Angel human Soraya originally hails from the Sunshine Coast and now lives in Sydney. Her favourite thing about her OG hometown is that it’s beach weather all year round, and the first place she’d take you if you were visiting is Point Cartwright beach—where there’s beautiful rock pools and landscapes—or to the waterfalls.
Her upbring was “so blissful in many ways”, and she believes that her love of sport and service-driven family instilled in her a lot of great values, like discipline, communication, cooperation, leadership, and time management. Her mum is also very natural and health-conscious, and she did a “wonderful job” raising her and her brother. Her health-consciousness was passed onto them, and she now has many healthy lifestyle habits as a result.
Growing up in the sunny coast wasn’t without its difficulties though. “The Sunshine Coast is not relatively cultured,” she says. “I grew up as a biracial woman, who has been blessed with afro phenotypes (the world views me as black) with the caucasian side of my family, in a predominantly caucasian town. The lack of understanding regarding my multiracial family was intense! It really made me realise how much this world will judge you off of face value and I think in a lot of ways pushed me to be unique as possible. I thought if I’m going to be judged I might as well figure out who I am and not try to blend into the norm, but it took me a while to reach that point I will say!”
She can’t pinpoint one favourite modelling job, as she reckons every job is “exciting in its own way”, but her recent Myer campaign was definitely up there. It was her first time working for them which was an “incredible career milestone” and she got to work with a “fabulous, professional and absolutely accommodating team”, shooting on the beach. In general, her favourite shoots are the ones where she’s involved in the creative process—be that styling or creative directing. As an artist, her passion for modelling is tied to the creative side of it, so she loves to be “as hands on as possible.”
Soraya often babysits when she’s not modelling, which she says is a “trippy insight into parenthood” because kids are “so intuitive and advanced” and they teach her something new every time she’s there. She also works in a vintage boutique called Belle Street, and her boss is a designer, which she loves, because it gives her a more hands on perspective. Work aside, she’s an artist and uses mixed medium, but mainly acrylic and spray paint. “I’m moving into a more surreal style of painting now,” she says. “I have adopted a pretty consistent, vibrant color scheme throughout my pieces and a lot of my works explore divinity.”
And, because her schedule isn’t so packed already, she’s also currently working on the concept of a clothing line she has in mind. “I hand paint clothing from time to time, but have been passionate about bringing my art to life with a collection for a while,” she explains. “The mission is to be able to make a difference/statement while exploring both of my passions, and this seems like the most logical way to go about it. Keep an eye out, I’ll be sharing some updates with my project via social media @thatssoraya__ (yes I did just give myself a shoutout [laughs]).”
In life, she’s most curious about how she can go about attaining the lifestyle that she wants. Her ultimate dream is having enough money and time to be able to wake up every single day and be able to decide what she wants to do, in a “‘choose your own adventure’ type of existence.” If you have any answers for her, be sure to drop us a line! She doesn’t have any ‘idols’ as such, but she tries to surround herself with people who are incredibly ambitious, open-minded and creative. “All of my friends fit into this category and inspire me to keep pushing for my dreams,” she says. “Anyone who is going after what they want, whilst shamelessly being themselves and pushing to make a difference is someone I hold highly! I can put my mates in that category, but in terms of this industry a few models making waves for doing just that are Adesuwa, Ebonee Davis and Uglyworldwide. All beautiful, diverse, melanated sisters too!”
The lil’ honey “most definitely” considers herself a spiritual person, and is “influenced by different spiritual practises” and has her own personalised way of going about things that works for her. “My father is Rastafarian; I’ve had a lot of yogic influence in my life and I gravitate towards law of attraction-based literature,” she says. “I would say my spiritual practice is based in affirming my own personal power and moving through the world with gratitude, love and openness… I definitely don’t always hit the mark, but I have practices in place to keep me aligned and I’ve worked at these things consistently enough that I know how to move myself into a good headspace if I’m feeling out of whack. I gauge where I’m at based off of how I feel and apply whatever practice is necessary to move myself into a better feeling place, it doesn’t make sense to operate any other way to me. If you’re feeling good, things just flow!”
The best piece of advice she’s ever received has been, ‘chew the meat and spit out the bones’, which roughly translates to: digest what is needed for you personally, and keep it moving. These wise words have taught her to maneuver certain situations that don’t feel organic to her. While she loves the creative side of modelling, she would love the industry to “start honouring talent over tokenism”, and while she thinks the huge demand for diversity is beautiful to see and a step towards a more representative industry, she feels they are still tokenized. “The playing field is still not even and I feel there is this huge debacle going on between the old way the industry used to operate and the new influence of the technological era,” she continues. “I don’t want the industry to lose its elusiveness and be taken over by social media influencers [laughs]. Not that there's anything wrong with an influencer, or any reason brands shouldn’t want to use them, however, I do feel like if models begin to be recognised more so as artists themselves a lot of unfair treatment / misrepresentation will have to fall to the wayside.”
“If models begin to become regarded for their posing ability, their versatility and their charisma first and foremost before their looks even come into the picture, the playing field will have to be leveled out… I think second to this I would love to see the mental health of models be nurtured throughout the crazy ups and downs of this industry. Working a job that is 100% based off of your physical appearance is psychologically taxing and there should be a strong support system prevalent throughout the industry for the mental health needs of models.” Amen!
In the next 10 years, she hopes we can “move towards a more empathetic society that is focused more on the impact of our actions than their cost.” To her, our preoccupation with money and a lack of respect for the environment, which is “real and suffering at the hands of the capitalist system that we’re apart of”, is baffling. Agreed! Our generation’s bravery in pushing societal norms is what makes her most proud. She believes that right now is a “beautiful time for feminine empowerment” and loves that women are teaming up to “collectively heal and understand the issues that exist in relation to the roles we play within society.”
To her, cool and careless are synonymous. “When I think of someone cool, I think of someone in their zone, confident, unapologetic and free!”.
Words: Maddy Woon Images: Jedd Cooney Fashion: Miguel Urbina Tan
Soraya is represented by Vivien's AUSTRALIA
Shot on location on Narrabeen beach, Sydney