Meet Jacqueline Ilumoka. Model, humanitarian, presenter and much more, Jacqueline has truly gone above and beyond to make her mark on the creative industry and it seems as though she is only just getting started.
Here’s what happened when IndustryMe spoke to her for our Black History Month special.
I think the first time you appeared on everyone’s radar was Miss Black Africa UK in 2014, casting your mind back to that time what pushed you to enter that competition and did you expect to win?
It was just something I took an interest in because it was a charity awards as well as a pageant and I wanted to push myself out of comfort zone to do something to inspire youth in my generation. I had a friend who had entered the Miss Ghana pageant and I also met a girl who had won Miss Uganda and they both encouraged me to apply, and after hearing what they’d been able to achieve and how they’ve inspired a lot of young people in their community I was really moved to go for it. So while I was uni in the library one day I just applied online.
How did your life begin to change after winning?
There were so many things but the first one was that I was being invited to speak at events and host which I would’ve been so shy to do before, winning Miss Black Africa really built my confidence and encouraged me to step out more. I was invited on the BBC One Show for a beauty queen feature they were doing, I was asked to go on other tv shows and just given a platform to share my journey and my project ideas. I was also getting recognised when I’d go out and in the media as well which was so crazy to me.
Your modelling career catapulted after this, what’s been your highlight so far and why?
My highlight has been getting featured in Vogue magazine UK and Italian Vogue. But also being able to travel and work abroad more.
How did you begin modelling in the first place
While I was growing up people always told me I should go into modelling so when I finished my A Levels just before going to university I started looking into it and decided to create a page for myself on a free model portfolio site and then started collaborating with other creatives. When I got to uni I was asked to do a fashion show on campus and then from there did fashion week shows and put myself out there, joined agencies and people just started to contact me for work.
What would you say is your signature look as a model?
I would say my signature is several looks because I’m a bit of chameleon in that my look always changes. But my style is all about being classy and wearing unique pieces I don’t like to wear what’s on trend or what everyone else is wearing I like to switch it up.
How did you get into hosting?
When I won Miss Black Africa UK I was given the opportunity to present awards at a number of high profile events and also did more public speaking. But I think what actually made me realise I enjoyed it was hosting games nights with friends or hosting friend’s birthdays, people would recommend me for other hosting gigs.
In addition to modelling and hosting you’re also a humanitarian, tell us more about your Charity Campaign I am Able Nigeria?
I Am Able is an initiative to raise awareness for disability in Nigeria. I’ve been collecting a lot of mobility equipment for children in nigeria. My main aim is to empower individuals to believe that they are able to do anything and be everything they want to be. I’m really focused on encouraging people to use what society tells them is a disadvantage to be their advantage.
What has been your experience living as a Nigerian woman in Britain?
So my experience has been interesting as anyone else’s, I was born in London and moved to Kent while I was young. In my younger years I spent a lot of time dealing with low self esteem through not appreciating my african features or my slim frame when every Nigerian I knew had a fuller curvy frame. But through my later teenage years I learnt to love my size, my african features and my Nigerian culture even more. My journey has been one of self acceptance and I’m really pleased to be able to use my platform to share that and encourage other women who may have had a similar story to me.
What advice would you have given your 14 year old self given where you are now?
God carefully crafted every single part of you, and remember no one is you and that is your power. No one has what you have or carries what you carry so own it!
Do you have any tips for the aspiring models out there?
You have to be passionate about it and ensure you know why you’re doing it. Be thick skinned, know yourself and create your own brand for yourself. Always be professional; it doesn’t matter how young you are or how inexperienced, if you act professionally people will treat you well because they see that you take your career seriously.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on some great campaigns with some brands who I will be doing some brand promotion/influencer marketing with. Im pursuing acting more and I’m also involved in a campaign which promotes diverse beauty where I talk about my journey to self love, which will be on tv this month so you’ll be able to see that.
Any final shoutouts or plugs?
Follow me on socials @jacqueline.ilu to see what I’m up to, I’m also a marketeer so I help a few companies manage their marketing/brand activities so get in touch if you need help with your marketing.