Fashion Interview : Naima Mora” [ANTM Cycle 4 Winner] Talks Fashion,Modelling and Music. #ANTM

by - 12:15:00

Photographer-Curtis Moore
Hi, Naima, Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what was life like growing up?
Hi Everyone! Well, I grew up in Detroit city… I grew up in a musical household as both of my parents are musicians. They really allowed and supported us in developing creative sensibilities that led my sisters and me to pursue careers in the arts. My sisters and I had this hub of love and art at home, but we also grew up amidst dangerous surroundings. Detroit has some of the highest violence and illiteracy rates in the country. Albeit that is the case, my parents also raised us as Nichiren Buddhists which gave me a sense of strength and courage to pursue my dreams despite any circumstance.

Amazing! So how did you start Modelling and what inspired you to go into the fashion industry?
I think I was naturally drawn to fashion because of the art within it. The art of design, photography, makeup, styling and even performing on the runway. I kind of stumbled upon being a model. When I moved to NYC to be a ballet dancer, my good friend who is a makeup artist asked me to do some tests shoots with her. And from there on I was very intrigued with Modeling. A couple of years later after being rejected by many agencies in the city, I was scouted for America’s Next Top Model

What was your first big break in the modelling and fashion industry?
My first big break in the fashion industry was - winning ANTM. With that, I landed as one of the faces of CoverGirl Cosmetics. I was a spokesmodel for the company. 

If you weren’t modeling, your career choice would be?
If I weren’t modeling I would be doing exactly what I’m doing now. My career is not limited to modeling at all. I have actually been performing as a singer for the last several years. Of course, I would like to explore more of the performing arts like acting per se. I published a book as well. I went to college for Creative Writing and I really got to put those skills to the test with my first book “Model Behavior“.

How did it feel to win ANTM Season 4 and what impact did it have on your life?
I never imagined winning a hit reality TV model competition. Winning ANTM changed my life dramatically. I think I was a little lost about what I would do in life. I had just left the ballet company I had been performing with right before filming. I didn’t know where life would take me. But after winning I became a role model, using my career to inspire people and to keep growing as an individual.

What advice would you give to aspiring Models trying to find their Niche in the Modelling and Fashion industry?
Aspiring models always reach out to me asking for advice on how to break into the industry. The first thing I tell them is to never let rejection get to them. You really just have to find your own niche in the industry. A lot of people have the misconception that modeling is limited to high fashion editorial and runway modeling. But commercial modeling has a lot more outlets to be able to express your career. You can start at your local level in your city modeling for professionals that are also in the industry. I got my start really just modeling for a friend who thought I could do well at it.

What are some of your latest and upcoming projects, also tell us more about your First Single “Hour Glass” which was released last year.
So in the last two and half years, I’ve been a busy bee. I won ANTM and took a couple of years to really develop as a model. Learning how to do my job well. That was really important to me because people look up to me for my success in that part of my career. But I strongly believe that the creative mind has to have many outlets. I published my book “Model Behavior” and toured it successfully in five major cities including some renowned universities. I gave a TEDx Talk which for me was a life-changing experience.
I also released my single HourGlass. That was a really cathartic experience as music and art can be. It’s a universal language. I had the pleasure of working with Stadium Music Enterprise and producer Josh Stevens who really brought out the best in my music. I had the pleasure of touring my single as well! I opened for LA Style Fashion Week, Reno Fashion Week, and Santa Fe Fashion Week to audiences of 1000 plus people.
Also, I’ve recently done a soft launch of a brand new project, my clothing line “Naima x Hitoma”. It’s a collaborative project between myself and my good friend Geo Hitoma. 

photographer- Curtis Moore
Who or what inspires and motivates you daily?
Love inspires me daily… I, like many people, have had to learn to love myself through and through. When I wake up in the morning that is what inspires me to get out of bed and keep pushing toward pursuing and accomplishing my dreams. And my love for other people too. For my family, my friends, and my loved ones. I have to succeed for them too.

What do you enjoy most about modelling and the Fashion/Entertainment industry?
The best thing about fashion and modeling as a career for me is traveling. I LOVE being able to travel and meet new people… see new things and really connect with new experiences. It’s really fulfilling. I get to expand a network of friends in so many states and countries around the world. It makes me really happy!

In regards to the fashion industry, what are the aspects you love about it? What are some aspects that you don’t about the industry?
Like all careers, there are great things and not-so-great things. I love the art of fashion. I love the experience of a photo shoot, a runway show, and being involved in the creative process. I love the design behind it all. I love the orchestration of so many elements to create one beautiful image…
Then there are things that I don’t really like as much about the fashion industry. It can be racist at times and sexist as well. The perceptions of beauty can become skewed. There is a very unhealthy demand for young women to be uber thin, and I think that hurts the consumer as well.
As people who work in the industry, we have to really find a delicate balance of pop culture and what we are selling as to what is perpetuated from a negative sensibility. I believe it is our responsibility as artists and as creators to be very aware of how we are influencing pop culture and those people who buy it.

photographer- Nia Mora
What inspired you to write the Book “NAIMA Model Behaviour” and should we be expecting more books from you soon?

I really wanted to create something tangible for my fans all over the world. People have reached out to me expressing their love and support for me for being a winning contestant on ANTM. I hoped to inspire people and a lot of people have said that I have done so. But I wanted to create something real from being on reality tv. So I wrote ‘Model Behavior”. It is an inspirational book for young people who have conversations about healthy relationships, self-expression, and healthy eating. It also has a chapter on modeling tips. It’s a sort of coffee table-style book filled with images of some of my best photo shoots. And yes, I am working on another book as we speak… coming perhaps by the end of the year…. fingers are crossed.

Yay! Excited to see what you come up with – If you could change anything about the Fashion and Modeling industry, what would it be and why?
If I could change anything about the fashion industry, I would want to change the exploitation of youth and youthfulness. As a young model, I didn’t realize at first what that meant. But after having been in the industry for several years now, I can see that a lot of young people are taken advantage of and treated poorly. Some of these agents, talent reps, and casting directors treat the models as dispensable objects. Utilizing their youth to sell an idea of beauty that isn’t always relatable. As a woman now, when I see ad campaigns with a girl of 15 or 16 being sexualized, I can’t relate to it all. Most women don’t and in fact, it makes most women feel guilty at not being that. I hope that in my career I have managed to transcend that to some degree and inspire people from the work I’ve done as a model.

What do you believe is the key to success for a model? What qualities does one need to succeed?
To be a successful model, you must have courage and love. Love for yourself… A LOT, have lots of love for yourself. Also, you must have the courage to face your fears and take a leap of faith in pursuing your dreams… it’s what has kept me going and surviving.
Follow Naima On Twitter And Instagram

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