Cute as a button, this girl’s winning fans all over the world.

Japan is home to an exhaustive collection of idol groups, ranging from the ever popular AKB48 to the suave five-man vocal unit of Arashi. Members of such charismatic groups are blessed with girl-next-door smiles or dashing good looks, prompting us lowly peons to bathe in their dazzling aura.

What aren’t all that common in idol groups, though, are non-Japanese performers. While it is true that some groups include members from foreign countries (Canadian Tia Ell from P.IDL, for example), it is still far from common in Japan. In contrast, a number of K-pop groups have non-Korean members in their lineup.

But one exception in Japan is Amina du Jean, also known as Aminyan: Japan’s first black idol. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Amina grew up fascinated by Japanese idol groups. “I really liked Morning Musume and AKB48. I wanted to be like Watanabe Mayu. Now I want to be more like Pour Lui or women/idols who create a space for themselves,” she told NextShark in an interview.

Amina was 18 years old when she first came to Japan on January 2015, and was lucky enough to be offered an idol contract to join an idol group called Chick Girls.

▼ The music video for Aminyan’s song “Twenty”

You might be thinking she’s cleared the language barrier by becoming fluent in Japanese, but she admits to not being at that linguistic level. “I can participate in group conversations with my friends, text, go to doctors appointments and understand TV, so that counts for something. Can’t read books meant for ages 12 and up, though,” Amina explains . Now 20 years of age, Amina has also branched into gravure shoots that were featured in Japan’s Weekly Playboy.

▼ Video of her gravure idol Sofmap event

On top of being a full-time university student in Tokyo, this down-to-earth girl supports herself by tutoring Advanced History between her forays into musical or bikini glamour. Just only entering adulthood, Amina is already juggling an amount of work that people twice her age struggle with.

All is not peachy however, and in a conservative country like Japan where people can face discrimination just because of the color of their skin, it can certainly dampen anyone’s spirits. Nevertheless, Amina has a positive outlook that many of us can take a page from. “I like breaking barriers, and we definitely need more diversity,” she explains to Japan Times in an interview. “I don’t want it to be a niche, but that’s what draws people in. Then I can inspire them with my personality and perseverance, and I think that’s for the better.”

▼ Her smile parts clouds to let the sun shine through.

If you’re interested to know more about Amina, you can check out her YouTube channel and official website, though it seems like she’s currently taking a break from Chick Girls to concentrate on her studies.

The path towards your dream will never be as straight as you first thought it to be (something most of our SoraNews24 writers can attest to). But it wouldn’t be called a dream if it was too easy, and as Walt Disney himself once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Sources: YouTube/Amina du Jean, NextShark, JapanTimes
Images: YouTube/Amina du Jean