CHECKIN' IN WITH DEBA HEKMAT
Starting off this year, we decided to begin a new series called ‘Checkin’ In With…’ where we sit down and highlight women we consider to be friends & family of Patta and speak to them about their careers, personal experiences in and out of lockdowns, and what has got them through this period.
The first one up is Deba Hekmat, a 19-year-old Kurdish model and a creative who grew up in the UK, who uses her social media platform to push political and social issues and advocate for change. Privilege, diversity, and abuse against women are just a few topics she touches on, on her Instagram stories on a regular basis. During the first lockdown, Deba started a series of IG Lives where she individually sat down and spoke to her friends about personal experiences as POC, beauty standards for women of colour, systemic racism, and the BLM movement. When asked if she considers herself an activist, she mentions not being a big fan of the word: “I just give a shit and I feel like everyone should also give a shit.”
Read our conversation below.
Can you tell us about where you are from and what you do?
I am originally from Kurdistan. If you don’t know it, Google it because I don’t have enough time to explain where it is. I guess you could say I’m a model but I don’t really like saying that. I guess I’m trying to become a presenter and more of a personality but we will see what happens, but for now let’s go with a model.
Do you not consider yourself to be an activist?
I don’t really like that word, you know. I don’t think what I do can be considered as activism because all I do is social media work. For me, activism is campaigning and doing all of this and all of that and there’s so many activists that I know doing this. I just give a shit and I feel like everyone should also give a shit.
Who were your main influences growing up?
This is a tough one because I didn’t have the internet growing up until I was in year 9 or 10 and I didn’t have a phone until that time as well. All of the information that I was gaining was from primary research from my family. But if I’m being honest, my biggest influences growing up were just my mum and my aunts because I would see them get glammed up all the time and look like amazing women. However, this is not something I can kinda connect to now and the way they glam themselves up, but it’s something I’ve looked up to back then.
How did your modelling career start and where?
I was in college and I hated it and my college teacher was being very rude and called me anorexic a couple of times which I think is bang out of order. One day, I sent a few photos over to Anti-Agency and they’ve accepted me and I started doing shoots here and there and then after time my college teacher was like: “Don’t come back, there’s just no point in you being here.” And then I’ve told my agency that I’m a free woman and they could do whatever they want with me. I probably should have stayed in education for a bit longer but we do what we do.
What’s the biggest highlight of your career so far?
A year ago, I would be able to give you a big definite answer but right now looking back at everything, modelling to me is not something that I truly enjoy. But one of the coolest shoots I’ve done was actually go to Stonehenge and touch the stones because not everybody is allowed to do that. I went there with Aries Arise and David Sims and it was the most nuts experience ever. I was 16 and I didn’t know who David Sims was (I’m sorry Kip). We had to wake up at like 2 in the morning to catch the sunrise and it was the most nuts experience of my life but just to see the sunrise through all the cracks.
What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome?
In my career, it would be to reach a point where I feel comfortable with myself because I feel like last year especially, I was in a massive hole where I was always comparing myself to other people and it wasn’t healthy. The more I did it, the worse I felt and it wasn’t good for me and I’ve told myself that I had to stop this. I got myself into therapy and honestly, the last year has been the biggest learning curve because I’ve started looking deeply into what it means to be Deba Hekmat and if I like it or don’t like it, what can I change about it. The past year has been tough but very important.
What’s your routine been like?
The first lockdown was amazing, I bought so much workout equipment and I started working out everyday. I even got myself some protein powder. And then, the second lockdown came and I haven’t touched anything since, it’s been so bad. I go to bed at around 4 A.M and wake up at 2 P.M, that’s my daily routine. I need to do something a little bit more exciting but for now I’m just getting used to things.
What would be the biggest thing you’ve learned or taken from the first lockdown that has helped you through this one?
That buying a lot of exercise equipment in hopes to exercise is not a good idea. I’m not even joking, I’ve spent like £150 on weights, resistance bands and yoga mats and they are just rotting in the corner of my room. So yeah…don’t do that, just use some milk and pick up the milk cartons.
Has your creative process dramatically altered this time around?
Yeah definitely so, the first lockdown I was a bit more productive with myself and this lockdown I’ve realised more things that I want to do. The first lockdown I was trying to bring together ideas of shows I want to create and then this lockdown I’ve put it into real words. This is helping me clarify what I want to do and how I want to do it which is pretty cool.
How do you see this changing/affecting your industry going forward?
I thought it would be crazy but every shoot that I’ve been to, no one has really cared…it’s so bad. I’m not even going to lie, every shoot I’ve been to has been the least socially distanced and the least everything so if I contract the virus I know who to put it back on.
What has been your biggest motivation over the past couple of weeks?
That one day this is all going to be over and I can go hug my mum. I miss my mum and she lives in Wales so I don’t get to see her a lot.
Do you have any advice or tips on how to remain positive during these times?
Find yourself a show that you really like to watch and cling onto it for dear life. I started How To Get Away With Murder again. Sometimes, I’m sad and I tell myself that I deserve to treat myself to some HTGAWM. It’s so good! Do you know what Melania Trump said? That it was her favourite TV show…she’s plotting some big things.
Have you recently discovered any new interests?
So you know how Nathan Rosen started knitting during the first lockdown? I’ve started knitting too and I saw him knit too and I was like “I can’t let this kid beat me so I need to pick up my knitting needles!” It looks so sick, we are going to start a club.
What artists have got you through this period?
I love music so much Liv, I need it to get through my day. I found this amazing lady called Remi Wolf and she’s so energetic, amazing and fun. It’s not the sort of music I listen to a lot but it’s just so insane and happy. One of her songs is called ‘Photo ID.’ My mate Brian Nasty released a new song called ‘Heart Emoji’ featuring AMA. Absolutely nuts song and the video is very playful and fun. Oh and NSG featuring Unknown T released a new track called ‘Kate Winslet’ which is exciting.
What’s the one thing you most look forward to after lockdown?
I have this show that I’m working on for myself and once lockdown is over I will be able to film it. I’m just waiting for this to happen so I can gather everyone together. I want it to be specifically just women in the production team because I’ve been to many shoots where it’s just straight white men and it’s so tiring. I’m sure you see the same thing, it’s so annoying when you can’t see anyone different or someone who looks like you behind the production of things. I couldn’t give a shit about diverse cast anymore because we have been caring about diversity of cast already. But when are we going to start caring about people behind the scenes because it’s all good to shoot a black model but what if everyone behind the scenes is a white man…How does that relate to the audience? With my show, I want to make sure that it’s all women’s production so everyone can be comfortable and happy.
And lastly, how did you get linked with Patta?
Nathannnn! Love that kid, I met him when he was around 14 and he's always had this super loud super energetic character about him. He's a special kid for sure so yeah! Nathan Rosen famous Roman :)
DEBA IS WEARING THE PATTA GRID RELAXED TRACKSUIT.
Images & Words: Olivia Jankowska