Esther Olabayo: I Love the Limelight, Being a Vixen Also Puts Me Up There

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23 years old Esther Lucy Olabayo is a fashion model, content creator, and The Face of Nigeria Beauty Pageant Winner 2019/2020. A final year undergraduate of Mass Communication at the National Open University with a fast rising profile in the entertainment industry, Esther is not just the run-of-mill-model but one who is as intelligent as she is modeling, creating content with a flair for media and its applications. Her charming persona makes her a delight to work with on and off camera any day, which earned her a deal with an international brand as Monster Energy Girl Nigeria and most recently emerged as Top Model Winner at the just concluded Face of Nigeria Beauty Pageant representing Kogi, her state of origin. Versatile, adaptable, and flexible, Esther has successfully modeled for both local and international brands. Esther is 5feet 10inches. She possesses specific attributes many designers and fashion directors look for. The svelte, ebony complexion vixen shares her experience, her career highlights and grind in this chat with Ferdinand Ekechukwu

Who is more important to the career of a professional model – a beauty therapist, fashion director, physical exercise instructor or a manager?
A manager is more important to the career of a professional model because he/she is a pillar of support for the model. Most times, a manager is more connected and experienced than the model. A model gets good jobs, looks good, dresses nice and is in shape through the help of the manager. He/she also monitors the models progress. I would always tell models to make sure they have a good manager they can talk to and who has his/her best interest at heart, because that is the only way you can fully discover yourself.

Between being a fashion model and working on the set of music videos, where does your strength lie?
As a model, you’re trained to be versatile. Being a fashion model is my happy place, especially in front of a camera. I just drop all my worries and carry on the invisible crown on my head, keep my head up high and pose or strut like I don’t care (lol). I love the limelight and being a vixen also puts me up there. I like to play sexy, work with my eyes (which is my best feature) and my body movement. So, be it fashion modeling or on the set of a music video, I’m all game.

Phillip Morris is a cigarette brand, since cigarettes are banned from copious advert in the public, how does working with that brand enhance your career?
Well, it was more a marketing gig. Working with the cigarette brand broadened my knowledge on direct and indirect marketing. Since cigarettes brands are not promoted publicly it made persuasive efforts different from usual and a bit difficult but we were thoroughly trained and that training has helped shaped me in my career so far… I can sell any product to anyone.

How daring are you, in terms of clothing items you are willing to take off? Can you go nude?
Like I said earlier, I can fit in any fashion mood boards. I’m daring but with a pinch of morals (lol). I wouldn’t naturally go nude for the sake of posterity, our African culture and morals. I always want to be comfortable and confident in whatever I wear.

Where lays the competitive edge for models out of Africa on the global stage?
I believe globally, African models are getting recognised and booked more.  The world now sees the art in us and is trying to explore which is a good thing. So there is absolutely no competition whatsoever. I personally think, there’s a balance now.

What are the current trends on the international scene that models from Africa should pay attention to?
I watch models on TV, on and off the runway. I mean international models. All I see is discipline, confidence and fun. The same energy they give on runway is what you get to see off runway too. So no special trend, just have fun and be confident at it, off and on the runway. Also learn to connect with people.

What kind of content do you create? How do you generate these contents and where are they published?
I create content for online businesses looking to boost sales or engagement on their social media platforms. I identify what makes the brand unique, what type of content the target audience likes to consume and develop a content strategy with the client to make sure our goals are aligned. I create micro-content which are original and reflects the brand to be distributed on the social network channel. The goal of my content efforts is to spark as much engagement as possible.

Of all the modeling work you have done so far, which one are you most proud of and why?
Monster Energy all day, every day. . . Being a Monster Energy girl in Nigeria has influenced my perception on what a brand should look like. I love the exposure I get, it’s not rigid plus I get to tour around. I love car races, motorbike stunts. I’m a sucker for new adventures and Monster Energy has availed me the opportunity to experience everything I love. One highlight for me was when we had to shoot at the Gymkhana Grid in South Africa and also riding with the bikers in our Monster Energy truck on a road trip to the Bikers trophy in Benin City Nigeria.

Using you as example, what are some of the inhibitions that affect models, particularly, women in Africa?
Lack of the right mentorship affects models. I have met some really beautiful girls that would be great in modeling but do not have the right mentorship or would I say, “connections”. I have also met girls that need to explore other aspects of modeling. For example, if you’re facially beautiful but you are not tall enough for runway, you can explore face modeling. It is not compulsory you have to be a fashion /runway model to make it big in Nigeria or the world at large. I feel every girl out there should learn about themselves, where they fit in, and what modeling is all about before venturing into any aspect of it. I had a tough time figuring mine out too, but I had Google and my manager to guide me.

What are the most common concerns on the mind of African parents whose female children chose a career in modeling?
Nudity! Harassment! And Prostitution! African parents think modeling is all about exposing your body in sexually provocative manners. They feel girls hide under modeling canopy to prostitute. Almost every African parent kicks against modeling in their homes. So we need to create more awareness so they know that modeling isn’t prostitution. Majority of the Nigerian models I know do not get the support of their parents in their career path. It’s a taboo where I come from to be seen in provocative fashion wears in the name of modeling it.

How has winning the Face of Nigeria Beauty Queen impacted on your career?
Emerging Top model Winner at the just concluded Face of Nigeria Beauty was quite interesting. It’s been an awesome ride so far… I’m looking forward to breaking new grounds on this new journey. I’m creative and I like to break even with my ideas so I’m excited at this new phase in my career.

What should a serious minded model invest in to advance her career?
Models should invest in their skin/body & facial features, intellectual energy and their attitude towards every job. Your skin and features are your first resume, it determines if you actually take care of yourself and can represent the brand well enough. Then your intellectual energy and attitude gets you the job.