The first time I met Ayomide I knew she was a natural-born model. Everything from her softness, poise, flow, and assertiveness hinted that she would be who she was born to become. I watched her remain consistent, develop her creative abilities, and continuously raise the bar. Her growth process has been such an inspiration to myself and many others that I just had to get her story.

This week we had the chance to chat and her story was everything I imagined it would be. She mentioned that her journey towards becoming a model wasn’t initially accepted by her family. They didn’t really see the vision because it wasn’t a typical career path. Nevertheless, Ayomide never let that discourage her from her path. Deep down in her heart, she knew modeling was her calling. It was the feeling she derived from being in front of the camera, it made her feel empowered, beautiful, and magical. She always went with her heart and it led her to success. Even with the adversity of hearing No’s from the agencies, she never left discouraged. Ayomide did not come here to play, she came here to strut. She continuously encourages us to assert ourselves as we embark in any industry because if we don’t see it in ourselves first, nobody will.

To get the inside scoop on Ayomide, check out the interview below.

Knowing you are Nigerian, I figured I’d ask. What’s the meaning of your name, Ayomide?

Yesss! I am a proud Nigerian and my name means My joy has come. “Ayọ” means joy, and “mi de” means has come.

What was your childhood like?

I’ve been fortunate enough to be blessed with loving parents who have always provided me with what I need. I’ve never known lack, and I thank God for that. I grew up in a religious household (both of my parents are pastors), and we all believe in God. I was the child who went to church three times a week, and being so immersed in church has shaped a lot of the values I have today — values of humility, love, and compassion for others. 

As the first born and only daughter, I also grew up feeling restricted because I wasn’t allowed to live out the full teenage girl experience. If my parents didn’t know the people I was hanging out with, I wasn’t going. End of story. Because I felt confined to the house when I was younger, traveling and exploring the world is something that I aspire to do as I grow.

At what point did you realize you had a passion for modeling? 

I realized I had a passion for modeling the first time I did a photoshoot with a professional camera. I really loved how I felt in front of the camera — I felt empowered, I felt beautiful, I felt magical. It ignited a lot of feelings in me that I didn’t always feel on a daily basis. In college, I was also involved in different fashion shows at my current school, UC Berkeley. During one of my first runway shows, I remember telling myself on the runway, “This is something I’m going to do for life.” I felt it so strongly in my spirit, I knew I was called for this.

How do your parents feel about your modeling?   

As of now, (because the money is coming in lol) they are becoming increasingly supportive of modeling. I wouldn’t always say they’ve been 100% my biggest supporters. I think in the beginning, they found it hard to understand, why modeling? What’s the point? They would say, *cues Nigerian accent*  “Medicine is the best and only way to make it in this life. Go and face your books!” 

I really had to persuade, and sometimes beg, my parents to let me go to photoshoots. I’ve missed a lot of BIG opportunities just from living with my parents. If it clashed with church, forget it. If they weren’t feeling it, then no. In the beginning, they made it pretty difficult for me to really do modeling, and I think it’s because they didn’t fully see my vision. They wanted me to fulfill their vision they had for me. Now my parents brag to their friends about how I make more money than they can in 30 minutes. Haha!

How long have you been modeling?

I’ve been taking pictures with my phone for about 6 years, and in front of real cameras for about 5 years. I started really modeling when I became consistent in 2017, and that was in my freshman year of college. So I’ve been modeling for real, for real, for about 3 years.

Are you currently signed to an agency or independent?

I recently got signed to Willow Models on July 15th, 2020! Yay!!

How did you feel when you got signed?

To be honest, when I first got signed, I felt that it was long overdue. I was almost unhappy — my ego felt that it should have happened years ago, and I wanted to be signed to a bigger agency. However, when I checked the pride and ego I was feeling, I quickly realized that God’s timing is perfect. After some self-reflection, I discovered that if I would have gotten signed a day earlier, it wouldn’t have worked out. Now that I school from home, I can make the best of both worlds. I can go to my gigs and watch my lectures when I want to. So, I felt that I was moving in the right direction. 

What tips would you give to a girl looking to embark on this path?

Get used to “no.” Agencies will say no, photographers will say no, casting directors will say no. It’s a part of the journey, so get used to it now. Don’t internalize the no. Hear it, hustle harder, and keep going. You are needed somewhere, so be consistent and don’t give up babe!

What are some agencies you would suggest to a girl looking to start?

I would suggest looking at mother agencies on models.com. Mother agencies help develop you as a model, and connect you with bigger agencies as well. You can apply to my mother agency – Willow Models! I would suggest that you look for local mother agencies in your area, so go ahead and do your research. 

Have you faced any challenges along this journey?

Of course, I’m Nigerian! One of the biggest challenges I faced revolved around my clothing. I like short skirts and crop tops, my mom doesn’t. A lot of the pieces I like to wear in general, and for shoots, have caused a lot of issues in my family. This issue is also amplified because I’m involved in church as well. 

I clearly remember my dad angrily calling me on a Monday night because he was LIVID after hearing some unsettling news about me. Someone from church called him to report a bikini picture I posted on my Instagram. I was at THE BEACH, give me a break. My dad does not take those types of things lightly, so I’ve been definitely reprimanded because of my clothing choices multiple times. I’ve been told to delete IG posts, YouTube videos, and Twitter posts that my parents thought were “unfitting for a child of God”.

It was extremely hard (and still is) to find the balance between being free with how I express myself, and feeling I “need” to be modest.

Where do you see yourself in the next 4 years with your modeling career?

In four years, I will be 24. I will be in the prime of my modeling career, and would have traveled all around the world to walk for high fashion brands and designers. I will be every fashion designer’s dream, every designer’s need. Most importantly, I see myself enjoying every second of the process, meeting new people, creating new networks, enjoying life, and trying new foods. I also see myself continuing to host model workshops on another next level. By 24, I hope to have established myself as someone who is so much more than a fashion model. I want to be someone who teaches and inspires others to do what they want, on their own terms.

What quote do you live by?

Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

This, to me, simply reminds me that my destiny is settled in God’s hands. I don’t have to worry about what the future holds, because I know that regardless it’s going to be bright. All I have to do is leave it in God’s hands, there’s no need to stress or worry.

What’s one thing no one knows about you?

Not a lot of people know that I like ASMR. I love to watch mukbangs (people eating)! It’s kind of weird, but I honestly enjoy looking at food, watching people eat, and hearing the sounds. But don’t chew loudly in person, that’s rude and annoying haha.

What advice would you give to anyone who doesn’t believe it’s possible to become a model like you?

You’ve got to sell it! You’ve got to sell the face, sell the body, sell you who are! What I mean by this is, you’ve got to tell the industry “This is who I am, and you’re going to like it, because I LOVE it”. You really have to assert yourself in this industry because if you don’t see it, no one else will–unless you look like Naomi Campbell or Cindy Crawford. For the people who don’t believe it’s possible – learn to be confident. You must see it in yourself, before you can sell it to others.

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