Who Is Samirah Raheem? Meet Model Interviewed by Jesse Peterson for LA SlutWalk

Samirah Raheem went from a lesser-known model to one of the internet’s top-praised women after a video from Los Angeles' 2017 SlutWalk went viral. The interview with pastor Jesse Peterson took place in October, but internet users caught wind of the exchange last week, with the video being shared over 151,000 times on Twitter. 

When asked by Peterson why she considered herself a slut, Raheem answered: “Because I own my body. My body is not a political playground. It’s not a place for legislation. It’s mine, and it’s my future.”

The SlutWalk first started in Toronto in 2011 with a group of young activists. The walk gained exposure when model Amber Rose joined the cause, which aims to expose victim blaming, sexual violence and gender inequality.

When the video went viral, the model was met with responses from Twitter fans who called her a queen and said they’d like their daughters to be raised like her, but the praise came with equal backlash.

“Of course people are like ‘I would never want my daughter to talk like this. She's disrespectful,’” Raheem told Newsweek. “I was reading the comments and my ribs started hurting. I was becoming physically sick from it. And I was like 'Sam, don't look down.’ It's almost like when you're afraid of heights and you say, 'Don't look down…don't look down at the comments. Just stay focused because you cannot take on everyone.’”

Raheem, who did not want to disclose her age, focused on directing and film acting in The New School's drama program. During her college years, she spent time in Uganda learning about child soldiers. 

FullSizeRender-1 Model Samirah Raheem has gone viral for her conversation with pastor Jesse Peterson on what it means to be a "slut." Chris Cheney

Raheem also works as a model, appearing in an upcoming Aerie campaign. She’s an activist who has chosen to belong to institutions that are accepting. With nearly 200,000 Instagram followers, Raheem wants to use her newfound platform to speak on girls' education and safety worldwide.

Though her notoriety is growing, Raheem is still learning. The conversation with Peterson was unplanned and she could have been more prepared if she knew her statement was going to go viral.  

“It was very impromptu and I'm not the most well-spoken person on this topic, but I will be using this time to connect with women who are actively in the streets doing this work. I'm growing like everybody else. I love the support, but I'm really just trying to learn the vernacular and learn how to be in the room with these people because I'm just a girl from Slauson with opinions," she said. "I need a lot of grooming. Just don't take me too seriously, and try not to judge me too harshly.”

One thing Raheem wanted to clear up was that she wasn't annoyed with Peterson's question. “I think a big misconception ... was that I was angry or irate or anything like that," she told Newsweek, "I really just wanted to show him my perspective because I had empathy for his perspective.”

She continued, “I think midway through I kind of started realizing that he had his truths that he stood by and was raised to believe, and I think he definitely was trying to trap me and make a fool of me. But I wasn't gonna let it happen.”

FullSizeRender Samirah Raheem has gone viral for her conversation with pastor Jesse Peterson on what it means to be a "slut." Chris Cheney