Valerie Ebuwa is a freelance dance artist, writer and model based in London, UK. She dances with multiple companies and has been featured in various music videos, while also chronicling hip hop culture for I am Hip Hop Magazine. Valerie also hosts a women-led platform called Woman SRSLY, which offers support to female-identifying and socialised artists as they present bold and daring work. Got all that? We’ll give you a second to catch up.
Raised by Nigerian parents in East London in the 1990s, Ebuwa was exposed to what she describes as a “mish mash” of art and culture, much of which ripples throughout her current work. Despite wanting to dance for most of her life, she didn’t begin training as a dancer until she was 18, when she started to ignore her sceptics and honour her interest in the artform.
“I don’t like limiting myself to other people’s ideas about what I can do,” Ebuwa says. “I’ve always been super intuitive, so I take note of what I’m attracted to and follow it through. If it doesn’t work out, then it’s okay! It just means it isn’t right for me at the moment.”
Having spent so much of her life outside of the dance world, Ebuwa has a community of friends that offer her different perspectives on her work and career, and she isn’t afraid to take risks or think outside the box.
“I also think it’s just within my nature to be rebellious. If I see that a group of people are doing the same thing, I will probably go and do the opposite,” Ebuwa admits. “In dance we are taught to emulate or be like someone else. I’ve always struggled with that and upon reflection, it’s probably because deep down I’ve never wanted to be anything other than myself. By combining my interests, I’ve allowed myself to put forward my own creative expression.”
Woman SRSLY offers Ebuwa an opportunity to give back to young creatives in artistic industries. The collective has applied for arts council funding and is currently providing mentoring at a variety of different institutions for young makers, so creative youth can enter the professional realm equipped and confident.
“I’m hoping to help cultivate a community of women—black women in particular—that love and understand their worth,” Ebuwa explains. “Hopefully I will change perceptions and ideas about what black females can achieve.”
Ebuwa speaks passionately about modeling confidence in herself and her craft when mentoring: “I want people to look at me and know that it’s cool not to follow the bandwagon. You can always do it your own way, as long as you trust in your own uniqueness,” she says.
“Sounds super corny, but you would be surprised how much time people waste trying to be someone they’re not. You’re always more than enough.”
Photography by: Holly Whittaker
Written by: Jocelyn Tennant, Writer & OQ Commercial Drive Manager