Oluchi Onweagba was born August 1, 1982 in Lagos, Nigeria. She is a supermodel based in New York who has been featured in Italian Vogue, Marie Claire, and Elle. She has appeared four times inSports Illustrated swimsuit edition.
Oluchi talks about the prospects of building a succesful fashion industry in Africa:
Nigerian women love fashion. I think the Nigerian fashion industry is still at an early stage. South Africa is way ahead of us. Even Senegal and Ivory Coast are ahead of Nigeria, but the industry is growing. It takes years of dedication and hardwork. It won't happen overnight so you have to be patient.
Johannesburg, South Africa is a lot more structured and I think that it is because they have been around for many years. Nigeria will get there but for now we don't have the talent and the skills like South Africans.
Oluchi Onweagba: With thanks to Sports Illustrated
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Over the years, I have been constantly coming to Nigeria. I come back and I give my support. I think I have given 100 per cent.
Oluchi is married to Italian Luca Orlandi:
I have been married since 2005. I think it is just marrying your best friend more than anything. A man that will understand you; a man that will support you in good and bad times. My husband is my best friend.
Asked whether the demands of motherhood, family, and work are too demanding, she answers:
This has only added to me, completed me and strengthened me ... It has not slowed me down. I think as women, we are made to have children, and if you do it in such a way that you embrace life, it is an awesome thing.
She explains how she combines the difficult task of being a wife and an international fashion model:
I am an African woman. I am also a Nigerian woman. We grew up with multi-tasking. You learn to know how to work it out.
Oluchi has a lucrative contract with Nigerian cosmetics brand Nature's Gentle Touch:
When you talk about beauty, hair and cusmetics company in Nigeria it is very small. We don't have enough. It is not like the banking or telecomunications industry. So, when I was called to be part of Nature's Gentle Touch I was very excited. I met with the people.
They are amazing and wonderful people to work with and work for. It's been a wonderful experience. I have no regrets whatsoever. Now I like them so much that we just want to keep working.
They are very dedicated to work with. They have their own factory here in Nigeria with their head office in Ikeja. Now they have opened a beauty school where I can do hair and every other Nigeria woman too. I think it is the first Nigerian hair company that has a hair institute; so young and upcoming women can come here and get a degree that can qualify them as hair dressers.
Oluchi explains the secret of her success:
I guess it is the power of the universe, the power of the unknown. My attitude towards life is to hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil, and have strong inner self-belief in everything I do.
O Model Africa
She wants to help upcoming models in Africa by creating opportunities for them to succeed. She lauched model agency O Model Africa.
It is doing very well. But, I would not say it has been easy, though I have had ten years experience in fashion modeling.
What I am trying to do is make a difference especially on this continent, Africa. My beloved Africa is my driving force. But you must also realize it is not easy especially coming back from the Western world where everything is so developed, so structured. This can make things a bit difficult.
The agency is one of the many things I want to do, and it is here to stay and hopefully, it would expand to other parts of Africa soon.
Buy Oluchi Onweagba's hottest films: Oluchi appears in After the Sunset with Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek.