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she's not a model, actress or musician, but rebekah williams is a real 21st century girl

Those who criticise our generation forget who raised it! To anyone complaining about the dumbed down, self(ie)-obsessed youth of today, please meet Rebekah Williams before you speak. She’s not a model, actress or musician, she’s a real girl shaking the world in her own way. We spotted her shining through the overwhelming crowds of Brixton Splash a couple of weeks ago. Rebekah is 18 years old, has just received her A-level results and together with her group of friends, embodies the street-style and youth culture that i-D’s values are rooted in. She has a confidence and intelligence beyond her years with a spirit and kindness that is not always easy to find in this city. It’s a good thing the future’s in her hands…

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What is the next step for you?
I want to do photo journalism. I haven’t exactly decided what avenue I want to take. I’m doing a foundation year to experiment and see where my talents lie and what interests me the most. All my friends are going to university in September and I could have applied but I don’t feel like I know enough about myself and about what I want to do. I just want a year of experimentation. At the moment I’m trying to get as much work experience as I can. I want to get a broader understanding of how everything works. Personally, I don’t think I’ll go to university. I’m the type of person that loves to learn but I don’t like being in a school environment. With photography it’s more practical, it’s about going out and meeting people doing work. I want to travel loads after my foundation course. Me and my friend want to go to Bali, China, Malaysia. There are so many beautiful places in this world that are so beyond London that I really want to see with my own eyes.

How do feel about the future?
I feel really excited, like one chapter has ended and another is opening up. I’m really excited to meet new people be in a different atmosphere. From secondary school to sixth form I’ve been with the same people the whole time, it’ll be nice to just change it up a bit. I get to put all my attention into the one thing that I really want to do. 

What are the challenges facing young people today?
I think the main challenges are the pressures to do well and go into higher education. In my school they didn’t put a lot of emphasis on the arts. The art department was really good, the teachers were amazing but when we had guest assembly’s it was always to go and do work experience in banks or solicitors offices, journalists or artists would never come in. It was almost like they were saying “you can do that as a hobby but you need to have a proper career too.” I think that was one of my main struggles - I didn’t feel like I was being pushed by my school to pursue my talents. Then again, I have been surrounded by a lot of people who have been encouraging me to do it. 

What other encouragement did you get?
I always loved art, drawing, painting and photography. My parents always encouraged me, they never said “we think you should do this,” they just pushed me every step of the way to do what I loved to. If I needed equipment for my projects, if I needed them to model for my final piece, they’d model for me. They are really supportive, that’s why I’m quite happy to go forward in the art world and put myself out there. I just think why not, if that’s the one thing that I really want to do. 

What’s the best thing about being young and female in 2014?
There is a wealth of opportunities opening all the time for females and it’s encouraging! Females are beginning to be recognised and appreciated across all fields and are coming out as the top dogs, so I guess the best thing about being young and female in 2014 is knowing that I have both the time and the opportunity to build and strengthen my character and my skills, then go into the world and SMASH IT! Girl power all the way. 

You and your friends have such a distinctive look. Have you always been interested in Fashion?
I think it started when I was 13 at secondary school. That’s when I started getting into music and teaching myself guitar. I started listening to different types of music. Also, whenever I went uptown I used to see loads of people and really wished I could dress like that. I’ve never been someone that’s big on brands, I just love really bright colours, fluffy things, things with texture. Most of the time I shop in charity shops. I love Princess Nokia, she’s really funky and wears mis-matched clothing with loads of patterns and stuff. She’s like my number one, I love her.