Here’s an exclusive interview with Ashley Chew on her recent trip to NIGERIA for the Fashion Forward Seminar – Black Models Matters organized by FCDA and IBCNL.
1. We know you through the “Black Models Matter” movement which is essentially a spin-off or rather a pun on the “Black Lives Matter” movement. However, can you tell us more about yourself, Ashley Chew, the person?
– My name is Ashley Chew, I am a Fine artist from the Midwest that has just relocated to New York City. I have been an artist since a young child and carried my interest in art through adulthood, In December 2015 I graduated in the Fine Arts. Aside from creating, I am a production assistant and runway model, I have walked New York Fashion Week and have worked New York Fashion Week, Midwest Fashion Week and Miami Swim Week.
2. Do you see yourself as more of an artist, model or designer?
– Although I am a model, I consider myself an artist, modeling is a form or self expression but art is the core of my self-expression
3. So what brings you to Nigeria and what are your expectations and your reservations coming here?
– I am in Nigeria to speak at an event on behalf of Black Models Matter, to possibly educate, inform and encourage others about what is going on in the fashion industry in New York, although the racism in fashion is eveywhere. My expectations in Nigeria is to enjoy my surroundings, get introduced to the culture and have fun.
4. Do you feel duty-bound to serve as a role model for aspiring black models and fashionistas out there?
– The term role-model I feel is a tough title to fill, I rather say lead others to their potential. Leaders create other leaders and I hope to lead young women to want to change the fashion industry.
5. How far do you see the ‘Black Models Matter’ movement going, or where do you plan on taking it to next?
– Black Models Matter has gone so far, I would have never thought I would travel to Nigeria so the possibilities is endless to me. It has gone all over New York City, France, The UK, Canada, places I would have never thought. I just hope the industry changes so we dont have to say “Black Models Matter” in the future.
6. Do you have any words for aspiring black and African models who might have faced barriers going into the international modelling industry?
– To young models, dont let this industry contribute to your self-esteem or ideals of beauty, it is not you, it is the industry. For a while I wondered why my hair was not accepted, but its not my hair, my hair is beautiful, im beautiful, the industry needs to see that. Dont get wrapped up in what you arent, keep going, the more we put ourselves out there with confidence maybe the more people will see that radiate.