Updated: Nov 12, 2020
NEW ERA with : AMAL TOBI
Photographed by Nick Scaife. Styled by Marina German. Words by Charlie Newman.
Makeup directed by Christabel Draffin and applied by Amal.
2020 will be a year that marks the history books for many reasons. We are experiencing a pandemic of historic standards whilst simultaneously writing new history books for the future, welcoming diversity and equality for all. For the majority of us work has been a write off this year but nevertheless our minds have still been challenged and expanded. Covid-19 has demanded we pause to think on what really matters and the Black Lives Matter movement has forced us to question and examine how we live our lives, paving a way for a new and improved future.
You’ve been modelling for almost 2 years now. What has been a career highlight?
My first runway show, Exclusive for Prada, also within one year and a few months I was able to work with top designers and major brands like Miu Miu, Erdem, Off-White, RedValentino, etc.
What do you enjoy about modelling the most?
I get to be independent! Be myself, stay true to myself, show my personality and also it makes me more socially connected. I get to work and meet with amazing/talented people and of course travel to different amazing countries and cities.
Travel comes hand in hand with working in fashion. Where has been your favourite place to travel to? What would you recommend our readers do/see/eat there?
London is my favourite city! Not because I am based here but because it feels a bit like home as its diverse. I also love Rome, the buildings are amazing!
Try Nigerian Jollof rice with plantains when you visit London.
If you weren’t modelling what would you be doing?
I used to work as a secretary to a very well known lawyer in my country and also work at an internet cafe, typing documents, designing, etc. I would probably still be doing that if I wasn't modelling (that’s where I was scouted by the way). Also I would be in school to get a degree in Computer Science and also study Architecture which I'm actually still going to do...
Where and you have you been quarantining with?
I have been in quarantine in London with my mother agent from Nigeria, she is going to be 62 this year and I have been with her to help her with grocery shopping, getting the essentials and so on. Love her!
If you could choose one famous person to quarantine with, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Hmm, I would say Rihanna, so I can hear her sing everyday and also hear the song before it's been released (smiles). And also to learn some business ethics for future purposes, she is amazing.
It’s very easy to get bogged down with the negatives of Covid-19, but what positives have you taken from this period?
Well, I am naturally a positive person, I try to stay positive in any situation I find myself. I believe God has plans, and also there is time for everything in life, I guess this is just the time or era where the things we take for granted should be taken more seriously, and we should also be grateful for life.
Lockdown has afforded us the time to pause and reflect. What have you learnt about yourself over the past few months?
I think we learn more about ourselves everyday. These past few months gave me the time to start and learn how to play my favourite instrument which is piano. I love it but I do not have any idea on how to play it, so I got myself an electronic keyboard during quarantine and have been learning how to play it with this app called Simply Piano and also online, it's going really well and am happy with it. I’m not very good at it yet but I will get there.
What are you most looking forward to post lockdown?
I’m looking forward to getting back to work, and also travelling to Nigeria (Lagos) for a visit to see my family and friends.
Only 9% of people would like to return to their former lives pre lockdown pre lockdown. What changes would you like to put in place in your life post lockdown?
Just to keep helping the less privileged in ways that I can and keep praying for them because I can’t help but think about them how they are coping during quarantine - not everyone has a roof over their head and can “stay home”. Also keep working hard towards achieving my goals and aims, and building my career as model.
On the topic of change, the Black Lives Matter movement is rightly changing the world one march and petition at a time. It’s been couple of weeks with a lot to process. How does this make you feel?
Like you said it's changing the world. I feel it's amazing the huge impact we can make when we do something collectively together, when people come together to fight for what is right and standing up against what is wrong is great! And we should continue to do this and not just make it a trend, and also use social media.
The fashion industry may be celebrating diversity but its still has along way to go. From your own experience and knowledge, where would you like the industry to improve and change for the better?
I would say the industry should see beauty, potential and personalities and not discriminate because of a skin colour, and also treat models equally. Furthermore, “hire” not just because of pretence for diversity, and treat people the way you want to be treated.
Whilst the BAME models are gracing covers and campaigns worldwide, behind the camera this isn’t necessarily the case. Are there any BAME creatives you would to shout out and share with us?
I would like to do a shoutout to Mee Kyung Kim Porter she is a makeup artist and also a hairstylist and I love working with her. I do lots of e-comm with her and shows, and the makeup is amazing every-time. She can also braid my hair.
Often the best way to implement change is through educating ourselves and inspiring others. Do you have any stories or people you would like to share with our readers?
I have lots of stories to share with people but in summary, my life is a story in its own meaning of my native name (OLUWA-TOBI means God is Great). This is my mum's favourite name to call me. She will always say to me “I gave birth to you inside the church during a powerful program, you were so easy and I see the way you’re growing, I never have to stress about raising you as whenever I look at you I see how amazing God is." I have four amazing siblings, one sister and three brothers and my mum is a very strong woman, an amazing and supportive mother and mentor. We have been through a lot together, we all have, but I have never had low self-esteem, I am a Christian and I believe I can do anything I put my mind into with God’s grace. That is to say do not let anyone or people project their fears onto you, don’t feel like you don’t deserve great things because of what you’ve been through - actually it’s the other way around. You deserve great things because of what you’ve been through, trust your struggle and believe in your strength. At the beginning of my career some people thought I was making a mistake by pursuing a career as model, they said I wasn’t going to do anything, well, now I am doing lots of things. Don’t let people pull you back, they don’t know you, you know yourself and you only show people the part you want them to see. I am not a model because of my height. I started to realise how I enjoy doing it, how happy it makes me feel, how I get to be myself doing it, so I say whatever you’re doing make sure it makes you happy, believe in God and in yourself, go for what you want. We all procrastinate but time waits for no-one and forget about what people are going to say.
In conclusion let’s LOVE one another.
Amal appears courtesy of M+P Models.