Amy Sall was born and raised as first-generation Senegalese-American in New York. Currently completing her MA in Human Rights, Vogue recently did an interesting piece on her where she discussed respectable ways of adapting clothes from other cultures into one’s style. Next month she launches the SUNU: Journal of African Affairs, Critical Thought + Aesthetics. ELLE caught up with Amy and talked work and style.
ELLE: You were keen on following a career in fashion. When did you change your mind?
Amy Sall (AS): While doing my Bachelors I interned at Vogue and thought I wanted to be a Vogue girl and see my name on the masthead. I soon realised that this was not my passion and had to go back to the root of what I cared about, which was human rights and social development. I never thought I would take that route of academia. I love to learn and research and have critical conversations. I want to delve more into human rights in the African context, and think about how African film and photography can start conversations about human rights.
ELLE: Tell us about your travels to the continent?
AS: Last year I traveled to Senegal and Kenya. Senegal is home because I have family and friends, but Kenya was different. I travelled and stayed in a place where I didn’t know anything or anyone, but I learned a lot about women’s issues, especially the things that they have to negotiate on the continent. It was an incredibly rewarding experience.
ELLE: Having grown up in New York, is Senegal still home?
AS: When I step off the plane in Senegal I have this overwhelming sense of home. My Wolof is not too strong and that’s a reminder that I’m not from there. But I was raised in a Senegalese home, where we spoke Wolof and listened to Senegalese music, so I was never that out of touch.
ELLE: Tell us about the SUNU journal.
AS: SUNU (meaning ‘our’ in Wolof) relates to how strongly I feel about African youth and the sharing of ideas. The inspiration came from a few things, one of which was seeing how people would engage with my posts on Instagram. I would share images taken from an African context and this would spark comments and debates on the subject. This gave me the idea to start something where we could have conversations around issues, art and culture beyond Instagram.
ELLE: Which African artist’s work do you appreciate the most?
Ousmane Sembene was my entryway into looking at African issues told from a perspective that was honest and beautiful. I love Chéri Samba’s satirical approach to his work. I also appreciate Njideka Akunyili and Sammy Baloji.
ELLE: Let’s talk fashion and style.
AS: Fashion represents who you are and is a piece of your identity. My style is minimal, simple, clean and elegant. My must-haves are a leather jacket and a good pair of classic black heels. I also love a good coat. I operate on a small colour palette and like to explore and play with silhouettes and shapes. I love to keep things very simple.
ELLE: What are your beauty must-haves?
AS: A concealer is important especially when I have breakouts. I prefer Make Up Forever in Shade 20. I only wear three shades of lipstick preferably from MAC or NARS and Yves Saint Laurent mascara.
The SUNU journal is accepting submissions from artists and writers from all over the continent. Find out more here sunujournal.com.