Today we are excited to share another local talent and gem of the community: Nasra Adem! Nasra will be presenting spoken word poetry for us at Ribbon Rouge this year but she is involved in so much more – she is a singer, actress, dancer, poet and gentle soul all in one. She is one amazing and talented local artist that we are so proud to feature at Ribbon Rouge this year!
Ribbon Rouge: Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself and your history/ what you think is important about who you are?
My name is Nasra Abdusamed Adem and I’m a 21 year old dancer, singer, actress and spoken word poet based in Edmonton, Alberta. I am first generation Canadian, my mother and father immigrated to Canada about 22 years ago from Dire Dawa, Ethiopia originally. I have been actively pursuing an artistic life for about 2 years and it’s been the best decision I’ve made to date. As of late, I’ve been working hard to redefine what I find important about myself; shedding layers of superficial values and societal conditionings and getting to the root of my being. My African ancestry/culture and my passion in love and in art are what I believe to be most important about who I am.
RR: What do you stand for?
NA: I stand for radical love and art/thinking that moves the world forward.
RR: Our theme this year is QUEEN! It is an ode to powerful women who have positively influenced us by their lives. What does this mean to you?
NA: Any celebration of powerful womanhood moves me. I have actively been looking to women at the top of my artistic/academic fields for guidance and inspiration because there is an innate magic in women, in queens, that does not exist anywhere else. I think it is vital that we have events like this to continue to build sisterhoods of strong women who understand their value and capacities for greatness.
RR: How do you feel about femininity/ womanhood/ the state of affairs of women’s rights in our country?
NA: I think Canada is able to provide a relatively safe and sustainable standard of living for most women, but this does not mean women/femininity are not under attack. Today, there are countless murdered and missing Indigenous women that garner, up until recently, little to no media attention or outcry. Muslim women, only a month ago, were fighting to protect their right to freely practice their faith; a right so widely celebrated as Canadian. On average, every 6 days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner, and almost a quarter of women (and children) that seek safety in emergency shelters, are turned away because adequate space is not provided. We are living in a historically patriarchal/woman hating world and it is important to recognize that no country is exempt from these thinkings and behaviors. I am disappointed by how Canada treats it’s women. And I can say that because I truly believe that progress is the constant challenging of what we find acceptable. So I will continue to challenge the status quo and hold the leaders of this country accountable. There have been and still are women in Canada shaking, moving and healing each other and the communities around them and I salute them and those that work to protect them. But it is important to acknowledge that there is more work to be done.
RR: Who is your Queen (inspiration)? Why?
NA: My mama! No doubt. She is by far the most powerful woman I have ever met. Her light, her joy, her awkwardness, her resilience, her beauty, her grind, her black woman magic…every part of her inspires me daily. She is my #1 fan and my rock. And the most difficult person to write a poem about. I have yet to see her face an obstacle she can not tackle and she humbles me every day with her strength and intelligence. I am growing every day because of her love.
RR: Tell us about your art?
NA: My art is evolving daily. I’m a multidisciplinary artist which in short means I can’t (refuse to) choose one medium to express myself. I studied musical theatre at Macewan, have been dancing for a few years and fell in love with spoken word poetry about 2 yeas ago. As of right now I work primarily as an actor and poet in the city. After a recent transformative trip to NYC, my writing has been very focused on topics that touch nerves at the core of my being; various traumas I had been avoiding and social justice issues I had been too fearful to speak up about. My relationship with my art is becoming an unapologetic one. One void of self-censorship and doubt. I am coming to understand the power that I wield as an artist, as a black woman and as a community builder and my art plays a very large role in that. With great art comes great responsibility, and I am welcoming the challenge.
RR: Your advice to women?
NA: Be fearless. Be shameless. Take the control back. Free yourself by loving yourself first. Seek out the friendships of powerful, unapologetic women. Call out the bullshit. Stop apologizing for existing. Don’t accept the drink from the guy at the bar, and when he tells you you’re being rude, let him know you don’t owe him anything and that women are not machines that you put nice-coins in to until sex falls out. Put down the magazine, [insert celebrity name here] doesn’t even look like that. Drink more water. Meditate. Take up space! Twerk it out! Listen to Janelle Monae and take the world by storm. You are worth more than they tell you.
RR: What does Ribbon Rouge mean to you?
NA: Ribbon Rouge is a space that has celebrated women, women of colour and a global initiative towards the improvement of health, in this city. It recognizes the outstanding work of artists, academics and community builders and I am all for supporting any environment that dedicates its time to progress.
RR: Where can we find you/ more of your work?
NA: I have a facebook page where you can keep up with what I’m doing in the city:
A tumblr page for if you really want to get to know me:
And a YouTube page that is under construction:
Nasra will be performing and amazing you with her spoken word poetry at this year’s Ribbon Rouge Gala. Come listen to her on November 28st, 2015 at Ribbon Rouge in Edmonton! And don’t forget to buy tickets for Ribbon Rouge 2015! Tickets can be purchased online here.
Ribbon Rouge #8
When: November 28, 2015 Doors open at 6pm; Show at 7pm
Where: ATB Financial Arts Barns