AN INTERVIEW WITH LINDEN STAUB MODEL KIANA CUMMINGS
Linden Staub’s own Kiana Cummings is on the come-up. Kiana’s talent first caught my eye in SUKEBAN Magazine, an online platform dedicated to supporting creatives of colour. The fashion editorial titled Delicate really stood out to me. I particularly liked its focus on African customs and its use of symbolism to celebrate minority ethnic communities.
The editorial capitalises on aspects of African culture that isn’t really admired by mainstream media. The flowers and other elements of nature which are synonymous with beauty, help in emphasising the ‘forgotten’ beauty and uniqueness of natural kinky hair. In my opinion, what also makes this piece special, is that it has several other hidden meanings that are all equally as relevant. It constructs such a positive image of POC, that combats stereotypes and seeks to change perception. Kiana handles the shoot with grace and the versatility of her modelling style is evident in her other works.
She is fearless and daring with her fashion choices. She doesn’t stay within the parameters of what is accepted by society. She certainly isn’t afraid to experiment. Kiana has modelled an array of contemporary styles, urban trends and high-fashion looks. Her raw talent continues to show through her ability to execute both masculine and feminine looks effortlessly. She has mastered that delicate balance between what’s classified as ‘tomboy’ and ‘girly’. Her portfolio is one that contains a number of standout shots, which display her model-like physique and emphasise her beauty. Kiana who studied pharmacology at KCL, is now paving a bright future for herself in the modelling industry.
Hey Kiana, where are you from? When did it all begin? Tell the readers a bit about yourself!
Hey hey, my name’s Kiana. I’m a 22-year-old model from South London.
Did you have to balance modelling alongside studying? If so, how did you manage it?
Luckily I did not. Contrary to popular belief, this job can definitely take it’s toll on you. I have loads of respect for models who do juggle the two. I however chose to finish my studies, before I fully ventured into this career path.
I really admire that. Were your family always supportive of your modelling career or was it challenging at first?
My entire family have been super supportive, with my mum and my gran being my number one fans. Funnily enough, my mum mentioned that me modelling trumps me graduating – showing just how proud of me she is!
Can you tell us about your first modelling gig. What was that like and how did the opportunity come about?
Unsigned, I tested regularly with this amazing photographer Heidi (@HeidJones). We met in a Facebook group which could’ve gone oh so wrong – luckily it didn’t. We clicked right away! Magic was made. I have her to thank for initiating my confidence in front of the camera. My first editorial was an i-D Magazine feature. I then went onto bag two presentations for LFW SS17 upon signing with the waviest agency in London – Linden Staub!
From your experience, do you have any advice for young girls who have an interest in modelling in the future?
It’s okay to wait until you’re finished with school, university or day dreaming. This industry isn’t going anywhere. Don’t be afraid to say when you’re uncomfortable. This job may not be as regulated as a typical 9-5, yet that doesn’t mean you should be silenced.
Take everything with a pinch of salt. You’re dealing with humans who have opinions, opinions you often can do without hearing, but that’s teamwork for you! Make sure this is a career that you really want to do. Not for the glitz, glamour or Instagram following. None of these things will validate you. Once you’re in, just have fun with it. Take advantage of the amazing opportunities that come, such as travelling. Continue to be a nice person no matter where your career takes you.
Some very important advice! Which other models do you look up to?
Naomi Naomi Naomi! Also Leomie Anderson, Jourdan Dunn and Joan Smalls. I also don’t want to forget the girls who are on a similar path as me, who I see about, at castings and on Instagram grafting. It’s always nice to see someone you know doing bits, like getting a store campaign. I know how much work they put in to get there.
Agreed. It’s honestly such a great time for the modelling industry! With the dominance of social media as well, it’s become a whole lot easier to graft and share your portfolio with a larger audience. Have any other up and coming models particularly stood out to you?
Aiden Curtis, Selena Forrest, Damaris Goodrie, Theresa Hayes, Luisana Gonzales to name a few! #fangirl
Let’s get a bit real now and speak on some of the very unfortunate things that are going on in the world right now. You spoke about this on your twitter. So, I thought I’d ask if you could shed some light on the riot in Dalston that occurred this year. What is your opinion on the recent police killings?
My tweets were in regard to the death of Rashan Charles in the hands of the police. It angered me to see how quickly it was for fact-less people to demonize this guy. We all saw the same video footage. For someone who was supposedly choking, I don’t see how the police slamming him down to the floor in a headlock would have helped him in any way.
It would be good to start setting an example by holding the right people accountable. People who otherwise seem immune from being reprimanded for their unjust actions.
There has definitely been an increase in models of colour like yourself who are truly taking the modelling industry by storm. As you acknowledge earlier as well, the likes of Leomie Anderson, Jourdan Dunn among others are repping the UK very well. How does it make you feel to see this level of diversity in the modelling industry?
I’m humbled by your statement, but I’m just getting started. Externally, diversity in the industry is getting somewhat better. Yet, there’s definitely more progress to be made. There’s still some casting directors out here that haven’t booked a model of colour for years – decades even. It’s not as if we’re not buying clothes, beauty and skin care products. So, why we’re not chosen to represent brands is beyond me.
Conversely, internal diversity is still a struggle. Let me not start with hair and make up struggles as a black model. That’s a whole discussion for another day.
So real. The platform given to models of colour now is definitely a beautiful thing and yes, there’s still room for so much more to be achieved within the industry! Finally, where would you like to see yourself in the next five years?
Comfy and happier than I already am.
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