Name: Taiwo Aloba
Agency: PLATFORMME™ MODELS
Claim to Fame: Aloba has appeared in Harlem Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week. She is also a published author and she has performed with the New York African Chorus Ensemble.
Some models are plagued by insecurity and fear when they step on to a set. Scrutinizing every pixel in the monitor the second they get the chance, they spend the entire experience picking themselves apart. Others are so busy filming every aspect of the #behindthescenes process that they never take a second to look around and realize how lucky they are.
Taiwo Aloba is a little different. When this beauty is twirling in front of the camera she is overwhelmed with one singular emotion: gratitude.
“I kind of feel like, you know, it’s, you know, it’s a real honor to be on any kind of set. So I know I have to always bring my A game,” the model, author and actress told HelloBeautiful.
People had been encouraging Aloba to model all her life but she was still flummoxed when she found herself able to make a living from her beauty.
“I’m just really grateful to be doing this. You know, there was a time I never thought this was a thing. Or like, I mean like me, you know, anyone would want me to wear their outfit and model or you know, walk on their runway. So I’m just grateful for every job I get to do and for every designer I get to work with, photographer, hair stylist, makeup artist, the list goes on there,
“I was raised in Nigeria, Lagos, Nigeria,” she said. “We do have an industry there, but you know, compared to New York or Paris or Milan, you know, it’s still growing.”
Aloba is growing with it. After participating in a few test photo shoots the dancer began modeling professionally. Her career landed her in shows at New York Fashion Week and Harlem Fashion Week as well as campaign for culture favorite cosmetics brand Make Up Forever.
One of the ways she is able to stay motivated and upbeat on set is by listening to music.
“I love, love, love music and love music. I mean, yeah, my life revolves around music. Like I create a playlist for myself, like every day,” she said.
Her passion for music has also helped her stay focused throughout the worldwide slow down created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I actually spoke to my auntie when this whole thing started, and my auntie she was like, ‘Make sure you play music every day and just dance, you know, like, just go crazy. I was like, ‘Oh yeah’. I have a speaker and it’s like, you know, getting in the mood. Music has really helped throughout this time.”
Aloba has used the global shutdown to explore new avenues for her creativity. “I see myself more as a performer,” she said. “I did an off Broadway play last year, which was really amazing. I love it.”
“I feel like modeling is another form of expression for me,” she said. “Another way to express my creativity.”
It relates to other mediums she has used for self expression like writing and dance. She formally studied each to the chagrin of her “I kind of like had to fight my way to be a dancer and to study in those theater arts. ‘Cause like I grew up in a Nigerian home,” she said. It was difficult to explain to her parents that she wouldn’t be a doctor or a lawyer. “Me studying, performing arts was very like radical.”
Her training in the performing arts helped with her eventual career path.
“I was trained as an intentional African dancer and you know, so you have to be aware of your body of movement. Everything counts, your facial expressions, your body movements, your hand, you know, every step, you know, is a story in itself. So that really helped,” she said.
During social isolation she has been able to “put the camera on myself,” and experiment.
“There are a lot of pictures I don’t share, but you know, it was just nice for me to work on my own. This is a good time off to like work on my craft, practice and be better. It was just me, my camera and my light. I can take as many as like a thousand pictures and just try out different poses, facial expressions and, you know, just, you know, see how eventually when I get in front of a camera, I’m on a professional set, you know, how I can bring, you know, everything I’ve learned so far to that.
She is learning through “reading all the magazines I’ve been keeping,” and “few books.”
“When I started collecting magazines, it was because I wanted to get inspired,:” she said. “It’s always nice to get vintage magazines.”
“I feel like I have a knack for, you know, reinvention and like a history altogether. I’m an illustrator as well. I’ve always loved to write.”
And like the rest of us she’s enrolled at YouTube University. “YouTube, obviously, has a lot of resources,” she said.
She wants “to try to take advantage of as many avenues used to learn.”
She makes it a priority to share the knowledge she acquired. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work as a model coach, for a few shows. That was really great, you know, to just be able to guide a few models through, um, you know, like what the runway is like or backstage just passing knowledge. Yeah. It’s amazing.”
In addition to mentoring she also does philanthropic work. This year she worked with a foundation to issue scholarships to 2020 graduates instead of prom dresses due to the pandemic canceling ceremonies.
She believes the industry will bounce back from the impact of COVID-19. “There’s just so many of us who are really passionate about it,” she said. we’ll all, you know, get back and, you know, be stronger.”
“You know, I’m just, I’m taking it, you know, one day at a time, one job at a time.”