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Omar Sesay: "it’s difficult starting a career as a black model" Omar Sesay: "it’s difficult starting a career as a black model" Vanity Teen Menswear & new faces magazine

Interview

Omar Sesay: “it’s difficult starting a career as a black model”

Model Omar Sesay @sesay_omar speaks with us of a very wide range of topics in this exclusive interview for Vanity Teen online. We were curious about his start in the modeling world and he stated being scouted through Instagram when his current agency contacted him, but things were not so easy for him. Being black conditioned the process of selection in the castings he did in order to be scouted by agencies, and white people always have an easier path.

“The majority of the white models secured representation, unlike black models.”

Omar Sesay for Vanity Teen
Photographer: Tayo Kuku

After several unsuccessful attempts, he changed paths and started managing himself better and started using social media to start his career and it actually worked! As he said before, being black is not easy and many management brands do not take care as much for black models as they do for white models.

“The modeling industry is not eager to represent Black models and models of color the same way they do with white models.”

Even though there is a ‘great abundance of representation of black models‘ as Omar says, he also claims, not without stating that he doesn’t want to talk in name of everyone, but he thinks he speaks in behalf on his black model colleagues when he says that ‘it’s difficult starting a modeling career as a black model‘ and that they ‘are still struggling to start or settle in our career field’ and we completely agree with that statement.

Omar Sesay for Vanity Teen
Photographer: Tayo Kuku

We asked him about the best and worst things about the modeling industry. What he most enjoys about it is, in his own words:

“I adore that feeling of bringing art to life, it makes it more than just a job for me”

However, the worst part is, once again, the lack of representation of black models, claiming that they need to work harder in order to achieve what a common white model would achieve doing nothing.

“We shouldn’t have to work ten times as hard to be deemed worthy of a job that could easily be handed to any white model, whether they’re fit for the job or not.”

Omar Sesay for Vanity Teen
Photographer: Tayo Kuku

On the bright side, Omar describes himself as a passionate person who believes that ‘passion is the fuel for everything good in life‘ and that the lack of it, life is less vibrant, and that’s why he integrates passion into his styling.

“I do not style myself for the next person to think I’m cool, I style myself to express what passion means to me.”

In conclusion, and as we love to do with people who collaborate with us, we ask the interviewed to give any piece of advice so that our readers might benefit from reading this article, telling us any kind of experience that might be helpful from those starting the same path. In this case, Omar sends a very necessary message to our readers to encourage them all to start uniting, being more openminded and permissive and tolerant with one another. I would love to share this African riddle he mentions to support this message.

“If you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

And of course, the most important part:

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Omar Sesay: "it’s difficult starting a career as a black model" Omar Sesay: "it’s difficult starting a career as a black model" Vanity Teen Menswear & new faces magazine

‘We have a long way to go in terms of accepting everyone for who they are and not by the content of their skin, sexuality, pay grade and other socially constructed labels, to do so we must all walk hand in hand with one another to reach the end of this journey.’

The clear message here and what you really need to bear in mind is to try to change the world by being more tolerant of new ideas and try to reach equality for everyone, no matter their conditions. We are all human beings. What does it matter where we come from, how do we look like or who do we love? It doesn’t matter at all! We should be treating each other as brothers, not as enemies because we are all here with the same purpose and there are many ways of accomplishing such purpose. Let’s be nicer with everyone and everything will change for good!

Omar Sesay for Vanity Teen
Photographer: Tayo Kuku

Q: How did you start modeling? Was it hard for you?

A: I started modeling when my current mother agency “St. Claire Modeling” discovered me through social media. An email was sent to me scheduling a meeting in New York, I then went and met with the director of St. Claire Modeling, Demanti. A few weeks after the meeting, I received a contract to be represented by the St. Claire Modeling firm. Prior to being represented, however, it was difficult securing the support I needed from modeling agencies. I applied to several; I sent emails with digitals, drove hours back and forth, sometimes even went as far as flying out to different states here in the U.S for open casting calls. Consistently there were more white models than Black models at these castings and without fail the majority of the white model’s secured representation, unlike Black models. I’d know this by seeing social media accounts of these modeling agencies post these models after walking shows or completing other jobs. After several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to try a different approach that did not require me to spend my money and time, flying and driving for hours, to meet with agencies in vain. By utilizing social media to my advantage, I started reaching out to photographers with concepts I’d create and direct myself. My intent was to post these images and captivate an audience that would like and share my pictures until it reaches the team that’ll want to represent a model of my stature. I’m grateful and proud to say my theory worked; my pictures captivated a large audience and grew my following as well. Fortunately, after months of doing so, the pictures I posted on my social media platforms got the attention of Demanti the owner and director of St. Claire modeling who saw my potential and signed me. Needless to say, it was not an easy process to get where I am today. 

Q: Is it easy for black people to start a modeling career?

A: I won’t speak for all by claiming it’s difficult for every Black model to start a career in the industry but, I believe I speak for myself, and on behalf of my Black model colleagues when I say it’s difficult starting a modeling career as a Black model. In fact, I feel like some of us are still struggling to start or settle in this field. The modeling industry is not eager to represent Black models and models of color the same way they do white models. There’s this idea of “Black”  that they often represent which is only a subset of Black models seen with a fair complexion, freckles, curly hair, and etc. Although It’s great that there’s an abundance of representation of that subset of Black Skin, present-day there should be an abundance of ALL BLACK SKIN evenly and appropriately represented by the modeling industry. Thus, I think there is still much work left to be done in the modeling industry becoming more inclusive and welcoming to all.

Q: What is the best and the worst thing you could tell us about modeling?

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Omar Sesay: "it’s difficult starting a career as a black model" Omar Sesay: "it’s difficult starting a career as a black model" Vanity Teen Menswear & new faces magazine

A: Without a doubt, modeling has many things I enjoy and others not so much. My favorite thing about modeling is being able to bring the fabrics to life by not only adding character to the various pieces but embracing the passion of the designers as well. Being able to use my image to project that passion on the runway exudes a warmth that embraces me and makes me feel like I’m floating on the runway. I adore that feeling of bringing art to life, it makes it more than just a job for me. That’s really what keeps me going during times of adversity within the industry. My least favorite thing about modeling is the unfair representation of Black models, I’d like for agencies and casting directors to provide Black models with the same opportunities presented to white models. We shouldn’t have to work 10 times as hard to be deemed worthy of a Job that could easily be handed to any white model, whether they’re fit for the job or not.  

Omar Sesay for Vanity Teen
Photographer: Tayo Kuku

Q: How would you define yourself and how do you reflect that in your style?

A: I would define myself as one who is passionate, caring and creative. I believe caring for others, embracing creativity, and being passionate are components that fuel everything good in life. I don’t think I would be who I am today without incorporating these three things in all aspects of my life. Without passion, creativity and care for others I feel life lacks vibrancy. Thus, when I style myself, it’s an expression of all three. I add these components to my fashion the same way I do when utilizing different kinds of fabrics, colors, brands, and etc to unify my style/attire. My style is a representation of self, therefore, I Am passionate about it, I  care for it and I use my creativity as an expression of art.  

Q: What do you like the most about your job?

A: What I like most about my job is traveling, the opportunity of experiencing a new culture, and meeting new people brings a character and richness into my life nothing could replace. Many people don’t get the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures which sometimes I believe has the potential to not only shade you from the world but render you ignorant of various cultural standards as well. 

Q: Do you think there’s enough diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry nowadays?

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Omar Sesay: "it’s difficult starting a career as a black model" Omar Sesay: "it’s difficult starting a career as a black model" Vanity Teen Menswear & new faces magazine

A: I do not think there’s enough diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry. And an honest person wouldn’t dispute that because It’s written in bold prints by the industry. The fashion industry doesn’t even attempt to hide that they’re biased; at castings, during the shows, and in the campaigns, white models are the ones dominating. It’s almost as if models from different backgrounds are included out of pity to create the illusion that ALL models from ALL walks of life are represented equally in the industry. A rather faux cover for the lack of true diversity and inclusivity within this growing industry.

Q:  Would you like to send any message to young models or something related to what we are going through right now?

A: My message to young models and readers is to always remember that you’re a citizen of the world just as you are a citizen of whichever country you’re from. It’s important that we adamantly project patriotism to mankind, through being good kind-hearted citizens united as one by love and not a social construct. We have a long way to go in terms of accepting everyone for who they are and not by the content of their skin, sexuality, pay grade and other socially constructed labels, and to do so we must all walk hand in hand with one another to reach the end of this journey. A lasting thought to leave in your mind is an African riddle that states “if you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Omar Sesay for Vanity Teen
Photographer: Tayo Kuku

Exclusive interview for Vanity Teen online!

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