Samii La’ Morte is an Australian model, skateboarder, and gamer. She recently sat down with us to talk about her tattoos, keeping busy in lockdown, and the importance of being honest about mental health on social media and beyond.
Hi Samii! It’s great to chat with you. To start us off, let’s talk about your work. You’re a model! How did you get started in modeling?
I started modelling back in 2010. I just loved Bettie Page and looking at all the modern pinups and it was something I wanted to try and get into as a form of expressing myself. It’s not a site I use anymore, but I started out on Model Mayhem, a website where a community of photographers, models, makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, etc can organise to meet new people and organise photoshoots.
Did you have your tattoos when you started modeling? If not, what was the transition like, and how did your work and perceptions change as you got more ink?
I started out with maybe just a couple on my arms and then got addicted to it immediately, so my portfolio went from being very bare skin to covering my arms over a period of two years.
I found that getting tattooed felt more like me, for the first time ever I actually felt good and comfortable in my skin. I think it showed that in my work over the years, and even now.
That’s really powerful. What changed for you once you got the ink?
I think for me personally I found being a young teenager to be quite awkward and uncomfortable. I never really understood who I was (I’m sure a lot of people don’t at that age) or what I was doing in life or what direction I was going to go in.
Then when I turned 18 and got my first few tattoos, it sort of immersed me into this whole new community and creative culture. That’s where I delved into the modelling scene and meeting new people and really finding my feet and coming into an attitude of “I really don’t care what people think about me anymore” and it just felt empowering.
How did you first get interested in tattoos?
I’ve always been interested in tattoos. I think it was inevitable from when I was little when I saw my grandpa had a ballerina on his arm and I couldn’t rub it off. He told me “a man in the night came and drew on my arm and it never washed off after that.” I was amazed!
That’s such a great story! What was your first tattoo?
My first tattoo was an anchor with the initials of my family members’ names. That was just to soften the blow for more tattoos to come though really. Mom and dad can’t be mad if it’s about them, haha.
Ha! Definitely a clever approach to ease them in. From what I can see, most of your ink seems to be a traditional style. What is it about that style that appeals to you?
I never actually meant to go for a particular style. I would say now I am way more into neotraditional art, I just feel it’s something that goes with my personality and my personal style. Plus my current tattoo artist, Kyle Bahr (@kyl.tattoo) is absolutely rad at what he does, so I’m really inspired by his work.
Of all your pieces, what’s your favorite?
I honestly couldn’t say, my tattoos are just merging into one big piece, and I just love them all. Some of them represent extremely hard times and trauma, and some of them represent me escaping that trauma and healing, none of them I regret though.
Let’s switch gears a little bit and talk more about you! Tell us, what are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about working on myself, becoming the best version of me, and helping those around me. I’m passionate about openly talking about mental health struggles and lessening the stigma around it. I’m passionate about surfing because it feels like the most freeing thing in the world to me and I’m passionate about music.
Your dedication to normalizing mental health struggles is so beautiful. Was there a certain time when you just said, “Screw it, I’m going to be real”?
Yep. In or around 2017 when I left my abusive marriage, I became so depressed and was diagnosed with Complex-PTSD. I found it very hard to navigate the real world because of the trauma I had been through and I thankfully found a very stable, loving, and supportive partner who encouraged me to be my own person, to have my own friends, and to have my own autonomy. So from then on, I would just post all my sad days as well as my good days on social media.
I got tired of trying to show everyone that my life was great and on track, when in fact it was just a mess. It’s really changed my mentality towards social media, and just to not be so serious with it. We all have our good and bad days, some people choose not to show the bad days and some do. I feel more of a connection with people now that I share my true experiences and trauma because people can relate, and it can be a hard topic to discuss openly.
Thank you for sharing that; it definitely can be challenging to discuss the hard stuff, and you’re brave to put it all out there. On a lighter note, how long have you been surfing, and skateboarding too? I saw that you’re active in both sports.
I started skateboarding when I was 11. I was very much a tomboy as a kid and grew up with my brother and the neighbours. We were always doing stupid shit, like making ramps in the street and towing each other with bikes and skateboards and we would stack a lot. I loved finding long steep driveways and just barreling down them too.
I started surfing lessons around the same time, I just wanted to be like Layne Beachley and Keala Kennelly. Got my first surfboard at 16 and my mom and me would take off to the coast every weekend to go surfing. It was fun ditching school sometimes to do it too.
Skipping school to go surfing sounds like a kid’s dream. What else do you like to do in your free time?
Well here in Melbourne, Australia, we are in one of the toughest lockdowns right now, so mostly I just love gardening and playing PS4. If we weren’t in lockdown, still gardening and finding cool vegan restaurants around Melbourne.
What games are you playing on the PS4?
I play Spyro and Crash Bandicoot over and over as a self-soothing mechanism to revisit my childhood haha. And I just started playing Assassins Creed Origins.
You mentioned a passion for music too. Do you play or just listen to it?
I, unfortunately, do not play music. My partner is a drummer in the band Nothing Sacred though and we both enjoy music!
You also have a large following on social media. What is something that you wish your followers knew about you?
Honestly, I’ve probably shared everything already on Instagram, I’m very open about my mental health struggles and trauma, so I’m not even sure at this point. I’m just very grateful for how supportive everyone has been towards me on that platform.
That’s fantastic, and a great segue to our final question. What is the message you want to share with our TattooedWomen readers? My mantra would be ‘To just always be your true authentic self no matter what.’
I found it freeing once I let go of what people thought of me and how I even perceive myself, and just embraced my true form, weird quirks and all. <3
Thank you Samii!
You can keep up to date with tattooed model and mental health advocate Samii La’ Morte on Instagram at samiilamorte or on Facebook at Samii La’ Morte. Or check out these other Tattooed Women features:
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