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Talking casting calls, Instagram followers, and why we can't be Beyoncé right now with Destiny "Oh Wawa" Owusu

Ghanian Model Ohwawa interviewed by Blogger Sherre P

5:48 PM,  12th floor of Studio 450
w/ Destiny Owusu, 27, Virginia, Ghanian 
Before Destiny walks at Midwest Fashion Week's Show during NYFW

x It's getting slightly chaotic. Designers and models are trying to figure out their  first moves for the show and doors are opening soon to guests. In the midst I'm able to have a quick convo with Destiny Owusu, a  model quickly rising to the top.  We talk about her first career decisions, social media, and more. Read on.



WHAT WAS YOUR CAREER CHOICE BEFORE MODELING?
I always wanted to be a pediatrician. I just love working with kids. And still ‘til this day I want to help kids. I use to be a day care teacher and it probably was one of my favorite jobs. You can have a bad day but when you walk in the room, the little ones come near you, and they hug you (laughs). I just love kids. But when I started going to school for it and did some classes towards being a pediatrician, I was like “no.”

WHAT SCHOOL DID YOU GO TO?
I went to Radford University for one year. I majored in Communications.
SO DID YOU DROP OUT?
So I went to Radford for a year, but honestly, truly, I didn’t really study, I was a partier. I went to college and I partied it up. I didn’t take the schoolwork seriously and my GPA went down. I was on academic probation and then I didn’t fulfill it. They told me to go to a local community college for two years and then come back, so I did. I went to NOVA Community College and I was there for like half a semester. In the first semester, I was sitting there, and there’s just sometime you realize that school is not for you, and at that point, I realized that college just wasn’t for me. I was always good in school, my whole life I got good grades, A’s and B’s, but college just wasn’t for me. So that’s when I was like, maybe I can take this time to really fulfill modeling and see what it’s about. So I dropped out the second semester, and I haven’t been back since (laughs).



WHAT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT THE FASHION INDUSTRY IN THE BEGINNING?
Probably the racism. You know, you hear about things but then you’re like nah, people are just saying that. But when you really experience it you’re like Wow, it is racist. You know, especially with the black models and more so the darker ones. If there are black models, you will see a lot of lighter skin ones. With the darker ones, they only want one or two and then they’re fine. If I go to agency or submit somewhere, and someone is close to my skin tone, or has a hair cut, they’re not going to want me because they already have someone who “so call” looks like me. Which to me is BS because you’ll have ten Caucasian models that look exactly the same but it’s a problem when its two black models who don’t look the same, its just the same haircut or skin tone.
Its funny because when I’d go to castings I’d be like dang, I know I have a lot of tattoos so I knew that was going to be a factor in modeling.
DO THEY EVER MENTION YOUR TATTOOS?
When I first started modeling some would mention, “you’ve got a lot of tattoos.” But as I kept modeling it wasn’t really a problem because honestly at this day, age, and in this generation, tattoos are becoming more acceptable. You see it on the runway and when someone’s doing a photo shoot; they Photoshop them out or use make-up to cover them if they don't want them to show. So now it’s accepted. I don’t hear anything about my tattoos at all. I’m happy about that.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CAREER MOMENT THUS FAR?
Honestly, the biggest thing just happened. I did a cosmetics campaign for Fashion Fair Cosmetics. Some people know about them, they are an older cosmetics line; a lot of your mothers probably used them. They are in retail stores like Macy’s and they kind of fell off but are now rebranding. They’re coming out with a new cosmetics line for the holiday and I’m one of the faces of it. So I’m excited about it because now I’m going to see my face in a retail store. My mom was excited too. Being a beauty model is one of my goals because one of my bigger goals is being a Covergirl and this is one step closer to getting there.



WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR LEAST FAVORITE MOMENT DURING MODELING?
(thinks) Well I have two, can we do two?
YES, WE CAN DO TWO.
(both laugh)

Yes, let’s do two. So the first one, I was at the Marc Jacobs castings.  I made the finals, which was great (#CastMeMarc). I was there and you know all the models are there, you wear the clothes, and they take pictures of you, and then pick who they want. You’re waiting to get called; if you get called you get to be in the campaign. If you don’t get called “Thank you for your time.” So as I’m sitting there, looking around, it sucks because as a black model you feel doubt and you know they aren’t going to pick you all. There were like five black models, one Asian and a lot of Caucasian models. They pick a black dude and I’m like okay. Then they pick a black girl and I’m thinking okay, they gotta pick one more. And I shouldn’t feel like that, I should feel like “I still have a chance” but I know that we don’t, because with black models, they only pick maybe two. So after they picked her, that was it. I was so mad, and so devastated; I was like I wasted my time. But after that casting I learned that you gotta go with the punches, you have to take them, this is how castings are. You can’t get mad after every casting. And that was a wake up call for me.

The other one is how casting directors and designers treat non-agency models. They treat us like we’re nothing and with no respect. I went to a casting call recently and the lady told me to give her my comp card. I wasn’t really prepared because it was last minute and I told her I didn’t have it. She said “Its fine, what agency are you with?”  And I told her “I’m not with an agency, I’m a freelance model, independent.” She said “Oh,” and it was very shady. So then she had to introduce us (the models) to the designers. When she introduced me she said, “This is Destiny, (long pause) she is an independent, freelance model”. It was again, very shady. And it’s like why do you treat us like that? You shouldn’t treat a model like that just because they‘re not signed to an agency. So that’s another thing I really don’t like when it comes to modeling. You could be the best model and if you’re not signed they don’t care, they are like ”OK, next”. So it sucks but it is what it is.

YOU WENT RIGHT INTO MY NEXT THOUGHT; ON YOUR VARIOUS SOCIAL MEDIAS WE HAVE SEEN YOU TALK ABOUT ATTEMPTING TO FIND AN AGENCY, WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BE WITH AN AGENCY?
I think it’s very important to be signed to an agency because an agent can help you book bigger things. They can help you book shows in Fashion Week, your agent is going to tell you about every casting they know, and they are going to tell you to go here, here, here. And it’ll be the big shows, the big designers. They can help you get gigs to get casted for editorials and campaigns like Balmain and Calvin Klein. They have the connections to do that. They can get you a beauty ad for Covergirl. When you’re not signed, you can’t get those. It’s not easy. Even with me going to these castings, I’m lucky to have model friends that are in agencies that tell me “oh I’m going to this model casting, you should go.” But if you don’t have any friends that are in the model world or not signed, it’s going to be really hard to know about castings. Unless you’re looking hard online and some designers do post them on their Instagram and social medias. But with the big designers, you aren’t going to know about their castings unless an agent tells you or your friend that models. So as of right now I’m really trying to get signed, because I know now that I can’t get the things that I want and do things like be in editorials, in magazines, or on covers without an agency.

YOU'RE MOVING TO NEW YORK IN APRIL, WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING?
I think it’s going to help me, get bigger. I’m always on the move, a go-getter, and in New York anyways. But with me living there I can get to places quicker. If there’s an event, and someone tells me last minute, I can go. As to when I’m home, if it’s last minute I have a four-hour ride; I’m not going to make it. There have been a lot of instances where there’s a last minute shoot, a real opportunity, and I couldn’t make it because I’m home in Virginia. I’m just happy that I’m going to be there, so I can go to all these events, and network. With New York you never know who you’re going to come across. You could be walking down the street and someone could just cast you. I just feel like being there, it’ll expose me to more people and being around more people in the industry, like designers, photographers, and stylists. I’m just ready to rebrand again and for people in New York to really know me, the ones that don’t know me.



WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM USING AND GROWING ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
People are finding me and wanting to work with me. Instagram is a very big networking tool. I always tell everyone that. Instagram is my online portfolio to the world. You never know whose going to stumble onto your page; Beyoncé could be on your page. People don’t have to like your pictures, you’ll just never know. So I always change my page, upload pictures, and keep it professional so when people go on my page they are like “oh she’s a model,” and they don’t have to think twice. I’ve gotten plenty of great opportunities just off of Instagram. A lot of big celebrities follow me just because they like my work. Swizz Beats followed me one day, and I was like What?!, surprised. So I always tell people social media is just something you need these days. Sometimes it’s hard to get followers but it does count. Agencies are now looking at your followers and are asking for you to have at least 10k followers. And it makes sense because the more followers you have, the more clientele you’re going to have for your brand and to offer others. Let’s say you’re shooting for Calvin Klein and you post it. People are going to be like “Oh I want that,” bang, they are going to buy it. That’s more money for Calvin Klein and then you. So it equals out and it makes sense. My goal right now is to hit 100k (followers). So then people will be like “she’s popping, she’s at 100k.” I’m at 70k and getting close though.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO CREATIVES LIKE YOURSELF (BECAUSE MODELING IS IN THAT SPECTRUM)?
Honestly, be consistent and persistent. Like don’t give up, you cannot give up, and you cannot focus on other peoples’ success. That’s the problem; people go on Instagram and Twitter and they see people succeeding and they start doubting themselves. Like “Why am I not there?” Everyone has their time; you need to focus on yourself. Rebrand. If you need to take a break, think about it. Evaluate and then come back and push harder. But you can’t give up. Once you give up that’s it. People are going to talk negative about you regardless. You can’t let that negative talk get you down. Make your enemies love you. People that don’t like your work, are going to start liking your work. I had a lot of people doubting me, and now they are like “Yas, Oh Wawa.” So keep pushing. You’ve got to be consistent.  You can’t just be consistent then go ghost. You’re not Beyoncé, you cant do that. You’re not on that level where you can go ghost and come back with an album and then bam. And with me, I have to be consistent. I know if I go ghost even maybe for 2 weeks the followers will start dropping. Its real, that’s why I try to be consistent with my social media post something at least once a day, try to be active on twitter, and talk to people so they know I’m working. And I have Snapchat. So now they really can see my day-to-day and how I grind. So consistency is key.

You can follow Destiny Owusu on Instagram and Twitter, and her online portfolio.

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