Young people doing cool things: Magnolia ‘Maminydjama’ Maymuru

“I am finally showing the world that Yolngu women are just as proud and beautiful as any other.”

We’re all for diversifying the fashion industry and the fact that this year’s Miss World Australia saw its first traditional Indigenous finalist gives us hope.

Meet Magnolia ‘Maminydjama’ Maymuru. The up-and-coming model from Arnhem Land is using her position to change people’s perspectives of beauty (and inspire young indigenous people to follow their dreams).

Originally street cast by the Northern Territory Fashion Week founder, Mehali Tsangaris, Magnolia turned down the chance to model in favour of her studies. Now, having completed year 12, Magnolia has made it to the front of Chadstone’s SS16 campaign.

No doubt you’ll be seeing a lot more of her, so we think you should get to know her little better.

Tell us how you got into modelling.

I was scouted in 2014 in Darwin, by Northern Territory Fashion Week founder/creative director, Mehali Tsangaris. 

What made you agree to modelling the second time Mehali approached you?

Initially, I was still in school but by the second time I had completed my year 12 studies. 

You worked with Chadstone for its Spring/Summer ’16 campaign. How did it feel to land your first major gig? 

Amazing. I can’t even begin to tell you how blessed I feel to have been chosen. I think I jumped up and down with joy for about five minutes when I first heard.

What’s your favourite part of modelling?

The clothing, hair and makeup, meeting new people and all the new places I get to travel to. I love being surrounded by creative people. Shooting the Chadstone campaign, in particular, has been a highlight – working with such a big team of creatives and wearing such beautiful clothing! 

Why is modelling important to you?

I want to be able to show people that no matter where you come from, if you have a dream, take a leap of faith and work hard, your dreams can come true.

How has the response in your community been?

I have been overwhelmed with the response from the young girls and boys who look up to me, and tell me I’m giving them hope; that their dreams can come true. To my surprise, the elders of my community have shown me so much love and respect for what I am doing. My grandmothers keep telling me with tears in their eyes, and I am finally showing the world that Yolngu women are just as proud and beautiful as any other.

Have you had any criticism?

Not really, other than a reminder to adhere to my culture and not to do any bathers or lingerie modelling. 

What do you do when you’re not modelling?

In my community, I work as a sports and recreational officer. [I help] create programs to promote a healthy mind and body to the children. I spend a lot of time with my family and love to go hunting for food at any chance I get. Hunting for me is a way to ground myself and connect with my land.

Do you feel any pressure to prove yourself, as there are so few Indigenous Australians in the modelling industry?

No, not really. I am just a 19-year-old girl chasing her dreams, and who happens to be Indigenous. I hope that my presence opens doors for other Indigenous Australians and gives them the courage to try it out.  

Who inspires you?

My culture, community and my elders. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t modelling?

Working as a sports and recreation officer for children and enjoying community life.

What message/advice do you have for others?

Continue to chase your dreams but remember that it takes hard work and dedication to make them come true.

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