[INTERVIEW] Otep Shamaya Tops Our VMA Poll; Dishes On Rihanna, Gaga And ‘Fists Fall’

Photo: OTEP (Djosefin Maurer)

If you weren’t an OTEP fan before, now’s as good a time as any to join the bandwagon. Metal singer Otep Shamaya creamed the competition in our extended Best Video With a Message poll. A well-deserved honor? You’d better believe it.

… Just don’t expect the gracious star to get all self-righteous about it. When we asked her about other performers merging art and advocacy, she shouted out a few female counterparts from the pop world: “Lady Gaga does that famously and fantastically, and I respect that.” And Rihanna? “When you think of someone like her that has a had a real public issue with domestic violence–for her to use that horrible event and for her to turn it into something powerful, I think is very inspiring.”

OTEP’s own platforms run the gamut–from government and education reform to civil and animal rights to the crusade for an inclusive, self-loving youth culture; her video for “Fist Falls” is a reaction to national anti-bullying campaigns that emphasize hope–a great start, OTEP says, as long as we don’t just sit around passively for the tide to change. “It does get better,”…(but?)…”you don’t have to let people bully you–you can fight back.” Not with fists, but by being real. “Accepting who you are is an act of defiance. Being educated is an act of defiance. Being informed and being involved in the struggle to better the country [are acts] of defiance.”

The artist speaks from experience, and her message comes through loud and clear.

“I didn’t choose to be right-handed, to be blonde, to have green eyes, freckles, I didn’t choose any of that. I didn’t choose to be a lesbian but I love who I am. When it says that all are created equal, there are no asterisks. It says all are equal. We need to live up to that part of what our forefathers wrote.”

Head over to A Thin Line and Love Is Louder to mark your own act of defiance below.

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