Video: Shannon Hope 'Alone in the City' + 'Fight a New Day'

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A few weeks ago singer-songwriter Shannon Hope penned a painfully reflective piece for Rolling Stone South Africa about what it means to struggle as an artist and the resolve it requires. Titled "Living the Dream, But Not Making a Living," Hope, an award winning musician, writes with unflinching honesty about how heart-breaking it is turning up to play in front of an empty auditorium. “Waiting for an audience to arrive,” she says, “is like reliving that childhood fear that no one would come to your birthday party, over, and over, and over again.”

Later she adds: “In reality, I’m torturing myself through already emotionally-demanding music that is only intensified by the dark silent space, and burdening three people with pity as they watch me trying to fight back tears of bitter frustration and disappointment, because I can’t shrug it off as a bad night anymore.”  Despite the Titanic-intensity struggle to stay afloat the talented singer isn’t giving up the dream just yet; she recently inked a publishing deal with Peer Music South Africa. "Alone in the City" (above) is taken from her 2009 debut, STILL and "Fight a New Day" (below) is from her more recent album with the same title.

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Photo by Trevor Stuurman.

Interview: Thando Hopa Never Anticipated Acceptance in the Industry—She Anticipated a Fight

We speak to the South African lawyer, model, actress and activist about her historic Vogue cover, stereotypes imposed on people living with albinism and her work with human interest stories about vulnerable groups as a WEF fellow.

Vogue Portugal's April edition was a moment that caused everyone to hold their breath collectively. For the first time ever, a woman living with albinism was featured on the cover of the magazine in a sublime and timeless manner. Thando Hopa, a South African lawyer, model, actress and activist was the woman behind this historic first. It was not just a personal win for Hopa, but a victory for a community that continues to be underrepresented, stigmatised and even harmed for a condition outside of their control, particularly in Africa.

At just 31, the multi-hyphenate Hopa is a force to be reckoned with across different spaces. Through her considerable advocacy work as an activist, Hopa has and continues to dispel stereotypes and misconceptions about people living with albinism as well as changing what complex representation looks like within mainstream media. In 2018, Hopa was named the one of the world's 100 most influential women by the BBC. After hanging up her gown as a legal prosecutor after four years of working with victims of sexual assault, Hopa is on a mission to change skewed perceptions and prejudices when it comes to standards of beauty.

As a current fellow at the World Economic Forum, she is also working towards changing editorial oversights that occur when depicting historically underrepresented and vulnerable groups. The fellowship programme prepares individuals for leadership in both public and private sectors, and to work across all spheres of global society.

OkayAfrica recently spoke to Hopa to find out about how it felt to be the first woman with albinism to be featured on Vogue, the current projects she's working on and what's in the pipeline for her.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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