Amal Fashanu is a name that needs no introduction. Daughter of football legend John Fashanu and Spanish model Marisol Acuna. Amal shot to fame with her hard hitting BBC Three documentary Britain’s Gay Footballers,few years ago. Amal is a respected documentary film-maker. Fashion model, TV presenter,model, designer and a tireless equality campaigner. The 31 year old beauty has produced 4 documentaries: “Britain’s gay Footballers” for mental health and “Footballers, Se, Money: What’s Gone Wrong” for BBC3.In 2012 she was invited by the then Prime Minister David Cameron to a summit on discrimination in football at Downing Street. Last year, Amal established the Justin Fashanu Foundation,named after her uncle who tragically took his own life eight years after becoming the first professional footballer to come out as gay. She has proven that some things do run in the family with her countless and tireless campaign against racism in football,features and magazine covers. In this exclusive interview,Amal talks about her career and other interesting subjects.
A-CHOICES: Hi, Amal. Please, tell us a little bit about yourself?
AMAL: So, my name is Amal Fashanu and I was born in London. I grew up in Madrid, Spain and my mother is Spanish, my father is Nigerian. I went to Brunel University. I studied communication and media studies and then I specialized in making documentaries for BBC, followed by having my own street wear equality brand called Black heart label and then I recently launched well recently, I launched a handbag brand two years ago. So, I’m a handbag designer and I am into music which I will be releasing in 2021.
A-CHOICES: Professional footballers will not discuss homophobia, and you have been battling to put an end to homophobia in the game?
AMAL: Homophobia football is a topic that I’ve been talking about since about 2011. I’ve been an active campaigner not only with homophobia in football but racism and mental health in football. I set up a foundation around 9 months ago called the Justin Fashanu foundation which works with the professional football association of USA and we are now hoping to work with FIFA and the premier league. What the foundation has now been doing this year in 2020 is having an ambassadorial scheme where we appoint three ambassadors from each football club to be mental health ambassadors for our foundation so right now we have three footballers from Norwich city football club who are our three mental health footballers.
A-CHOICES: Your late uncle Justin Fashanu is finally being recognised as one of football’s greatest trailblazers – 22 years after his death. How does this make you feel?
AMAL: I’m very proud and very honoured that he was my uncle because no matter what your sexuality is, what your religion is or what your race is, you are a human and what is important in this life is to be the best type of human that you can be and that’s who I feel Justin was, a good human and individual and not only that, he was very very talented. So for me, the fact that he’s finally being recognized is an incredible step forward.
A-CHOICES: How did you come up with the idea of launching your foundation?
AMAL: There’s this documentary that I made in 2012 called “Britain’s Gay Footballers” for BBC 3. Then, I was invited to Downing Street and it made me want to do more, equality wise. And I know that Justin would have been really proud of me doing these types of things that I do.
A-CHOICES: But he will be forever remembered in English football as the first professional player to come out as gay?
AMAL: Justin would be remembered as the first black million-pound player in England. That’s what happened and then, he was one of the first openly gay professionals to be playing, while still playing he came out. That is something that till today, we have not seen. It is something that is amazing that someone would have the courage and the bravery back then not only to come out as gay but you’re also black, you also have a brother who plays in the game and you’re also religious so it’s going against a lot of barriers but it just proves how strong of a person he was as an individual.
A-CHOICES: As a film-maker, on which topic would you make your next documentary about?
AMAL: My next documentary is going to be also based around football because I find that within the football game, I have a lot of access to these individuals who can tell me the truth though I like to explore the world of football that so many people find hard to explore.
A-CHOICES: As a film-maker, what words of advice do you have for film-makers reading this interview?
AMAL:I will first advice people venturing into documentaries to love the topic that you are talking about,the subject. And I think they have to be passionate about it.
A-CHOICES: Tell us about your participation in the Black Lives Matters protest in London summer 2020?
AMAL:I came out with my street wear brand, Black heart label. I have a jumper, it was the most sold out jumper, 2012 and because of black lives matter, I went out to the protest with a few friends and they all wore the jumper and this jumper was pictured in Vogue magazine so once it was pictured in Vogue magazine, it went viral and then obviously on the website, the jumpers were completely sold out and ever since I’ve been selling these jumpers. I can send you a picture as well.
A-CHOICES: What is it like being a fashion model, designer,TV presenter ,an equality campaigner and a business woman?
AMAL: When you decide to do many things in life, you have to be very discipline because you have to be very careful, you don’t want to be seen as jack of all trades, master of none. So, you need to be very disciplined and focused and you need to make sure that you have a structured time and a structured place for everything that you do and in the meantime, you have to not forget that we only have one life so you have to also have a lot of fun. You have to mix both things and be able to balance them which sometimes becomes hard but as you grow older and wiser, it becomes easier.
A-CHOICES: If you had the power to change five things in the world , what would they be?
AMAL:Even though it’s very idealistic, it would be poverty, it would be climate change, global climate change, it would be more farming and what else? Maybe cruelty in some human individuals we have.
A-CHOICES:Covid-19 already has claimed thousands of lives, cratered global economies and closed international borders As countries grapple with how best to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and the reverberations it is sending through their societies and economies, understanding of how the virus is behaving, what measures do you think might best combat it?
AMAL:I think the best way to combat the pandemic is being positive and also trying to make a rational decision for yourself as to what is going on and not rely on the media of other people because a lot of times, we have fear in our body and when we have fear, I feel like we allow for covid-19 to come in so we have to just stay positive and know that if we stay healthy and we try our best to stay positive in our minds and body, everything will be alright.
Author: Gbenga Teejay Okunlola