"I am a charismatic soul who loves the arts. I use the platform of fashion to share my story all while hoping to inspire others to be their true selves." - NINI
Name: Nini Amerlise
Agency: Angie’s Models Toronto (AMTI)
Hometown: Brampton, ON
Enterprise: We Are Royals
On Sept 6th, to celebrate our one year success we had launched very exciting program this fall that focuses on selected feature stories from our TOP 100 SELF MADE ENTREPRENEURS from around the globe right here on NEECEE LEXY.
Photo credit: Photography by @logfogfull Designer @kahonde.designs
Hair @angelasbeautybox Makeup @neveendominiccosmetics
Among the list of TOP 100 SELF MADE ENTREPRENEURS global series, we bring you the fierce and unstoppable Super-Model aka the Runway Queen Nini Amerlise as our special guest feature today. This runway queen even has a signature runway walk that I call the “ NINI WALK”.
In today’s exclusive interview, we will be discussing topics about Nini’s 4 year journey within the fashion industry as she elaborates on her personal struggles as a multiracial model and how she overcame the stereotypes. Plus, we’ll be talking about her latest feature on CTV news.
Nini Amerlise, best known as Supermodel Canada, is a professional super model from Brampton, Ontario with an extensive CV for her role in the fashion industry. She is a phenomenal young entrepreneur with so much class and her humility is an inspiration to the world. Of Afro-Latin and Jamaican-Chinese descent, she has been blessed with the opportunity to grace multiple magazine features, major International Fashion Weeks, TV networks, and awarded Rising Star Canadian Model of the Year 2016.
New York Fashion week 2018 - Presented by @creaky_joints Photo by @gettyimages Jewelry @cliqjewelry Shoes @ellie_shoes Makeup @odilis.trinidad
Nini Amerlise International features include: Vogue UK, Be Body Aware Campaign for Vogue Italia, Glamour Magazine, Huffington Post, Daily Mail UK, Jamaican Gleaner, Caribbean Entertainment Magazine, Pump Magazine, Flare magazine, Toksick magazine, Golden Button fashion television series, Trinidad’s GT Network interview special. CTV - Diversity in Fashion Panelist , Vigor Awards 2018, and now a new fashion TV hit show on SLICE called STITCHED, you can tune in Sundays at 9pm on @slice_tv.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule for us to conduct this exclusive interview. Like always, you got to have NINI walk to slay the runway.
Photo credit: Photographer:@Luke.Monteforte Model: @Nini_4u Designer: @StephAnsah Crown: Elo Apparel Make up & Hair: @Niniloveartistry
Tell us about yourself.
I am a charismatic soul who loves the arts. I use the platform of fashion to share my story all while hoping to inspire others to be their true selves.
When did you start modelling?
I started modeling in May 2014, after signing up for the “Face of African Fashion Week Toronto” competition earlier that year. I seen many ads online “looking for black models”, however there was distinct prompting from within, guiding me to try out for the competition. I sent in an email and two weeks later I got a call back to compete (January 2014). It really hit home when I realized such a prestigious platform saw great potential in me. I took the response seriously and immediately began to practice my walk. Many evenings stomping around in my mother’s living room, wearing the tallest of heels, all while struggling to believe in myself. After the competition, I remember a gentleman came up to ask me why I was so timid and afraid to walk on the runway. They went on about how stiff I was, and emphasized that I needed more attitude and sass. Their bold comment caused a switch to go off. I wanted to get better and be better, I wanted to know who “Nini” really was ! I didn’t place far in the competition, I didn’t even make it to top 10. However, The AFWT organization promised that all the models who competed, would receive the incredible opportunity to walk in the official show that year. I was very disappointed that I didn’t receive any further updates, I began to send countless emails in hopes of a successful response. 20 attempts later and there was still no success, I felt so rejected and sad. Nonetheless, a new fire began to stir within. I told myself “next year I am going to walk in that show”! Meanwhile, I decided to sign up with a modeling agency to help increase my skill, unfortunately it ended up being Fraud. I invested $1000 from my OSAP allowance to pay the agency’s fee.
I was simply a young model trying to learn the ropes, yet unfortunately I was taken for granted. I did not get a single casting call from them, and they provided 5 overly edited images that I couldn’t use. I was very upset, but that’s when I started intensive research on how to become a successful model. There is so much power in our tongue, you can literally speak things into existence, ( Proverbs 18:12) what you say into the universe will begin yield and activate. I started to book many volunteer fashion shows and collaboration shoots, which allowed me to practice my runway walk, posing skills, build confidence and rebranded myself into the real ”Nini” God has designed me to be.
As mentioned earlier, I was very adamant to be selected to walk in AWFT in 2015. I showed the judges my walk , they loved it and walked up to me handing over their business card. Ecstatic, they told me I looked familiar, I smiled and humbly accepted. That same year I walked for approximately 8 designers and a celebrity designer from the UK , “Adebayo Jones.” A wash of peace enveloped from within, I knew my life was headed in the right direction. The following year, God opened yet another blessing birthed from his grace and the fruits of consistency. I was awarded Rising Star Canadian Model of the Year 2016 at the African Industry Awards. I cried for hours, I couldn’t believe God was transforming how I saw myself, He started to shower more and more miracles into my life. He allowed me to go through the refinery of hardships to see the rewards of greatness.
Who inspired your modelling career?
My mom and sister were always connected to the fashion realm. A past time of theirs included taking pictures of me while I posed on the couch, playing outdoors, or even while attending various events. I wish we could bring back the Kodak disposable cameras from the 90’s, it really added an interesting element to the era. My mom would always elaborate about my innate posing ability and creative giftings, which was evident since the age of 4. However, I only saw modelling as hobby, something fun, I felt pretty like the barbies and that ignited my love for fashion and unique apparel. I didn’t know becoming a model was attainable. Hollywood and TV seemed like an unreachable destination, that everyday civilians couldn’t attain. In high school, I did a fashion show, but I didn’t take it seriously. I was very passionate about music and enjoyed singing everywhere I went. My school mates even called me “Da vocalist” at one point, drawing both positive and negative attention. I genuinely believed that I was going to become a famous singer. Nonetheless, very grateful as God had other plans . 2014 was the year of revival, “Nini” emerged and I finally had to face myself, The Face of African fashion week Toronto, changed the course of my life forever . -God is amazing
What are your go to fashion tips?
Fashion truly is a dynamic language, which can be expressed through your personal style and the surroundings that may inspire you. Style is fashion, fashion is art, and art is expression." I love to have a simple base when dressing up, whether its straight cut dress, or nude and monochromatic coloured top and pants, then layering with a splash of colour through accessories and shoes. It’s all about finding that balance without it becoming overwhelming on the eyes.
What is your favourite (s) runway experience(s) and why?
I have many favourite runway experiences. My top favourite Runway experience I would say is walking in New York Fashion Week for the very first time back in 2016. I literally shouted “YASSSS LORD”
Tells what type of characteristics it takes to become exponential Queen such as Nini?
Be yourself, as there will never be another you! We have all been created for greatness; we just have to allow God to unleash our true beauty and light, it’s time we maximize our potential. We are all Royals.
Tell us about your Super Model Canada experience?
Winning SuperModel Canada, was one of the most surprising and unexpected moments in my life. Honestly, I joined the competition for personal growth outside of my comfort zone through my faith in God. I loved the fashion world since age of 4, but my insecurities and rejection held me back, once I faced my fears, I was able to tap into my full potential. My experience on the SuperModel Canada platform, provided me with an environment to grow, all while being able connect with peers who share a similar interests.
Photo credit: Photography @lucasimagesStylist / Hair / Mua @niniloveartistry
In your opinion, how important is it for young girls to have a figure in the industry to look up to?
Representation is vital. Growing up, I didn’t t have many figures to look up to, none that actually looked like me. I didn’t see the coily hair, broad nose, chocolate supermodels on the billboards or TV screens. It’s only recently, they are now emerging, unfortunately the progress is slow. we all need representations of diversity to showcase the beauty given to us worldwide, we must know we are one.
The industry’s portrayal of beauty has always been predominantly dependant upon Western standards. Growing up, I was bullied and teased intensively. I felt ugly and confused as the name calling was so profuse that it became my reality that I suffered with suicide scares and extreme timidity and anxiety of everyone. I thought if you were European, it meant you were of quality, status, and anything that wasn’t western to me became a gimmick and lesser than. I placed myself low, only because I didn’t understand who I was or have been ordained to be by our creator -God.
This imagery influenced heavily on my subconscious and the effect grew considerably worse as I ventured into high school. I started to use skin bleaching products, wearing light contact lenses, straightened my hair, wore long weaves and wigs. I became obsessed with highlight and contour make up regimens; derived from the drag culture. During my time in college, I was considering using some of my school tuition money to get a nose job. I hated my features ! Unfortunately, The mental slavery was in effect at home as well, I remember my mom consistently tell me to reshape my nose with my fingers, showing me to guide my fingers along the bridge of my nose, to make it narrow.
2015, was when redemption took its course , I began to loathe wearing makeup, I got tired of hating myself and I wanted to change that. I began doing a lot of self-reflection and following God’s pathway to find answers and I am glad I did. I started to embrace , I am created the way God wanted me to be. I am his reflection, in me is his light, through me He shines, the more I understood this, the pain , hurt and shame began to diminish and uproot. I the butterfly started to rustle from the inside and the birthing was ready. My favourite Bible verse “I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works” (Psalms 139:14). Initially, it wasn’t very clear when God first led me to this scripture, but as I began to meditate on these words, a deeper revelation began to surface. God began to speak to my heart, showing me the totality of what he meant. We have been designed with a purpose; we were intricately handcrafted beautiful creatures, peculiar unlike any other, all destined for greatness. These were the living words that began to transform my life.
Wow! You just left me speechless. I can relate to this subject on many levels. Your growth and reliance are so pure they can not go unnoticed, I am happy to see the strong woman you have become today. What advice would you give young girl who is looking to follow your footsteps?
A piece of advice I can share with aspiring models or entrepreneurs is if you strongly believe that you have found a field or career that suits you, remain task-focused and passionate about what you do. Each day will come with its own challenges, but as long as you remember your purpose and why you began in the first place, you will excel.
What can we expect from you in the next 2 years or so?
In the next two years, I will definitely have expanded to the fashion niche markets worldwide, using the platform as an empowerment tool to many nations. It’s time to equip our millennials to see their worth, value and power. Too many people go through life never unlocking the full capacity of their call on earth. Silence equals death; we allow greatness to die with us in the grave. Walk with purpose, rise to your destiny!
Photo credit: Dress | @iamlanaKuidir Shoe | @shoesbychavez Jewelry | @lenaroy collectionMake up | @MakeupFITSet design | Direct InteriorsStylist | @laviemeerPhotography | Olga Hutsul Photography
Who are other talented designers or stylist or magazine you would hope to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with Chanel, William Okpo, Oscar de la Renta , Givenchy, and Hermes as they are currently on the top of my list for designers. For Magazines, I like Vogue USA, Harpar Baazar, and Essence.
Congratulations on all of your achievements, I’m forever proud of you. Not long ago, we casted together for African Fashion Week in 2014. I have watched you become an iconic figure in the fashion community as you carry yourself with so much grace and zest for life. You are an inspirational woman.and have done an outstanding job in the past few years.
Once again I wanted to congratulate you for your recent achievement at the Vigor Award: the Women on Fire and Butterfly 2018 awards. I wish you more success and continue to excel higher. Thank you, and God bless you. I’ve been fortunate by God’s grace and I continue to walk in his faith. Looking forward to reinterview in the near future once you launch your clothing line.
WATCH NINI LIVE
New York FASHION WEEK
SUPER MODEL CANADA
* Please note all photos credit and copy right can be found on NINI instagram page on @Nini_4u
Youtube Channel: www.Youtube.com/niniamerlise