CANMORE – Modern day influencer Marika Sila has ambitions to inspire Indigenous youth, and her upcoming focus to become the first Indigenous cover model at Maxim Magazine might be her most sublime effort to do so.
The Canmore-raised actress, performer, activist and “Hoop Ninja” advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2020 Maxim Cover Girl contest, where the winner receives $25,000 and will be featured on the cover of the men's magazine.
“I think it’s important for Indigenous youth to have a role model that they see accomplishing their goals and dreams because we have been, throughout history, suppressed and held back,” said Sila. “I think it would be really cool for Indigenous youth who follow me to see me shattering those glass ceilings … to have a positive role model, who are in the spotlight and are living healthy lifestyles.”
Sila is in the top one per cent of contestants to advance to the quarterfinals. Online voting is at www.maximcovergirl.com for the semifinals, which are underway until July 16.
Voters get a free daily vote or they can buy additional votes, which the proceeds go to Homes for Wounded Warriors, a charity that builds and remodels accessible homes for injured veterans.
Sila was the top voted woman in her initial group of 32, which qualified her to the quarterfinals. After every round, contestants are placed in groups where they’re voted to the next round. Sila will have to keep winning with public votes in order to advance to the finals starting August. After joining the contest on a whim, Sila is amazed by the support she received from family, friends and followers to make it this far.
Tonight is the cut off to make Finals!! I am currently in 1st place, all because of you guys!! 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙌🏽🥰 . I still need your votes to help ensure I make it to finals 🐒 There is only 8 hours left to make finals and I know the other girls in my group are trying to take the spot. To help insure I stay in 1st place and make finals tonight, please make your daily votes!! It means so much to me!! It would seriously be such an honour to be the first Indigenous women on the cover of Maxim! 🙌🏽🙏🏽 . For the next 6 hours your ‘Warrior Votes’ count as 2 for 1 !! And all proceeds go toward the ‘Homes for Wounded Warriors Foundation’ and help me get that much closer to this goal! . Thank you so much to everyone who has been voting and using your free daily votes! And thank you to everyone who has been clicking that ‘Warrior Vote’!! You are making a difference and helping me all at the same time. 😇🙏🏽💖💖 . Follow the link in my Bio to vote, and help me get to finals!! 💪🏽✨ . Thanks soo much you guys!! 🥰🙏🏽🙏🏽 #maximcovergirl2020 #maxim #indigenouswomen #maximcovergirl
She hopes that by being in the contest, it not only grows her career, but also her platform for having “a bigger impact and inspire more people and raise awareness about Indigenous rights issues and climate change.”
Last year, Sila starred in an episode of The Twilight Zone. At its premier in Los Angeles, she wore a red dress to raise awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. In Indigenous culture, it's believed that red is the only colour spirits can see and her dress was to symbolize that there are those still fighting for justice.
“I’ve always tried to make a difference in any way that I can,” she said.
Sila is of Inuvialuit heritage from Tuktoyaktuk, located in the far reaches of Northwest Territories that borders the Arctic Ocean. She moved to Canmore as a child with her family, which includes big brother and cross-country skiing Olympian, Jesse Cockney.
She is an accomplished hoop dancer, which earned her the moniker "Hoop Ninja" from friends. She was motivated to learn the art after she "walked the red road" to sobriety seven years ago. When Sila started going by Hoop Ninja, she accepted the challenge to be that role, inspiring her martial arts creativeness and co-creating performing company, RedPath Talent. The company's name also symbolizes following a life of health, wellness and sobriety in Indigenous culture.
Sila’s artistry has taken her abroad as one of the world’s only Inuit hoop dancers.
In a few weeks, the potential Maxim cover model is launching her podcast, RedPath Radio, which Sila says will be an exchange of knowledge between guests and listeners.
“I’m going to be bringing the voices and the wisdom and perspective from Indigenous elders and community leaders to the modern world,” Sila said. “Then I’m going to be bringing from the top athletes, artists and entrepreneurs in the world to Indigenous communities … basically it’s going to be geared toward inspiring Indigenous youth and crushing misconceptions and just helping us all come together and thrive as one.”
As for the Maxim contest, she admits it would amazing to receive the grand prize and photoshoot, but the world will keep turning, regardless of the outcome.
"I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the Maxim stuff because that would really help build my platform, but no matter what, I’m just going to keep training and keep working towards my long-term goals which is acting and performing and this podcast,” she said.