Sarain Carson-Fox, Artist, Activist and Storyteller

FLARE #HowIMadeIt celebrates 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women with cool jobs. Want what Sarain has? Here’s how she did it

How I Made It community builders: Sarain Carson-Fox wears a plaid shirt and sits outside on a blanket with her hair in a ponytail
Sarain Carson Fox; 
Toronto/Brooklyn, N.Y.; 


 

Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?

I’m an Anishinaabe artist and activist, and a proud Indigenous woman. I am a storyteller that uses many mediums (like journalism, dance and fashion) to amplify the voices of my people and celebrate our vibrant cultures.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I was taught that ceremony and a deep connection to the land were the greatest source of knowledge so I consider my culture the highest education I could ever receive. That being said, as a woman raised to walk in two worlds I also understand the value and privilege of Western education. I moved to New York City when I was 18, where I attended The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and The New York Film Academy.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

I ran all the merch for my sister’s band Digging Roots, worked as a stylist and booked my first full-time performance gig touring with Kahawaii Dance Theatre. (As an artist, it’s never enough to have just one job!)

What was your BIG break? How did you land it? 

This is a tough question; I think I have had many “big” breaks that have lead me to where I am at today. But most recently, and perhaps most notably, I landed a job with Vice Media as the host of a series called Rise that takes viewers to the front lines of Indigenous communities.

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?

Our first shoot for Rise. I was hooked the moment we touched down in Arizona. We got to meet the Apache Stronghold, a resistance movement started by Wendsler Nosie and lead by his then 16-year-old granddaughter, Naelyn. I also knew it was real when Rise was selected to premiere as a special presentation at the Sundance Film Festival this past winter.

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

Impostor syndrome—convincing myself that I was not good enough, or the right person for the job. But as soon as I started to believe that I deserved everything that I had worked so hard for, this started to fade and everything changed.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

BELIEVE. As cheesy and cliché as it is, it’s true. Believe in yourself and never give up. Surround yourself with people who have the same mindset and motivate each other.

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

Yes! Especially in the dance world. I found myself in an industry run almost entirely by women, yet none of my basic and fundamental needs as a woman were considered acceptable. I also experienced a huge amount of body shaming as well as sexual harassment from many of my male peers and directors. And It’s the same in the film/television/media industry, especially as an Indigenous woman. I have made it part of my life’s work to advocate for other woman and to be loud and proud as a feminist.

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?

I know I make less than men doing the exact same job in my industry. I also know that I make less as an Indigenous person who identifies as a woman. Why? It’s part of a larger systemic idea that women are less than, and Indigenous people are not worthy. This may seem harsh; however, this has been what I have experienced to be true.

My side hustle has always been in arts/fashion/music. I’m a stylist, which lead me to a dream job. I styled a music video for A Tribe Called Red and tried to use only Indigenous products. I pulled from a Canadian, Indigenous-owned brand, Manitobah Mukluks, and the video started a relationship with the company. I have been working with them ever since and am now an ambassador and the spokesperson for the brand. 

What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?

That we are lazy, obsessed with social media and not capable of achieving the success of our parents. NOT TRUE!!

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