For me, this accomplishment meant that ALL things are possible and that GOD’s plans were much bigger for me; Than I had for myself *
You made history by becoming the first Blk, African-American woman, Ms. California, an emblematic state of the USA, after being Ms. San Francisco, what did that mean to you?
Do you think that such symbols, in different fields, are important in the history of African-Americans and Blks in general in the USA?
In many ways yes because there are NO limits to what the Blk man and woman are capable of – ZERO * so anytime we are able to “shatter the ceiling” within the dominated (American) society that is something that will only help to aid or encourage the next generation.
Did these distinctions as a ‘Ms’ encourage you to take up a career as a model or did the click come from elsewhere?
Yes, I was already modeling but never truly saw it as a lifelong career path. Once I became a Ms. I took modeling much more seriously becoming a professional who has now learned how to grow and expand her career.
Modeling opened a lot of doors for me within the fashion industry and allowed me to create Ellüre Ja’tie – an agency ( organization ) that has been able to assist other models of color – To realize their dreams and in many cases expand their ‘businesses’ as a model.
During your career, you have worked with prestigious brands and designers, is this sign of an ambition to rise very high and of a personal requirement?
In many cases this has been a dream come true and something I will never take for granted, I have had the opportunity to work with top designers from The USA, France (Europe), the UK, and AFRICA * It has been personally fulfilling as I’ve been able to truly see firsthand high-level craftsmanship of couture and in some cases develop lifelong friendships with several (fashion) designers.
You chose to settle in Paris, France, what was the objective?
Well, Paris is SO inspirational for me and it’s the fashion capital of the WORLD! So to become a Top model / International model based in France is truly an honor – again God’s plans for me were greater than I had for myself*
Was your adaptation easy?
Wow!! What a loaded question… Only 5! Lol*
My first major Franco-African (Magazine) Cover – AfroBiz shared with Sonia Rowland (1st Blk Miss France) and Gloria Z (1st Blk Miss Madagascar ) It was an epic time! African fashion was really starting to hit the European stage (catwalks) we were able to travel and promote the journal throughout Africa * and the African communities – Magic*
Being the guest of honor in historic places such as Space Pierre Cardin, and the TELEGRAM ( Breast, Fr ), Being the 1st African American model on the Cover of AMINA * the #1 magazine globally for African women. Being a model selected to launch Paris’ 1st ever Blk Fashion week (Adama Paris)
The beauty brand MGC created a line ‘Blk Star’ which promoted my image throughout the Country and Africa * At the time I didn’t love it – but to this day people still know me and feel a connection to me because of it * It’s a real honor… There are so many – but those are a few highlights
What are the collaborations and designers that have marked you the most?
Early on in my career, it was the large fashion houses, Versace *, Donna Karan, Betsy Johson, and Chanel Eyewear… However, once I became a bit more solidified in my career it was the brilliance and talent of African designers that left the biggest impression on me and my career – The late great Kofi Ansah of Ghana, Elie Kuame, Alpha Di, Xuli Bët, Abraham Pelham, and most recently the amazing Imane Ayissi *
How do you observe the evolutions of the modeling profession and the world of fashion?
That our career spans much longer than it once did. The 90s SUPERMODELS created a space for my generation to come and grow within the industry wearing many ‘hats’ outside of the runway. I never thought that I would be in my 40s * still in demand doing what I love and contributing to this art form. That’s a MAJOR shift in the industry
You have developed a strong and close link with Africa, what explains that?
Well I am Blk so that helps, Lol**
I have always had an infinite desire to know AFRICA. The continent, food, music, and People. I have always loved the Blk experience and our history – I have learned so much by simply living in France and working with the African community from many parts of the Continent. Modeling (the fashion world) has provided me with this opportunity. – Modeling (the fashion industry) has provided me with so much ** and I am FOREVER grateful