Thanks to social media, I get to meet so many inspiring, positive and enthusiastic women from various places in the world. For years, I’ve been friends with Ophilia Alleyne on Facebook. She is a Full Figured Model born and raised in Toronto, Canada. This vibrant beauty has experience in acting but her first love is modeling. To date she’s worked with several online retailers including SexyPlus Clothing, Curvaceous Styles, Kurvier Than and Kiyonna (Curvy Cutie) just to name a few. Earlier this month she modeled in Caribbean Fashion Plus + Week. In this interview Ophilia talks about her modeling career, her inspirations and her future.
What prompted you to begin a career in modeling and how long have you been modeling?
It all began in 2004 at the young age of 23 years old when I began to realize several things; that there were many women who looked just like me, confidence was an issue for those in my age category and I wanted to change that. I began by auditioning for two local fashion shows and then the rest was history. I distinctly remember after my first fashion show a young girl came up to me with her mother in tears stating that I looked like her and she felt great to see me as a model because I was not skinny. At that point, I realized that is what I am supposed to do and I will use this as one of the many platforms to inspire women. I went onto become a model for Wal-Mart of Canada, landed several runway opportunites and became a web model for SexyPlus Clothing, Curvaceous Styles and The Fuller Woman Expo (Canada). At 31 years old I feel as though I’m just at the beginning of a journey with endless possibilities.
As a model have you had any formal training or was it trial & error?
It was definitely trial and error followed by minimal formal training. I think that there’s something to be said for trial and error; I’m very grass roots in everything that I do therefore trial and error really helped me hone a style that best represented me. The growth process never ends so has my styled changed since 2004? Yes it has. Will my style continue to change? Of course it will because I make it a duty to challenge myself in all that I do so that I can be the best me.
Do you have a mentor or someone you look up to that is in the industry as inspiration?
That’s a tough question because there are so many fabulous women that have inspired me. Queen Latifah, the late Mia Amber, Jeannie Ferguson, Ashley Graham,Gwen Devoe, Ellen Degeneres, Monif C., Oprah Winfrey, Jill Scott and my mother are all women that encompass three very important qualities; strength, drive and perseverance. These three qualities are essential to starting and sustaining my goals and pushing forth even when doors are temporarily closed. These women do not fit a mold. These women are fierce, unapologetic and have a zest for life that could not be bottled even if we tried. These are the women that help me keep my head up so that I can help others. The concept of “paying it forward is fabulous”.
We understand you auditioned for Caribbean Fashion Plus + Week. Please tell me about that experience.
Yes, I did. I came across the posting on Facebook by a fluke and thought “ yes, another platform to promote size acceptance” so I applied. There’s such a large market of full figured women in the Caribbean that need to see other confident women embrace their bodies unapologetically to the world. If I’m able to inspire at least one woman whilst on this fabulous journey then I can say that I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do. Needless to say I’m elated to have been chosen for this experience.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
The future is very bright; as one of the faces of www.sexyplusclothing.com, a regular model in The Fuller Woman Expo Canada, and my exposure at Plus Size Fashion Week in the Caribbean I am confident that I’m only at the beginning of my journey as a Full Figured Model and Size Acceptance Advocate. Stay tuned for more to come.