Oyinkansola Omotosho: From Grass To Grace
By Linda Orajekwe
Winning the recent Nigeria’s Next Super Model contest is still a dream to nineteen-year old Oyinkansola Omotosho who prefers to be called Oyinade. On December 16, 2017 she was announced winner of the 11th season of the modelling contest.
From a humble background, Omotosho worked hard, trying to break through the pigeon-hole in her home. From making her family believe in a miracle they didn’t think could ever happen, becoming a model is now more than a dream come true! The model indicated that this was just the beginning as she is on her way to becoming an international super model and she was ready to put in all the work to realise her dream.
Who’s Oyinkansola Omotosho?
A 19-year old girl from a family of four who finished secondary school in 2013 and began working. I enrolled at the National Open University of Nigeria to study Computer Science but dropped out, in 2015, because I couldn’t keep on sponsoring myself. I couldn’t depend on my parents because my older sister was still in school and she had to complete her education before my parents could consider me which seemed unlikely since I have younger ones too. So, I have been working to support my modelling career and I’ll go back when I can afford it. The truth is school isn’t my thing. I’ve always wanted to be an event planner but you know how the Nigerian system is; you have to get a certificate no matter what you’re doing.
Tell us about your background.
Well, there isn’t much to tell. I am from a home which I can’t consider rich or poor. My father is a driver for Leadway Assurance and my mother is a petty trader who sells eggs. My father wants us to be graduates irrespective of whatever we want (to be); which is why I have to go back to school later because he has no idea I dropped out. To him, I’m still in school and I want it to be like that because I don’t want him to feel guilty that he wasn’t able to take care of his daughter the way he should. I know it’s not his fault.
So, why modelling?
It wasn’t like I just woke up in the morning and said I want to be a model or that I like it. When I was growing up, I had no idea who a model was. But, one day, I met Adekunle who saw me and told me: “Oh, you should go into modelling!” I was like “Huh? What does that mean?” He didn’t worry too much about my ignorance; he just helped me.
Oh cool! Who’s Adekunle to you?
He’s a friend (laughs). He’s my friend and he’s a caterer. I was always working for him to get extra income. That’s how the journey started. He took me to get my face casting and I took it up from there.
How old were you then?
I was 16 years old; just finished secondary. Anyway, we started the journey and, along the line, I got interested in it all.
Because it always made you pretty?
Yes! (laughs) You know, there’s this feeling you have when you’re on your own and you’re trying to take a selfie. It’s a different attitude you bring to the table when you’re standing in front of cameras in the studio or the runway; it feels really good. The most amazing feeling is being on the runway because you vibe with the music and you get to feel yourself. There’s this beautiful thing about such feeling that only runway gives me.
So let’s talk about this modelling journey. How long have you been modelling?
I’ve been on this journey for three years and the journey has been tough! Sometimes, you go for casting and you don’t get picked; that is discouraging. That happened to me for about a year. I kept going for casting a whole year without success! My first show was for free; I didn’t get paid. So, the journey has been tough and the only thing that has kept me is my passion for it because if you have no passion, you’re not likely to go far.
You can’t just go into modelling to make money because it is not encouraging at first; but, if it’s what you have passion for, you’ll be able to keep moving and not give up because it’s what you love.
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced so far?
For now, going for casting has been a great challenge for me because you don’t just know why you don’t always cut. At least, if you know, you’ll be able to improve on something but some people won’t just tell you. All they say is that they’ll get back to you and you don’t hear anything; don’t know why you didn’t hear anything except for the assumption that you were not what they want.
Another major challenge I faced in this journey is cash to finance all the castings I have to go for but I have this very supportive friend who’s also a model. Her name is Mercy. Whenever I said I’m not going for casting because of cash, she’ll say “Come over to my place. We’ll go together then. That way we can lap ourselves in the bus.” (laughs)
Wow! What was the last casting you attended?
That will be Heineken Lagos Fashion and Design Week. I went for the casting and was told I wasn’t up to 5”9 but I am 5”9 – just like so many other models that were picked to walk; but that was their excuse!
LFDW has been going on for years now. Have you walked any before now?
No, I haven’t walked for LFDW before and that how my attempt to do so was washed off by supposedly not being 5”9.
How supportive were your family at the beginning?
My mom has always been supportive but my dad is another story entirely. He was 100 per cent against it! Most times, when I go for casting and I come back late at night, I would be flogged. There was a time I got an opportunity to go for African Fashion Week in 2014. We were always going for rehearsals that went into the night and when I get home, I knew that my beating would be waiting for me.
Wow! And that didn’t stop you?
No, I didn’t stop. I think the way he kept beating me was making me stronger and giving me more reasons not to give up. Maybe, I wanted to prove him wrong but I just know that I didn’t give up.
How did you hear about Nigeria’s Next Super Model?
I had always known about it but I never tried because I don’t like going for competitions because of how competitions are done in Nigeria; not being legit and all. Sometimes, it’s better you don’t try than try and end up feeling demoralised. But my manager called me; his name is Adams, CEO of Enrol Models. He called me up and said Mrs. Joan (Okorodudu) liked my face. At first, I was hesitant. I said I wasn’t going for it but I later changed my mind after casting and meeting Joan Okorodudu; she boosted my confidence with her words of encouragement and compliments.
So, what were the challenges you faced in camp and how did you overcome them?
The first challenge we faced was sleep. We didn’t sleep well and this was a major challenge for me because I love my sleep! But then, I knew it is what I wanted. While not sleeping is hard, it is the price I had to pay for what I wanted; after all, no pain, no gain.
The interview was another challenge for me in camp because I felt I won’t say the right thing but it was a fear I had to deal with. Then, there were the girls who can intimidate you and make you doubt what you have. When I look at how beautiful girls like Bidemi, Ifeoma, Cynthia, Funke, Queen and a lot of them, I’ll be like “Oyin, you can’t win o!” Then, I’ll use my church mind to say “No! Don’t say that again! Of course, you can win this!”
What is your biggest dream as a model?
I want to be a super model with global relevance; known all over the world.
Interesting! What do you think you have to put in place to get that?
I know I need to work harder on myself: appear nice, smell nice, have good skin and work well on my attitude; mostly attitude.
What’s your most embarrassing shoot?
That will be my first casting. I was so shy I almost ran away! I was expected to strike a pose during casting and instead of doing that, I just hid at the back and the guy in charge, Modella, came out screaming: “Girl, we are not here to play!” I came out, did my walk and he just told me: “My friend, go and learn how to walk!”
I felt embarrassed and deep within me I was like “You didn’t even ask me if I had done this before.” I was so embarrassed I forgot to pick my bag; someone had to go get it for me.
Which would you call your best photo shoot?
I don’t think I have one for now because I don’t always feel I have done well and the photographers, sometimes, say that I should work on myself.
What’s the best fashion show you’ve walked in during your career?
Well, there are fashion shows and there are fashion shows (laughs). For now, the best stage I have had the privilege to walk on has been GTBank Fashion Weekend.
How do these agencies charge models?
They collect 30 per cent off the model’s pay. That’s their official fee.
What advice would you give to young models?
My advice to young models would be that they should not rush; they should be consistent with their drive to be the winner that they all are. They shouldn’t come thinking they’ll make all the money there is. That’s not how it is. If you want to be a model, you need to have something else you’re doing other than modelling.
Best moments you’ve had so far as a model?
My best moment, till date, is when I was announced winner at the Nigeria Next Super Model; it’s might be my best moment ever! It was a moment that changed my life and my mindset forever. It was a moment that made me believe that I can win something in my lifetime because I’ve always had the belief that I can never win anything. Since I won the competition till date, I still wake up feeling it’s a dream or something temporary that someone will still come and collect the prize from me. I still don’t believe it.
What are you passionate about in life?
I’m passionate about helping young girls who do not have the privilege to be what they want to be in life. So, if I have the resources, I’ll like to create a space that gives them opportunity to learn different skills like fashion design, make-up and all. These centres will come at affordable fees. Also, I hope to establish a mentorship programme with counsellors who can help teenagers through tough times; counsellors who will listen to them and mouths to fill their hearts with wisdom because, at that age, they need all the coaching they can get and I will be glad to help out.
Who would you call your role model in the industry?
I don’t have any big names to call but if there’s one person I look up to in the industry, it is Angela Phillips. I like her energy; she’s always busy with her career and working things out. I like her a lot. Let me tell you a secret (laughs). Whenever I’m going for a shoot, I go to her page to get inspiration. Now, it’s no longer a secret (laughs).
So after winning this, what’s next?
I don’t have any grand plans yet; all I am trying to focus on is to work hard to make Mrs. Joan Okorodudu proud of the choice she has made; the girl she has picked to represent Nigeria as the next super model. I am also planning to do a lot of campaigns including Gucci, Tecno etc.
Hold on, how’s that going to happen? Are you just organising campaigns on your own?
No. The companies I mentioned haven’t given me yet but I’m hopeful. I believe the companies will sign me up for some campaigns when the time comes. (laughs)