February 2021

Naomi Osaka writing at a desk in a room of flowersNaomi Osaka writing at a desk in a room of flowers

As you evolve, you become. Our Beauty of Becoming series celebrates that journey, and how each of us must embrace our paths in life in order to collectively fashion a new world forward.

In this Q&A between the creator of the series Oge Egbuonu, and Naomi Osaka, one of the series’ featured changemakers, we delve more into Naomi’s personal journey towards becoming her most authentic self. Read on as she talks more in depth about representation, embracing her platform, and the advice she’d give to anyone else wanting to become an activist.

Image of Naomi Osaka wearing a black shirt, red lipstick and denim trucker jacket with her arms crossed in front of her.

OGE EGBUONU: Given the magnitude and significance of today [Inauguration Day, 2021], with the U.S. swearing in its first Black woman as VP and having Amanda Gorman be the youngest person [and youngest Black woman] to deliver the poem at the inauguration, what are your feelings? How does today hold significance for you?

NAOMI OSAKA: I feel like it represents a lot of hope for me and millions of other young women and girls out there. I always think that representation matters, and for us to see Kamala and Amanda out there today – that meant a lot and pushes all of our dreams forward.

OE: I 100% agree. I also agree with what you said about representation because I understand that visuals are very important and powerful. The next question I have for you is around activism. In your opinion, would you say that activism deals more with a humanitarian aspect, a political one, or both?

NO: For me, I’ve always considered it both. For some reason, I feel like activism has this sort of negative undertone to it when used politically, and sometimes when people are attached to the branding of being an activist, it can be used in a negative way. For me, I’ve always considered it — the definition of it — as just using your voice and speaking about what you believe in. So, for me, I consider it both ways, humanitarian and political.

OE: In your opinion, what challenges do youth face as they begin to use their voices and get politically involved?

NO: Given their age, I think the main challenge that young people face would probably be people [not] taking them seriously. People tend to think that the younger generation aren’t experienced or don’t really know what they’re talking about because they just look at their age and not what they’ve been through or what they’ve seen.

OE: How do you think they overcome that?

NO: I think we overcome that just by pushing forward, being resilient, and knowing that what [we] talk about and feel is important. And that there’s probably a lot of similar people that feel the same way.

Naomi Osaka wearing Levi's® Trucker jacket and Levi's® jeans kneeling surrounded by flowers

OE: 100% agree. In your opinion, why is now such a significant time for political activism, especially for the youth?

NO: I feel like it’s because we’re in uncertain times. The youth are the ones that are going to be the future, and they’re the ones that should be speaking up because they’re going to be here long after we’re gone. They’re going to have to live with the way the world gets shaped.

OE: What are issues that you want to bring to the greater public in the next few years? Are there any social issues that you’re very passionate about?

NO: I’m more of a feeling person, so I don’t really go into anything with a plan. I can only draw on the experiences that I’ve lived through. Clearly, the Black Lives Matter [movement] mattered a lot to me. I would say I always think about my childhood and the things that I’ve gone through, and, for me, I feel like if I can speak on that and at least one person can relate, then I’ve made some sort of positive impact.

OE: What would you say are the pros and cons of incorporating activism into your career? Do you feel that the pros are worth the cost of the cons?

NO: The pro is that I know that there’s a lot of people that have seen what I’ve done, and I hope that it raised a lot of awareness and discussions. Honestly, there aren’t a lot of cons for me. Maybe that it draws a bit of unwanted negative attention, but someone once told me that you can’t really control what people perceive of you, so that doesn’t worry me too much.

OE: For those who may have never been active in activism or are afraid to step into the role, what advice would you give about discovering your voice?

NO: Believe in yourself and your own values. You’re the only you. You’re the only person that’s lived your life and gone through your experiences, so your voice is important and your voice matters. If you find yourself being fearful of what other people have to say about your opinion or your thoughts, then just know that anything that you say is valid.

OE: Do you follow any activists or any activist organizations on social media? If so, how do they influence your beliefs and your perceptions?

When my boyfriend went to Kentucky [to protest for Breonna Taylor], he went with a group, Until Freedom, and I was keeping up with them for a while. I like everything that they stand for.

Watch Naomi Osaka’s Beauty of Becoming film.