Featured Model: Jennifer Onyeiwu



"You're not always going to be people's cup of tea and that's fine. That's life."

Model Citizen App is the platform where we recognise fashion models, photographers, designers, makeup artists, hair stylists, creative directors, bloggers, stylists, and labels around the world. Every day, we feature an individual on Model Citizen Interviews. People get to know each of them - their hopes, challenges, aspirations and inspirations in life.

Tell us about yourself: Why do you want to work as a model? Why are you interested in modelling as a career?

If you had asked this question six years ago I would have said modelling is not for me. Yes I'm 5'11, but that doesn't mean much. I figured it would be really hard to get into and I didn't have the look, whatever the look was. I was always known as the 'tall & sporty black girl' when in Auckland but when we moved to Tanzania when I was 10 years old, I was the 'tall & sporty black girl who's not really black'. It was weird! I kind of fell into modelling on my way to acting but I realised that modelling is less about just being pretty and more about being a chameleon. I was born in Brazil to Nigerian parents and grew up in new Zealand, being a chameleon was in my blood and it made me look at modelling with a fresh set of eyes. I also love that you meet really amazing people and get to travel for work. Contrary to popular belief it's not that easy but it's very rewarding. Some other fun facts that a few select people know is that i'm an avid writer. I've been playing the piano since I was six and I can rollerblade.

How important is modelling education: Have you attended modelling courses? What related courses or studies have you taken?

I haven't attended a modelling school but I have taken runway training and walking classes which is really important. I think modelling education is more 'caught than taught' though. I think you learn more being in front of the camera, in front of the mirror and really understanding your own angles. Don't be afraid to have your work critiqued and take direction from photographers.

What do you think makes someone “fit” to be a model?

Drive, self-confidence and personality. You need to have the desire to be a model and like anything in life you need to have a strong sense of self. Keeping physically fit is not going to hurt either. You're not always going to be people's cup of tea and that's fine. That's life. A warm, friendly personality can mask flaws. always back yourself and you'll be on the right track.

What are your goals as a model? How do you see yourself progressing in this field?

My goal is to continue to raise my own bar. I've seen what i'm capable of when I really go for something and I like it. I need to continue to push my envelope, work outside of my comfort zone and continue to develop my portfolio and resume with each job I book.

How do you communicate with people? Are you patient? Are you friendly? How open are you to clients’ requirements?

As a kid my parents used to always say, "if you don't communicate, you complicate" and I carry that mantra with me daily. I like to really understand where people are coming from and I think being friendly shouldn't be a difficult thing for human beings. I did an editorial shoot for a fashion company earlier this week and we spent 6 hours on set. You can't rush innovation. Good communication skills and a friendly personality is paramount in an exclusive creative industry such as fashion. It takes a whole team of creative individuals to achieve the desired result. I am always willing to experiment with the client to make sure that they are happy and their requirements are being met. The more I do that, the more work I get in my career. It's maths. :)

Do you eat nutritiously? How often do you exercise or go to the gym?

I actually do eat pretty nutritiously and drink 3L of water per day. It doesn't hurt that my mum is super organic, so there's never any snacks at home. Thanks mum. I'm also flexitarian so my diet has improved over the last few years. In terms of exercise, I workout 3-4 times per week and if i have a shoot i'll bump up the intensity or the frequency of my workouts. running, pilates, and HIT Cardio are my exercise combo of choice.

What is your dream role as a model?

Fashion Month, Victoria's Secret, the standard. Haha. Of course that's always the goal, I would be lying if I said that I don't visualise and dream as big as my mind can go. Nevertheless, any new work is always amazing because it means i'm moving and I don't like standing still. I would really love to work for Zara or Balmain.

Do you have any limitations? How do you define your boundaries when choosing to accept a modelling request?

I think limitations are made mentally. You need to be able to visualise yourself doing anything you want in life, and then have 100% confidence in yourself that you can achieve it. In terms of boundaries it's the same way I approach most things in life – with instinct and prayer. If I know it's something I wouldn't be comfortable doing or a project I don't believe in, then it's not something that I will do.

State your availability: Would you travel? Work full-time, part time? Any hours?

I'm always up to travel for modelling work. Currently I'm in my final year of uni and modelling schedule is becoming more packed. So I've always got something to do. I would do full time modelling in combination with acting.

What is your most memorable experience so far?

A photoshoot i did in the middle of Queen St, Auckland CBD, which drew a crowd of tourists. Also a dance session I had on set with the whole crew after our 6hr shoot.

Booking Information:

Instagram: @jayonyeiwu

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jonyeiwu

Website: www.modelmayhem.com/JennOnyModel

Email: jay_onyeiwu@yahoo.com

Photo Credits:

Photo 1: Photographer – Birke Fähnrich (modelmayhem.com/Funkensturm)

Photo 2:Photographer – Birke Fähnrich (modelmayhem.com/Funkensturm)

Photo 3: Photographer – Candice Jones (@candiceannee)

Photo 4: Photographer – Candice Jones (@candiceannee)

Photo 5: Photographer – Stephen Polwart (starnow.co.nz/stephenpolwart)

Photo 6: Photographer – Stephen Polwart (starnow.co.nz/stephenpolwart)

Photo 7: Photographer – Darina Mohammed (@darina.photographer)

Photo 8: Photographer – Gabriel Ponzanelli (@gabrielponzanelli)

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