This interview was conducted by Maestro’s Media (http://maestromedia.blogspot.com).
The last time we spoke to you was a while ago, you were still in Milan, Italy then. We hear you are back, how was your sojourn abroad, what was the experience like and what were you doing while there?
Hi! It’s good to be back. Living in Europe was great. I did lots of traveling, made many friends. As you know, my primary reason for traveling was for my M.Sc. and to get business partners for my Design Company, which I hope to launch in 2013/2014. I have achieved both. Italy was lovely. Great food, fascinating culture and great people. I got to learn Italian and picked some Spanish as well. I loved it there.
We heard in the last few years, you graduated in flying colors, you have also gone on to do your master’s, many wouldn’t have expected you were such a brilliant student. Tell us about it?
Hahhahhaaa! I guess you are referring to the fact that I graduated from UNILAG with a 4.21 CGPA and have 4 diplomas in Fashion Design, Italian Language, Computer Studies and Etiquette/Public Speaking respectively. Well, what can I say; I am a model that loves to read. I love to study. Perhaps I am lucky, because I choose fields that I love and have interest in, so it never gets “boring” or overwhelming for me. And my parents were very big on time management, so I picked up the multi-tasking gene from my teenage years. My first diploma (Computer Studies) was before I got into UNILAG. The second was from Poise Finishing School (Etiquette & Public Speaking) while studying for my B.A. After graduation I got another in Fashion Design, and the last one in Italian Language while studying for my M.Sc.
Do you still model; if so it’s been a decade in the business, if not, in what area are you still involved in the modeling business?
A few years ago, I was offered a job by a corporate firm. While considering it, I asked the female boss (who had been in entertainment in the past) why she transitioned from that to her current job. She told me something that stayed with me every day since then. She said that a time would come in my life when I had to move from being the “entertainer”, to the one who was being “entertained”. It was a brief but excellent wake-up call.
I don’t model so much anymore, truth be told. Although I really love being on stage and in front of the camera, I would probably take one of 10 modeling jobs that are offered to me now. Not because I think they’re not good enough, but because my interests now are much more diverse. I have my Design, Corporate PR, TV presenting and most recently Luxury apartments marketing. Last year I modeled in Vienna and Milan, and I just got signed on as the face of the new TURA beauty products (which is a purely antiseptic product product now) via Bunor Creazioni (Frank Osodi’s) Modeling Agency so that’s exciting.
To celebrate my 10th anniversary as a model, I am working with fashion photographer and painter Isaac Emokpae for a highly creative portfolio. I have been Emokpae’s muse for about 6 years now, and he is responsible for most of my images that have been released in the past.
What majorly are you into now and why that particular business?
Currently, I am the Creative Director of EmaajPR; a Corporate PR firm… we deal with corporations, governmental bodies and international brands that wish for a presence in the Nigerian market.Like I said earlier in 2013/2014- My Italian business partners and I would (hopefully) launch our Design firm, which will cater for modular interior-architectural design and offer fashion design consultations to existing fashion brands and designers. With iGroove Radio, I would have an online fashion segment for up-and-coming models, and I would be sharing knowledge acquired over my 10-year career as an African Model. There are other projects I’m working on which will be unveiled in time.
Has there been any improvement in the industry (fashion) in the past years and if so in which particular area?
Of Course there have been many great improvements in the industry. Between 2002 and 2012, look at the number and quality of fashion magazines we have now. So many talented stylists, great new designers that are recognized globally, new models that are strutting on runways all over the world. International fashion shows… and make-up artists that make us look better and better.
It is true we still have a long way to go, in terms of a proper structure for the Modeling industry, and the standard of new models seem to be falling, as are the model fees, which seem to be declining in a country where inflation has been steady the past 10 years. In 2002, my first fashion show got me a fee of N70, 000. Now, an average model is fortunate if she earns N40, 000 per show. Some still get N10, 000- N15, 000. Luckier still if you get up to 10 of those jobs in a year.One would have expected to see more superstars strutting the runway as a sign of progress, but the reverse seems to be the case.
Well, just like I said in the previous question. There is only so much you can do/ so much time you can invest in a venture that doesn’t do much to sustain your basic needs. So people move on… try other things. Modeling is a lifestyle; it’s NOT just a “job”. If you were a Giselle/ a Naomi and you were offered $300,000 dollars for a job, and you were in a structured industry with a team of agents and bookers who sourced your jobs… how would you NOT look great? Even if you become a size 18, or come from a family of curvy/heavy women, you WILL take that extra effort and make the necessary sacrifice required to keep your body a required size 6-8.
We know you to be a gifted artist (painter) how come you haven’t allowed that gift more prominence?
I haven’t painted in a while because I don’t have a painting studio/space yet. Once I get that I will start painting again. I still get to express my creativity through my fashion design sketches and Interior Design 3D Animations.
You have remained gorgeous all these years, what’s the secret?
I really don’t have a complicated beauty regimen. I don’t go out of my way to acquire fancy products based on brand name, but I use things that are more organic and still achieve beautiful results. I DON’T diet, I just eat healthy. My style is to eat what I want WHEN I’m hungry and to STOP once I’m full. I just learnt about healthy food combinations and I incorporate that into my feeding habits. It’s amazing, and I feel stronger and fuller for longer. Most importantly, it helps food digest properly so I don’t have to worry so much about it being stored as fat. Luckily, I love to cook my meals, so I can control what goes into my food. For exercise, I like Pilates and yoga.
Do you subscribe to any particular beauty routine?
Cleanse, Hydrate and Moisturize. I have a preference for Hammams, and I recommend it for everyone.
What’s a definite must have for you?
My Black Opal loose powder and stick foundation. I find it excellent for dark skin.
Paint us a picture of the past decade.
I have come into my own, finally. I have grown from a girl to a woman. Every year past I have tried to push myself to be a better version of whatever I had been. Everything that I have done is intertwined and has been a stepping-stone to the other. From Modeling to TV Presenting, to Fashion/Costume Design, and then Interior Design, and now PR which has opened a new path into Architectural Marketing. I am quite happy and yet humbled by my journey so far.
On the last note what does the future hold?
I can’t say that I have a definite plan as to what I MUST be or do. Just like I knew when I was 6 years old that I would one day be a fashion model (which happened 12 years later), I just tell God the things I would like for my future. I know that I would like to be very successful. I know that I would like to be happy and content. I know that I would like to have my Design Firm and use it to create eco-friendly modular housing solutions for Africans, and I know that perhaps a decade from now I’d like to be a diplomat.
Whatever happens between now and then are just bonuses. Perhaps it is the artist in me, but I am always open to new experiences and paths because I believe that ultimately they’ll lead me to my dreams. So far I haven’t been disappointed, as I have gotten way more than I could ever have bargained for, so I guess FAITH is a truly amazing thing.