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From Raizal Activist to Recognition in Hollywood: A Journey of Impact and Advocacy

How it all began

This year has been one of the most exciting and challenging of my life. Embracing my new journey into motherhood intensified my commitment to climate justice. The call to Hollywood ignited my passion to continue advocating for oceans, coral reefs, and my Raizal community.

Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Green Carpet Fashion Awards

The moment

I was with my baby, feeding her and planning Residency work, when I got a surprising call: “Yurshell, you’re going to Hollywood as the Youth Honoree for the Green Carpet Fashion Awards.” It was unexpected, I thought about the importance, of why a Raizal Woman should attend this space. My family’s advice and support gave me the confidence to go and share my message with Hollywood. 

The background

This is a time to share my journey and some behind-the-scenes moments from the events where I represented If Not Us Then Who and myself as climate justice activists and a protector of coral reefs and Oceans, dedicating some mentions to the Prosealand Grassroot organization I work with in the island as an Environmental educator and researcher to continue to share the wisdom and struggles of my community.

Photo Raizal Documentary

Embracing Diversity and Collective Action: A Journey at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards

Landing in LA: Embracing Diversity

Stepping off the plane in Los Angeles, I was immediately struck by the vibrant energy and cultural diversity of the city. As a Raizal woman, I knew that my journey this time in LA would be about more than just attending events and meetings. It would be an opportunity to embrace diversity, to learn from others, and to be inspired by the collective strength of our shared humanity. And with that thought in mind, I embarked on the next chapter of my journey with a heart full of excitement and gratitude.

Sharing a Powerful Message with the World

One of the highlights of my journey was the opportunity to share a message for the world at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards. Standing alongside fellow activists, I spoke about the urgent need for ocean conservation and coral reef restoration in climate action and the importance of amplifying the voices of the communities in the fight against environmental injustice.

Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images for Eco-Age

Standing alongside Changemakers

Throughout the event, I had the privilege of standing alongside inspiring changemakers worldwide, engaging in impactful conversations and exchanging ideas for driving positive change. It was an honor to be part of such a passionate and dedicated community.

Feeling Deeply Honored

I felt deeply honored when Livia Firth, the Green Carpet Fashion Awards founder, embraced me and expressed her appreciation for my work as an activist and environmental engineer. Her words of encouragement were a source of inspiration and motivation for me.

Drawing Strength from Community

In the middle of events and activities, I found strength and support in the collective community of activists, artists, and advocates like Vanessa Nakate, Zara Udo, and Angaangaq who came together to champion climate justice. Together, we shared a vision for a more sustainable and equitable world.

Striking Abya Yala for Climate Justice

I had the opportunity to share and represent my community alongside activists from South America, such as Leo Cerda and Helena Gualinga. Our collective presence sent a strong message of solidarity and determination to combat environmental injustice in our territories. 

Seeing the Amazonian Sign

One of the most powerful moments of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards was seeing the Stop Mining in the Amazon sign displayed prominently on stage. It served as a reminder of the urgent need to protect and preserve this vital ecosystem for our future generations.

Photo by Stefanie Keenan /Getty Images for Green Carpet Fashion Awards

Cherishing Behind-the-Scenes Moments

Behind the scenes, I cherished moments spent connecting with fellow activists and celebrities like Zendaya and MJ Rodriguez exchanging stories and ideas for creating positive change in the world.

Reflecting on Amplifying Voices

As the event came to a close, I reflected on the importance of amplifying voices in spaces like the Green Carpet Fashion Awards. It is essential to ensure that frontline communities are heard and represented in discussions about climate action and sustainability.

Fostering Community Building

Above all, my journey at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards reinforced the importance of teamwork and support in our collective and communitary efforts towards change. Kindness and collective action are the driving forces behind our transformative journey toward a more just and sustainable future.

Photo by Stefanie Keenan – Getty Images for Green Carpet Fashion Awards

If Not Us Then Who x GCFA

I want to extend my gratitude to the incredible team at INUTW, especially those in LA who supported me throughout this journey. A special shoutout goes to our director, Paul Redman, and his wife for their support and encouragement. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for us to work together in creating opportunities like this for our communities. The commitment to climate justice, impact storytelling, and creating open spaces for collaboration and action is something I deeply value. It’s through collective efforts like these that we can truly make a difference.

Being a part of ‘If Not Us Then Who’ as a Raizal woman in communications and climate activism matters a lot not only does it allow us to showcase our work, but it also enables us to actively participate in the actions we advocate for. It’s crucial for us to lead by example, demonstrating our dedication and commitment to inclusion by being present and represented in these spaces.

Yurshell Rodriguez, Mariel Jumpa, Paul Redman, and Lucia Onieva attend the Green Carpet Fashion Awards (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images for Eco-Age)
Leo Cerda, Yurshell Rodriguez, Leah Thomas, Paul Redman, and Mariel Jumpa attend the GCFA Sharing the Table cocktail event (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images for Eco-Age)
Zara Odu, Paul Redman, Leo Cerda, Yurshell Rodriguez, Leah Thomas, Founder of GCFAs and Eco-Age Creative Director Livia Firth, Alessandro Giuggioli, Mariel Jumpa and Kalpona Akter attend the GCFA Sharing the Table cocktail event (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images for Eco-Age)
Leo Cerda, Cameron Russell and Paul Redman attend the GCFA Sharing the Table cocktail event (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images for Eco-Age)

It’s not just Afro-descendant People, Indigenous Peoples, or Native Peoples. The solution is all of us coming together.”

Blog written by

Yurshell Rodríguez

Colombia | Raizal

Coordinator of the Residency Program

Check out her latest interview at ATMOS

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To contact Yurshell for press moments, speaking opportunities contact: [email protected] and [email protected]