Very few people know the career they want from childhood, but talented Nigerian model Queen Onyemaechi knew she wanted to be a model since she was 12. With that type of self-knowledge and confidence, it was not surprising that she was crowned Nigeria’s Next Super Model in 2014 at just age 17! In this interview, Queen talks about her work and her desire to make a positive impact.
“I decided to take modeling as a full time career after winning Nigeria’s Next Super Model,” Queen says. “Since then, the experience has been amazing despite the ups and downs.” Talking about her experience over the last three years, she says, “It has been an experience of huge empowerment to me emotionally, physically, and financially and in every area I can think of. It has also brought amazing exposure.” Of course, it’s not all perfect, but even the bumps have been blessings in disguise as she explains, “I’ve made some mistakes and learnt from them; my career has taught me to be patient, calm, independent, smart, and hardworking.”
On Being In The Limelight
Despite her young age and the glamour of her career, Queen is quite levelheaded and down to earth. She does not allow herself to feel pressured to look or dress a certain way, or have a certain glitzy lifestyle. “Whether off duty or on duty, I don’t feel pressured. I have never felt pressured,” she says. “I am very confident and proud of my style. People’s opinions do not put me under pressure or make me wear what I don’t want to wear. If I like it or feel comfortable in it, I’m good to go.”
As much as she loves being in front of the camera, switching clothes and poses, and taking on different personas, Queen also loves being on the runway. “I love getting to travel four times in a month, going to different countries just for their Fashion Week, and meeting different models all over the world. It’s exciting. It’s glamorous too, and you never know who is watching.” When we asked what she believed set her apart in the Nigeria’s Next Super Model competition and pushed her into the limelight, her answer was a graceful, “I wasn’t better than the girls that contested with me. They were all beautiful and talented. It wasn’t by my power, beauty, height, or skin. It was the grace and favor of God, and I am thankful for God’s grace in my life.”
On Positivity In the Face of Adversity
Queen comes across as openhearted and positive, and it reflects in her work and her attitude towards it. “I did not have any biases before I started modeling; I always look on the positive side and I see the good in every situation,” she explains. “I’ll say now that I didn’t know how much hard work you need to put in as a black model; I didn’t know how difficult it is and what models really go through.”
She adds, “My greatest challenge is being able to get visas to travel or tickets to travel just to further my career. Not all international agencies advance that for you—some will; some don’t—and it’s sad when you don’t get the visa after spending so much on it. I thank God for always coming through for me and for making my case really different.” It’s not just personal challenges though. There are industry-wide challenges Queen sees. “To be really honest, the Nigerian modeling industry is still far behind. I think we need to learn more about how things should work. We need to come together; it’s the only way to make our best.” In her positive manner, she adds, “The industry wasn’t this good when I started. We are growing I must say. Nigerian models are making waves internationally.” She does not let the state of things deter her focus though, because Queen’s goal is to achieve international success and be able to represent Nigeria around the world.
On Inspiring Others
Apart from winning the NNSM competition, Queen considers her entire career not just a job, but an opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of other people. “I love being able to work not just as a model but being able to impact the lives of upcoming talented models, she says. “There is nothing like being a blessing to people.”
Queen, a firm believer in equal rights, also believes that women should do their best to support and empower one other. “We should promote each other, show love, and support. If we can put in this little love for one another there won’t be room for hate.” She is full of advice for young models navigating their entry into the industry. “Pray about it, ask God for directions, do your research and don’t just jump into every opportunity you get,” she says. “Ask God to send the right people to your life. Having the right people around you is the most important thing because, to be honest, not all open doors are God’s door. Lastly don’t give up.”
You can follow Queen on Instagram: @queenonyemaechi
Photos courtesy Queen.
Last week, we interviewed a writer, Oynkan Braithwaite, so read all about it if you haven’t.