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kanya iwana: experimental, romantic, spontaneous


You may have seen her photography features on Vogue, recognised her clients such as Interscope, or seen her act on Pretty Little Liars. Kanya Iwana takes on the world one concept at a time with her creative direction and photography.

When did u start photography and videography?


I'm fairly new at it. I started in 2016 around the same time I went to film school. I received my degree in music theatre and I was acting and auditioning for about 3 years. I got pregnant and that had to take a pause because unfortunately, no one had written pregnant roles. I got a full scholarship to take a short term film program for directing and pursued it with this fire under my ass - to write and create for myself and for roles that none of these people are writing. I just wanted to take control of my narrative because that's what I want my daughter to do growing up. Luckily, it's been going great.

Who were your influences when you started, who are they now, and how has that changed?


I've never had 1, 2, or 3 influences. My answers change all the time because my taste and knowledge is ever-developing and honestly, can't keep track. I do admire and have loved Malick Sidibe, Harley Weir, and Carlotta Guererro for a while now.

Where did you get that push to move to LA and pursue different careers?


When I was younger, I believed that L.A. or New York are the two epicenters of the arts. I also knew those are two of the most difficult cities to conquer. I wanted to challenge myself, so I applied for colleges in the area.

What was the first big gig that you landed beyond your own platform?


If by big you mean fulfilling: House of Aama's AW 2017 Fashion Film Series, "BLOODROOT."

What has been your proudest achievement thus far?


Being a full-time mom and full-time artist, or I guess being a full-time artist the moment I became a full-time mom.

What motivated you to shift from performing arts to filmmaking?


Honestly, a combination of my pregnancy and just being subconsciously over it. It's not that I don't want to perform ever again, but I was just tired of auditioning. Waiting. Those go hand-in-hand with performing, at least the proper way... the money-making way. I was thinking a lot about what I want to pass down as my legacy. I love to write stories. I love to create narrative imagery. I just love to create - that's what I'm supposed to do in this lifetime, and I didn't want to be dependable on other people's narratives - at least not for now.

What inspires you to work around such beautiful aesthetics?


It's like listening to a song and certain musical elements make you FEEL something - a range of emotions. That's how I feel when I look at colourful paintings and cinematography.

How would you describe you work in three words?


Experimental, romantic, spontaneous.

We know you acted as Kendra in Pretty Little Liars. How did that opportunity come about and how was the experience for you?


Haha that's ages ago! It was within my 1 year plan out of theatre school to get an agent and manager, audition, and book a role on TV. That's exactly what happened. It was pretty by-the-books.

Do you see yourself pursuing more acting roles?


Not for a long time.

What's next for Kanya Iwana?


I'd like to keep working on my photo series "I Don't Fit In" and eventually display the photographs and stories in bigger platforms like a coffee table book or an exhibition. I'm currently creative directing and writing for my music project called Franky, so that's very exciting, too. I don't know - things may end up piling up. I'm just trying to execute everything with care, one-by-one.

What is your favourite type of cake?


Tiramisu. I'm obsessed.

Stay up-to-date with Kanya and her projects on Instagram or check out her website - kanya.studio