For several years, modelling has been seen as a silent profession where as models are to be seen but never heard. Internationally, people of colour have had extremely oppressive encounters in the industry; from having to change their names because it may be too ‘black’ or a bit ‘too cultural’. Needless to say black models are not seen as often as possible and are undermined beyond their capacities; ignorant industry folks overlook the very many talented and good looking black models well because their black; tragic I must say.

What’s even more tragic is the system in Nigeria, I’ve been extremely curious to know how difficult it must be having the older generation and even a bit of the younger stigmatise modelling and other entertainment related jobs as an unserious profession; they say it’s an embarrassment and a shame to where we come from. The ignorance in Nigerians and Africans at large discriminate and hardly commends the hard work these ladies put in on a daily, although; I am very proud of how well the industry is doing; from Lagos Fashion and design week to Nigerian fashion expo amongst others the models as well as the designers are doing amazingly well; the distinction from western designs and African designs are becoming more and more obvious and it’s a stunning improvement. I chose this week to speak to one out of many very stunning models and members of the fashion industry, Ifeoma Nwobu on her involvement in modelling and in general her journey so far. She’s young and she’s stunning, so why not?

Ifeoma Ogonna Billion Nwobu is a Political Science major in the University of Lagos known for her defining yet adorable facial structure, straight long legs and very outspoken personality. She began her modelling career in the year 2015 being signed to an agency but later feeling the urge to resign and branch out on her own. Besides modelling, Ifeoma has found an insightful interest in social media management which she now offers services on. I mean engage in as many profitable activities and jobs that you can because you have almost nothing to lose.

Ifeoma points out that her focus is shared between both passions and is only more active in the modelling sector because most employers will be reluctant to trust a girl without a degree but as soon as she’s opportune she will take it up. She stated her reason for leaving the Nigerian agency as she needed a push to do more and is looking forward to signing with an agency outside of the country; big thinker I must say.

She commends the modelling industry in Nigeria by saying the system is growing by day and there’s a lot of good things within it; she goes on to say the fastest and easier way to move up in the industry is first and most importantly “conformation from God that this is what he wants you to do” and secondly working smarter than you work hard; “…everybody’s working hard, everybody’s stunning, everybody is beautiful but how do you sell yourself beyond the shoots and photos.” She advises every current and aspiring model out there to strategise and work smart!

Not too long ago Ifeoma walked at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week in Lagos for several amazing designers and I must say she was just gorgeous. She has walked for the show for 3 consecutive years but unfortunately her first two times were not official walks because she says she was not selected but thank God for networking and connection. This year was different for the young model as she walked for sixteen different shows; talk about God’s time.

She clears my curiosity on whether the youth are as involved in the fashion industry in Nigeria as they should by saying that it’s not about age but about how good you are and how well you fit their mood. Contrary to popular opinion Ifeoma tells me she has never had to deal with discrimination from the older generation on her chosen profession stigmatising it as a job earned by “selling their bodies” and I must say that’s good to hear.

Ifeoma has been on features on major platforms such as Vogue and CNN Africa as well as others but would not count those as enough accomplishments to relent; well what can I say; she thinks big.

Ifeoma being the very open minded and diverse personality that she is has aspirations for politics and acting as well being that modelling wasn’t always her first choice. Although, she has not joined the acting industry because it’s tougher to succeed in unlike modelling that appreciates new faces. Unfortunately Ifeoma started modelling three years after her mother’s death but that has only made her a stronger person. She knows very confidently that she has her mother’s support and on the other hand her dads as well as long as she focuses on her education and makes that her first priority.

We closed the session with a final note from Ifeoma to young girls and aspiring models; “…get your confirmation from God first…attend as many open castings, send Polaroid images to agencies and hope for the best”.

Outspoken and honest Ifeoma bluntly advises young girls not to place all their focus and mind on modelling alone and if it doesn’t work out after a while find something more suitable and accepting of you to do. “Don’t be ashamed to quit because you’re worth more than you think”. She ends her little speech with a hilarious remark ‘One Love’.

I enjoyed this session and learned a lot not only about modelling but about Ifeoma as well. Focused and God fearing are two ways to describe the fast rising model and I do appreciate the positivity and openness she brings around I mean that’s one of the many things Nigerians need right now.

Live your best life at your fullest potential.

Words: Adaobi Ajegbo.

Cover Credits : Originally shot for VaneKarolle

Photography | Manny Jefferson

Model | Ifeoma Nwobu

Beauty Direction | Awoyemi Oluwakemi

Hair | Lawrence Premium

Creative Direction, Styling, Words | Vane Karolle

Fashion | Grey Projects, Doo By Iyanu, Retrospective Shop, FRUGIRLS.