Aylah grew up in a tiny riverside town called Minnamurra, an hour and a half out of Sydney. To give you an idea of just how small it is, there’s only one convenience in the whole town, and Aylah used to ride her pushbike there with 20c in her pocket to buy gum. Livin’ the dream! Another one of her favourite memories was building a cubby house in the mangroves on the river with all the kids from the neighbourhood, fit out with an old tire swing that still sits there today. She moved to Thirroul ten years ago with her mum, and now lives in an art and record-filled home with her boyfriend in Wollongong.
The curious human feels grateful to have grown up in a well-off, educated part of the world, and acknowledges that this privileged position has allowed her to understand and sympathise with those in the world who aren’t as fortunate. She recently left school and misses it because she loves to learn, and because there’s certain people she doesn’t see anymore, ‘cause they’re off doing their thang. On the plus side, she gets to do whatever she wants now, which includes reading and writing everyday. In the next 10 years, she hopes to be “happy and doing something creative”.
Aylah is sure she’ll always be able to kick butt. How? She started Rhee Tae Kwon Do eight years ago, received her black belt when she was 15 (after years of disciplined training and broken bones), and became an instructor about three years ago, teaching children and adults alike self-defense. Coolest! When she’s not slaying it at taekwondo, she likes to unwind by playing guitar and singing, listening to records with her boyfriend, drinking tea and coffee, op-shopping, sourcing out cute cafes, crocheting and drawing, writing poems and stories, and chillin’ at the beach. Heaven.
She thinks friendships in general are super important, although she hasn’t really had really close friends because she’s “not very good with keeping in contact with people”. She identifies as being “quite independent, sometimes antisocial”, but recognises how beneficial it is to have people you can share things with and talk to, and believes “healthy friendships bring happiness”. Her most overplayed song at the moment is Waltz #2 by Elliot Smith, and she loves to find inspiration in lots of things, including art, music and her boyfriend, who challenges her to constantly question things about herself and the world around her.
Aylah reckons the world is in turmoil.
“Numerous issues concern me, often overwhelm me…We need to be kind and compassionate. [We need to be] considerate of the ways in which we are impacting the world. Injustice and discrimination I think encapsulates the themes of the issues that concern me the most. War based on hate and ignorance, inequalities concerning basic human rights, negligence of the environment, discrimination of those perceived as minorities.”
In that vein, she strives to do what makes her happy because everything means nothing in the end. “What I look like, what you think of me, the car I drive, the designer clothes I own, this computer I’m typing on, this interview. All nothing. Sometimes I forget that you die with nothing. I don’t want to live just to try to become the wealthiest lady in the graveyard. But the happiest would be nice. I just want to be passionate and enthusiastic about whatever it is I am doing, and always be kind to people.”
She takes her job really seriously, because for her it is a creative process, like any other art. She believes her acting and performing skills influence her way of modelling, and she prides herself on being professional and working real hard to create beautiful, artistic images. She loves that the industry has become more accepting, and is promoting all forms of beauty, and believes it to be a positive step towards the “advocacy of self-love and acceptance of others.”
The best piece of advice she’s ever received is: “be genuine, be genuinely honest, be genuinely shit — just be genuine.” And, to her, the concept of ‘cool’ can be summed up with the following sentiment: “You wear those shiny leather buckled boots and your fluffy red sweater and yellow scarves and green nail polish and op shop found beret and you are fabulous. But you’re also cool enough to be fab in nothing but your underwear because you’re kind and sometimes kinda funny too. Express yourself honestly and without hesitation. Stop worrying about disappointing people. Be proud, and feel empowered.” What a legend!
Words: Maddy Woon Images: Chloe Hill
Aylah is represented by:
Shot on location around Le Marais and Canal Saint-Martin in Paris