“What ‘masks’ do you wear to survive?” This question is at the heart of a global campaign ‘#MaskDrop’ created by one of the Department of Human Services employees, Roshelle Fong.
The social media campaign was launched in solidarity with the United Nations’ International Day for Tolerance, which takes place today.
For the past seven months, Roshelle has been part of ‘Emerging Cultural Leaders’ – a skills development and mentoring program for artists, run by Melbourne’s Footscray Community Arts Centre.
“The program has been incredible. It’s helped me realise the power of art and social media to inspire and connect people from all walks of life” says Roshelle.
And she hopes #MaskDrop will achieve exactly that.
“Forget #nofilter and #nomakeup, this is soul-bearing stuff! Another level of selfie-reflection on social media.”
The concept of asking people to film themselves with a social mask on, and letting that mask fall from their face, was born from Roshelle’s own experience of performing her identity.
“I’m a Chinese-Australian daughter, a public servant, an artist…and I play all these roles and more every day,” Roshelle says.
“By watching the videos submitted so far, it’s clear that the ability to roleplay is something we all have in common…and I think that’s an important part of tolerance.
“Being open to finding common ground with others, no matter how different they are from us.”
#MaskDrop, which has been live on Facebook for just a week and a half, has already attracted participants across the globe, from Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Portugal, to Germany, Sweden, the UK, the US and around Australia.
“The response has been amazing! I’ve gotten so many videos emailed to me, every night I’m scheduling posts for the next day. There’ve been some really raw and creative submissions,” says Roshelle.
“Duck-face masks from high school students, the don’t-mess-with-me mask from a former female prison officer, the ‘cute’ Japanese mask, strong masks and happy masks…quite a few happy masks. It makes me think twice about taking people at face value.”
Roshelle encourages everyone to visit the #MaskDrop Facebook page to watch the video submissions so far, and upload their own on social media with the hashtag #MaskDrop.