Spotlight: Awa Farah

Awa Farah is a film producer, writer and researcher who is based in the UK. She is currently a first-year PhD student at the University of Cambridge. She has been selected for the 2021 BAFTA x BFI Film Crew. Her documentary “Somalinimo” became a viral hit after being published by The Guardian in late 2020. She also worked on the film, “A Life in a Day”, which will premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2021. The work she does reflects her combined passions: the African continent, identity, women’s rights and storytelling.

Name: Awa Farah

Occupation/Role: Film producer/writer, PhD student

What did you want to be when you were growing up? 

When I was younger I wanted to be a fashion journalist. I remember watching the film “The Devils Wears Prada” when I was young and imagining that I would move to Paris and live the glamorous life of a fashion journalist. However, after studying Journalism during my undergraduate degree, I realized I did not want to pursue it as a full-time job. The work I do now is not that different as it still allows me to be creative and write.  

Who were your biggest role models growing up?

My family. Growing up with six sisters, I felt like I had space where I could have honest conversations about everything. They are still my role models today. 

What is one thing that you would like to tell your younger self?

Speak up. I was a very shy kid.

What was a life-changing moment you experienced that shaped you into the woman that you are today?

I have had a few life-changing moments. The biggest one being when my mum got ill when I was 16. In the last couple of years, I think it has pushed me to work harder and not be afraid of failing. Reminding myself that I am my mother’s daughter and if she is that strong, so am I. 

What made you pursue your current career?

I have always loved film and any form of visual storytelling. Film is such a great way to bring an idea to life. It’s not the easiest, cheapest, or fastest creative outlet, but it is very rewarding once you have completed a project. 

What is a typical day like for you?

Every day is different. But I always like to get up early and start writing straight away, as that’s when my brain is the most creative and works the best. After that, I do the tasks that I need to do for that particular day. 

What has been the biggest obstacle in your professional life so far and how did you manage to overcome it?

Feeling like I needed to find ‘the’ profession. I have always been both an academic and creative person, and I felt I had to choose one for a long time. Giving myself the freedom to explore and work on projects I love and not obsess so much about putting myself in a neat square box has been freeing. 

Which Somali woman inspires you and why?

As cliche as it may sounds, my mum. She is a very impressive person. I would not be who I am today without the strong Somali women in my life. 

What advice would you give to a person pursuing your chosen career?

To collaborate with as many filmmakers as possible as that is the only way you can truly learn in this industry.

How would you like people to remember you?

As someone who does what they love and treats others with love. 

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