Earlier this year, the Asian Woman Festival team announced our first ever Power list to shine a spotlight on Asian women who are creating positive change in the world, and of those women was none other than the wonderful Sukki Singapora. Not only is Sukki known for being an entertainer, being a burlesque artist as well as a television actress on Netflix's Singapore Social, she is also a humanitarian and women's' rights activist. Here Sukki talks being her own cheerleader, staying kind and advice for other women wanting to make a change in the world.
Why is it so important for you to combine your art and your activism?
I think art and activism are in a way for me, inseparable. I started in burlesque, which by its very nature is boundary pushing, empowering, and challenging to the antiquated ideals of patriarchy. As an Asian burlesque performer, I felt deeply uncomfortable confining my art to places where it was accepted, and I think it was that, combined with the support from those that followed me, that really led me into doing something about it. There’s absolutely no joy for me in doing something as a woman which I know that other women can’t. For me, the freedom of women to express themselves has become a personal responsibility of mine as an Artist. It’s something that started with my journey in burlesque, and one which has absolutely filtered through into everything else I do.
What keeps you motivated?
Gosh. I’d have to say it’s myself. It’s something that I’ve learnt to develop. To be my own cheerleader and hype woman. The Arts can be extremely tough, and not everyone will understand what you do, they’ll always be challenges. In those moments the most powerful thing you can do is pep talk yourself into believing that anything and everything is possible. Even if you have doubts. Brainwash yourself into overcoming those doubts. Don’t tempt yourself with a backup plan, just stay completely focused and give it everything you’ve got. Of course, everyone has down days, and on those days it’s important to give yourself a break, but set yourself a goal: okay today is an off day but tomorrow I’m going to pick myself up and 100% smash this. Failure is simply not an option. I wake up every morning with the intention of manifesting greatness.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced on your journey to success? How has being a woman/ WOC impacted this?
Both my biggest challenge and my greatest strength I think has been being kind. The world is full of people who don’t think like you, and if you’re nice it can be tough. Especially as a woman, you’re told to set boundaries and stand firm, and yes, there’s some truth to that, but I’ve found that you can get further when you’re kind. When you really care about the people you work with, and those around you. It’s not just about climbing the ladder, it’s about making sure you bring everyone around you up that ladder with you too. As a woman of colour I’ve experienced prejudices and stereotypes too. But in those instances it’s important not to let that make you cold. It’s that saying: “don’t let them break you.” I absolutely believe that. Keep pushing. Keep creating. And if they don’t let you in their circles, make your own powerful circles, until they’re asking to be in yours. And when that time comes, let them in. Because you should never let them change you. Always stay true to yourself. Always stay kind, stay nice. Inclusivity is broadening. It might not be as fast as we’d want it to be, but every being with a dream can make a difference.
What advice would you give to other WOC wanting to make a change in the world/ follow their passions?
Be brave. Be prepared to be uncomfortable. That’s okay. Doing something to make a real difference will naturally garner resistance. That’s guaranteed. But stay brave and do it anyway. That and be kind to yourself as well as others. As strong women we’re so often our biggest critics. But trust the process. I promise you, anything and everything IS possible.