Africa is truly blessed!! We have so many beautiful talents all over the world that it is almost impossible to profile everyone. Well, for us at Zen, we make it our duty to know them and to tell their stories. From features in French GRAZIA to walking the runways for Hansen & Gretel, Sass & Bide and ALBUS LUMEN; this stunning model has us all star struck at Zen. We had the pleasure of interviewing model star Alyssa Traore who got talking to us about model life in the Netherlands, her childhood memories and her favourite photographers in the business….

Alyssa signed at 16 with IMG models. She is partly
from Côte d’Ivoire and Holland

Zen: Tell us a little bit about yourself (who you are/what you do/where you’re from, etc.).
Alyssa: I’m a half Ivorian half Dutch 18 year old who grew up in the Netherlands. Over 3 years ago I started modelling and since last September, after I finished school, I have been working full time as a model.
Zen: What was your childhood like?
Alyssa: My childhood was great and filled with so many good memories. I had amazing friends in school and used to dance since I was 5 years old. I’ve done jazz, dance, hip-hop, dancehall and more. Also, I followed acting classes and did the school musical almost every year!
Zen: How did you get into modelling?
Alyssa: When I was 11 years old I was scouted in the streets of Amsterdam. At the time I was of course too young to start modelling but since then my mind has been set on it. Though it took me a long long time to find an agency willing to represent me and work with me. At 16 I signed with IMG models. That’s when it all really started.
Zen: What’s it like during a photo shoot?
Alyssa: During a photo shoot you will have a lot of eyes staring at you; the photographer, the stylist, the make-up artist and many more team members. At first that can make me feel awkward and insecure, but depending on the team that feeling usually goes away after a few shots. It’s always fun to work together with the whole team and be creative, new and daring!
Zen: Who are a few of your favourite photographers you love working with?
Alyssa: I love working with Jette Stolte. She is really down to earth and gives me space and time to improvise. Sometimes it takes some time before I get in the flow of posing and she is very patient. Also, Justine Leenarts, a dutch photographer and friend is amazing to shoot with. The pictures always turn out great and we have good fun together on set.

“Never let yourself down by comparing
yourself to others,” says Alyssa

Zen: What’s the most challenging part about modelling?
Alyssa: I would say being alone often and not surrounded by close friends or family. I always have to take care of myself which can sometimes be hard. I’m ‘just’ 18 and used to living at home, going to places all over the world on my own is challenging sometimes. Luckily I make new friends during the trips so it helps.
Zen: How is modelling in Europe like?
Alyssa: In Europe, there are a few important fashion capitals, which means there’s a lot of work. For me Europe is nice as it’s close to home. Up and till now I haven’t really worked somewhere else outside of Europe, so it’s hard to compare with other places, but I definitely enjoy Europe a lot. With friends and family living in London, Milan, and Paris, I always enjoy going there.
Zen: What is the one major thing you have learned from being a model?
Alyssa: Do not compare. It’s easy to start comparing yourself to other models and questioning if you’re doing good enough. Doing that can make you feel sad and insecure, which is the last thing you want. Instead try to focus on yourself and see others work as motivation. Never let yourself down by comparing yourself to others that might be doing better than you do. It won’t make you happy.
Zen: What are a few of your favourite or let’s say special moments in modelling?
Alyssa: I would say what I love the most about modelling is being able to make new friends for life from all over the world, who I would’ve never met wasn’t it for modelling. Also, sometimes when you’re lucky you get to go to the most awesome shooting locations (Laughs). Mine were definitely Marrakech and San Salvador in the Bahamas.
Zen: How would you describe your personal style?
Alyssa: Honestly, I wouldn’t know. I guess I just wear whatever I feel like. Although I do love a sexy touch. Like some bare skin or greatly fitted jeans. I’m not great at fashion. I either end up with a basic outfit or with too much going on. Thankfully I don’t need to style myself during shoots (Laughs).

“If you’re passionate about modelling, go for it and don’t
give up too quickly!” she tells us in this exclusive

Zen: Let’s say you have a red carpet event tonight, who would be the one designer you can always count on?
Alyssa: It would definitely be Zuhair Murad! His designs are breathtaking. Wearing one of his dresses is one of my bucket list items.
Zen: What do you love the most about African fashion?
Alyssa: I love how it’s modern but doesn’t lose its African touch. New designs are combined with African fabrics or based on their culture.
Zen: Describe African fashion in 4 words.
Alyssa: Colourful, different, daring, new!
Zen: Do you have a signature scent/favourite perfume?
Alyssa: I’m the worst at choosing and love so many fragrances. But I’d say at this point heat by Beyoncé is my favourite. It makes me feel super fierce each time.
Zen: Advice for aspiring models.
Alyssa: In order to model, it’s important to find an agency that suits you. Even when you don’t have the required height and measurements it’s still possible to model. You may not be walking on the high fashion runways but there are still more markets. Once you find the right agency, things might work out. I got rejected by at least 10 agencies until it started working out for me! If you’re passionate about modelling, go for it and don’t give up too quickly!
Zen: 5 things you cannot live without.
Alyssa: My lip balm, my phone, my family, my music and my friends!
Zen: If you had to one wish to work with one designer in the world, who would it be and why?
Alyssa: It would definitely be Jeremy Scott because there are no limits with him. He is so creative and open-minded. Everything is possible and nothing is too crazy!
Check out below a few of Alyssa’s runway and campaign photos:

Alyssa walking for #AliceMcCall 

Seen here walking for Italian luxury brand Giada

Alyssa in French GRAZIA

Strutting down the catwalk for Sass and Bide

Ad campaign for Zara

Zen: What’s the one quote that always keeps you going?
Alyssa: I don’t have a specific quote regarding my work as a model, but I always like to remind myself to live in the moment and never to take anything for granted and also to enjoy the process a lot. The modelling industry is interesting and I’m lucky to experience it and be a part of it.

For more information on Alyssa Traore, visit her agency website at IMG MODELS
You can also find her on Instagram | Facebook