Bella Sontez on self-love

“Self love is the belief you hold that you are a valuable and worthy person. An example of self love is when you have a positive view of yourself and are confident in yourself and your place in the world.”
Taken by @wendyhuynh

The creative industry has become such a saturated market, with people of a diverse number of talents and capabilities. To you, what is the importance of self-love as a creative?

Self-love as a creative is the most important thing! A lot of us get so caught up in pleasing others that we forget to do sh*t for ourselves. I guess it gets pushed to the side because, the term ‘self-love’ is so strong that it scares us. It is an extremely hard thing to love yourself when you’re always being told you’re not good enough, constantly being brainwashed with images of people who seem to be so ahead of you.

Taken by @thesundncekid

Very true. We live a society that constructs a certain type of image. An image of what is the right way to look, feel or act. It is really easy to fall victim of this, through social media and other means. It is also very easy to get into the habit of comparing yourself to someone else. This is something I think comes from a lack of self-love. What is your opinion on this? When did you become so confident and free? Was there a point when you just let go and said “I’m just going to be me and love myself for it”?

I just wrote a piece that is up on AfroPunk right now titled Multi-Media Liberation Essay Explores Freedom From Numbing Social Norms. It explains my thoughts and feelings on this in the best possible way, that I could ever put it across. I think there was a point when I just kinda let go. I must have been about 21 and one of my friends said…

“99% of people are thinking about how they come across to other people”.

That really stuck with me. From then on I was like I don’t care. I’m gonna wear what I wanna wear, speak my mind and just continue being weird as f*ck. For me, daily affirmations also helped me to love myself.

You featured in Jenn Nkiru’s Black Star: Rebirth Is Necessary – a moving piece. What was that like and how did the opportunity to appear in the film come about?

YES! Rebirth is necessary. Yeah WOW, an absolutely incredible film. I’m so glad that I got to be apart of Jenn’s vision. Jenn hit me up on Instagram. I agreed to do it not knowing exactly what I was getting into – I like surprises. As soon as I found out what it all was about, I was even more excited to work on it. Rebirth Is Necessary was probably one of my favourite things to have worked on this year.

Can you talk a bit about what you think the film conveys about ‘appreciating your blackness’?

In many ways, the film shows how we as people can push through anything to become the greatest. Even in the worst times, we’ll reach light at the end of the tunnel if we stick together. It just screams we are magic. We are the greatest and without our blackness what would we really be…

Shot by @elleayyuren / Styled by @christianahjones

Back in 2016, you attended AfroPunk Fest held in Brooklyn. Why is it crucial that we continue to have events like AfroPunk Fest?

I believe it’s crucial for us as Africans, Caribbeans, aliens or whatever you identify as, to continue to have events such as AfroPunk. Primarily because, it brings us together. Such events provide us with a space to truly be ourselves without judgement, without feeling like we don’t belong. AfroPunk will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s where I’ve met some of my dearest friends. It’s one of the places I feel most comfortable.

Bella at AfroPunk Fest in Brooklyn

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re from? Also, did you grow up in London? If so, what are your experiences like of growing up in London being of mixed heritage?

I’m not too sure where I’m from. Haha, not many people can tell that I’m mixed! I grew up on another planet, but it’s kinda long to explain. Someone once told me that I’m the daughter of Sun Ra, born into a world that doesn’t deserve me. So, I’m going to go with that…

Editorial taken by @lihibrosh1

I love how futuristic and other-worldly this shot is. It certainly stands out amongst the crowd! What was it like working with Lihi Brosh to create this? What was the concept behind this shoot?

Aww, thank you! Lihi is wavy. The universe wanted us to meet. It was only right that we created something out of this world. There was no real concept to this. It was my last day in New York. Lihi styled me in her clothes, we headed to a rooftop downtown and ended up taking this and a few other shots. Our whole coming together and doing this was fate I guess.

I certainly admire the spontaneity of your creative output. Do you consider yourself to be a model, how did you get into the industry?

Honestly, I don’t know how I got into it. I wouldn’t say I’m really in it. I don’t like to put myself into boxes.

Styled by @youthsmhr / Shot by @sammiswar / Make up by @anne_caze / Top by @bare_vintage / Trousers by @cindylevyparis  #THEDREAMTEAM

In keeping with the theme of self-love, how do you plan on staying true to yourself in the future?

I plan on staying true to myself by keeping myself grounded – always evolving. Keeping myself educated and hydrated, cause H20 is the healer!



Shot by @filmawi
Main image shot and styled by @bluespit