10 Questions With A Creative: Zara Gilbert

Behind the scenes of Zara Gilbert’s life.

I have been following Zara for a few years now and she is definitely someone I look up to and admire.

Did you study? If so what did you study? If not, why? I studied at South Seas Film and Television School in Auckland, majoring in Documentary and Research. Then I started working heavily in film and television straight away for about two years! It was a lot of hard work, I lost a lot of my social life dedicating everyday to the job! I had to grow up pretty fast dealing with the top dog producers and directors bossing me around. I learnt so much and worked so hard (I always said yes to everything). I swear I never slept! At one point I was working across 3 TV shows at once and I really don’t know how I did it. But I absorbed everything and have taken it all with me.

img_8930What is the biggest risk you have taken that has paid off? Quitting my job. Due to all of that hard work and doing everything I was expected to do and more I hit a wall. I went above and beyond for a lot of people in the industry. I finally realised I was too damn good for this. I was being used and abused for my extremely driven work ethic. I was so unhappy and thought I was going no-where and was forever going to be someone else’s bitch… because that’s what it felt like! No one cared about what I was really capable of. So I quit. I decided I would rather be poor than unhappy. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve been able to finally trust, listen to myself and follow my heart to complete happiness. But it hasn’t been easy! I hustled everyday to continue living, but also took time to focus on getting myself back on my feet. Due to the disrespect I was given in the TV industry I ended up with an episode of depression and anxiety. With barely any money/no money  I made from selling my clothes and my furniture I started to develop my own creative work and putting it all over my Instagram. Really proving what I can do, that only I knew I was capable of. And that’s when the best opportunity I could have dreamed of came into my life. My dream girl ‘Theia’ an incredible NZ musician found my instagram! She started liking my images and I started liking hers and I messaged her saying “Hey I love your style! Would you be keen to collaborate sometime?” BOOM one week later I was meeting Theia and her manager to talk about directing music videos and creating visual content for her new music! It’s just one small step towards working for myself and creating the content I want, with people who I respect and who respect me!

How do you incorporate creativity in your free time/in your day-to-day life? I incorporate creativity into my life EVERYDAY! I live and breathe creativity. I see the world through a camera. Whether its fashion or music or colours or textures. I am constantly inspired by my surroundings. Creativity is my outlet. My soul and mind is so connected to creating, that if I don’t create, I lose myself. It’s the only way I can make sense of myself and the world.

img_8931What are some projects that you are working on now? I’m currently working alongside Theia to create some fun, wild content for her new rad music! As well as that, I’m photographing local, up and coming designers! Creating fun photo shoots with fresh new talented make up artists and just working with unique people who just want to create and collaborate. ALSO finally releasing some of my own music, that my mate and I started on about a year ago. Along with music videos for it all and performing gigs with local artists! Not sure where anything is going but I’m just living and creating day by day, doing whatever I want that makes me happy! I’ve stopped thinking about the future, as we’ll never know what is around the corner. As soon as we start to enjoy being in the present and living in the moment, so much more happiness and wicked opportunities will come.

What makes you feel the most creative and why? Music! Music feeds my soul!!! There is a condition called Synesthesia where people can see colours when they hear music, I’m kind of like that but more visually detailed than colour focused. When I hear music I can’t help but create images in my head and picture how the music can be told visually!

img_8926Tell me about your book like a little introduction and why you decided to create this particular book. About a year ago I really lost myself with my physical identity, especially as a red head!I never realised I was different until I was about 15. One day I was riding the overloaded school bus home. There were no free seats so I had to stand up in the aisle. I looked up at a mirror which was hanging from the ceiling at the rear door exit. I saw these flaming red curls amongst the crowd of blondes, brunettes and blacks. And I thought WOW! Now that’s not hard to miss! Red hair is a strange thing and there is still a stigma around what exactly it is. I now see my hair as a bright, beautiful colour (which was once known as my title of ‘ranga’). Whenever I’d walk down the street I’d have this yelled out of the window of a passing car. I will never forget when my high school crush said he preferred my hair straight and brown. So that is exactly what I did. I died my hair dark and eventually lost myself and who I was. I was so caught up in trying to be something/someone else that I forgot about the unique and bold image I once had. Most of all I had disappointed my family, for no longer wanting to represent the hair colour of my heritage. I decided to go back to my natural hair colour and start photographing fellow red heads to show how beautiful our hair really is.

img_8928What was the best part about creating Shades of Auburn? Meeting so many beautiful, kind, intelligent people! All of the red heads I photographed represented such pure love and happiness. It was an incredibly special thing to connect with each and every person featured in my book individually, to celebrate diversity. And now I have people all over NZ and Australia buying my book! Not only supporting creatives like me, Shades of Auburn is dedicated to those who have learnt or are learning how to love their differences.

What was the most challenging part about creating Shades of Auburn? Finding the time to complete it! When I was working in TV I never had time to complete the book! I was always so focused on working for others I couldn’t do the projects that I really wanted to do!

How do you define success? Happiness. Being so fulfilled with whatever you do in your life. Being able to look back on your life one day and be so proud of what you have done. It’s all about you and what you want to do in this world. Never ever listen to what someone else wants. It’s your life, it’s ok to be selfish because you are the only person who is going to create the happiness you want. You are the only person who can see through your eyes and feel the feelings you feel. Do whatever makes you AND ONLY YOU HAPPY! 

img_8929What or who inspires you and why? Everyone, I learn from everything! Us humans are some damn interesting creatures. I have met someone who has sailed the world for 10 years on a sail boat. I’ve met someone who has walked across Africa for 6 years. I have read stories of woman who have had their whole lives changed in an instant due to loss of a loved one or an illness that has effected their loved one for the rest of their life. There are so many amazing people in this world doing incredible things and that motivates me everyday.  When I have people tell me they love what I do or I have helped them in some one in some way I feel I’m slowly leaving my mark on this world. In the very short time I will be here, I will try to love and enjoy every moment I have. I have no idea what I am doing, but I will continue to learn and grow. I am so excited for the unknown, excited for vulnerability, for moments of victory, for the person I will continue to become. And of course my family. I would be nothing without my family.


Zara’s Instagram

Zara’s Photoseries


K x


*All photos taken by Zara Gilbert, no copyright intended

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