To inspire and to be inspired. Leadership is not about reaching your goal or destination; it’s about the way, the walk, the journey. What you make of this journey through life untill your end days is the only thing that lasts forever: it is how you will be remembered, when you will make your mark upon the world and the people you meet. Ariel Rosa at PRM Models may or may not change the world, but he has found a reason to live: to inspire and to be inspired. 

Following the passing of the one who inspired him most, Ariel has taken to travelling to find sources of inspiration. With every walk we go on we find more than we seek, and this is true for Ariel. It is not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. Seeing the potential. Perhaps Ariel's biggest discovery yet to be found, is that he himself could become an inspiration. His perspective is honest: gently discontent with the status quo, on the hunt for something that truly matters. 

At the age of only 17, equipped with the wisdom of an elephant and the passion of a young lover, where will his journey lead? Where should all journeys lead to? This is a question worth dwelling on. What do we strive for; rewards, riches, or to complete it all? Or perhaps it is contentment. Ariel is getting closer to reaching his answers, purely because he is asking the right questions.

Ariel, how would you describe Generation Z?
Wow, right on with the difficult questions. It may sound silly, but I guess it’s something that everyone knows - technology defines this generation and it's becoming too much for us. Everything is about image, about who you are on social media and who you are to the public. It’s less about what really matters. In the 90’s and before, music had a purpose; it was a movement. But now, what is it? In Brazil, music simply explores pointless stuff like partying and drinking. Music moves with the times and it’s usually about what’s going on in the present - present feelings. So what’s happening right now - today? It’s all about partying, and this is showing up in music. I think Generation Z is smart, but we have to find something that really matters to us and focus less on foolish things like who you are on Instagram. It’s more significant to work on who you really are.

Would you say social media really effects your generation?
Of course, majorly, but lots of things affect us. The events occurring in the world nowadays go straight into the minds of young people, and it is in young people the world’s energy is found. What I’m trying to say is that we’re smart, but we’re shallow.

Tell me more about your passion for music.
I play the guitar. I have been playing since I was eight, although I stopped for a while. Until I started modelling, my hobbies were surfing and skating. When I moved to São Paulo I had to change that, as there is no ocean in São Paulo Paolo - I couldn’t surf. I didn't have any friends to skate with either. So I thought; 'Hey I’ll pick up my guitar', and I really started to get into the groove of it. I actually brought my electric guitar with me to London. Now, guitar is my number one. Surfing - I can’t surf everywhere. Skating - I can’t skate everywhere.

Coming back to your generation, would you say social media is a bad thing?
No, no - it’s a good thing. I remember about ten years ago you could only make calls or send messages with a phone, and I am happy to see how far things have come since then. It allows me to keep close with all the people I have met across the world. But on the flip side, in the 90’s and early 2000's we played football on the streets, we smiled and had fun. We were kids. This reminds me of my father’s time. Now, we have video games and computers, and that is all I see and it’s all kids see - they are on their phones all the time. They've lost themselves in some sort of disconnection with… I don't know, maybe, nature? My generation needs to learn how to split the good aspects of social media from the bad.

What are the good things about being part of Generation Z?
We are the young ones. We have the power and we can choose what we want to do with that power. We just have to make the right choices, and if we can do that, then the next generation will hopefully keep improving. I know that the world is in need of repair - ever since I started travelling I’ve been speaking to people who are worried about the state of our world. I have done a lot of reading on it. Now I want to make things better for the future.

Do these bad aspects challenge you personally?
Of course. It’s all our duty to create good out of the bad. Our minds are fresh and this gives us the power to be able to change. The power is in our hands to make the future better…or worse.

Your parents grew up in Brazil, right? Do you ever struggle to understand or find harmony with alternative cultures when you travel?
When I went to China, the culture was very different from my own. At the beginning I was concerned with how rude I found the people there to be, but then I reflected and realised that is just their culture and that everyone is different. I heard a lot of my friends calling the Chinese ‘animals’ and that annoyed me, because it’s all just a matter of clashing cultures. When you look at people’s culture, you need to look at their history and see what led them to their present culture. We can take stories from the past, for example in London there are buildings that’s history stretches back to a time before Brazil even began to develop. Whether you're in Asia, South America, or Europe, everyone is different. I personally love how cultures overlap. I see a lot of the West when I travel in Asia.

So you're pretty passionate about history?
Less about history, and more so people and culture. I’ve been travelling so much between São Paulo and London. At this point I have decided I want to travel a lot in my lifetime. Travelling is my passion, because it exposes me to the differences in humanity. To meet people, to change people. Next I’d like to go to Tokyo. People say it’s like China, but better. When I went to Shanghai I expected I would go to lots of temples, but no; it’s just a big regular city with lots of people in it.

Who is Ariel? 
That’s hard. If I tried to describe myself I would end up lying; you’d be better off having someone else describe me. Who am I? I guess I’m just a random guy who started modelling, and then began to meet people and gain experience from them. I continually try to learn, which is what I’m passionate about. Of course there is music and friends. I make friends pretty easily, because I’ve travelled so much. But even this is a shame - I make good friends and then I leave them. I was in China for three months and met some amazing people, but all of a sudden they disappeared. Maybe we will find each other again, somewhere new. I love music, I love people, I love travelling. Now all that is left is to understand how people’s minds work and hopefully this will help me understand my own mind.

Are you any closer to figuring out how your mind works?
No, that is the question of life - the big question. I think, when you have the answer to that, everything is complete, life is over, and you just go away.

Who influences you?
My father used to be my biggest influence, which is really sad. Now it just depends on what I’m up to. When I am surfing, I try to emulate the best surfers. With music, my biggest influencers are Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Hendrix and John Frusciante. I get influenced by the people I believe are doing something right and from the people who think like me, so I get inspired from all across the globe.

What about your generation, who influences them?
I think it's many small things. What you see on TV and the Internet, that is what influences us. The Kardashians. This is what I’ve been getting at from the start. But these things don't really matter - they’re foolish. I believe our generation needs to find something that really matters to them and fight for it. That’s the only way we’ll make a better future. In the present, there are a lot of things happening and we see people caring about bullshit rather than things that actually matter. It’s sad to see what influences my generation, and how they influence the modelling industry. Kendall Jenner, for example - I think Kendall, the one that’s an Angel now? Why are the Kardashians Victoria’s Secret Models? Is it because they see something special in her, or is she just a big marketing influence? Are they working with her purely because of her status on social media? I don't know, but I don't like it…

Would you say your current lifestyle allows you to avoid becoming a player in this culture?
I just try to find what’s important for me. Love. That is everything - it’s the best medicine. For example, when you’re sad, if you have love then that keeps everything going. I think everyone needs to find something to love and work on it until everything else corrects itself. The recent terrorist attacks in London, for instance - there was no love in that. Even if you believe it is part of your religion, to do bad things to other people – it’s just selfish. We need to think of the earth as one whole unit, not disparate pieces. Caring is important. Love is important. So if we all stop being selfish and start looking at things from the perspective of whether they really matter or not - then we can all share a journey to become a better world. Maybe it’s not my duty; it's not any one person’s duty. It's going to be something we’ll build together. What I can do is share an idea that things can become better. Or, we can just accept that we’re all going to die, so we might as well just exist until then. Change is difficult, but the idea of changing the world should hopefully grow impetus. Hopefully it’ll replace people who say; ‘okay I’m just passing through’.

Would you say a dream of yours is to change the world?
To change the people I meet - that is my dream. To teach each other, then at least my universe and theirs will be better. We can share experiences and lessons with each other. I try to make others less selfish. We all need a new attitude.

The things you’re saying seem quite spiritual. Are you a spiritual or religious person?
That’s funny. No, it’s not for me.

You say love is the most important thing. Have you ever been in love?
No, but I feel love. I love my mother, I love my friends, nature, and music. I have a lot of love. Of course there is also romantic love - do I feel that? I did, and I do. That’s one thing, when you're with someone and you think about that person more than you think about yourself. It can change your mind-set and you become totally selfless.

What are your personal goals?
To really just to be somebody worthy of someone else. To learn from my friends and the places I see, and then to be open to showing them who I really am. Life is an exchange of experiences and thoughts. That is my goal, to observe and to take everything I can from the love I feel from and for others. Even just talking is an experience, and it can be an experience you will remember forever. There’s nothing like a good conversation. I have conversations. I have lived.

What would you say makes you happy?
The simple things; waking up, listening to good music, drinking coffee. I love calling my mum just to say; ‘hey, how’s life?’. Skating, playing my guitar, surfing, and even just watching people walk on by imagining what their lives are like. These things make me happy. The small things. We don't need to find big reasons to be happy; happiness hides in the smaller things.

Are you close with your mum?
I talk to her less now that I’m travelling, but my mum understands why. I had to spread my wings and leave one day. I think it helped that I left home early - I was only sixteen when I left and since then I have seen my mum three or four times. I think I’ll keep travelling for a few years though, because I don't get emotional about missing them.

Emotions, would you say you're very in touch with your emotional side?
Well, this morning I woke up pretty emotional, I don't know why. Last night I went to bed sad, this morning I woke up sad. Maybe in a few hours I will feel happy again. This is teenage life, but I’m in control of these emotions. When I’m sad I don’t throw it in people’s faces. Instead, I try to work through it myself. I find a guitar, I work through the issues, and then when I do interact with people I’m no longer angry, so I won't by chance hurt anybody else. Of course, when I am happy I do everything in my power to pass those emotions on. Happiness is key, and sometimes sharing experiences and feelings with others makes me realise that I’m not alone in this and that makes me happy again. When we realise we’re all in this ‘life’ thing together, then we can just say; ‘fuck it, I’m going to get on with it’.

Would you say you feel comfortable, as a teenage boy, to cry?
Of course, but I don't cry often. When I cry it’s probably something very bad that I have failed to share with the people I trust. It’s important not to keep things trapped inside you. When I do that too much it’s like I get a sore tummy. My body answers badly to the anger. When I realised this, I started to share more of my emotions with my friends, and this is when I truly began to live. To live is to share - for me.

Would you say a dream of yours is to change the world?
To change the people I meet, that is my dream: to learn from them and to teach them. Then at least my universe and theirs will be better. We can share experiences and take things and lessons from each other. I try to make others less selfish. We all need a new attitude. 

The things you saying seem quite spiritual. Are you a spiritual or religious person?
Haha, no. That’s funny. It’s not for me.

You say love is the most important thing. Have you ever been in love?
Like with myself? Haha, no… But I feel love: I love my mother, I love my friends, nature, and music. I have a lot of love. Of course there is also romantic love; do I feel that? I did, and I do. That’s one thing: when you're with someone and you think about that person more than you think about yourself. It can change your mindset and make you totally selfless. 

What are your personal goals?
Really, just to be somebody worthy of someone else. To take experience from my friends and places and then to be open to showing them who I really am. Life is an exchange of experience and thoughts. That is my goal: to observe and to take everything I can from the love I feel from and for others. Even just talking is an experience, and it can be an experience you will remember forever. There’s nothing like a good conversation. I have conversations. I have lived.

What would you say makes you happy?
Ah, only the simple things. Waking up. Listening to good music. Drinking coffee. I love calling my mum just to say, ‘hey, how’s life?’. Skating, playing my guitar, surfing, even just watching people walk on by and imagining what their lives are like. These things make me happy. The small things. We don't need to find big reasons to be happy; happiness is hiding in the smaller things.

Are you very close with your mum?
I talk to her less now that I’m travelling. But my mum understands why: I had to spread my wings and go away some day. I think it helped that I left home early, I was only sixteen when I left and since then I have seen my mum 3 or 4 times. I think I’ll keep travelling for a few years though because I don't get emotional about missing them.

Ah emotions… Would you say you're very in touch with your emotional side?
My emotional side… Oh. Well, this morning I woke up pretty emotional. I don't know why. Last night I went to bed sad, this morning I woke up sad. Maybe in a few hours I will feel happy again. This is teenage life. But I’m in control of these emotions; when I’m sad I don’t throw it in people’s faces. Instead, I try to work through it myself. I find a guitar, I work through the issues, and then when I do interact with people I’m no longer angry so I won't chance hurting anybody else. Of course, when I am happy I do everything in my power to pass those emotions on. Happiness is key. And sometimes sharing experiences and feelings with others makes me realise that I’m not alone with those feelings and it makes me happy again. When we realise we’re all in this ‘life’ thing together then we can just say ‘fuck it, I’m going to get on with it’. 

Would you say you feel comfortable, as a teenage boy, to cry?
Of course, but I don't cry often. When I cry its something very bad that I have failed to share with the people I trust. It’s important not to keep things trapped inside you. When I do that too much it’s like I get a sore tummy haha. My body answers badly to the anger. When I realised this I started to share more of my emotions with my friends, and this is when I truly began to live. To live is to share, for me.

And what is it that makes you sad?
My father died three years ago, and thinking about him makes me sad. When I think about my family struggling without him, I struggle to be happy. Sometimes I am very anxious about my future, waiting for something to come and grab me. Modelling life is so unpredictable. Next month I’m meant to be in Tokyo, but that could all change last minute. When you don’t have control like that, it is easy to feel anxious - so I find that I am forced to control the emotions in my mind. Like my friend says; 'an empty mind is the devil’s house'. Life in China is chaos, it’s packed full of people all the time. Everyone parties, goes to events, and of course, as a model you're always going to castings. It’s a fast and intense life, but we’re all in it together, lots of Brazilians. Europe is different. You go to castings alone and the only company you have are your earphones. I initially lived with a married couple in London and they were very unwelcoming. Now I live with my friend and we rely on each other. I feel less lonely and I make him less lonely. It is an additional mind that I can talk to about life.

‘Mental health’ is becoming such a buzzword. Do you ever feel those dark emotions of yours touch you in that way?
I’m not sure; I try not to let it. For me, sadness can be art. You write something pretty on a piece of paper or play something beautiful on the guitar and it makes you happy, even when the song is sad. When the person you play that song to feels your sadness you share something, and that is when sadness becomes art. You can paint a pretty picture when you're sad and people will call you an artist. I try to transform my feelings into something - to try and find positive in the negative.

Would you say masculinity is changing?
Exactly! I’m glad you've brought this up. When I was in China I met some Russians, as well as Brazilians. The Brazilians just love to party, earn money, and then go home, but the Russians are different. Their mentality is - how can I phrase it - closed off. Brazil has its problems, but it is open to change. In Brazil, of course, we have political problems: impeachment and so on. Our leaders steal our money and I find it to be very corrupt. This is Brazil’s devil. It is hard to change a country, but almost impossible to change the world. Step-by-step we can do it. So, of course, in the past Brazilians had closed minds and the country was stagnant. Men were superior to women, gays were excluded and black people were treated badly. Now people are changing, generations are changing, mentalities are changing - now Brazil is full of black people and racists are laughed at. Of course it’s still going on, but most of us, when we come across racism now, say ‘come on, racism? That’s bullshit!’

As for gay people, in San Paolo all sorts walk the streets. There’s gay pride for gay rights and free the nipple for women. In São Paulo there’s a jeans brand that had women walk the runway with cigarettes and their clothes featured the logo ‘free the nipple and give us cigarettes’. So there are a lot of famous movements occurring and our mentalities are changing step by step. Russia is a different story. My friend saw two gay men walking down the street in Russia and people were shouting and spitting at them. They called the couple ‘a disgrace’. In Russia, if you're friends with a gay person you too are viewed as gay. This culture is so bad for all minorities - women are still stuck in the mentality that they need to find one man and serve him loyally for their entire lives. Everything surrounds men. In Brazil, this is changing.

Since you say they still have to campaign for rights, would you say gay people are still carrying out a work in progress?
I’d say that by the time my generation grows old, Brazil will be fully transformed. The mentality of kids is changing every day and, now kids are taught that being gay isn't wrong, that men do cry, that black people aren't inferior. These lies that our parents were fed are no longer told and this makes me happy. I’m trying to change the little things, because I know I can’t change everything. Who knows, maybe I can change a lot, but for now I’m going to start with the people I meet. If I can change experiences and thoughts, slowly - exchanging ideas to make us all better, then life will improve. I can get to know my own mind by learning to understand others’ minds. That's what I think, anyway.

Well, you've done so well speaking so beautifully about your thoughts - considering you don't speak English often!
For me, speaking in a different language is just a formula - separate things and thoughts, take a breath, and go step by step until you get across what you want to say. It's a fun challenge. 

 

Photography by Cecilie Harris.
Interview and Words by Claudia Brown.

Gen Z: Ariel Rosa