To Indigenous dancer and actor Tibian Wyles, performing arts has the power to give you a voice in a way ordinary speech can't. Having found dance at a time when he was overcome by shyness, and later using his gift for acting to shine a light on mental health and youth suicide, Wyles is passionate about using art to help others struggling to be heard.
"I want to make a stand for youth suicide and suicide in general. I am really passionate about this topic because it's still so fresh to me," he says.
After being affected severely by the suicides of his best friend and soon after his cousin, Wyles's career took a sharp turn. He began the Facebook page TIBS VINES, which aims to spread more "laughter and positivity" into the world through short "funny videos".
"I thought it was only going to be a small thing with family and friends," he says, "but once my fifth video was posted, I realised my page got more likes. It went from 600 to 3,000 in two days!"
"I want to make a stand for youth suicide and suicide in general. I am really passionate about this topic because it's still so fresh to me" - Tibs Wyles
But the videos began to have a strong impact on his growing audience, with some even reaching out to Wyles, sharing their own stories about mental illness, and thanking him for the burst of positivity his videos bring into their lives.
"I started getting messages from my supporters who shared with me their story and how my videos have either brightened up their day or even took their minds away from the situations they are facing in life, which touched my heart," he says. "Some of them have a similar story to me."
Wyles discovered dance while attending high school in Townsville, where he was raised. After years of being too shy to speak to people, he says dance really helped him open up.
"I remember I had this hat [in primary school] that I'd hide under if I didn't want to be seen or if I was too shy to talk to anyone," recalls Wyles.
In high school, Wyles began performing in cultural dance recitals that celebrated Indigenous folklore. During this time, he realised his love for the performing arts was his true calling and decided to pursue it professionally at ACPA, the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts in Brisbane.
"I studied at ACPA as a dancer, but it was there where I found acting, and I graduated there with [both] a Diploma and Advance Diploma in Acting," he says.
Wyles felt his life as a proud Girrimay and Kalkadoon performing artist was beginning to take shape. He moved to Sydney to further pursue his dreams, performing in theatre troupes and touring locally.
It was during this period that his raison d'etre changed for good.
"Whilst I was on tour for a theatre play, I got a call early in the morning from my best friend. He was crying and... he told me that one of our best mates had committed suicide. That whole morning I was in disbelief and really emotional to the point where I [almost] couldn't go on stage for a performance,” he recalls.
“Not long after that, I lost a cousin to suicide which really hit me hard mentally and emotionally."
Now 22-years-old, Wyles hopes to keep using his gift for performance and the power of social media to help those affected by mental illness, as well as find a way to prevent youth suicide numbers from rising: "If I can help reduce the numbers of young men and woman taking their own lives, I will".
"If I can help reduce the numbers of young men and woman taking their own lives, I will."
Tibian makes up one of ten 'social influencers' set to go-live on SBS 2 Facebook this month as part of SBS Uncensored; a project where young Australians can talk openly about what issues matter to them.
Tibian was live @ 6pm on Tuesday, August 2 on SBS 2. Catch up below!