Lagos-based model Aduke Shitta-Bey has become quite a popular face in the Nigerian fashion and beauty industries within a relatively short period. The 18-year old model has modelled for top fashion designers like Deola Sagoe and Meena for which she was featured in Vogue Italia. She’s also worked for beauty brands like MAC and MUD Nigeria and has been photographed by top photogs such as Reze Bonna, Lakin Ogunbowa, Jerrie Rotimi and Prince Meyson.
In a candid interview with Style Rave, Aduke Shitta-Bey who’s signed to the renown Beth Model Management lets her guard down and chats freely about her journey into modelling, what she wishes was different about the industry and her long term goals.
Let’s get right into it!
Hello Aduke, how are you doing?
Fine, thank you. How are you?
I am doing great, thank you. Finally, we get to speak. It’s been crazy trying to get a hold of you. You are like the busiest model in Nigeria.
Amen to that; one day!
So tell me a little bit about yourself? Who is the beautiful girl behind the still shots?
My name is Aduke Shitta-Bey. I am pretty much a fun-loving 18-year-old who loves dancing, music and food. I’m very adventurous. I love my family and friends and I think I’m very interesting to hang out with although sometimes I could be troublesome.
Well, it depends on what kind of trouble…
Now, let’s dive into your modelling career. How and when were you discovered? Tell us about your journey into the world of modelling.
I think I discovered myself – okay, that was a joke. Here’s how it really happened: one day, while watching a fashion show on TV, I saw these tall, beautiful women who were models and I really wanted to be like them. So, I decided to wear my mom’s heels and walk around the house with an imaginary photographer taking my pictures. I stood by the wall serving different poses and my brothers were like “are you ok? Mummy is something wrong with this girl?” And my mom was like “leave her alone…”
As I grew older I started taking modelling even more seriously. My first major attempt into the industry was when I entered the Elite Model Look Nigeria contest. When I got there I was told that my butt was too big for a model…
Initially, I really didn’t want to be part of the contest because I had people telling me that I was fat, I wasn’t tall enough and won’t make it as a model – basically, that I wouldn’t book any jobs. I got a lot of negative comments. But you know, I am a very stubborn person and when people tell me I can’t do something, that is when I want to do it even more. That’s just my personality and thinking about it now, I am thankful to God that I didn’t back down, because, look at me today.
Ultimately, Beth Model Management saw me at the contest and said they were willing to work with me. So I joined the agency and started working out, dieting and all but honestly, none of that was working. So, I started praying to God about it and I drastically dropped a lot of weight and everyone kept asking “Aduke how did you become so skinny?” and I said it’s God. Yea, because honestly, I eat like a man. lol!
Yes, I live for pounded yam and Amala. Left for me I will eat those every day of my life.
Going through your portfolio, I see that you have been featured in quite a good number of campaigns – especially in the first quarter of 2016. So tell us about your rise in the Nigerian modelling industry, how did you become so popular so soon?
It’s been God all the way because if it wasn’t meant to be I wouldn’t rise. Eku Edewor has been my mentor and has been very instrumental to my growth as a model but the main reason for my rising is God. And of course, my mother’s prayers. Plus, I think I have a nice personality which makes brands want to work with me.
So what are some of the greatest challenges you have faced as a model?
Well, sometimes people tell me that I am not tall enough to be a model.
How tall are you?
Almost 5 feet 9 inches.
That’s a good height. I know in the fashion industry 5 feet 11 inches is considered ideal but I have seen models like Kate Moss who isn’t even 5 feet 9 inches make it big. It’s all about your zeal and commitment to your craft. By doing what you do so well, you can convert even the biggest naysayers.
True. I have strongly believed in myself from the beginning. But in all, modelling has been good to me so far. I have met amazing people, worked with amazing designers, photographers and models.
Is there anything you wish was different about the Nigerian modelling industry? I understand it’s a fairly young industry and it’s evolving.
Yeah, they are a few things. Most importantly, I just wish people will treat models with more respect. In Nigeria, models are not really respected. If you go to some places and say you’re a model, some people look at you as though you’re not a “serious person”. Like you don’t have a career path or some think all you do is sleep with men for money. But that’s not what modeling is about. Models represent brands, we showcase the works of designers and keep the fashion industry alive.
Indeed. That used to be the case when Nollywood was fairly young. I still remember when it was like the worst thing to be an actress. You could literally be disowned by your parents for wanting to act but now acting is a respectable career. So I think that’s the same issue facing the Nigerian fashion industry. It’s still emerging and based on the rapid growth the industry is facing, I believe that fairly soon we will get to a point where being part of the fashion industry will be a thing of pride.
Moving on, let’s talk about what you do when you’re not busy modelling.
I read a lot. I love novels. I also love to experiment with cooking different meals. Like I said I love food. I fried banana a few days ago and it tasted very nice. I ate it with egg sauce.
Fried banana? that’s new to me.
Yea, it was very delicious. My dad had just eaten the last plantain so I was like, OK, how about fry this banana? LOL
I need to try that out.
I also love to listen to good music.
That makes the two of us, what’s your favourite genre?
I like alternative music, hip hop and R&B.
Who is your favorite Nigerian artist?
Asa! I adore her and when I listen to her music, I am like – this is bliss!
Let’s talk about long term goals. Where do you see yourself in five years? I know you’re looking to be the biggest model in Nigeria from our conversation before the interview.
I see myself walking for Victoria’s Secret by God’s grace, being the face of top designers like Givenchy, Estee Lauder, Balmain. I see Aduke having her own makeup line because I love makeup and I practice getting better at the craft all the time.
Makeup is a good skill to have as a model because you never know when you’ll show up on set and the makeup artist doesn’t make it.
Let’s round up the interview on a chilled note. I am sure your fans and followers would like to know – who’s your ultimate MCM?
Hmmm……Idris Elba. He is my man crush Wednesday, Thursday, all day, November………all times!
Aduke, it’s really been fun chatting with you and getting to know more about you.
Aduke: Thank you so much. God bless you!
To book Aduke, contact her agency Beth Model Management.
Email : email@example.com
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