THE MNY SPOTLIGHT

Meet Ruby Ibarra; Rapper, Director, and Co-Founder of the Pinays Rising Scholarship Program

Introduce yourself!

My name is Ruby Ibarra and I’m a rapper, director, and co-founder of the Pinays Rising Scholarship Program. I’m Pinay and released my debut album, CIRCA91, in 2017, which reflects on my experiences as a first generation Filipina-American.

Ruby Ibarra wears the Terno Midi Dress

What characteristics (cultural, personality etc) make you unique?

I have such a wide array of interests -- I’m both a rap artist and a scientist. My taste in music is very eclectic as I listen to all genres of music. I also love fashion and sneakers, as well as anime and literature.

What motivated you to become a musician?

I’ve always loved music ever since I was a child. I was first introduced to hip hop music at 4 years old, thanks to my mom, who led me to Francis Magalona’s rap album. As I got older, I naturally transitioned from being a music fan to wanting to be an artist, especially as my interest in writing poetry expanded.

What is inspiring you at the moment?

I am inspired by the sheer brilliance, ferocity, and talent displayed by so many Filipinas, especially at this moment in time! From HER, to Saweetie, to the handful of Filipinas who competed in the Olympics this year; I feel empowered and inspired when I see them and their work!

How do you interpret “invest in yourself?” and what are the types of things you do to invest in/ empower yourself?

When I think of the phrase, “invest in yourself,” I think of investing in yourself financially, emotionally, physically, and mentally -- for me, to invest in yourself means that you are motivated to achieve your goals, but that you are also practicing self care. How I invest in myself includes me repeatedly rehearsing and working on my craft, investing capital into my art form to better execute my ideas, and also ensuring that I allow myself boundaries as well as time to rest and recharge when necessary.

What has been your proudest achievement as a musician thus far?

I believe that my proudest achievement thus far is completing my debut album, CIRCA91, and knowing that I created a body of work that was authentic to my experiences and reflective of who I am and the things that I believe in and stand for. My ultimate goal as an artist is to create music that documents mine and my family’s experiences, and to amplify my culture and community’s history. If I don’t write my story, who will?

CIRCA91 Album Cover

Why is it important to you to empower women?

It is very important for me to empower women through my art because I believe in sisterhood. I believe that women have every ability to change the world, especially when we work together with each other. I also recognize that even to this day, sexism exists-- in school and at the workplace-- societal pressures and standards still make us feel less than our male counterparts. I want to challenge that narrative and make it known that we deserve to be in the same spaces as men, performing on the same stages, and in the same rooms making the decisions.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice that I’ve ever received is to be myself unapologetically. I realized that if I am authentic in my decisions, actions, and art, that people will naturally recognize that. If I am my authentic self from the start, then it will help me from ever having to compromise or change who I am.

How did you like your Mestiza piece?! Any details on how it fit or made you feel?

My Mestiza dress is absolutely beautiful; I am in love with it! I love that it pays homage to my culture by having the traditional Filipiniana/Terno style with the butterfly sleeves. Wearing this dress makes me feel elegant and powerful at the same time. I feel like I’ve put on a superhero cape.

What’s the best advice you could give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
The best advice that I can give someone who wants to follow in my footsteps is: don’t be, beat me! Be better than me! I want to inspire others, but I also want people to know that what makes you unique is ultimately what makes you beautiful and special. We all have a story to tell, so tell it in a way that only you can.
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