Tuesday, September 20, 2011


MontrealDancehallTV recently sat down with Montreal model Oni Julien to talk about her modeling career, what keeps her going and what's up next for this rising fashion star.

1. How long have you been modeling?
I've only officially been modeling for about two years.

2. What made you pursue a career in modeling?
I've always expressed an interest in fashion as a child period. I think allot of my interest was inherited from my father. My father in his youthful days was a Dj and really into fashion. That also explains my love for music. He was a trendsetter. I remember looking at old photos of my Dad in his custom made bell bottoms and high top platform shoes with wait for it, real live fish swimming in the see through heel! I'm cracking up just thinking about it. I also use to sketch designs with no artistic ability. I just always knew I wanted to be involved with fashion some way or another.

3. Did you ever think that modeling was for you?
Like I said I've always been interested in fashion, but no I didn't always think modeling was for me. Honestly allot of it had to do with self esteem or the lack there of. I guess I was and still am like many females who did or still do lack self esteem. Some people assume that if you're a model you're a conceited stuck up snob. I always say never assume or judge anyone especially by their profession. I'm far from conceited or stuck up. Never did I think I was pretty enough or interesting enough for anyone to want to take my picture for any reason. Only when I began to accept myself for who I am and began to love myself did I get the courage to start. Not a fan of woulda, coulda, shoulda. Now I know.

4. If you had children and they expressed an interest in being in the industry would you encourage it?
Hopefully one day if I'm blessed with children, I wouldn't necessarily encourage them to just go into modeling or the fashion business alone. I would encourage them to pursue anything they were interested, build they're self esteem and let them know I'm behind them 100% in whatever they wished to pursue. However if I did have a child who expressed interest in modeling I would encourage them to pursue it, but also guide them anyway I can and prepare them as much as I could about the good and bad aspects of the business.

5. How has it changed your perspective on being a female?

My perspective on being a female has always remained the same. We are truly strong resilient and should always be respected once you respect yourself. My perspective on models has changed though. It's so cliche to say modeling is allot harder than it looks, but it's actually true. I have so much more respect for models and the tenacity and drive that they have. Sometimes you're put in situations which make you question your morals and beliefs. To be faced with that and the constant pressure to look a certain way, takes a strong lady.

6. How do you syc yourself up for a photo shoot?
Believe it or not I'm extremely shy. When I tell people that they never believe me. I always get "How are you shy when you're a model"? I completely understand the question though because as a model you're always exposed and out there. When you love something so much you find ways to work around the shyness. It took a while trust me. The way I syc myself up before a shoot or a show is I say a little prayer. I also literally shake it out and breathe! I kind of just have to become someone else because If I'm just 'Oni' I wouldn't have the courage to go through with it.

7. What have you learnt about the industry that you would like to share with our readers?
As much as I love modeling and the fashion industry, I've learnt that there's allot of discrimination. Especially ageism and racism. I've always heard about it, but actually experiencing all of this first hand is a completely different story. I'm not trying to turn anyone off of it, but it's just the truth. It's an industry full of opportunity, but you also have to have tough skin and a backbone if you are serious about pursuing a career in modeling. More doors will close in your face than open, especially if you're not the typical "cookie cutter" type. You're only human so it will hurt and get you down when someone tells you or indirectly tells you that you're not tall enough, thin enough or not what we're "looking for". If it's something you want to do you literally cannot take any of it personally or you'll never make it. As hard as it is you have no choice but to brush it off and believe that there's nothing at all wrong with you! When that door slams,a window will open!

8. What’s been the most interesting thing you’ve gone through?
LOL! I have to take a step back and actually say to myself that as much as those people are talented and do contribute to the photo, That's ME! I did that! I still struggle with that to this day. When I get compliments on photos it's so hard for me to accept at times. It's a good thing I have a really great support team. My family is my backbone. Even just the love I get from people who've known me along the way, that means alot and also helps.
9. What are your future goals?

Honestly when it comes to my goals, if I can help other females especially young girls realize that they can model no matter how old you are, what size or ethnicity, then I've achieved it. I want to give back so that others wont have to wait as long as I did. That they can grab on and hold on to that self esteem and believe you can do. Not going to lie though, a bill board would be nice! um hello cover girl?! lol!
10. Which designer or designers would you like to work with?

I would love to work with as many Canadian designers as possible. We have so many talented designers in Canada I would love to represent. Vicky Joseph, interesting prints and her last collection for Montreal Fashion week was amazing! Coccolilly, because I love the African inspired designs and love the fact that they use allot of visible minorities in their shows. Denis Gagnon, Barila, are just classic. But I also love and would love to work with Stella McKartney, Zac Posen, Rachel Roy, just to name a few.

Images courtesy of Y!D.N.A. COLLECTION Presents: Oestrus.Designer: Andy Hoan Nguyen/Photographer: Andy Hoan Nguyen Ydnacollection

Interviewed by Zeeta Maharaj  Zeeta.ca

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