The Instagram world knows Amber (@bbgorlambs) for her exquisite selfie game, jaw dropping facial structure, spectacular sense of style and love of all things nature. She is absolutely captivating; she’s the type of girl you would have to do a double take of if you saw her on the street. From day one we knew that we had to uncover more behind this Sydney Latina and we are so grateful for the opportunity to share her story.
C – Where are you from? Were you born in Australia?
So, I was born here, my dad is from Nicaragua and my mum is Australian. I grew up mainly just with my mum and not really with my dad around at all. So, I can’t speak Spanish which is a major bummer. Because I’m mixed race, half Afro Latina and half Anglo, a lot of people are like where are you from?. When I actually tell them, they’re like but where’s that?. For a while I didn’t know what to call myself because I was like oh, where am I from?. I didn’t really know a lot about Nicaraguan culture until very recently. So I kind of blocked it out. When I was a kid my dad tried to teach me Spanish but I’d say no one speaks Spanish in Australia… Why would I want to know that?. [laughs]
C – Was your dad born in Nicaragua?
Yes, so he was born there and left when he was about 15 with my abuela (grandmother in Spanish) and my two aunties because of the political situation there.
C – And do they all live here now?
Yes, my two aunties live in Sydney, my dad lives in Sydney, my abuela lives in Cairns because she likes the tropics and it’s too cold here.
C – So your dad, he’s of African heritage? Were people really confused by your look when you were younger?
Because my hair isn’t that textured, a lot of people don’t see me and automatically think I’m black. They look at my skin and are like you’re quite dark [or] they’re like oh wow Amber you’re so tanned and I’m like that’s my skin, what do you mean?. [laughs]
I actually look like my mum a fair bit but because my mum is quite young and people don’t usually see past the fact she’s white and I’m not, people get confused. It’s funny because when I walked around with my mum as a kid people would think she was babysitting. When I walk around with my dad everyone’s like ooooooooh because I look like my dad. I look like a lighter, female version of my dad. I remember when I was with a co-worker and they saw a picture of my dad they were like oooooooooh, you’re black and I was like yeahhhhhh. [laughs]
Because of the history of where my family is from in Nicaragua, it’s on the Atlantic coast so it’s where a lot of trade happened. I have like Indian, Chinese, British, African and a bit of Spanish heritage.
A – You’ve got a bit of insight into your family history?
Yes, because my great-grandmother was a fairly famous painter in Bluefields, where my family is from. She was a major part of the revolution. She was trying to help with the rights of Indigenous and black Nicaraguans because their voice just wasn’t heard.
A – Wow. That is amazing, that you have someone like that in your family history that you know about…
My great-uncle, he was talking for hours, he showed us around the entire town. Showed us all the places that she [June Beer] lived. Even though her surname was Beer, that was her adoptive surname. We heard about the story of her biological father, who was a Casanova on this tropical island [Corn Island] off the coast. And his surname was Downs, it’s really funny because a lot of people in Bluefields, their surname is Downs. It’s like is it because of this guy?. [laughs]
C – What was it like for you, going back to Nicaragua for the first time? How old were you when you first visited?
It was only like 4 months ago
A – So the photos that you posted [on Instagram], that was the first time that you went?
Yeah. So my sister and I, because it’s quite expensive to go over there, we were trying to wait to go with our dad because he’s never been back. So, we were like it would be cool if you could take us. But then we couldn’t be bothered to wait for him, so we planned it ourselves. It was pretty overwhelming, it was crazy being in a place where everybody actually kind of looks like you because that just doesn’t happen here [in Australia]. But at the same time, people were really looking at us a lot more than what they would here because we look like them, but we don’t act like them, speak like them or like dress like them.
C – They knew you weren’t from there…
Yeah especially because of the way we were like on such high alert. But it was incredible. At the same time it was pretty eye-opening because it’s a pretty poor country.
C – Was it a culture shock?
Absolutely. The town Bluefields, where my family is from, there’s less development in terms of infrastructure. It’s just very different from any place I’ve ever been.
C- What did you love about it?
C – Is it always hot there?
C – How long were you there for?
I was in Central America for 3 weeks in total but I also went to Mexico for a few days and Costa Rica. It was really interesting seeing the contrast between Costa Rica and Nicaragua because they’re right next to each other but Costa Rica is like…
C – Way ahead?
Yeah. Like I just couldn’t believe it. My sister and I were trying to figure it out because it’s so bizarre how much more [ahead it is].
A – I wanted to ask you more about your great grandmother…
June Beer, the Nicaraguan Biennial wad dedicated to her last year I think. It’s funny because when you google her name a lot of the time it will come up with June beer festivals. [Laughs]
But you can find some of her paintings and stuff like that [online]. She got quite successful. My sister and I never really got a lot of information about her growing up. Both of us are always trying to find articles. We found this artist [in the US], she interviewed her and wrote an essay or something. I contacted her via email and was like this is my great-grandmother – can I please get a copy? Because I could find the citation but I couldn’t find the actual document. And she was like wow this is amazing and she sent me like the whole book.
A – Do you think learning about your great-grandmother has influenced you a little bit? She was both an artistic woman and someone who was quite political. Do you think that now understanding your roots you’ve kind been inspired to be a little more political? Or have you always been like that?
I think I’ve always kind of been like that. Because I’ve gotten that a lot from my sister. My sister is quite political. She’s an academic studying gender and cultural studies. It’s kind of nice to see where it comes from. Where that drive, that determination and that creativity comes from. Because she was amazing, she was a really great poet as well.
A – You’re so lucky that you know that family history. Because a lot of it gets lost.
I’m so so grateful that everyone can still get to know about her. Although there were so many stories that I got told that I just wouldn’t of been able to get access to unless I went and visited my family.
C – When you came back from Nicaragua, how did you feel? Did you look back on the experience?
I definitely feel more comfortable with calling myself Nicaraguan and being like yeah I’m a Latina. Before it was hard for me to do because I don’t really have much of the culture but now I’ve seen how they have their hair for example. I think my hair texture is more from Indigenous culture, that’s why its more straight curly rather than just being textured. [Previously] I was always like am I allowed to have my hair in braids? and am I allowed to do this? but after going there I’m like no, actually this is my culture, and I’m absolutely allowed to do that.
A – I think it’s quite nice that you had that thought though. You were so aware of cultural appropriation, I think that’s something a lot of people don’t have…
Yeah, cultural appropriation is one thing that just really gets on my nerves. I will call out so many people, even that I’m close to. During Halloween when I see people with the Dia De Los Muertos face– I’m like listen you don’t understand.
C – How have you found, growing up in Australia? Like being from a biracial background?
It was definitely hard, just because, like I said before, I didn’t really know what to call myself, I didn’t know [whether] to say, I’m Nicaraguan. Luckily because [Australia] is quite a multicultural place and growing up in the Inner West [of Sydney] which is also quite multicultural, I didn’t really feel too badly. I had my sister as well which was so good because we’ve both pretty much had the same experience. So we’re both kind of now learning about our culture and trying to learn the language and stuff. [Previously] I kind of just rejected the culture. I would go to family functions like for Christmas and I would just sit in the corner and be like what is this music?, what am I doing here?, what is this food? and now I’m like this is the best. [laughs]
I would be like why are there so many people here?, why are they all giving me hugs and kisses? I don’t like this. And now I listen into their Spanish conversations now and I’m like I don’t know what you’re saying but this is amazing. [laughs]
C- What do you do at the moment?
At the moment, I’m just working in retail.
C – And your modelling a bit?
A tiny bit. I enjoy it, it’s good but I don’t know. I feel like it’s not the thing I want to be doing with my life.
C – Really?
If I’m doing it for friends or for people who reach out to me and its something that I really enjoy the concept of, it’s the best.
C – Do you think with your modelling, because you have such an interesting look – Do you think that’s played a part of your Instagram following? Do you get people often asking you on the internet, where are you from? Or things like that?
Um, a little bit. I don’t know, it doesn’t really happen that often. I don’t know if people sort of understand that it’s kind of annoying to me when people ask that. Sometimes I understand, because if I saw myself I would be like I don’t know where this persons from but I generally wouldn’t really ask. But yeah, I definitely think because I have such an interesting face, I feel like it probably has been a major part of the reason why. I mean I do take a lot of selfies.
A – Is there something that you really want to do? Is there a project? Or something you feel passionate about?
There are a few things, which is why I think I’m lost. I really like flowers and nature and stuff like that. So I might do floristry. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. And I think there’s quite a big floristry gap in the Sydney market.
A – Will you go back [to Nicaragua]?
Absolutely, we were only there for just over a week and in Bluefields for 3 days. Which was a good amount of time to just see it at first and settle with everything and understand. The political situation there isn’t the best – you can only get there by plane and by boat at the moment. Right now they’re building a road from the Capital Managua over there – this whole time they just had no access other than air and water.
Amber’s Instagram; @bbgorlambs