Beautiful by name, beautiful by nature – Aliya Jasmine is a woman using her profile and power in the very best way – to raise awareness surrounding the environment and animal welfare causes.
A former MTV VJ and current NBC host, Aliya is also celebrity ambassador for World Animal Protection. Given her credentials and her passion for all non-human beings, we’re super excited to have Aliya on board as six-two’s 35 under 35 judge for the animal welfare category.
We caught up with Aliya to find out a little more about what makes her tick…
How long have you been working with animal welfare causes for?
Since I was really young. I remember watching an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show where they went to an animal shelter and showed viewers how many dogs had to be euthanized because there wasn’t enough room. That was shocking to me as a little girl, and led to the first thing I ever saved up all my birthday/Christmas/visits-to-grandma money for – a rescue dog.
Why do you feel so passionately about fighting for animal welfare causes?
It just feels like my responsibility as an intellectual human.
It is just shocking to me that other humans can treat animals with such disregard and that there isn’t more legislation from a government level to balance it out.
Is there a particular animal welfare cause you feel especially passionate about and why?
Two right now. Firstly, my parents are from Africa, so I am really following poaching as well as human/animal conflict in east Africa. I’d really like to do more reporting from that part of the world.
Second, my father works in the travel and tourism sector; he owned and managed many hotels and restaurants when I was growing up. Since I’ve always loved animals we would often do animal related activities on family vacations. It was heartbreaking to find out so many of those animals are tortured for tourist entertainment. I’m actively seeking an organization to work with to bring more awareness to that issue (if anyone in that field is reading this and wants holler at me, find me on social @AliyaJasmine).
Why are young people so important for the future of animal welfare?
I think young people still question the status quo, which is the only way change will happen. I believe they also have the power to change the opinions of how their parents see the world, and encourage how money is spent – both their own, and their parents.
Money drives everything. How we spend each dollar matters in the big picture of the way animals are treated in society.
How have you seen young people change and shape laws and thinking around animal welfare?
When I lived in Toronto I saw groups of young people do “pig vigils” for truck loads of pigs being brought to slaughter. They shared what they saw on social media, and the images were eye-opening. For my friends who both vegan and non-vegan, we couldn’t believe the conditions these pigs were kept in. There were non-vegan protestors at the pig vigils who don’t want the animals they eat tortured in such horrific ways. When I moved to LA, I followed them on Instagram. The images are hard to look at sometimes, but it’s the truth. And that’s powerful.
What attracted you to being involved with six-two’s 35 under 35 initiative?
Travel, animals and the environment – I mean, that’s my entire M.O!
Why do you think initiatives like this, that celebrate young people, are so important?
When I was an anchor at MTV News, I used to host these live shows across North America for ME to WE (the founder, Craig Kielburger, is a fellow 35 under 35 judge) and they really showed me the power that young people have to change the world. I’ve also seen it first hand when I was in South Sudan – how a 14 year old girl was able to change her entire community…if you ever see me in the street, ask me that story!
What credentials were you looking for in the nominees you selected?
I was looking for passion, a deeper level of understanding, a desire to see long-term change, and someone who was already starting to make a difference – and getting engagement from others!
To learn more about the six-two 35 under 35 initiative, and to see the individuals who made the list, including Aliya Jasmine’s nominations, head here.