Name: Aissata Diallo
Agency: Emg Models | MMG-NY
Claim to Fame: Diallo was one of the first faces of Anastasia Beverly Hills’ foundation.
For every flyer with a flawless woman on the cover, there’s a scammer trying to pack a dirty nightclub with stolen screenshots. Aissata Diallo’s pictures were floating around the dregs of the internet before she ever considered modeling professionally. “I actually never planned to get into modeling it just sort of happened for me,” she told Hello Beautiful in an exclusive interview.
Diallo’s desire to help a friend is what initially landed her in front of the lens. “ I graduated with my bachelor of science and human biology, so my goals were to go to med school and all that stuff, but that didn’t happen because, you know, I realized it wasn’t for me. I didn’t like blood, needles and all that jazz. So, I just like decided to take a time off two years old. And while I was taking that time off, um, one of my friends was a photographer and he wanted to do some test shots or whatever and I’m like, cool, I’m free. I have nothing to do, let’s do it.”
Soon her undeniable beauty was going viral. “So I shot with him and like a few months later someone DMS me saying, ‘Oh my God, you know your picture’s viral on tumblr.’ That was in a time where like tumblr was really huge and popular and I was like, ‘Oh my God, really?’ And mind you, I post, I’m on tumblr. So we were weren’t like mentioned or anything like that. So no one knew who it was. It was just my picture is just being retweeted everywhere.”
The attention soon brought some scary situations as she was forced to confront some people using her picture to catfish. “At first it was just like odd,” said Diallo. “I would like freak out and DM them, ‘Hey, can you take that off because you know, you’re not me.’ Some of them would reply back and some of them would just like, ignore me. So I would just like, go ahead and report the pages and put it on my story and tell my friends to report a page as well. And sometimes that would work. So it’s just like situational.”
Diallo chose to take control of her runaway image and allow the internet to put a name to the face. “I told my friend about the situation and we were like, you know what, how about we take some more pictures but post it ourselves and we can tag ourselves so people can find our pages, you know? And then we did that and that went viral as well. And I started getting a lot of followers on Instagram, so that just kept happening. You know, we would just do it again and I’ll, he gained more followers and now Instagram pages are posting us and tagging us instead of I sit around too. That’s how I started growing my audience. And the more I started growing my audience, the more I was reaching like different kind of life photographers and the more I was doing, you know, modeling work.”
She able to reclaim herself by sharing her image on her own terms. She was also able to have some fun.
“As I was doing that, I realized how much I enjoyed my time being in front of the camera. You know, I’m just like 100% me and I just have so much fun doing it, you know, cause I’m like, okay, you know what, let me take this seriously and see what happens. And that’s exactly what I did. And I just started doing that more and eventually I got signed to an agency.”
She has modeled for hair companies, fitness apps, beauty brands (including cult favorite Anastasia Beverly Hills), and even booked a reality show, Love Island.
“Now I mostly do commercial work though because you know, I don’t have fashion editorial height unfortunately. But, commercially is good because with commercial you get to be yourself, you get to smile, you know, it’s, it’s you, you know, so I love it.”
Commercial work has put her in the same spaces as some of the greats including the late Kim Porter. “I shoot with Dark and Lovely recently the hair dye and that’s really huge because people like Beyoncé graced those covers.”
Diallo was able to get signed by doing the work and reaching out to the agency on her own without a manager.
“One of my friends sent me a casting notice that my agency had at the time. So I’m like, you know what, let me try and give it a try. I told them I was interested in coming in and I did. So when I went in and I filled out my application or whatever and it seemed like they liked me and they told me they reached out to me the following week, but they never did. So I’m like, ‘Oh well I guess you know, this is not happening.’ But then like literally a few months later, like three months later, they reached back out to me telling me to come back. So I went back and signed with ’em and it’s crazy cause beside them I hadn’t never went to any other agency. I never went to any open casting for any of the agency beside that. So that’s how I got my first agency.”
It may have been the first but it wasn’t the only. Diallo refused to sign an exclusive contract. Instead she extended herself additional opportunities by paying close attention to her paperwork.
Coming from a family with no background in the industry she used the only resource she had to help her make the decision. “Google is your best friend nowadays, any kind of information you want, Google is your best friend. And I literally Google everything.”
“Well, I do my research a lot when it comes to that because I want to make sure I know what I’m getting myself into. Like, even though it wasn’t my goals, I’m still-I like to consider myself a smart girl, so I had to know what I’m getting myself into before. Like I give my 100%. So, um, I definitely looked into it. I did my research and I learned about the difference between exclusive modeling and nonexclusive modeling.
So I’m just like, okay, yeah, I’m definitely not going to do this exclusive with anyone. Especially right now in the beginning, you know, I want to be not exclusive so I will still have like freedom to do things that I want to do. You know, I don’t want to be like, I guess controlled by any one agency.”
Diallo took control over her personal life as well by choosing a career her family did not approve of. “Okay. Well, I come from a really like kind of like strictish, culture. Not only I’m from, you know, Guinea, West Africa, my family is also Muslim. So like we were like really reserved and like the whole modeling thing, it’s not something like we do like my people, we don’t do that, you know, and the whole doctor thing, of course they want me to be a doctor.
That’s what they were pushing me for. And I told my mom after my experience shadowing physicians, I’m like, this is not for me. I cannot do this. And um, so she was like, okay, you know, you should give it a try. And I’m like, I did, you know, I saw this position is just not for me. At the end of the day. Like, I, I tried to make her understand that this is my life, you know, like I need to make myself happy, not like make you guys happy. If I can find a medium where we’re both happy, that would be amazing. But this is my life.”
She is hoping that happy medium can be found by applying her traditional education to her non-traditional career path to make change.
“My ultimate goal with that is to open my own health center back home in Guinea. That’s actually why I went back to school because like I have visited and um, it was like a reality check for me when I went back there. It really made me look at things differently. You know, I am still grateful and I really want to like give back.”