Meet Tara Olayeye, an incredibly talented filmmaker and content creator whose love for storytelling is, to put it simply, captivating. She posts colourful and expressive short films and videos on YouTube, each with a distinct message conveying her own lived experiences involving friendships, racism, the transition from girlhood to adulthood, and so on. And as if she wasn't cool enough, in 2017, Tara co-founded Emory University's first and only female production group, FemmeFilms, whose first film Petals won a Jury Award and Silver Tripod award at Campus Movie Fest 2017 and was screened in the Cannes Film Festival 2018 Short Film Corner. So it's suffice to say that we have a huge crush on Tara, and were thrilled to chat with her and discover why she first started her YouTube channel, why she chooses to work with film, and what her favourite movies are.
For this week, we're partnering with Tara Olayeye to donate 10% of proceeds to the Second Helpings Atlanta organization when anyone makes a purchase from her list of picks below!
Second Helpings Atlanta, Inc. (SHA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose vision is to fight hunger in the 5 county Metropolitan Atlanta area by rescuing surplus food and delivering it to those in need. With a team of nearly 400 volunteer drivers, SHA serves as the link between a network of 70+ food donors and more than 45 Partner Agencies providing food assistance and other services.
Who is Tara Olayeye? I am 22 years old and I am an artist/video editor currently living in Atlanta, Georgia. I love traveling, summer, long conversations with friends, and good food.
Can you describe your personal style for us? I never know how to describe my style...I guess it combines femininity and masculinity and can flip between being kind of clean and kind of tacky. For the most part, I’m always drawn to things that are breathable, made out of linen, or vintage/vintage-looking.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning? I typically drink some water and meditate for about 20 mins, and then maybe listen to some music I can dance to on Spotify. I think starting my morning this way helps me navigate the day with a bit more clarity and optimism.
When and why did you first start your YouTube channel? What do you envision for your channel in the future? I started Youtube in 2014 when I was around 18 years old. I was a sophomore in college at the time and had like zero friends on campus, so for the most part if I wasn’t in class, I was in my dorm watching youtube videos. I had been toying with the idea of starting my own youtube channel for months and months but always felt like it didn’t make sense for someone like me to start a channel because who would care to watch and what would I create. I also had no idea how to operate a camera and edit a video, but one night I was like f*ck it and put a video together and posted it. That first video I posted obviously wasn’t close to being polished or “quality” content but it was the push I needed to give myself to start creating and thinking bigger and bigger about the projects I wanted to accomplish. I definitely have plans for future content! I don’t really want to elaborate because I get anxious sharing goals and plans but things are coming!
What or who influences your work? I have so many influences it’s hard to keep up, but I think the core influence of my work is my own lived experience. I think stemming inspiration from my perspective only makes sense. I’m also heavily influenced by other black and female artists and filmmakers, music, nostalgia, nature, and color.
Why are videos the preferred medium for you to create on? I feel like I’ve always had a connection to film and video. I remember as a kid going on yahoomusic.com and watching music videos for hours, and using the family camcorder to record my own sitcoms and talk shows with my little sister. So I think the desire to make my own videos and films has always been there, but I’ve just recently gained the resources, vision, and drive.
How have your personal values shaped your own creative work? I care a lot about creating a level of depth and emotion within the characters and stories I tell through my work. I think personally, I really value feelings and sensitivity. I think it’s so necessary to feel and bring to light what your opinions, wishes, and anxieties are in order to process life more effectively. When you’re marginalized you can often feel stripped of feeling anything because the world doesn’t know how to properly interpret your emotions. For years I felt like I needed to harden myself in order to survive, which is why I make what I make now, to remind myself and women like me that there is a need to be open about how we feel.
More than ever, we need to speak out against harmful issues prevalent in society. What issues do you find dear to your heart? The lack of compassion and understanding of black women weighs heavily on my heart. It’s just so painful to see black women so violently misunderstood. I think it’s vital for us to look out for one another and build each other up. Because if we don’t do it, no one else really will.
How has your attitude towards fashion changed as you’ve aged? I feel like as I’ve grown older I’m a lot less impulsive when it comes to buying clothes and just products in general. I guess now, I like to be a bit more thoughtful when I’m about to buy a clothing item.
What does the slow fashion movement mean to you? To me, the slow fashion movement works as a way to push away from hyper-consumption and it calls for more critical thinking when it comes to our position as consumers.
What have been the greatest lessons you have learned since beginning your creative career? Trust the journey. It’s really easy to feel like you're miles behind, aren’t a “real” artist, don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re going but what’s important is that you’re continuing. I feel like when you actively work on your craft (on your own terms!) your confidence and understanding of what you want and where you want things to go feels more and more solid.
How are you sustainable in your day to day life? To be honest, I’m still working to become more educated about what sustainability actually means. Like I do thrift my clothes, which may appear to be a step in the right direction, but I tend to thrift at huge multi-million dollar companies that are known for exploiting their workers. And I eat plant-based, which is marketed as a super sustainable diet, but I’m buying fruits and vegetables at grocery stores that are mass producing foods most likely in an unethical way. So I feel like my “sustainable” actions, at least right now, are kind of counterproductive, but I definitely want to work to make actions that have more grip and aren’t just performative.
What are your top 3 favourite movies? This is a tough one! It changes literally all of the time. Right now I’d have to say; The Florida Project, Moonlight and Set it Off. All of these films are definitely heartbreaking in their own way but are worth watching!
What has been your favourite project to date?I don’t have one! The process and the outcome of each project I’ve worked on have all been so different and rewarding that it’s hard to choose favorites. I will say that when I made my short film called “Friends Break Hearts Too” that was the moment when I was like “Oh, I like actually made a narrative short film” and realized that I kind of know how to tell a decent story in my own way and there are people out there that understand and value it.
Favourite city to travel to? Probably London. I have some emotional ties to London because I was born in Essex and have a lot of supportive family friends around England, so naturally, I go as often as I can. Some of my favorite travel memories have taken place there and everytime I go I love to just walk aimlessly around the city and ride the tube, it never gets old.
Makeup or skincare product you couldn’t live without? Coconut Oil! It’s the key way for me to combat ashiness lol