Dimapur, Jan. 5 (EMN): In a society where even a youngster working in the showbiz industry often raises eyebrows, there is one, Kenny Awomi, a 25-year old transgender model from Nagaland, who is breaking stereotypes and barriers. Currently based in Delhi, she is a tender, yet bold person who has no qualms about her identity. In fact, she has proudly embraced herself with pride.
Awomi, who with her tireless determination, has worked in around 15 fashion shows. Her journey started from “Nagas Got Talent,” a local talent competition. Since then there has been no looking back for this determined woman who endeavours to be a spokesperson and influencer.
Awomi spoke her heart out with Eastern Mirror. She has no reservation about her identity as she feels liberated and comfortable in the person she now is.
Eastern Mirror: Where are you originally from and where did you grow up?
Kenny Awomi: I was born and brought up in Zunheboto district.
At what age do you remember thinking that you were, maybe a little different from everyone else?
Actually there was no specific age of me remembering that I was different as my mom never let me felt it in a way, or made me feel like I didn’t belong or blended in this society. I always felt like I was and am normal as any other kid.
How did you deal with it and how supportive was your family?
I didn’t really go through any rough time growing up. I was raised by a single wonderful mom who has always supported me and encouraged me to be who I want to be. She has always preferred my happiness over what society wants me to be and I believe all the parents should support their kids.
How was your school and college like growing up?
I consider myself very lucky in terms of the atmosphere that I grew up. I studied till 10th in Disney Home Academy which is now Cornerstone school in Zunheboto district. The school authorities and students have been so accepting. I was hanging out with girls and was more interested in volleyball or playing with dolls or some silly girls’ stuff.
The biggest thing which changed my life then was when I took part in a show called “Nagas Got Talent” where I felt liberated dancing in a woman’s costume openly and no one would judge me as it was a talent show and I took part in that show not because I was a good dancer but I wanted to feel like a women in those beautiful costumes for that very period of time. It was when I was in 10th standard and I remember all my teachers and my school mates buying a vote for me to make sure I won. They have been an amazing support.
After my 10th standard I could not take my education further thinking that it was useless because I would have a male certificate and it won’t be of use as I was planning to change myself completely and also there was no specific quota for a transgender person at that point of time. Now some are fortunate as some colleges and schools have columns for Transgender. I regret it sometimes for not making it further but I am happy with what I have achieved and accomplished today with hard work and support from my family and friends.
Tell us how you first got into modelling. And how hard was it for you?
I have always wanted to be a model. Growing up, I would watch Fashion TV and imagine myself walking down the runway. I did my first runway show in 2017 where everything changed for me. It was very difficult for me getting to where I am today as I never had anyone who could pull me in or direct me towards opportunities.
I had to go to several auditions and castings to get there. I got works but that happened without mentioning about my gender. They will not believe in you as I am a transgender. So unless I show them how desperately I wanted and how committed I am willing to work but now I have learnt to live with confidence and embrace myself.
You’re a role model for transgender people not only for our state. How have you chosen to use your platform?
I just want to continue doing what I am doing and give my best and work towards being a better human in all walks of life.
Did you have any role models growing up?
Definitely my mom.
Do you think the industry is becoming more diverse and accepting?
There has been a change over the last few years and I hope it continues this way. For that to happen we all have to do our part. Still, we have a long way to go.
What about Nagaland considering how conservative our society still is when it comes to showbiz?
For that, we have to enlighten and educate our elders that showbiz is a respectable and well-paid career opportunity and the ones who are like me be a good example. Then, the mindset will gradually change.
What do you wish more people knew about being transgender?
Everyone knows bits and pieces about trans people which sometimes is just a stereotype and not always true. I hope people will take effort to learn and research about people like us and our journey.
How do you decide which castings you go to and which runways you walk?
I have trusted people as a part of my social circle in this industry and also being a fashion obsessed (person) since childhood, I do have the knowledge and I keep myself updated.
Does that ever make you feel uncomfortable?
Luckily I don’t put myself in situations where it would make me uncomfortable cause I know through my friends which castings and runways are accepting and liberal.
Do you find it easier to model without bringing up your gender identity? Was there any situation that made you feel Trans models go through a tougher time getting work?
It definitely would have been a lot easier to model without people knowing about my gender identity. But then I accept the way I am, and have always been transparent about what I am so I have had no such situations.
How accommodative/open our Naga society has become towards the trans or LGBT community since the time you realised you were a little different from others?
There has been a change. But still we have a long way to go. That process can be shorter if each and every one of us takes a step in educating the rest of our society.
What misconception would you like to clear from our society?
That most of us are that part of marginalised sections of the society who can’t keep with mainstream people and have a career, family and a fulfilling life.
What’s next for you?
Use my platform to empower my community and being the best version of who I am. Modelling, spokesperson and influencer is what I want to be.