Take a look at our interview with supermodel Eunice Olumide, awarded an MBE for her contribution to Arts, Broadcasting and Charity work. Eunice is a member of the FMA team!
Let’s talk about the beginning of your career. How did you get started in fashion and what first ignited your passion?
I was scouted a number of times before I decided to follow my destiny of becoming a model. It was not something I chose or something I thought I could do. Fashion often gets a bad rep but in my case it improved my self-esteem since until then the experiences I had regarding my appearance had been exclusively negative. One of the best things about getting older is the blessing of retrospect. I can see now that it was intrinsic to my development. I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity.
What has been your best learning experience to date working within the industry?
I’m proud to work in an industry that is continually striving towards equality and diversity since that is at the core of my beliefs. I have learned many things but mostly that knowledge gives you conviction and that conviction gives you the courage to go above and beyond.
If you could go back in time, and give some advice to your younger professional self, what would it be?
Don’t worry if you can’t save the whole world in one go.
Who inspires you within the industry today and why? Do you have any funny anecdotes you would like to share with us?
Fashion is much further ahead than the other industries I work in, particularly over the last few years. I’m encouraged by recent events and I truly believe that we are shifting towards a place and time when things will be fairer for everyone. I am completely inspired in the fashion realm by Donatella Versace, the SS 2021 show was incredible. Also Bad Girl Riri – her Fenty beauty make up collection is insane, I’d love to model for both one day.
What would you say were your “milestone moments” so far?
Walking New York and London fashion week as a teen. Graduating with a Master’s degree age 21, getting to work on blockbuster movies like Starwars, opening my Art Gallery, publishing my first book, being awarded an MBE, winning V & A Design Champion, having a permanent gallery about my life in the National Museum!
What has driven your success?
I think when you come from a difficult background the only place to go other than up is down. I chose to go up. It is was incredibly challenging and I’m just thankful to be able to look after my family and live my dream.
Why is intersectionality important for the future of the fashion industry e.g. ethics, sustainability, intersectional feminism?
We live on a society that is governed by the average meaning rounding up our general beliefs, politics, weight, height, shape etc but the reality is we are complex multifaceted creatures. The general or average works in many cases but not in all. It’s like you could have two women who are a size 10 but their shape might be completely and utterly different. Life is about understanding as much as possible to enable us to make more accurate choices which are imperative especially when we are making decisions that affect other people’s lives and life chances.
Speaking of challenges and change, what would you say were the main hurdles that you had to overcome working within an industry which is predominantly homogenous and how would you like to see the industry evolve?
I think wearing my hair natural throughout my career definitely hurt my success and development since had I conformed to straight hair and not focused so much on raising awarenesses, doing charity and supporting my community, I would definitely have had the opportunity to book more campaigns and shows. Talking about racism also hugely affected my popularity, it has always been such a taboo in Britain until very recent events. People would mock you just for talking about your own personal experience and say ‘you have a chip on your shoulder’ or ‘you are playing a race card’ which in itself is worse than the abuse. It’s a shame as I always believed that when you did good deeds and stood up for just causes you would be rewarded. As you become an adult you realise that is not the case. I’m hopeful though that we can change this in the future.
Do you have any hints or tips you can share for young people within the Black and minority community wishing to work in the industry?
Yes indeed, I have compiled everything into my book ‘How to Get into Fashion’s. It’s a complete guide for models and creatives alike.
What are you hoping the Fashion Minority Alliance will achieve?
Our mission is very simple – to ensure equality within the UK Fashion industry for all.
More about Eunice: euniceolumide.com