Nigerian Model: Aminat Ayinde

By :- Janette Brin

Lifestyle & Culture

It was March 4, 2009 when America and the rest of the world got introduced Nigerian born model Aminat Ayinde. She was one of 13 young women who were part of the cast of America's Next Top Model. The winner would receive prizes that included representation from Elite Model Management, a contract with cover girl, and fashion spread in Seventeen magazine. Cycle 12 averaged 4.35 million viewers per episode, that's major exposure. Week after week the viewing audience followed the contestants through the process, all the while getting the reality TV version of the various personalities. With no modeling background and very little runway training, Aminat found the experience life changing. So if you've seen ANTM then  you already know that 13 women sharing a house during a competition is always pleasant. In other words there is high drama, which is what the reality part of t.v. is all about. It's all but impossible to get a true sense of who people are. I mean really, when was the last time you shared a house with 13 people and you weren't in college?  Well there was definitely some high drama that season. 

Aminat did not win cycle 12 the prizes went to Teyona Anderson, but there's no denying that it provided visibility with regards to the modeling industry. She has certainly been embraced by the African fashion industry. She's graced the runways for numerous shows including the ARISE collective during MBFW in New York. She has also walked for Nigeria's House of Jola during Couture Fashion Week in NY. Most recently she traveled back home to participate in AMFW (Arise Magazine Fashion Week) 2012 in Lagos, Nigeria. Aminat's journey is definitely of interest to women of color in general and African women in particular. More and more young African women are seeing a place for themselves in the industry because of women likeAminat. If you are a fan of Project Runway All Stars you've seen her on this season edition wearing Emilio Sosa's designs. Posh Magazine is pleased to present our interview with Aminat.

P : Aminat where in Africa are you from, and when did you come to the U.S.?
A : I am a proud Nigerian born in Lagos Nigeria and migrated to North America when I was six years old. I have three other siblings and I am the middle child and yes I do have the middle child syndrome. I am a scholar and college graduate with a BS degree in Biology and a double minor in Chemistry and African African American Caribbean Studies (AACS). I am a Pisces and a true water sign, I flow where  the Universe takes me. I love love, I love life and most of all I live my Life to the fullest everyday. I am a blessed human being and consider myself a beautiful spirit from inside out.

p :  Aminat , you were second Runner up on Antm cycle 12, how was the experience of being on the show for you? 

A : I was very blessed to have an opportunity to be on an international syndicated show like ANTM to start my modeling experience. I had a blast in the house and the experience literally changed my life. I learned so much about myself living in a house with twelve other females.

FA :  How has the experience influenced your modeling career? 

A : The experience on being on ANTM cycle 12 influenced my modeling career majorly as prior to the show I didn't have a modeling career. I just did my University's Annual HASA (Haitian American student Association) Fashion Shows. I only had  two years  of runway experience, but I never liked taking pictures. I would rather take the images than to be in it, the show literally forced me to look in the mirror and study my face. Most of all it made me love my face, and myself, flaws and all which I am and will forever be very grateful for.

P: Would you consider doing another reality show? 

A : Yes I would totally love to be in another reality show. It has to be the "RIGHT" reality show that portrays me and African women in the Diaspora in a positive and beautiful light.

P : what has been the most rewarding thing about your work as  a model?

A : That's hard to pinpoint but the most rewarding thing by far is knowing that I in some way helped young men and women alike in either modeling or in an artistic manner.

P : How do you keep fit, any special workout regimen ?

A :  I know everyone will be mad reading this but I really don't work out. I love yoga but that's it! I am blessed to have the physique that God has given me without exercising or eating healthy because I don't like eating salads really! I must say that as I get "younger" I'm  realizing that I need to eat healthier and do some steady exercises here and there.

p : what kind of questions do you get from young women of color seeking to enter the industry?

A : I get a lot of messages on FB about how to get into the fashion industry and I tell the girls and guys that you have to work really hard and diligently in anything that you want in life. Especially as people of color, we have to work much much much more harder as the Industry wasn't created for our aesthetic. It was created for the European aesthetic but do your research and if it really is something you want then do not allow anything to stop or hold you back. The industry will bring out your inner artist so be ready to rediscover yourself!

p : What questions do you tend to be asked most often by fans of ANTM?

A : The most frequent question I get asked by ANTM fans is; How is Tyra?

p : Are you still in touch with Tyra Banks and other former contestants from your cycle?

A : No I am not in touch with Tyra Banks. I do keep in touch with some of my ladies from the house. Especially Teyona (winner of cycle 12) , Nijah Harris, Celia Ammerman (yes be shocked ), and Fo (Felicia Porter)  

P : What are some of your other professional interests in addition to being a model?

A : Professionally speaking I have had my hands involved in event planning, hostessing, physical therapy, sales, marketing and advertising, writer (contributor for and public speaking just to name a few. I wear many different hats! 

I love to dance but I am not a professionally trained dancer. I have been told that I kill it on the dance floor for a tall girl. I am interested in acting professionally as well, need my first acting job so hit me up on twitter w/any great scripts @Aminat_model. If I wasn't modeling, I honestly think that I would be a doctor in either medicine or plastic surgery.

P : You have  been traveling a lot, how often do you get to visit home?

A : I wish I visited home at least 4 times a year but I don't get to visit as often as I would like. Home for me is where my heart lies and I really do see myself moving back to Nigeria and being based in Africa. There is a Back to Africa movement going on and I want to be part of it. I would love to either be sponsored by or partner up with Airik Airlines in some manner to be able to come home to Nigeria more often especially for the project I am working on currently. 

P :  Did you participate in the ARISE show in Lagos?

A : YES, I participated in  AMFW 2012 in Lagos, Nigeria. It was amazingly intense as there were over 70 designers this year. I love being able to come back home and work! Especially work it on the runways as that's where I feel like I get to have the most fun and show a bit of my personality. It is like your moment when you are on that runway, no one can touch you! It's so exciting and freeing all at once.

P: What are your thoughts on the evolution of the African fashion industry? 

A : My thoughts of the evolution of  the African Fashion Industry is really simple. We were the first and we will surely be the last. We are the creators of Fashion and beauty and this is our moment to really shine and flourish. I feel like African fashion is so hot and trendy right now, and everyone is using our fabrics and styles but once we get Africa the continent together, we will be unstoppable. African Fashion is, was and always will be.
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