Happy September Friends!
To my stateside people – I hope you had a great long weekend. To everyone else, I trust you’ve been great. To everyone, may September 2016 be your most fulfilling month yet (say amen!) lol.
Okay so last Wednesday, a dear friend of mine (hey Chris) invited me to an event at Rebecca Minkoff’s store in SoHo. The event was a talk hosted by social influencer and model Folasade Adeoso, The Salif Keita Global Foundation and designer Rebecca Minkoff. This talk featured Super Model Diandra Forrest. I won’t lie, when I accepted the invitation, I had no idea who these women were. I really just wanted to hang out my friend. Little did I know said event – which I gave up my kickboxing class for – would be one I’d truly appreciate and cherish.
For people like me (who hadn’t heard of Diandra Forrest before – here is some background. Diandra is the first albino model to ever sign a contract with a major modeling agency – Elite Model NY. Since then, in addition to modeling, she has served as an advocate for the rights of people with albinism. Albinism is an inherited genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin, hair and/or eyes.
She is kind, polite, funny and humble! The entire evening felt like a Girls’ Night In with beautiful women and beautiful energy all over. It was a blessing to be around such positivity and creativity. Please find a few of the questions asked and her responses (paraphrased) below:
How was it like for you growing up?
Because the way my parents raised me, I really didn’t think I was different or there was anything wrong with me until I started school. It wasn’t until the other kids asked me things like “what are you?” or “why do you look like that?” that I noticed something was off.
How do you deal with negative comments or the things people say about you?
As I grew older, I did more research on albinism and found out that there are parts in the world were people with albinism are murdered for parts. After hearing about that, you don’t let the comments and words of nameless people get to you. What I experience is nothing compared to that.
What advice do you have for models starting out or people going into modeling?
Support each other. At casting calls, you see girls rolling their eyes or eye balling the next girl because they feel she’s your competition. Smile and encourage the next person. Whomever is supposed to get it [the job] already has, so be nicer to each other so it’s pointless competing Support builds confidence. We need to come together more.
Did you always feel you had a bigger sense of responsibility?
Not really. I always knew I wanted to be a model and that alone was enough for me. It is a blessing that I can now use my platform as an international model to show albinism in a positive light.
Do you have any quote or bible verse that guides you or that you live by?
Walk by faith, not by sight.
Side note – when she was talking about her experience, she mentioned that she went for an audition and was turned down. Six months later, she went back to the same place (I honestly cannot remember where) and was signed on the spot. With this in mind, yours truly (yes – I mean me) asked:
6 months is a long time for someone to endure rejection while pursuing a dream. How did you stay motivated to keep going rejection after rejection?
I have the best support system. My mother was with me the entire time and so was my mentor encouraging me every step on the way. We cannot do anything on our own, the company you keep around you in important.
I really wanted to share this story because:
This life is not easy for anyone. Diandra is such a strong and powerful person. Hearing her talk about everything she’d been through and STILL COME OUT ON TOP completely rejuvenated my spirit! If you are feeling down ( or alacrity to pursue your dreams) and need to some motivation, I highly encourage you watch her TED talk – Link here
Hearing Diandra talk about some of her experiences or the words people used to describe her was heart wrecking. What was worse was realizing that I have been guilty of using my words (and actions) to make anyone feel less amazing than she or he is. If nothing else, please know that words have power and use them only to promote people.
On that note, I will love to end this week’s post with Diandra’s closing statement “have fun, set your goals and follow your path. You will succeed as long as you keep at it”
Thank you so much for reading!
The Wawa New Yorker
P. S – I have more photos of the night below!