anyone. I may advocate and encourage certain things, but at the end of the day each person is accountable for their own lives, please don't class me with the religious, what I am engaged in is a relationship and lifestyle.

God loves you

About life - You can learn from anything, everyone and everyone, even when these things contrast with your own beliefs, this does not mean you need to adopt the same beliefs, but that you can find a lesson in everything. Directly, or indirectly, even the most different of people and unpleasant of circumstances can bring enlightenment .

Not everyone is ignorant because they don't agree with you.

Haters are a figment of your imagination and ego. Persecution and condemnation are real though.

Who/what do you love right now?

God - I don't know anyone else who sent His son to die for me or anyone who could put up with my weakness and love me still.

My best friend and partner - I have a beautiful man in my life and he adds so much to my happiness, we have a great friendship and communicate well. He respects me and that's the starting point of the journey we're on, that and our mutual love for God.

I love growth and acquiring wisdom. I'm also on a mission to learn new things.

I got back into reading a while ago, but have so many books sprawled across my room - time is not my friend!

Music and Poetry - Forever and always, this will be a vehicle and medium I enjoy. Mood music tickles me pink too, I love being able to listen to that which articulates how I feel or even pushes me to desire more or to walk in truth instead of being ruled by my emotions. As Lauryn Hill once said, 'You inspire me, to be the higher ME.' Love that line, music does that to me.

Magazines - my job is forcing me back into reading magazines. I firmly believe a lot of women's magazines are pathetic in terms of the content presented but I love gaining insight on what's out there and how I can further contribute to media in a positive light. This kind of research helps me develop my business model and grow in my ministry.

Chocolate - Yes boy! Always, being chocolate wasted is the way, thank you 'Grown Ups' for that awesome line. LOL.

History - I love learning about people's lives and work and writing about them. I always gain credible insight and can apply that to my teaching. At the moment, the differences and similarities between townships/the hood/ghetto in South Africa and places like New York, Chicago and London are on my list of interests.

Young people and making a difference - You don't work a 4/5 day week for FREE because that's what you invisioned for your life, sacrifice stems from love, passion and obedience to your call. I was alone through very much of my life, and being able to contribute to the lives of young people through my work is my joy.

Favourite part of your body

I think I have a pretty good heart and mind. Other than that, I love my hair, lips, eyes, and toes, even the curve of my back and my love handles. Whoop Whoop!

My tummy and some areas of my skin, I have very sensitive skin and have had excema in the past and have some bad scars.

What change would you like to bring?

At the moment, I'm focusing on my own development, I believe if I improve myself, I will improve the contribution and change I am able to bring to the world. Without revealing too much, I want to focus on the development of fuller figured women as well as women in media who have not yet obtained tertiary education and want to become effective participants in industry. Also, on my list is reporting on positive content or articulating myself in a manner that goes beyond being cynical, negative etc, I want to bring story telling back into my field of work. I also feel like we're separated from the world to an extent, and want to instigate my peers and generation participating in international conversations and projects.

What has been your proudest moment? Definitely my baptism, a lot changed for me then. Letting go of some bad company and bad ways, sending Live Mag issue 4 to print and being involved the way I was, not giving up on myself and my dreams and having over come life so far. I am learning a lot about being humble, so there's a fine line between acknowledging a good job and being filled with pride. One of those things to think about.

Your lowest? And how did you bounce back?

My years as a high school student, I battled depression and attempted suicide during this time. God is really a saving grace, bouncing back has really required me to invest in and commit to my relationship with Him. I've dealt with a lot of domestic issues and they were horrible, being in emotional ruin depletes you mentally and physically, and it's not easy getting up in the morning. I believe I was given my hope for the future to keep me strong while I was still luke warm to the love I know today. I always wanted more for my life, and therefore giving up was never really an option. I held on to the good in my life and continuously tried to bring change - whether that meant being involved in the student council or trying to make my dreams a reality by entering and later winning a competition on Goodhope fm which gave me the opportunity to co-host a show with radio personality, Suga on youth day of 2009 (matric year). What I'm getting at is that my goals/vision helped me through, God sent them as guardian angels until a moment where I would surrender to Him fully.

Who has inspired your life n how?

God, He was and is, and is to come...

My sister and friend Contro'versy who filled similar roles to mine as a writer and artist - her life was a guide I am so honored to have witnessed first hand. Reflecting on her 34 years on earth, she was an example of loving unconditionally and living a purpose filled life. She also traveled and spent time in New York and showed that life doesn't end in Africa. She was a great person and a friend, everyone loved her energy. She passed away in 2012 after living with Cancer. Rest in power!

I can find inspiration in everything, from the most simple to the most complex.

Biblical characters like Esther and Ruth speak volumes. Their stories reflect courage and patience, to virtues I hope to apply to life.

Lauryn Hill has definitely been a major inspiration, her work is brilliant and teaches on many issues I've been able to resonate with.

In August 2012, I saw Khanyi Mavi, Lady Slice and the crew from Jamla live at Zula. Everyone from 9th Wonder, to Act Proof (I have a crush on Enigma, ssh) and most importantly, Rapsody and even our local girls had me amazed! They are realy skilled musicians and put on a good show/experience. It was indeed culture over everything. Rapdiddy for example is very relaxed in her execution though she delivers exceptionally well. She inspired me to grow comfortable in my style and preference as a writer and singer and even someone who aspires to take up rap - I was encouraged to be myself and not a carbon copy - even if that carbon copy was a Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, Ledisi, Angie Stone etc.

Give us a few lines from your favourite song/poem!

It's never a good idea to ask a writer/artist this question. I'd be doing my musical taste an injustice. I however in place of this I'd recommend P4CM poet Jannette..Ikz who has some crazy work out.

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