You can’t take your eyes off the dreamy, sunkissed photographs of Arsenal defender Héctor Bellerín on the Gunners’ pre-season tour that did the rounds on football Instagram last summer. Or the intimate snaps documenting behind the scenes of Maya Jama’s public persona. They were taken by Danika Magdelena AKA @sirius.film, one of the few young women of colour working creatively at the intersection of fashion, music, and sport, training her nostalgic-yet-modern lens on the youth defining their respective scenes. “My creative manifesto is about capturing candid moments with people that I shoot, in a way in which the vibe translates naturally through the photograph,” the Londoner shares.
The magic of Magdelena’s analogue photography beyond that is their fly-on-the-wall quality and the fascinating diversity of her subjects – friends and world-famous rappers like Drake (on tour) alike. Career highlights include shooting a Nike campaign with Dazed 100 alum Adwoa Aboah, launching her first picture book Sirius Nostalgia and her Girls Don’t Cry project, originally an exhibition and short film which has evolved into a movement promoting female empowerment, mental health awareness and self-expression through creative arts.
How she hopes to influence the future? “To show young people from a similar background to me that it’s definitely possible to have a career based on passion, perseverance and consistency.”
Danika Magdelena: I started taking photos at college parties with a point and shoot camera and I’ve expanded by creatively directing my shoots and styling friends, models, and people found on social media in my projects. I’m inspired by old family photographs – my grandmother took photos in the 1960s and 1970s with a film camera and I love the nostalgia I get looking back at them. My parents took photos on film too, mainly in the 90s, and it was interesting to compare the different eras, and see the familiar 35mm film feel flowing through.
I’m also inspired by and look for people with unique characteristics, who have something interesting, different or special about them.
What issues or causes are you passionate about and why?
Danika Magdelena: Mental health and wellbeing. There is so much pressure on people to be productive all of the time, through education, work, with friends and it can take a toll on mental health. I say that from personal experience. This is partly why I created the Girls Don’t Cry project to promote positive ways of thinking, give myself something to focus on, and support/connect with other women who feel similarly.
What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?
Danika Magdelena: I would love to design and develop at least two more events for the GDC project. The two I already did were quite small and short so it would be great to increase the numbers, do half or full day events, and maybe something outside of London. These events and workshops will focus on female empowerment and promoting good mental health, well-being and confidence, which is very important to me.