“Keep knocking until an opportunity opens”
When she walks into a room, you know without a doubt a star has arrived, yet she is one of the most humble and down to earth people you will ever meet. Could that be the reason why everyone wants a piece of Top Model of Colour, Fashion Designer and Philanthropist Nana Afua Antwi? Pauline Long caught up with the supermodel for an exclusive one on one chat.
You are everywhere worldwide achieving great things? Talk us through your amazing journey.
(Giggles) I thank God I found hope in modelling. A few years ago no one knew me but now it’s all different. People even stop me on the street to say hello! I started modelling in September 2009 and was scouted to walk in London Fashion Week last year which got me more exposure. I later decided to compete for Top Model of Colour UK but had no hope of winning as last year had their biggest application entry. Over 2,000 models applied.
Since I was crowned the winner it has been extremely life changing. My modelling career just kicked off strongly as the cover girl for the international magazine Black Hair Aug/Sept Issue and has opened more platforms for my Charity for young single women and mothers living harsh lives in Africa.
Being Top Model of Colour is a coveted title and has certainly opened many doors for you. What would you say to aspiring models who might be interested in joining the competition?
Well, it’s very simple, always be yourself. Top Model of Colour is a huge title and it’s all about how you carry yourself as an individual. Whatever you do just be humble, stay positive and keep knocking until an opportunity opens; that’s my advice.
You are the Creative Director and owner of Adopted Culture recently showcased at African Fashion Week London. What is the inspiration behind your collection?
Adopted Culture is a theme I came up with during my last graduation project at college. The theme is all about celebrating African cultures through fashion. I was inspired by the rich cultures in Ghana and their colourful ceremonial fabrics like Kente which is originally hand woven. Africa in general has a rich culture and art and craft which I believe has been adopted by western world, so my whole idea was to come up with a trend which blends different cultural styles that will be generally accepted in the mainstream fashion business.
My current Summer/Spring collection which was showcased at African Fashion Week London was all finished with original Kente fabric from Ghana appliquéd with my signature development motif from Adinkra symbol ‘Sankofa’ which means going back to our roots.
What do you think of the current African Fashion trend?
Wow! African Fashion trend is incredibly taking mainstream fashion by storm, so far so good. It’s been accepted. I recently spotted London fashion high street depicting African fabrics to design shoes. I feel there’s hope for African Fashion in the next years to come.
Is your Charity linked to fashion?
Yes, my Charity is definitely linked to fashion. Half of the proceeds from sales will be donated to my Charity to keep it moving forward.
Nana, it all looks so easy when we see you on the catwalk or on TV but have you faced any challenges that models face?
I always do face challenges everyday because it’s not easy getting yourself out there especially when you are young and just starting in the industry. There will always be rejections but I keep my faith high and determined to achieve the best I can.
If there is an industry with lots of rejections, it’s the fashion industry, have you personally faced any of it?
I always get rejections as a model, normally you won’t be right for all works and not everyone will like to work with you. It is a tough industry and you will need the right attitude to deal with it. Modelling is all about being at the right place at the right time.
I have had the privilege of interviewing you previously at a Central London Hotel, you had no PR or management around trying to determine how long the interview should take, in fact you were not looking at your watch, what keeps you so pleasant, grounded and humble?
(Laughing) Well I am my own PR and Manager, I don’t wait on anyone to push me out there, plus Mahogany Management has been flexible and supportive to me! I believe in humility as I know it will take me places and more over that’s the key to success. I was raised by my grandmother, so I was brought up to be very appreciative and strive hard to survive. I guess that portrays my personality.
What’s your next project that we should look out for?
I am trying to incorporate a reality show in Ghana for aspiring models so eventually I hope to get the grant to proceed. Fingers crossed!
Are there any beauty and fashion tips you would like to share with our readers?
Sure, I love embracing my natural look, so normally I light up my skin everyday with cocoa butter. As for makeup I always stay natural with liner and cocoa foundation from Maybelline New York and lip gloss. For daily hair treatment I go for organic roots and Mizani daily moisturizer. I like keeping my finger nails natural. I keep them clean with Rimmel Nail Polish. When it comes to fashion trend, I love to look casual with a funky twist. I just love my hot pants and vest top. It must come with high heels or trainers always work for me, giving me that edgy catwalk look every day.
By Pauline Long
Pauline Long’s Celebrity Corner
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