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Nikia Phoenix // Natural Hair Style Icon

Avatar • Feb 22, 2010


Photo Credit: JUCO

The photoshoot you did with JUCO (see photos above) inspired a lot of people in the black beauty world, particularly among natural women. What is the story behind that shoot?
N:
One day my agent called saying that I’d just booked a shoot with this photography duo. I had no idea what was in store. Then I get to the location, and it’s this old apartment in Silverlake. It was eery but incredible. The whole mood was dark like an Alfred Hitchcock film. I loved it.

Did you expect the shoot to resonate so strongly with black women?
N:
I had no idea that the project would strike such a chord. And so much time passed between shooting (in September 2009) and the pictures being released, that I didn’t think anyone would really pay attention. Sometimes it’s nice to be proven wrong.

How long have you been modeling and how did you get into it?
N:
I’ve been modeling for about 5 years. I’ve got Greg at Alternative Apparel to thank for giving me first job. It all started on a Saturday morning talking about vintage t‑shirts over bagels and coffee. He gave me a chance and look how things have turned out.

I started off with Alternative Apparel. I’ve had editorials in Essence and Glamour. The latter was the one with my mom which got us interviewed on the Tyra Show. Last year, I had a Dell commercial. I’ve done some work for Melody Ehsani and Blood is the New Black. I’ve got a full page ad in circulation for Tavis Smiley’s America I Am exhibit. I am also one of the fortunate souls in the Wrangler Red Campaign.

Is it a challenge to be a brown-skinned, kinky-haired, freckle-faced girl in modeling? Or does it work to your advantage?
N:
It’s just a challenge to be a black woman in general. We come in all different shades and shapes, but fashion won’t make enough room for all of us. When I’m the sole woman of colour chosen for a project, I have mixed feelings. I’m thankful that I’ve been picked to represent us, but I can’t possibly rep for the whole spectrum.

My mom is always concerned that I won’t get jobs because I don’t have a relaxer or because I let my freckles shine. I’m just rolling with the punches.

How do stylists work with your natural texture when you go on jobs?
N:
Sometimes, it’s challenging. I was very fortunate on the Juco shoot to have a stylist who’s done black hair, and she worked it out! Some stylists just leave my hair the way it is. Others really get in there and create great looks.

Do you have any exciting upcoming projects?
N:
My one exciting project is my wedding. I haven’t really started planning it, but I’m looking forward to the whole shabang.

So why did you decide to go natural?
N:
My hair needed a break from all the torture. It was so damaged and, frankly, I was bored with it. My fiancee really encouraged me to go natural. He’s so supportive of me.

When and how did you transition into natural hair?
N:
I got my last relaxer December 2008. When it started growing out, my fiancee gave me a really cool cut. I had a really funky look for a few months, but it worked with my personality. Then finally, last summer, we chopped off the rest of the scraggly pieces. I never knew I had these little curls and kinks until I let go.

In terms of hair routine, what’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
N:
The best thing for my hair is moisture, moisture, moisture. I use leave-in conditioner every other day and olive oil moisturizer every day. If I don’t do this, then my hair will be one big fuzz ball. And that’s not cute.

What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
N:
When I was younger, I’m talking pre-relaxer, I hated getting my hair combed. My mother may not have learned from those painful times, but I sure did. Our hair does not need to be pulled on and tugged on. If you’re in pain, then your hair is hurting too.

How do you wear your hair when you’re not modeling?
N:
I’m a wash-and-go kind of girl. My hair is very low maintenance, and I like it that way.

How does your hair express who you are?
N:
My hair has these natural auburn highlights that really come out during the summer. I feel like a firecracker just waiting to let loose. And I can’t predict what my hair is going to look like for the day, and I like it like that. My hair is just as free as I am.

The best thing about being natural is the love I feel for being true to myself, and the love I get from other natural women are the best things about being au naturelle. It’s a sisterhood.

Links to check out
Nikia’s blog: http://modelliberation.blogspot.com/

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Jc
Jc
10 years ago

Her look reminds me of one of my friends. Many people think that she is white actually and often wonder why she has a Nigerian accent. Genetics are so interesting because she is actually only a quarter white and she has pale skin (I’d say white but she’d kill me lol), freckles and red hair. She is a very curious looking creature because the features of her face are more black than white but her complexion and hair colour are more white than black. I really think Nikia has a unique look which is complimented by natural hair. I honestly haven’t… Read more »

shayna
shayna
10 years ago

She is gorgeous, and I loveee her hair and her FRECKLES. I’ve always wanted freckles I think they’re beautiful.

bambiix2
bambiix2
10 years ago

she is a gorgeous girl with a gorgeous name ( teehee). Anyways I never thought it would be hard for her to book jobs , her face and entire look is so unique I would imagin people would be rushing to book her ! Great interview though

luvmylocs
luvmylocs
10 years ago

nikia is beautiful! i love her look and her hair is great! nikia i checked out your blog and you’ve taken some great shots! you had a nice figure and beautiful skin. much success to you in modeling and good luck with your wedding planning and your marriage!!

S23
S23
10 years ago

I love her freckles. She does have a very unique look. I wish her much success.

vonnie
10 years ago

what a gorgeous girl…loved the interview, you stay beautiful and GOOD luck on the wedding!

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M.J.
M.J.
10 years ago

oooh, I saw that pic with her and her mom a couple of years ago. Unforgettable freckles 🙂
very nice

target queen
10 years ago

she is very inspiring, thanks!

Sandy
Sandy
10 years ago

I just love how beautiful, confident, AND articulate she is.
I’m proud that she’s representing us naturals.
And — sweet Jesus — her hair is thick!
Reminds me of my own I‑dare-you-to-find-my-scalp head of hair!

What does Nikia do about keeping shrinkage at bay?
Just curious.

Thanks for sharing this interview.

Tanisha
Tanisha
10 years ago

Lovely natural lady and beautiful hair.

Amma Mama
Amma Mama
10 years ago

so beautiful!

lexibugg
lexibugg
10 years ago

i didn’t know an olive skintone was a white skin tone. i see more multi ethnic individual with this skin tone than whites. most of them have to bake in the sun, and risk cancer to get that color!!! i also know individuals with two black parents with this complexion, confusing!!!!

lexibugg
lexibugg
10 years ago

but she is soooo beautiful i love redhead models, and the freckles!! i think i remember when she had straight hair, i thought this was a different girl for a minute, she looks younger now!!!

Didi
10 years ago

She is such an interesting-looking young lady… interesting in a very, very good way. It’s like looking at multi-layered beauty, not just a pretty girl next door but a truly unique and elegant woman.

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