If you haven’t seen Nikia Phoenix’s photos making the rounds on social media then you must have been living in a deep dark hole! Her perfectly cropped TWA, amazing body and stand-out freckles are hard to miss. We caught up with Ms. Phoenix to learn more about how she got into modeling, how she keeps her hair looking so great and what inspired the creation of her fabulous blog ModelLiberation.com.
First off, your photographs are amazing. You’re definitely in the right profession! How did you get your start in modeling?
This has definitely been a long winding road. I’ve wanted to model since I was a teen, but the opportunity finally came once I moved to LA as an adult.
Were you always a curly/natural model or did you transition at any point in your career?
I transitioned from a relaxer to natural hair a few years ago. I was just tired of my hair getting damaged because of photo shoots and other jobs. My hair was already short, so I just chopped off the sides and a little off the top. It didn’t take too long to grow it out.
Have you have found that being natural has helped or hindered your modeling career?
You know it’s a little of both. I’m still not sure if my hair fits in with what they want. There’s a certain type of hair type that is often seen in high fashion and another type you see in commercial advertising. Unfortunately those two are not the same and sometimes it’s difficult to figure out if I should conform or just stick with my short kinky hair.
I transitioned from a relaxer to natural hair a few years ago. I was just tired of my hair getting damaged because of photo shoots and other jobs.
Are you seeing more natural-haired models as you work? Is curly hair being accepted in the model/fashion community as much as it appears to be in the mainstream?
It seems as if mainstream advertising is more hip to natural hair but a specific length, texture, and style. You know what I’m talking about… that picture-perfect curly approachable hair. I think it’s up to us to show the world that our hair is beautiful in a lll its shades, textures, and glory. Maybe then we’d see more natural hair on the runway, in fashion magazines, and on television & film.
What are 3 hair products you can’t live without at the moment?
So glad you said “at the moment” because you know I’m a product junkie who’s always switching things up. I’m currently living without my Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Oil shampoo, but I’ll fix that as soon as I head to the store. It tingles and keeps dandruff and buildup off my scalp. I’m really digging Carol’s Daughter Marula Conditioner because it really revives my hair after days of styling. Oh and Free Your Mane Conditioning Pomade for when I need my curls to really pop.
What are 3 beauty products that you keep in your purse at all times?
I don’t always want to look done-up so the products I keep on hand are simple: coconut oil or shea butter lotion, lip gloss, and this great cheek palette from Urban Decay that includes a bronzer, highlighter, and a blush. If I’ve been out all day, these goodies help me refresh my face without much fuss.
Your blog “Model Liberation” covers your life as a model as well as helpful tips on beauty, hair and fashion. What inspired you to start your blog?
My baby’s been alive for a long time now, and I’m glad I have her. I started Model Liberation as a way to channel my energy into something therapeutic. When you’re a professional and you’re constantly getting the run-around from potential clients, you’ve got to figure out what you can improve on to get more work. But I’m also a creative, so I had to vent my frustration about the fickle fashion industry somehow. Model Liberation is how I express myself and I’d probably be crazy without her.
For many naturals it’s a journey to fully understand their hair. It’s a process of trial and error. What was your “Curls Understood™” moment (the moment you felt like, “I’ve got this!”)?
Can I just be honest? I really don’t fully understand my hair. She’s temperamental and moody. Sometimes I try to give my hair extra TLC so that maybe she’ll perk up. But then she doesn’t act right. I’ve realized that I just need to let my hair be instead of always trying to control her. In many ways, my hair and I are so much alike. Just leave us alone and let us do our thing.