QUARANTINE DIARIES 2 with : ALÉCIA MORAIS
Facetime photographed by Mathieu Puga. Words by Charlie Newman.
Please can you tell us where you're from and the best thing to do there.
I’m from a little island called Santo Antão, Cape Verde located in West Coast Africa. I was born and raised there until I was 15 years old. Then I had an opportunity to fly to Europe for work. Cape Verde has 10 islands, each one has their own ‘identity’. My island is known for being mountainous, you can discover beautiful views through hiking, we also have black sand beaches too. And of course, you can live and experience the tradition and culture. You can fly or take a boat to each island because they are pretty close.
How long have you been modelling for and what has been a career highlight for you?
No words can describe how grateful and blessed I feel for everything that’s happening in my life. Everything started almost 10 years ago when I was 14/15 years old. I got discover on my island when I was walking to school. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. The lady who discovered me went straight to my family house to speak with them, to convince them to be part of a concept called “Elite Model Look” which I won and then I went to China on my first ever trip. I was nominated as one of the best 15 talents at that time. I had an opportunity to fly to Europe for work, to do Fashion Week in Paris, London and Milan which was amazing. 1 year later I moved to New York which is the place I spend more time and feel blessed to call it home.
Between flights and cities, I have so many highlights of my career, for me, each one is important and made me grow and experience the moment. For example, walking and working for designers like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Dolce Gabbana, Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria Secret, La Perla. Walking for the VS show and the Chanel show in Cuba was a real highlight. I feel thankful to work and meet such inspiring people.
What was the biggest surprise for you when you first started working in fashion?
Everything was surprising for me, I never thought of leaving my island, my family at 15, working in fashion, learning a different language, Be able to fly the world, discover a culture completely different than mine.
And what do you wish people knew more about when it comes to the world of fashion?
I want people to know the fashion industry isn’t as easy as they think. You only see the front of the cameras. There is huge work to do behind the cameras like castings, travelling, different times zones, looking fresh. The fashion industry requires a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work. I needed my family and my agent to support me every day to be where I am. I also feel I couldn’t do that without passion. When you love what you do it makes life easier.
In all you 10 years of modelling, what have you gleaned from working in fashion?
Everything! I’ve learnt so much in fashion. First, I had to learn how to speak English which wasn’t easy. I learnt to be responsible and not to be afraid to speak up, everyone is different and we all have to respect each other. Last but not the least, believe in yourself as your attitude matters more than your clothes.
What have you discovered about yourself throughout the struggles of this year?
I discovered my ability to fight for a global cause and help my island in Cape Verde. I donated and helped hungry families at the food donation box. I felt proud of myself to help those families because I knew they were going through a really difficult moment. I also learnt during this tough time to appreciate the little things in life.
Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
I admire Gisele Bundchen because she left the countryside where she lived with her family to pursue a modelling career to help her parents and also because she is an amazing woman. My story is similar to hers because when I left the interior of my island I didn't know much about fashion and I didn't know if it was going to work, but I wanted to go because I wanted a better life for me and my family.
What would your advice be to young, up and coming models now?
My advice to young models is to be yourself, be determined, don’t give up even when someone tries to push you down and fight for what you want.
Lastly, with the closing of 2020, what do you hope 2021 brings?
I hope that 2021 brings more love, equality and that people start looking at each other and helping one another. I want our lives to go back to how they were, to finally be able to be with our families and be able to hug and kiss the people we love the most.
Alécia appears courtesy of IMM Bruxelles.