For my first interview for Estilistas, I wanted to connect with someone who is not only successful in their field, but also part of a minority in a world where there is a shocking lack of diversity. Alisha is a british model who has represented England abroad in America’s Next Top Model: British Invasion as well as on home turf. Alisha believes there is little room for models of other ethnicities on the catwalks and in campaigns, and those who are already working fall into set categories.
Estilistas: How did you first get into modelling & what have your modelling achievements been so far?
Alisha: I've been modelling for about 10 years off and on, it hasn't been a easy road whatsoever but it's been life changing and extremely exciting. I've starred in hit shows like Britain's Next Top Model where I came runner up & America's Next Top Model, I've worked with brands such as Topshop, Harvey Nichols & DKNY.
E: What is it about modelling that attracts you to the profession?
A: I love fashion, make-up but most of all I love dress up, evolving and changing modelling allows you to do that. Everyday you are a new and different person.
E: Do you feel under-represented as a black woman in the modelling industry?
A: Very much so! There are 3 types of "Black"models in the industry you have your Alex Wek's who are normal shaved heads, a deep dark skin tone and have very bold features. Then you have your Tyra Banks's fair or lighter skinned, very commercial looking with either straight or curly hair & lastly your Naomi Campbell's medium dark skin tone, long weave and normally I probably would fall under that category. What's sad is there's nothing in-between theses looks - NOTHING! As a black model you you either fall under one of those categories or not at all. Also once an agency has found one of the types of looks listed above they don't take on any other black model, as agencies have said it's harder to market "black models" but surely it would be if there isn't many?!
E: Who would you say is your inspiration in the modelling industry?
A: I have none, there are qualities in other models I admire, I admire Kate Moss for starting her own clothing line in Topshop and becoming a household name & not just a "model." I admire Naomi Campbell for her strength as I think she's suffered a lot and still shows a brave face! But there's no one in the modelling industry that I would say inspires me I believe most models are very quiet & keep themselves to themselves in fears of damaging their brand if they say or do the wrong thing.
E: What would your advice be to younger girls who want to get into modelling?A: Be aware of model scammers, you should never have to pay to join any agency! Do your research before signing or joining any agency, and look after your Body/Skin as that is your CV! Always be true to yourself it's O.K to have morals, you don't have to do everything. When you sign with an agency make sure you build a great relationship with your bookers as it will be beneficial to your career.
E: If you could change one thing about the fashion industry, what would it be?
A: That black models would be given the same opportunities as all other races. I also wish that models had a union, because we don't really have a committee we can go to when we need help and advice.
Alisha’s concerns about the industry are understandable - do you feel that modelling agencies do enough to protect their (often very young) clients? And how do you feel about Alisha’s comments on race in fashion; are black women not seen enough in fashion magazines? I’m interested to hear what you think! You can keep up to date with Alisha on the links below: