E16 model - Barriers to black success will not hold me back

Model hopes competition will help overcome prejudice and propel her to top of the fashion industry.

Aspiring model Cynthia Umezulike is under no illusions about the obstacles she faces as a black woman attempting to make it big in the fashion industry.

The 23-year-old law graduate is among the handful of finalists left in the running to be this year’s prestigious Top Model of Colour UK competition.

But Cynthia, of Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Docks, she is determined to triumph over discrimination - if she wins or not.

She said: “They’re not going to say to you, ‘oh, I’m sorry you’re not good enough, but they’ll say you’re not what we’re looking for at the moment’. Some may say it’s racism. But I don’t look at it that way. I just think it’s just that every black girl has to work twenty times harder than their counterparts.

She added: “When designers make their collection, they have a vision for their brand. And maybe their thinking is, I’m going to put in a white, blue eyed, brown haired girl. So then you come along, and even though you’re still size four, very skinny, 5ft 10ins that’s not visually their creation.

Cynthia, originally from Ibadan, Nigeria, but who moved to Newham three years ago, added: “It’s up to you to convince them that you’re still good enough.

Most Read

“In life, you have to work twenty times harder. I don’t see discrimination, it’s just an aspect of life. This why this competition is so good. It gives girls young women of colour for them to get assimilated into mainstream modelling.”

She is hoping this competition will be a massive boost, giving her the edge during castings. But she has already a rising star of the industry, booking shows at the London Fashion Week, going for of castings for giant brands such as Swarovski and Vauxhall.

Cynthia, daughter of a Nigerian chief justice hopes to follow in her father’s legal footsteps and later enter politics after a modelling career.

The finals will take place at the Porchester Hall, Bayswater, on Saturday 3 December. Winners get a year long contract with a top agency, magazine cover and a photo shoot with a top photographer.