Two boys of Lagosian descent push forward in their purpose despite arduous trials and tribulations.
As the young Nigerian princes push into new spheres and foreign lands they not only sharpen themselves but also lean on one another for support.
Always thinking deeply…
How they’ll treat their kingdom once they’re King.
cover photo credits / Jacket – Helmut Lang Silk Jeans – Y/Project White Harem Pants – Nigerian Vintage Sneakers – Bally
Uche Uba is an actor and a model, based in Los Angeles. Uche grew up in a small town in
Northern Oregon and is fluent in both Spanish and English. He has been the face of a range of
international campaigns from Nike to Hugo Boss. Uche is a graduate of Stanford University and
is known for his extensive background in modeling, Lifetime Movie Networks My Crazy Ex, and
The Zim, Winner of Best Film at the L.A. International Shorts Festival.
Leroy Moritz Aiyanyo
Born from a Nigerian Father and a German Mother, he grew up in a small town in East
Germany, where he finished high school. Prior to Leroy’s success in modeling, he was superb in
sports: a high-level track and field runner and football player. Although he carried great ambition
in sport, he quickly found his career in modeling to be his ultimate passion. His former desire to
play professionally afforded him the mental and physical determination needed to pursue a
career in the fashion world. With much charisma and ambition, Leroy began his career in Berlin.
He quickly gained recognition in Germany, across Europe and internationally as the face of a
diversity of iconic campaigns. Leroy is soon to be based in the USA under the management of a
major international agency.
The most important lesson you’ve learned from a mentor?
Leroy: I never had a mentor. Life brought me my biggest lessons, so I had to learn it by myself.
One thing that’s really important to me is: If you are in crisis, see it as an adventure. You will
meet new people, and experience new dimensions of yourself. Crises often lead to beautiful
destinations. They will lead you to where you want to be. And they will make you stronger. Crisis
has been my biggest gift. Crisis built the person who I am now. Go out there and take over your
world. Confront your fears. And accept the risk of failure. Rise up.. And through the rubble you’ll build a new house that’s much nicer and stronger than the old one used to be. This is my piece
of wisdom to the young ones. The youth.
Uche: Keep learning, keep growing, and get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you are
walking in your purpose you will go through the psychological deaths and rebirths you need to
become the higher version of yourself that you need to be and it will be painful, but KEEP
GOING. Sharpen your skills and you will get there. Perseverance and a healthy perspective of
the journey is everything and you will learn to solve large, difficult problems, slay giants, move
mountains, and take leaps of faith on a daily basis.
Do you find Social Networks like Instagram useful for being in Fashion?
Both: Yes. Social media is definitely a tool. It’s a portfolio, it’s part of your voice and your stage.
Anybody from all over the world can just type in your name and have access to a digitized
dimension of yourself without even meeting you.
We can honestly say the day we started taking Social Media more seriously we started booking
more work. You never know who’s lurking: they’re not liking pictures but people look. People are
nosey and people randomly come across things all the time. They screenshot, and share so you
wanna make sure you’re on point. That’s your résumé, that’s you. That’s just the world we live
in, that’s just social media, that’s what it is. It’s a new generation and this is a part of the pie.
Although there are some negative collective social consequences of this technology, we
choose to see the good in it. People from small towns like us get to consume a ton of
perspectives from all around the world through Instagram and socials.
We try to use it for good:
to tell stories; to inspire. It won’t change the world by itself. But even if people go on it just once
and it changes their way of thinking in a healthy and positive way then that makes us happy.
How did you guys meet?
Both: Buckle up! STORY TIME. We connected over Instagram. We actually never really had a
serious talk or any meaningful communication for almost a year.
Fall 2018, Leroy came to LA on vacation and was hanging out with some other creatives for the
first couple days. He DM’d Uche and asked if he was in town and if he could crash and Uche felt
at peace with it even though they’d literally never seen each other and Uche was like “yeah,
When Leroy came over and set his bags we talked about our lives and everything was in sync.
Everything just seemed to flow… We did some sightseeing around LA and as we bounced about
we decided we wanted to produce this shoot together, so we pulled together a team in 24 hrs
and shot this editorial literally the second day that we had ever seen each other in real life. After
a very short time we found we have the same story, and are two threads of the same fabric. We
quickly became telepathically aware of one another regardless of where we were in the world or
what time zone we were in. At this very second, I (Leroy), am sitting on the couch., Leipzig, Germany and Uche is in his home in Los Angeles and were gonna be doing this interview for
you guys together in real-time.
We learn an incredible amount from each other and are never afraid to share our deepest
emotions, experience and rawest feelings: we share a true twin connection. We turned this
editorial upside down in 72 hours, and we didn’t even know each other before!
The second time we met was in Budapest, Hungary for Uche’s Birthday last December. We
planned a new shoot in our penthouse with 180 degree glass windows overlooking the city right
in front of the Christmas market. Right next to us was this huge monumental building called The
Basilica. It’s one of the main attractions of the city and you’ll see the building in almost every
picture of Budapest. There were hundreds of lights on the outside of the building illuminating it
in the nighttime and we planned the photo editorial with specific angles to illustrate the beautiful
structure looming in the backdrop. When we finally set up everything and got fitted, the lights
immediately went out.
Major eye roll** Sidenote: At this point of our relationship we had been
successful with some light manifestation.. Henceforth, we closed our eyes sitting next to each
other on the couch and decided we were going to, in fact, turn the lights back on and GET
THAT SHOT! We went into our subconscious mind and not only imagined but believed we were
turning the lights on for the basilica while instructing the workers to turn everything back on as
fast as possible: every switch, every fuse flicking on in an instant. Fifteen seconds later we
opened our eyes and the lights had come back on. CHOOM, one section of the build. CHOOM
CHOOM, another section of this huge building lit up until once again, it was fully illuminated
within just a minute. Our friends were screaming like WTF how did we do that, while both of us
just sat in silence feeling the power of the flow we had together, we looked at each other and in
that moment we knew we were twins.
Would you say you believe in The Law of Attraction?
Both: What you think you create, and what you believe and feel, you attract. As kings, we sit on
our throne with the knowing that we are exceedingly and abundantly enough. This attracts the world to us; therein we must filter and decide how to deal with the inbound energy: what we accept and promote, and also what we reject that is not good for us or our people. The law of attraction is real and it starts with knowing yourself and exuding your “I AM” with full confidence 110%.
Most memorable moment on set?
Leroy: I was in Madrid working for a Spanish Department Store. We shot the new summer
collection as most models typically do, in the dead of winter. Ya, I know… We literally had short
shorts and shirts on. The creative director asked me if I could hold my feet in some ice cold
water for a shot to make it look like we were cooling down in the middle of summer. My whole
body was FREEZING. i.e. FUH-RO-ZEN. Hahahaha as any good model does, I continued to
entertain the idea that things were just perfect. Afterwards I ran to these heat emitters on the
set. I kept my feet close to the radiance of warmth and after a moment I said to myself,
“Something smells wrong here…”I looked down. Eyes wide, I stared at my leg hair completely burnt to a crisp. The strong smell of burnt wafted through the air. The whole team was shook and had tears from laughter in their eyes. It was definitely a ‘great’ memory.
Uche: I was living in Barcelona and booked a campaign for Timberland with Uno Models to
open the new flagship store on Passeig de Gracia (Barcelona’s Champs-Élysées). There were
ten of us male models walking around the city for 3 days at iconic locations from the beach to
insane Gaudi sites likes Casa Batlló. The final evening, we opened the flagship store and threw
a huge party for influencers, global buyers and the media. Spanish supermodel – Bimba Secas –
flew in on a helicopter and rappelled down a rope to join us as a model and then DJ the
after party as she naturally does. There was an insane amount of paparazzi and I remember one
moment just standing there with the squad in a line in front of the store with cameras flashing
from every corner and just for a moment I was like WTF is this my life ?!?! It was actually
unbelievable. There are these moments when you’re super present and realize that you’re living
the dream and all the adversity is worth it.
Coolest place you’ve ever been?
Leroy: Cape Town, South Africa fascinated me because you can climb the Lion’s Head
mountain in the morning. Meanwhile, the morning sun rises. You can look over the whole city
and around noon, the temperature rises so peacefully. Imagine yourself on one of the most
beautiful beaches in the world. You’re eating fruits and playing volleyball. The food is wonderful.
I bit into my first ever Mango and was shocked by the intensity of the flavor.
Uche: Yoooo, the Philippines changed my life! At the top of this island Palawan, there’s a little
town called El Nido where all your dreams come true. The Philippines are made of ancient coral
reefs that got pushed up versus standard lava-made islands so with wind and water erosion you
get these wild natural rock structures that make you feel like you’re on another planet. On top of
that, the waters are crystal clear and the sunsets are purple and green. I legit thought that I was
If you could not do what you do now, what’s another life dream of yours?
Uche: In an alternate universe I’m definitely a master fisherman on a remote island. Seriously,
to be a fisherman and just fish all day for my family and my kids and then teach my son how to
fish is goals. I would be super content on the water with a simple life.
Leroy: That’s an extraordinary question. And the answer is: I’m on a hammock in Thailand or
Bali. Maybe Hawaii too. A very simple lifestyle. Maybe selling some fruits. And when my wife is
hungry I fish and get her a big fish out of the water. Simple.
Both: You are what you wear for sure, but we think most people overrate certain aspects of the
fashion industry. Just because we work in the fashion business doesn’t mean we have to have a
favorite brand. We definitely have favorite experiences, and teams of creatives that we make
unforgettable memories with but when it comes to designs, it’s super fluid for us. Uche likes high
fashion that is super comfortable regardless of the designer and Leroy likes wearing classic
looks. Honestly, wear whatever you feel comfortable in. A proper outfit should make you feel
comfortable and most importantly, CONFIDENT. People chase after name brands because
that’s how society is, but we don’t have a favorite designer.
How do you feel about being an African in LA
Both: This makes us think about Jean Michel Basquiat’s painting: Hollywood Africans which
depicts the lack of roles for black talent in Hollywood. It portrays a raw energy stemming from a deep ancestral heritage in the midst of career famine. As Africans, we have a powerful knowing that we are enough as we are to reach our wildest dreams regardless of the challenges. It’s a beautiful time to be an African in the city of angels with the growing community here and greater dialogue between Africans and Black Americans to empower one another as we advance together, unified under the unshakable foundation of the African diaspora. It’s an opportunity for us to carry a huge mantle and tell our human truths through story: illustrious narratives of our brothers, sisters, and ancestors. It comes with its hurdles, but it’s definitely a privilege.
Next professional goal
Leroy: After three years of modeling. I’m just about to get my American visa. It’s been a good
journey so far. The next step will be moving to NYC to establish myself in the States. I also want
to start a bit of acting where Uche Uba my twin will help me.
Uche: Superhero in a major motion picture and series regular on a dope TV show!! More life.
Before Vanity Teen magazine in which magazines have published your works?
Leroy: Fantastics, British GQ, Lufthansa Magazine.
Uche: Fucking Young, Vulkan, Stark Magazine.
Vanity teen in 3 adjectives.
Both: Ambitious, young, creative.
CREDITS cover online! MARCH 2019
Uche Uba – Model with CESD Model Management in Los Angeles, California @ucheuba
Leroy Aiyanyo – Model with Izaio Model Management in Berlin, Germany @leroymaiyanyo
Justin Vaseur – Photographer in Los Angeles, California @justinvaseur
Carla Vee – Creative Director in San Francisco, California @veecarla