Three Words with ...
As an athlete, artist, filmmaker, and activist, Asma has many outlets to showcase her strengths and talents. She’s used them to raise awareness around a purpose she believes in. From successfully campaigning the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to allow female athletes to wear the hijab in professional basketball games, to highlighting mental health and diversifying identity, her relentless storytelling breaks barriers across the world.
Being Sudanese (both African and Arab), growing up in England and being both an artist and athlete, I’m so many different things. That’s what I translate into my work. At university, my first collection of photographs was just me wearing a hijab on the train or walking down the street. It was impactful because people didn’t expect me to do these mundane things, because of the stereotypes that exist around people who look like me. Only afterwards, I started to realize that what I was doing was creating change and fighting a system.
With our FIBA Hijab Campaign, I then saw the power of change in making a bigger impact. Fourteen women across the world campaigned to allow Muslim women to be able to wear the hijab in professional basketball, and we were successful.
There’s so much inside me that I want to express. I want young girls to see me being happy doing what I’m doing, but I also want them to see the lows, not just the topics that are on trend.
I didn’t fit into what was considered to be a successful career path. I wanted to keep playing sports and doing art. I wanted to see where that took me. Regardless of whether ‘they’ thought I would succeed or not. I thought to myself: I’m not going to let your perception of what I should be like change who I am deep down.
Sometimes you have to put yourself into uncomfortable places. You might have to face a lot of challenges or you might not. But how do you know if you don’t go and try?
Because I’m dyslexic, I tend to see things visually in my head, and I like to translate that into a physical form. Creativity has allowed me to take the ideas and messages I want to share, create an image or a poem, and then put that out into the world. When other people interact with those ideas, I make my voice heard in the wider community.
It’s so important for me to have a voice because if I don’t people are going to speak for me. They haven’t lived the life that I’ve lived, so, they can’t make decisions for me. I need to be able to make those decisions myself, or at least be heard before others make them for me.