By Amira Hasan - 31st July 2020
Rajvatan Singh: “I allow time and experience to continue to inspire me into continuing to pursue my passion.”
Being seen in an industry notorious for its lack of inclusivity is challenging. That said, Rajvatan Singh Rathour, the UK’s first Sikh fashion model, has faced this challenge head on. He’s walked runways at both London and India fashion week, been shot by renowned photographers, worked with established fashion brands and was featured as a model in a Punjabi music video - ensuring every step of the way that he is seen specifically as a person of colour.
Alongside modelling, Rajvatan pursues his passion for the creative arts as an actor and dancer. Working in these fields has fostered his evolution as a creative professional throughout his career. From featuring in the movie ‘Sajjan Singh Rangroot,’ directed by Pankaj Batra, to being a professional Bhangra dance instructor and choreographer, his experiences have cemented the confidence he exudes in his own identity.
“I firmly believe that an individual's culture and faith background plays a huge part in
how one chooses to represent his/herself externally.”
Rajvatan consistently delivers inspiration through both his creative and personal pursuits. As a Punjabi influencer he ensures his identity is authentically represented in every fibre of himself. His culture and Sikh faith play an instrumental part in how he chooses to be seen externally. Devoting his time as a teacher in a Sikh faith school, Rajvatan extends this external approach to the social and academic progression of young individuals in his community.
In representing himself authentically, Rajvatan has set a positive example for aspiring South Asian models. It is an understatement to say that it is arduous to work in an industry that marginalises POC. He embodies what it means to be a confident creative professional and has proven that being your own role model is one of the most gratifying ways to be comfortable in your own skin.
Next up, Rajvatan sheds light on the growth and evolution of his creative practice and shares pivotal life moments which have helped shape his character and career.
Have you noticed an evolution over the course of your work?
Yes definitely. Having been involved in this industry since 2014 has allowed me to evolve in many ways. The opportunity to work with various photographers, directors, dancers and actors within the industry has challenged me in every aspect; further shaping me into the creative professional that I consider myself to be today. It has also allowed me to develop, not only in confidence, but also to be able to adapt to any given situation.
How did you become comfortable enough with your own creative eye to be confident in your art?
I firmly believe that experience is something that contributes hugely towards being confident in the industry... However, more importantly I have always believed that it is necessary to place myself in unfamiliar surroundings where I know I will be stretched.
How did you build your skillset, did you pursue an education in this creative field?
My modelling and dancing derives from the experience that I have gained over the years by voluntarily taking part in various projects. My motto for building on my modelling skills in particular has always been to represent myself in the most authentic manner. In terms of my acting, I have actively pursued courses covering a wide range of skills within theater and television.
“Being "seen" has never been an important factor in my pursuit. What matters more for
me is receiving satisfaction out of what I am able to deliver.”
Looking back over your life, what have been other pivotal moments where, looking back on them now, you understand that they shaped who you are today?
One of the first turning points in my life was when I worked with one of the most renowned wedding photographers, J Dhillon, for a project based on Sikhs in WW1. My involvement in this project led me to be recognized by many other photographers within the community. Another pivotal moment was when I had the privilege to work with one of the most creative fashion photographers, Harmeet Sana, for an editorial shoot in Delhi, India. This experience exposed me to the life of a professional model.... Lastly, my experience in shooting as one of the models in the Punjabi music video 'El Sueno' by Diljit Dosanjh proved to be a change in direction towards my journey as an artist.
“I have always believed that it is necessary to place myself in unfamiliar surroundings where I know I will be stretched”
Do you see the industry changing in any way for creatives of colour?
Yes of course. The digital age has certainly allowed people of color to boldly express themselves and get the exposure that they deserve. Hence, I feel that the industry has become a lot more diverse in its inclusion of talent from all over the globe.
Besides you being an artist, are there other moments when you look back over your life that were critical for shaping you into the person you are today, personally and professionally?
My professional path has had countless moments which have shaped me into the person that I am today. From a personal aspect, my paternal Grandmother has been the most inspirational individual who has moulded me into the man that I have become both in my private and professional life. She forever taught me to strive for greater things and to never become complacent in whatever path I choose to take… he never forced me to achieve bigger and better goals, but rather encouraged me to continue trying at every step as it's always better to try than not to.
What is the legacy that you're trying to build? And what do you hope to leave behind with your work?
The only legacy I'd like to leave behind is for people to remember me as someone who supported the idea of loving yourself and being your own role model as opposed to looking towards others or conforming to trends.
'khudi ko kar buland itna ki har taqdir se pehle, khuda bande se khud puchhe bata teri raza kya hai' - Muhammad Iqbal
(Translation: Elevate yourself so high that even God, before issuing every decree of destiny, should ask you: Tell me, what is your intent?)