What do you wish to accomplish in Life?
That’s a very open ended question and there can be so many answers to that 🙂 but the one thing that I wish to accomplish and I feel that's one achievement which I unlock will make me the happiest - is to be able to relay that message to all the girls out there who are afraid of dreaming or think that they can’t realize their dreams because of the lack of support from friends and family or due to socio economic reasons. Please DO NOT lose hope - you only lose when you give up. Keep trying - keep pushing and one day you’ll realize your dream.
Tell us about yourself. Why you chose this career? Any story behind
I am a musician, online content creator and activist - My stage name is FiFi - I go by Sophia Jamil. I’m a Pakistani American, born in Chitral and raised in NY for most of my life. From a very young age, I found music to be a passion of mine, the genre and language never mattered to me.
But like so many desi girls who want to pursue a career in music, my goals of becoming a musician were always frowned upon. But music has always been my safe space, and contrary to what my family thought I never grew out of it. In fact, I grew more in love with music as time went by. Then in 2018, I began writing my debut single New York Di Kudi, which is now a year later- ready to be released.
Did you face any difficulty while choosing modeling as a career considering Chitral being a backward city?
Well I won’t use the word backward - I would say evolving. Growing up I visited Chitral every single summer and spent months at a time there. From my experience, I would say Chitral is ten times more conservative than most places in Pakistan. Modeling was never really a passion of mine, it’s always been music, however; I stumbled upon modeling and got signed with an agency in New York. In terms of how the Chitrali community perceived my venture as a model, it had many different reactions. The Chitrali old guard is not pleased with seeing a girl not conforming to the conservative patriarchal norms of that community. I was questioning and impacting the entire male dominant construct of Chitrali society which left a lot of men in the region intimidated and scared. However, I started to receive an incredible amount of private messages from young woman in my community who told me that I was an inspiration to them.
I truly believe that there should be no limitations based on gender, and this is a huge issue in Chitral right now. I do see this changing as people like me and Karishma Ali ( Chitral’s first female football player) continue to break these glass ceilings.
How do you see yourself progress in this field?
I feel that modeling is something I would always be doing in sync with many other ventures of mine but my primary focus at the moment is music. Not only the first Chitrali model, I want to be the first female chitrali musician whose work leaves an impact on the community which I represent. Music is a huge part of Chitrali culture, but up till now it has always been only designated for men.
Songs are written from the male perspective, to cater to the average male, sung by a man, instruments recorded by men and so on. Not even one Chitrali song is written for the female perspective. I want to change that, Although I am working on creating Punjabi and Urdu music due to its larger outreach, I still believe that this will leave a huge impact.
What was your first project? How did they approach you and how successful was your first project?
My first ‘real’ project is still in the works (talking about New York Di Kudi) - There has never been a Woman Chitrali Singer in the entire history of that region. That’s something which really bothered me. Growing up during various functions and events at school / I was always the girl on stage. So with the passage of time I started to feel the lack of female representation of my community on the national and international platforms. Seeing the response I got on the internet - I started to feel that I can break this glass ceiling and be the first ever Chitrali woman singer.
I hope I can change the way that Chitrali women are seen in society.
Who do you look up to in life?
In my journey I have come across many people who have inspired and encouraged me to follow my dreams. Although I have encountered more who have told me otherwise, I have learned to surround myself with positive and uplifting people who truly believe in my ambitions, wether that be in modeling or in music.
Any message for audience?
If you have a dream, a real dream that you are thinking about day and night, want to pursue but are too scared of what people or society will say to you, JUST DO IT. Start now, start today, set goals, set milestones, count the small victories of every day and keep pushing forward no matter how many people tell you that you can’t tell yourself that you can, and that you will. Against all odds and any circumstance. And it will not be easy because good things never really do come easy, but as Dory said, Just keep swimming- I promise it will be so worth it.