LA CELEBRATION DES 2 ANS AVEC…
FRIENDS Every March 11th, I make a mental note that it’s Tropics Magazine’s birthday. No parties, no noise but just a deep satisfaction that I have been doing what I love for quite a long time now. The truth is I couldn’t feel any better about doing this job than I already do. That meant 2010 represented my 7th year in the media industry but my 1st year as an independent Multimedia journalist. By far, the coolest thing of being an Editorial Director is the fact that
SUNNY COUTURE TOOKES
I get to help make people’s dreams come true. You have no idea how many letters (and now emails, Facebook, Tweets…) we get from grateful readers whose stories have appeared in the magazine. They always say that it has been a life changing experience to be recognized by an international publication, and they are overjoyed that we have given that to them. On this second birthday, we just want to say THANK YOU to the entire staff; they have been putting together an incredible job by reporting from Africa, Europe, America and now Asia too. Thank you sincerely to all the fans/readers for the love, consideration and most of all, their
fidelity and presence on social networks. As Doris Lessing said once: “A simple grateful thought turned heavenwards is the most perfect Prayer’ Let us toast to a second wonderful editorial year full of emotions and amazing surprises. Please do not forget that you can do anything, but not everything. Find your path and excel in it. Wishing you all the best and until next time, keep well and ‘Stay Tropics, Always!’
Vénicia Guinot Editorial Director & Founder
PAST ISSUES & COVERS…
Pourquoi TROPICS Magazine ? TROPICS Magazine est la voix définitive de l'expérience moderne a atteindre les Africains et les amis du continent a travers le monde. La publication est en passe de devenir le leader des questions tropicales à travers des fabuleux reportages, la culture, le lifestyle (beauté, mode, décoration, sante, cuisine) et plus encore. TROPICS Magazine est devenu le premier magazine bilingue cosmopolite en provenance d'Afrique et lu a travers vingtsix pays du monde et 4 continents a savoir l'Afrique, l'Europe, l'Amérique et maintenant l'Asie. Même si nous sommes fiers de nos racines africaines, nous, a TROPICS Magazine, gardons un œil sur l'information mondiale a la une. TROPICS Magazine propose un réseau moteur et possède en son sein, des hommes et femmes optimistes et intelligents qui contribuent a toutes ses éditions. TROPICS Magazine est une organisation de jeunes Africains et amis du continent qui œuvrent à bâtir un héritage pour les jeunes générations qui se sentent inspirés à faire des choses étonnantes et bénéfiques pour la société. TROPICS Magazine est un empire d'esprits jeunes qui ont pris le défi de sortir des sentiers battus et d'inspirer le reste du monde à travers leur originalité tout en célébrant leur diversité au même pied d'égalité.
Vénicia GUINOT Rédactrice en Chef & Fondatrice
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
INTERVIEW Hi Nana, Can you please introduce yourself to our audience? Hello My Name is Nana Afua Antwi. I am a model and Ambassador for Top Model of Colour UK What inspired you to board the modelling industry? Modelling has been part of me since I was 6 years’ old, I started wearing my Mum’s High heels and walking and posing like the supermodels I were seeing in the magazines she normally brings home. I had it in me. Apart from modelling what other activities do you carry out? I am a Philanthropist working as an Ambassador for Charitable organisations Adopted Culture, why that brand name for your design, what lies behind the theme? Adopted Culture is different, I came out with that brand as I thought it was different . I had always wanted to create a fashion brand that would reflect different backgrounds of fashion in one form, that’s the whole theme behind it. What are the challenges you face being a Model & Designer? Being both is tough I get all sorts of negativity, but I use the pot holes to build a stronger platform for my work. You are the uprising category of female models that represent the African continent abroad, get enough support from your community?
Yes I do when I won Top Model Of Colour I had good press which brought my work to the spotlight. But I hope it doesn’t end there. I wish to get enough support.
Which areas do you think need to be amended or initiated for you, the upcoming generation to do your job accordingly, not only to improve your empowerment in this industry, but also to inspire young women who would like to follow your footsteps? I would advise young Women to do research on the career fields they wish to achieve. Work on it to the fullest not as a hobby but as a passion. What are your future plans? My future plan is to take Africa Fashion and Model industry by storm setting up an enterprise which promotes Models. Any word for fashion shows organisers around the world relating to models of colour? I would advise Fashion Show Organisers to start negotiating payments on shows to Models of Colour. Most shows donâ€™t have any compensation and most Models do this for a living. Itâ€™s totally not fair. Our team is so delighted you accepted to work with us on this, we wish you every success in your ambitions Written by Valerie Sosso Moukouelle. Good Luck Nana. Official London based Tropics Magazine Correspondent
WOMEN’S DAY INTERVIEW Hi Dorothy, Can you please introduce yourself to our audience? Hello Tropics readers, my name is Dorothy Tenkorang. I am a model & fashion designer currently living in London. What inspired you modelling industry?
I have always been in love with fashion world… always... I remember the 90's super model era where we had Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, and Naomi Campbell, just to name a few, and would marvel at how beautiful these women were. What I couldn’t understand was why the media did not portray as many black models or why I only had 1 supermodel to look up to. I was fortunate to know at an early age that beauty came in different colours and wanted to make a difference but didn’t think the opportunity would appear in this form. I’m here because I’m in love with what I do. I love to play dress up and the chance to portray an array of personalities. I love the challenge and am happy to see that I am not the only model of colour with the same drive. Apart from modelling what activities do you carry out?
I am a workaholic so am always busy. I am a big believer in life is how you make it. I have a fashion line which I run with my business partner Sarah Ekundayo called House of Abeytu. It is a fabulous fashion line that embraces the mix of Africa meeting the western world. I’m very excited to also tell you that I am working on my very own clothing line which will be available this year! It’s fresh and new and I hope you will all love it as much as I do. I also take part as member of the jury panel at model searches and styling. In my spare time (when I do have any) I also love fashion photography... though I’m no expert as of yet...I’m currently taking lessons when I can and also love taking on styling projects. As I mentioned before, Fashion is my passion and it does not feel like work when I’m doing it.
What are the challenges you face being a model of colour? We are all aware that racism is very much alive in the modelling industry. From some designers all the way down to some casting directors. Now as a model, I can either let this knowledge defeat me or use this knowledge to drive me further. I am aware that I have to work twice as hard and am not afraid to do so. With great pleasure, I have studied the industry from Donyale Luna to Gia Carangi, to Kate Moss to Jourdan Dunn. I know what modelling entails. Fashion is always changing and I enjoy being part of the constant evolution.
You are the uprising category of female models that represent the African continent abroad, do you get enough support from your community?
I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by positive people. My friends and family have shown me nothing but support. I find it funny that they still go out and buy magazines with me in it. I will be forever grateful to friends that always come and see me on the catwalk... no matter the location. I went to Ghana recently and was so happy to receive so much positive love from my own people. I’m grateful to the strangers from all over the continent that send me positive emails, Facebook and twitter. I recently received an email from a mother who told me how proud she was of me and hoped that her daughter would grow up to be just like me. You cannot put a price on something like that. Which areas do you think need to be amended or initiated for you, the upcoming generation to do your job accordingly, not only to improve your empowerment in this industry, but also to inspire young women who would like to follow your footsteps? Ideally, it would be great if racism did not exist and if my fellow models of colour did not have to fight to break the doors that are open to others. More importantly I think it is very important for the industry and women of colour to accept black beauty. Unfortunately the idea of beauty has been whitewashed and we have too many women of colour conforming to this idea of beauty. As cliché as this sounds believe in yourself, learn about yourself, your history and where you have come from. I think we should continue to focus on growing within the industry and not focus so much on trying to fit into certain arenas. It’s incredibly positive to have agencies, magazines and fashion shows that embrace women of colour because it shows that we are creating doors for ourselves. I think it’s also important to highlight that reverse racism does not help the situation and casting directors or designers should pick a model purely on his/ her ability to do the job. I have been fortunate to represent Mahogany Model Management in model searches and have always and will continue to choose that person who embodies a model and has the drive to succeed. Though I work freelance I am also signed to Mahogany Model Management who specialises in models of colour and am all about creating opportunities. In a perfect world colour would not be an issue but unfortunately colour seems to be a problem for some so I take incredible pride in being part of this moment. We have created our own doors in the past and can continue to do so.
Any word for fashion shows organisers around the world relating to models of colour? Beauty comes in all colours. The fact that a large percentage of the industry is going out of its way to not include women of colour indicates that unfortunately we have people at the top who are afraid of shattering the racist ideology of beauty which they themselves do not believe. It cannot be denied. Beauty comes in all colours. Our team is so delighted you accepted to work with us on this, we wish you every success in your ambitions. Good Luck Dorothy.
Written by Valerie Sosso Moukouelle. Official London based Tropics Magazine Correspondent
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
INTERVIEW Hi Lisette, Can you please introduce yourself to our audience My name is Lisette Mibo; I was born and raised in the capital of The Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), until the age of 14, when I came to the UK. What inspired you to board the modelling industry? I discovered my passion for modelling in my teens but I did not pursue the career because finishing my academic education was a priority. I began showing interest in modelling when I was approached by fashion designers at my college, who offered me the opportunity to take part in fashion shows, I took it from there and that is where my whole story of modelling started till present. Apart from modelling what other activities do you carry out? Apart from modelling, I am a mother of one (being a mum is a major job lol). I am also an ambassador for save the Congo Non-Profit Organisation here in the UK. Moreover, as a hobby and passion I also design women‘s wear and planning to launch it very soon. What are the challenges you face being a model of colour? The biggest challenge I face as a model of colour is gaining access to the mainstream that includes getting into the top agencies, it’s a tough one but then again they’re short of models of colour at that level of the industry. As a freelance model, it’s a struggle to get into good shows or well-paid jobs You are the uprising category of female models that represent the African continent abroad; do you get enough support from your community? Oh yes I do get support from my community, major support especially from those who have witnessed you grow as a model in the industry. However, as you would expect there are also many people that discourage and use models with their act of betrayal etc.
~Lisette gives credits to~ Photographer: Des Richards & Jite Image Make-up Artist: Nana Yaa Grant Hairdresser: Victoria Akuagwu Blue dress Designer: Frances Ekiko
What are your future plans? Well, as they say you never know what the future will bring, but I also believe a person can plan their future and work hard towards it. That is exactly what I am doing with modelling and my other ambitions. Most importantly I want to continue working hard and carrying on with my positive energy, then, leaving the rest in the hands of the Almighty God because He is the one that knows what it will be of me in 10 years time as I can only predict. Any word for fashion shows organisers around the world relating to models of colour? My message to Fashion shows organisers around the world relating to models of colour is: ”Exploitation of models needs to stop”. Being a model is being self-employed (especially when you’re freelance) but most of the organisers (NOT ALL) use models for free in the name of moulding them to get experience, whereas designers are paying them money to take part in those shows, it is very frustrating. Our team is so delighted you accepted to work with us on this; we wish you every success in your ambitions. Good Luck Lisette.
Written by Valerie Sosso Moukouelle. Official London based Tropics Magazine Correspondent
FEATURES Hi Abie, Can you please introduce yourself to our audience? My Name is Abie Koromah, I am a London based Sierra Leonean. What inspired you to board the modelling industry? My inspiration came from great success from other independent women. I wanted to do something in which my potential would be expressed, having a passion for modelling, that is how I decided to board the modelling train. Apart from modelling what other activities do you carry out? Apart from modeling, I cater for my 3 years old son, I work part-time, and I also have personal projects I work on, which will be revealed to the audience at the appropriate time. What are the challenges you face being a model of colour? My height to me is the first challenge I face in the industry. Talking about challenges as a model colour, itâ€™s not a secret that the barriers are not easy for us to break, in order to get into the mainstream modelling platform. But, then again, I do constantly work hard to provide the best of You are the uprising category of female models that represent theservices African when continent abroad, I am on duty. do you get enough support from your community? Wow. Yes I do have a lot of support from my community, and it motivates me more to do my job. What are your future plans? Right now I am planning a fashion show in my home country Sierra Leone, to encourage young models and designers, and give them the opportunity to showcase their skills and abilities. I am also working on a media related project to launch my Magazine. Any word for fashion shows organisers around the world relating to models of colour? I strongly believe as in any other job, people should be treated with respect. Models of colour should be given the chance in the industryâ€™s platform worldwide. I would go on to ask modelling agencies to be honest when dealing with models, as sometimes they end up not paying us for the job done, which is quite frustrating. Our team is so delighted you accepted to work with us on this; we wish you every success in your ambitions. Good Luck Abie. I am the one thanking you and your team to have given me the opportunity to express my feelings on what I have a great passion for.
Written by Valerie Sosso Moukouelle. Official London based Tropics Magazine Correspondent
“I strongly believe as in any other job, people should be treated with respect. Models of colour should be given the chance in the industry’s platform worldwide.”
“Happy 2 years Anniversary Tropics Mag. I am happy to hear that your magazine has completed 2 years. I just wanted to congratulate everyone on such an achievement. I am sure everyone at your organization works real hard and goes beyond what is expected to issue such a great magazine every 2 months. The leadership and ability of everyone to get things done are an inspiration to us all and it really helps make the magazine the success that it is. An example of such great leadership is: movie star pictures are posted on the magazine Facebook page to reflect their taste to the world of fashion. The pictures are posted to stimulate your follower minds to see how everyone feels in what they are wearing and which star wears it better. That is a great example to show the followers around the world what is current in today’s high fashion industry. This is true commitment by everyone at Tropics Magazine and I feel much honored to be a part of such a prestigious magazine.”
COVER STAR STORY
For our 2nd anniversary, we had the pleasure of interviewing full figure model Sunny Couture Tookes. How did you get started modeling? After I graduated from college I began modeling as just something to do for fun. I considered it a hobby. Over time modeling has developed into a deep passion. Modeling is a facet of who I am which is so much more than something that I like to do. What kind of modeling do you mainly do? Do you feel like opportunities are expanding? Is it tight right now because of the economy like everything else is? I have done just about every type of modeling from commercial to runway. I specialize in print and concept modeling. I do feel as though opportunities are gradually expanding for full figured and plus size models. I hope to see that models of all sizes are seen equally for their talent and not by their size. The economy does not effect the pool of opportunity for models. If anything, it pushes models harder to reach their dreams faster for financial and personal security. Who have you done work for? I have produced work for many designers from my hometown of Detroit, Michigan. The designers that I have worked with differ in creative style as well as age. I have produced published work for designers as young as 14 years of age. My goal was to bring these designs out of Michigan and expose them on a national and international scale. I have also done work for designers across the United States. Is your day job cooperative? Yes, my day job is very cooperative. Everyone at my job is very supportive of me. I am also a full time graduate student pursuing my masters degree. My school schedule is flexible and my classmates are extremely supportive.
Who would you love to work with who you havenâ€™t worked with yet? Tyra Banks. What types of plus clothing would you like to see more of?
I would like to see more clothes designed for women with curves which includes both full figured and plus size women. Clothing like this would make everyday women feel as though they are beautiful and fashion forward.
“Modeling is a facet of who I am which is so much more than something that I like to do. “ SUNNY COUTURE
We are featuring full figured and plus size models in this issue because at this stage, we want the world to be aware of beauty in all its diversity. What does the industry describe it as and what would you personally define it as? Categorization of models confused me when I started modeling. I was told that I was too big to be considered industry size yet to small to be considered plus size. This is what defined the category of full figured for me and that is how I define myself as a model in this industry. Have you ever been asked to gain or lose weight in order to get a job? No. When people hire me for jobs it is because they really like who I am and the brand that I have built my career on. Can you talk a little bit about what you do to keep healthy? There’s this misconception that everyone full figured or plus size is not healthy. I have completely changed my diet. I make sure that whatever I eat, I eat in moderation. I decreased the amount of fast food that I consume and I eat more fruits, vegetables, and grilled foods. I drink plenty of water and go to the gym 2-3 times a week. It’s important to remember that
an unhealthy lifestyle can affect anyone at any size. What are your thoughts on airbrushing and have you seen things that bother you? The only airbrushing techniques I have seen have been used in the application of make-up. I believe it is a beautiful, smooth, and easy way to make a model look her best without placing too much on the skin. In the past have you had body image issues? If yes, how did you deal with them? When I first began modeling people told me negative things about my weight. I was told that
that it would limit me in my career and I would never be selected as either a cover model or a runway model. I dealt with this negativity by understanding its purpose. Negativity can either paralyze you or push you. I let it push me into a secure and positive way of thinking about myself which caused outside opinions to be irrelevant. What advice would you give for women with body image issues? I encourage women to begin to resolve issues with body image by first learning how to love themselves. When you truly love yourself… whoever doesn’t…doesn’t matter. The second thing is to think constructively. If there is something that you don’t like about yourself (i.e. weight) change it.
TROPICS MAGAZINE Go to the gym, change your diet, live healthier, etc. The things that cannot be changed (i.e. skin color) need to be understood and appreciated because things like skin color are one of the many things that make us unique. Do you consider yourself to be a role model to other women? Yes, I do. I have grown to realize that my purpose is so much bigger than me. My dream is to help other girls and women reach their dreams. Helping others to succeed means we all succeed, that is the true reward of a role model. What is your message on our 2nd anniversary celebration? CONGRATULATIONS! I am so happy and honored to celebrate a magazine that celebrates others! I have done my BEST work with Tropics and I consider moments like this timeless. Finally, where do our readers catch up with you? I am working on launching my own website soon. My latest work can always be seen on Facebook.com (Name: Sunny Couture Tookes) and my latest updates can be seen on Twitter FOLLOW ME @sunnycouture
~Interview conducted by Vénicia Guinot~
Credits ~ Black dress: Photographer: Laretta Houston (www.larettahouston.com); Make-up Artist: Mia ‘MiMi’ Johnson; Hair Stylist: Arlene Martin; Clothing Designer: Avnah Davis-Long.
For our 2nd anniversary, we had the pleasure of interviewing plus size model Chenese Lewis. She has been modeling for quite a long time now and is currently hosting her own talk show on radio about plus size models.
How did you get started modeling? I heard a commercial on the radio advertising a casting call for plus size models in my hometown. Before hearing this commercial, I had no idea there was such a thing as a plus size model! I went to the casting call, got selected to attend a convention, which was very expensive to attend and turned out to be a scam. After that I decided to do research on the internet to learn more about the industry and find opportunities for myself. What kind of modeling do you mainly do? Do you feel like opportunities are expanding? Is it tight right now because of the economy like everything else is? I am not as active in modeling as I use to be, I do more acting and hosting now. However I did print work and fit modeling in the past. Yes, things are still tight right now with the economy; people are not spending as much money as they use to because they donâ€™t have it and as a result corporations have smaller budgets for marketing and advertising, many companies donâ€™t have the budget to hire models and to elaborate photo shoots like they used to.
Who have you done work for? The most recognizable name I’ve modeled for that I think would be known globally are Torrid and PLUS Model Magazine, and I’ve also modeled for numerous local and online retailers. I’ve also worked with top plus size brands like Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart, not modeling, but through different capacities with projects and events. Is your day job cooperative?
What types of plus clothing would you like to see more of? I would like to see more hip and trendy plus size clothing that is high quality. A lot of the times the trendier items are disposable and of lower quality and don’t fit well. We are featuring plus size models in this issue because at this stage, we want the world to be aware of beauty in all its diversity. What does the industry describe it as and what would you personally define it as?
I work for myself so YES Who would you love to work for who you haven’t worked for yet? There are so many it would be hard to narrow it down, but my heart has moved away from modeling and more towards television, with acting and hosting. So anyone able to combine the two is who I want to work with!
I think the world is aware of diverse beauty within our own communities, but the modeling and entertainment industries don’t reflect that. With the help of publications like yours we creating awareness that beauty does not have a size. What is the higher end size of a plus size model that you’ll see? The plus size modeling industry version of what is considered plus size is different from the everyday person’s version. The industry starts plus size models at a size 8 and go up to a size 16… maybe 18. The everyday person would consider 14 to 24 plus size, by going by the clothing sizes the plus size stores carry. However there are a lot of independent fashion shows and projects that are giving larger plus size women opportunities that don’t have the ability to be signed by an agency. Hopefully the industry will start to embrace a wider range of sizes and start showing more diversity. Have you ever been asked to gain or lose weight in order to get a job? I have been told by a top modeling agency for plus size models that if I lost weight they would sign me. However even after signing with an agency there is no guarantee they would book work for me, so I chose not to pursue the offer further.
Can you talk a little bit about what you do to keep healthy? There’s this misconception that everyone plus size is not healthy. Absolutely! I try to eat healthy balanced meals, drink lots of water, and stay active, I love to swim. In addition I don’t drink alcohol or smoke.
“I think the world is aware of diverse beauty within our own communities, but the modeling and entertainment industries don’t reflect that. With the help of publications like yours we creating awareness that beauty does not have a size.”
In the past have you had body image issues? If yes, how did you deal with it? What are your thoughts on airbrushing and have you seen things that bother you? I think that airbrushing and photo shop are wonderful tools for photographers to use to enhance their photography, it’s great to change technical things like the lighting, makes colors pop, etc.. The problem occurs when the software is used in a way to extremely manipulate a body to create unrealistic images that women compare themselves to and feel inadequate. Young girls should be taught to look at the flawless images as art or entertainment, not the ideal image they should look like.
No, I’m blessed to have never had body image issues. Fortunately my mother instilled confidence in me at an early age and told me I was smart and beautiful and if anyone had anything negative to say about me to ignore them. Also African American culture and the Southern region of Louisiana I grew up in, curvier frames were embraced, so my size was never an issue growing up. What advice would you give for women with body image issues? My advice would be to surround yourself with positive people that love you the way you are, not people who criticize you.
Don’t compare yourself to images in magazines and on television, find role models in your family and community. Also, try to not be so hard on yourself and your body, no one is perfect; it’s our flaws that make us beautiful and unique!
We all want to see images we can identify with rather it be someone the same age, ethnicity, or size. No matter where you‘re from there is beauty that lies within you, and as long as you are healthy and happy that’s all that matters. Finally, where do our readers catch up with you?
Do you consider yourself to be a role model to other women? Yes, I pride myself on being a role model. I love showing by example that you can be smart, beautiful, and confident at any size. If someone can find inspiration in me to help boost their self esteem, that’s awesome! What is your message on our 2nd anniversary celebration? My message is that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and we should celebrate it all, not just one version.
To keep up with everything I have going on visit my website at www.cheneselewis.com and join my e-mail list. You can also talk to me on Twitter @CheneseLewis and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cheneselewis And don’t forget to listen to PLUS Model Radio every Monday at www.plusmodelradio.com
~Interview conducted by Venicia Guinot~ Credits: Cover photographer Kev Bailey MUA: Marlene G;P.41 photographer Kev Bailey MUA: Marlene G;P.43 - photographer: Genna Sandler, MUA ; P.44 - photograher: Inez Lewis, MUA: Keesh Winkler - Smith, Hair: Jo Williams; P.45 - photographer Kev Bailey MUA: Marlene G