Samia Ahmed-Turner and Vivi Gomez-Morales are two women following their passions.
It takes a lot of confidence to put yourself out there, especially when you know that the possibility of failure is always there. Writing as a woman, I would say this lack of confidence and self-belief is a pretty common thing among our gender.
Of course, this problem with confidence doesn’t just apply to people who identify as women, but we’re looking at the female perspective here. Not just how we perceive the world, but our struggles and our stories as well.
We teamed up with Quiksilver Women’s and reached out to a few rad ladies who’ve both chosen to follow a path determined by their passion. Samia Ahmed-Turner and Viviana (Vivi) Gomez-Morales are both immensely talented at what they do, but their inspiring stories also serve as reminders that everyone has to start somewhere. They were also beginners once, carrying round the same hopes and fears as the rest of us.
All photos by Stephanie Sian Smith.
Samia Ahmed-Turner (above) is a Londoner with Bangladeshi origins. She is a DJ, broadcaster, animation producer, and a keen runner. She also co-hosts a radio show on Reprezent Radio (107.3 FM) every month and helps run a collective called Daytimers.
Vivi Gomez-Morales (below) moved to London from Colombia when she was seven years old. She’s a photographer who shoots other women who, like her, are skaters and motorbike riders. On top of that, she also studies herbal medicine.
Not only do both these women want to pave the way for others, they also want to make their respective communities feel more welcome in the worlds of extreme sports, running and playing records.
Samia’s route into DJing began in her bedroom after she got her hands on her first DJ kit. She felt passionate about mixing tunes and for a long time that passion remained hidden within the four walls of her room. “It’s completely different playing lockdown sets from your room than it is to play for a live audience”, Samia tells us.
As for Vivi, she always had a passion for trying out skateboarding. However, it wasn’t until a male friend took her to Victoria Park that she actually got into it. Vivi instantly connected with the only other two girl skaters present, and that’s where it all started.
Asked if they felt that they’ve been supported by their community/scene, both responded in the affirmative.
“I’ve been really lucky,” Vivi says, “I’ve had a lot of supportive guys around me but also met some really inspirational women like Gemma and the rest of the girls from VC who made me, and all the other women, feel welcomed at the bike events.”
As part of Daytimers, a collective put together during the first Covid lockdown, Samia was given the opportunity to play her own beats while representing the South-Asian Diaspora. “I might mix traditional Bangladeshi folk tunes with contemporary electronic beats”, Samia tells us. “It’s about balancing the old and the new.”
Another place where Samia has felt free and safe to express herself is Tempo, a running club for DJs, musicians, and creatives, based in Peckham, southeast London. Inspired by what this community has given her, Samia has chosen to start her own running club next year for the South-Asian community, called SAATH, which means togetherness in Urdu. “I love running, and I’ve met so many inspirational people, especially women, through it.”
But it isn’t just the endorphins, Samia explains: “Running is also a way for me to clear my head. But it can be quite scary sometimes to go out running in London after dark, so having my friends run with me is empowering.”
Samia taps into the idea that for us to perform to our best, we all need to feel safe in our environment. Vivi explores this topic further.
“What really got me into riding bikes was that the VC girls created a safe space to do so in.” Following in the footsteps of the VC girls, Vivi too wants to create a safe space where women feel comfortable enough to do their thing: “It’s about creating that safe space for women, to make them feel like they’re able to try it out and not feel like they have to put up a front.”
Another aspect that has added to the feeling of insecurity over the years is undoubtedly social media. When scrolling through Instagram and becoming exposed to all the amazing content that is constantly uploaded there, it becomes easy to forget that even those people were beginners once.
“We always see people being the best at what they are, we never see them being a beginner. You start comparing yourself to these people who have been skating for 10 plus years,” Vivi explains. This is exactly why it is so important for Vivi and Samia to create a place for people where it is OK to fail. We can’t expect ourselves to be perfect at something the first time around. It’s about switching the mindset from “I wish I could do that” to “I am going to do that”, as Vivi puts it.
Both Samia and Vivi have also surrounded themselves with strong, driven people who share a similar mindset. When asked about their biggest mentors and role models both mentioned their mums. They know having a strong female role model to look up to is important. This is why both women feel strongly about representing their own heritage, pushing people to feel comfortable enough to get out of their comfort zone. As Vivi explains, “when we see other women of colour doing the same thing you want to do, you think if she can do it, I can do it.”
When asked what advice the two women would give the 15-year-old selves, their answer got right to the heart of it: stop thinking about what other people think. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone and putting yourself out there. “It’s scary at first, but you can do it,” Samia continues. “You should be your own best cheerleader, believe in yourself and stop comparing yourself to others. Just do what makes you feel good, makes you happy, and improve yourself based on where you are, not based on where others are.”
Vivi has come to a similar conclusion. “Don’t be so obsessed with what people think of you. I used to wait for my friends to do something before I would go and do it. It wasn’t until I realised that if I waited for people to do things for me, I would be waiting forever.”
Samia and Vivi both worked their way to where they are, they were confident in what they wanted to do and just went with it. As Samia says, “it’s important to remember that everyone has bad days, everyone starts from somewhere”.
We tend to think people judge us if we fail, but in the end, we are often the ones to judge ourselves, not others. By sharing our stories, our thoughts, and experiences, we realise that we’re not alone with these feelings, and that inspirational women, like Vivi and Samia, have gone through the same things.
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