The new #BlackEye hits the newsstands tomorrow, 2/20/17, featuring the “first black American idol” in Japan, Amina DuJean!
Since her arrival in Japan a mere 2.5 years ago, the 20-year-old Amina has made it her mission to make inroads into an industry that has seen very little diversity when it comes to people of African descent. She loves breaking barriers and in doing so is squashing stereotypes and creating opportunities for non-Japanese moving forward. There’s much more to this industrious young woman than meets the eye!
In our conversation, she breaks down how she got into the Japanese idol game, its challenges and advantages, and how her skin color, in a game where appearance is almost everything, has been both an advantage and a hinderance. She shares some thoughts on cultural appropriation and gives advice on how others might go about achieving their goals, whatever they may be, here in Japan.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Sometimes I think it would be easier if I were white,” Amina says. “Because I’ve seen it before: A white girl who can’t speak any Japanese will get a bigger part than I could get. In America that white girl wouldn’t be considered beautiful, but because in Japan white is automatically pretty or exotic, they’ll get the part. So I kinda have some — how should I say, um — resentment towards that. However, at the same time, if I weren’t black, I wouldn’t be as special. Nobody would mind, nobody would care. I don’t want it to be a niche, but that’s what draws people in. Then I can inspire them with my personality and perseverance, and I think that’s for the better.”
Please pick up your copy of the Japan Times on a newsstand near you on 2/20/17. Or if you’re in an area where the paper version is unavailable, you can read the rest of Amina’s remarkable journey online HERE!
Follow Amina on Twitter: @aminadujean
Check out her Tumblr blog: www.aminyan.com