Chinwendu Natalia Okerengwo is known for being a make-up and skin care consultant, but one project that’s particularly close to her heart is her modelling career. Based in Russia, the Nigerian born model opened up to us about how she got into the modelling business, how it all began, her beauty regimes and the models who continuously inspire her.

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Chinwe as she is fondly called in the industry is from Imo state in Nigeria. Photographed by Raev Denis

Q: How did you become a model?
A: An agent found me in the subway, took a couple of test shots and I took it up from there.

Q: What did your parents first think of you being a model?
A: My parents always knew that I was going to do something related to fashion, so when I started modelling they were not surprised. I started reading Vogue magazine at a very young age, my dad used to order them monthly for my mum as my mum was into fashion. I mean my dad even shared my portfolio on google plus.

Q: Who are the models that inspire you?
A: Naomi Campbell has always inspired me in many ways. Kate Moss was also an inspiration while growing up, in my opinion she broke boundaries thus paving a way for petite models in high fashion. Others include Liya Kebede, Tyra Banks, Natalia Vodianova, Karolina Kurkova and Gigi Hadid. Gigi inspires me because I see her as someone that is very relentless and someone that pursues her dreams with great passion.

Q: What does modelling mean to you?
A: Modelling means a lot to me, I get to see art being created, working with talented and amazing photographers makeup artist and designers has been one of my major dreams.

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“I believe you can say a lot from what you wear,” says Chinwe. Photographed by Natali Zamyatina

Q: What’s your favourite shoot or campaign work done so far throughout your career?
A: I can’t really say I have a favourite shoot or campaign, they have all been amazing, but I must say I really enjoyed shooting the fall/winter Ad for Bows and Tulle with the kids, they were so cute and lovely to work with.

Q: How do you keep in shape? Have you ever been asked to lose or gain weight for a shoot?
A: I am not going to be phoney by saying I go to the gym or any of that, but I do have a few workout DVD series, which I do at home, but mostly I control what I eat and I do this by eating healthy. I just registered for kick boxing classes and I can’t wait to begin. As far as losing weight for a shoot, I haven’t been told that. I understand that people see art differently, the human body is art, so designers have different ideas of how they want their art to be presented and everything has to go in accordance with their target audience or the people they intend to speak to with their art.

Q: What are some of the perks of working as a model? Do you get to keep the clothes from the photo shoots, for example?
A: For me the perks include seeing the finished product (pictures, video) and how amazing everything came together. Keeping the clothes from some shoots is one of them, meeting amazing people and in general I have fun on set.

Q: How do you deal with rejection in this business?
A: I don’t really take it to heart. I just tell myself that, “you are not everyone’s cup of tea. Different strokes for different folks. They do have their reason and my self worth or future isn’t built around No’s or rejection.”

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Ad: Model rock lipstick | Makeup by MARFA Make-up | Photography by Alexandra Leroy

Q: Describe your style?
A: I consider my style as chic, a little trendy, I do speak a lot through my style. I believe you can say a lot from what you wear, so I find myself playing around with different styles. I always remind myself “It’s fashion so have fun”.

Q: What do you think about African fashion?
A: I think African fashion has grown a lot and I am really proud of our designers.

Q: Who are a few of your favourite African designers?
A: I do love a whole lot of them, but for some reason Deola Sagoe’s designs always speak to me. I have loved her designs since I was a child.

Q: What beauty products do you use to keep your skin looking fresh?
A: I am very much into skincare and I am a product junkie. I use mostly natural products. My current favourites are Tea Tree cream from L’ambre, La Roche-Posay hydrating cleansing cream, vitamin E oil, Carrots Organic Bio conditioner for my hair and of course Argan oil for my skin and hair.

Q: Do you have any beauty regime you live by?
A: After a long day, I dedicate about 20 mins for my facials, drinking ginger with tea and I go on a monthly cleanse. I try as much as possible to eat only organic food and use organic products, it does help the skin more than you can imagine and it’s good for our health as well.

Q: If you could live the life of one celebrity for one day, who would it be?
A: I wouldn’t really want to live anyone life, we all have our path in life, but I must say being the Leader of the free world (USA) for one day won’t be bad.

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Q: Why?
A: You get to live in the white house for one day at least, see the world through the eyes of one most powerful person in the world and I believe going through that type pressure for one day might change the way I view certain things.

Q: 5 things you can’t live without.
A: I can’t live without my bible, lip balm, mascara, water and my phone.

Q: Some industry professionals say modelling does not have a long-term career path. Do you agree with this statement?
A: Naomi Campbell and Liya Kebede has shown us that that’s not true. Why or why not? In my opinion the industry has grown a lot and it depends and how well you have aged.

Q: 5 facts about you people may not know.
A: I am very versatile, love kids, obsessed with perfumes, I love rap music and I still remember my childhood memories especially memories from 1-3 years old.

Q: What’s next for Chinwe?
A: For now I intend to continue building my modelling career, work for bigger brands, swimwear brands, perfume and skin care brands, venture into plays/movies, finish med school, invest further in my studies, go into research and business, help the less privilege, help to improve the health sector in Nigeria, fighting for women’s right, creating awareness amongst the youths of today and a lot more. I tell myself each day to never stop dreaming, and never stop setting new goals and aspiration.

For more on Chinwe, visit her on Instagram: Chinwe Natali | On Twitter Chinwe Natali

Final Note: There is an organisation close to my heart that I want people to connect with. The name of the Organisation is Caritas Foundation Team. It’s still new, about a year old. The foundation is made up of students of the University of Port-Harcourt in Nigeria with collaboration and aid from the directors of the Center for Disabled People. They reach out to orphanages and disability centers, do visitations every 3rd Saturday of the month, whereby each person in the group has to contribute a certain sum of money for transportation and supplies. In the near future they plan on visiting orphanages and disability centers in Enugu, Nigeria. Their aim is rendering support/aid to the less privileged around the country as well as prayers. Please lend in your support as these youths are doing what they can in other to better life the lives of these children and people. Together we can do more. You can learn more about them from there Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Caritasfoundationteam/