Immersed in an industry dominated by cattiness and couture gowns, California transplant Nikia Phoenix stands out with a calm demeanor. Phoenix is an approachable, smart and breathtaking Clutchette so it doesn’t surprise us that she chose to pursue a college career before strutting her stuff down the runway. With an impressive portfolio that includes Alternative Apparel, Wal*Mart and our beloved Melody Ehsani, Phoenix’s determination to succeed in an industry filled with status quos mimics that of a phoenix bird; rising from the ashes anew.
In between modeling and maintaining her blog, Model Liberation, the freckle-faced beauty talks to Clutch about her first encounter with stilettos, the perks of being a model and how she maintains humility in an industry known for its pretentiousness.
Clutch: How old were you when you put on your first pair of stilettos?
Nikia Phoenix: I don’t remember how old I was, but I do remember the shoe. It was an electric blue suede Donna Karan stiletto. They were my mom’s, and I was in love.
Clutch: You’re a model so you’re already fabulous but tell us about your style?
Nikia Phoenix: I like to wear simple clothes with really funky accessories. I tend to wear a lot of white, black, and grey. I like stripes. I have mastered dressing down. But I also know how to turn up the heat when I want to make a statement.
Clutch: What are some of your favorite places to shop?
Nikia Phoenix: Being a model means I get lots of FREE clothes. So I support brands that support me like Melody Ehsani, Future Heretics, and Candice Held. But I’m going to be very honest… I don’t really shop. Living in La-la land is way too expensive for me to go splurge. So when I’m looking for something on a budget, I go to thrift stores and discount stores.
Clutch: What songs are you feeling right now?
Nikia Phoenix: I’ve been listening to a lot of Nat King Cole’s “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” John Mayer’s “Vultures,” and Steely Dan’s “Peg.” These songs are on my playlist called “Out of the Funk” to help me get and stay in a good mood. I’m also really feeling Maxwell’s new song “Pretty Wings”. I really missed his voice.
Clutch: As a model of color, what is the most challenging part of your job?
Nikia Phoenix: Staying positive is tough. Unfortunately there are not nearly enough jobs out there for models of colour. So when one job pops up, we are all vying against one another to get it. For instance, I went to a Wal*Mart casting the other day and it seems like every African American model or actor was there.
Rarely do I fit into what a client is looking for. Although I try to ignore it, the pressure to fit a certain mold gets to me. I’ve been to very few castings where the designer wants a black girl, or even a black girl with freckles, but I can’t give up. It’s hard not to take it personal when someone criticizes what makes you, you. But as long as I just trust in God, I feel right as rain.
Clutch: Who inspires you to keep moving forward?
Nikia Phoenix: The people I love so dearly keep me going. My boyfriend motivates me everyday. He along with my best friend Stephanie and my mom and sister keep me grounded. And my grandmother prays for me every time she talks to God.
Clutch: What beauty products are a must-have for you?
Nikia Phoenix: I cannot live without chapstick, cocoa butter with Vitamin E, and eye cream. I have to be moisturized, especially in the Cali dry heat.
Clutch: If we opened up your clutch, what would we find?
Nikia Phoenix: Carmex, lipgloss, cell phone, and a pen.
For more information on Nikia Phoenix please visit modelliberation.blogspot.com.