Fourth year ED major Mary discusses how modeling informs her femininity, the inspirational women in her life, and how she plans on changing the world with the power of communication. 

Tell us about yourself; your major, your year, and where you are from?
I’m from Nigeria and I’m currently in my 4th year of Environmental Design. I love modeling and generally being in front of the camera. Some of my other hobbies are dancing, drawing, designing and anything artsy- I’m a very artsy person.  
Are there any women who influence you in terms of the creative world? It could a musician, artist, friend, family member, etc.
My sister is one of my main inspirations. She is  a lawyer and manages to successfully balance her school work with spending time with family. This is something I hope to do; not only for myself, but also for others in my life. Another woman I really admire is Beyoncé. I’m very intrigued by her style and her music. I feel that she inspires many black people and makes you realize that no matter what anyone says, you are you. You have to have a dream and it is your duty to make sure that dream comes to pass. I also admire how amazing of a performer she is.
Do you incorporate your femininity into your work?
When I am modeling,  I like to accentuate my physical features. To me, the essence of being a woman is showing who you really are. In the industry, many women hide their stretch marks. I think that people should just be themselves and show who they are. I express myself through my hair and even in the way I dress. I don’t really integrate my femininity into my drawings for Environmental Design.
In your opinion,how do you feel about the representation of other female artists and  women depicted in art, media & music briefly? Do you feel like it can be improved?
I think these days women are really starting to stand out. I’ve heard a lot of men say, “what a woman can do, a man can do better”. I am starting to see women filling positions that are usually male-dominated. It is really nice to see that kind of equality because it shows that both men and women can perform the same tasks and do not need to be put to the side because of their gender. Everyone is equal. Women are coming out and becoming vice presidents for example.
Do you face obstacles as a female design student?
When I was in highschool, most of my classmates in my technology class were guys; there were only three girls in that class. Everyone thought we were weirdos for joining a male dominated class because guys are usually associated with technical stuff. I think this experience made me stronger and showed me that I can do what a man can do.
What is your response to the Me Too movement?What impression did it leave on you and your work here at OCAD?
I didn’t watch any of the awards shows, but I came across some clips of a female director announcing the nominees. She told them to stand up, especially the women. It is really nice to see women coming out now to say that we have talents that we need to show the world. I would love for women to continue with our current approach towards such matters. As a model, I want to show that I am strong. I believe that you shouldn’t let other people’s opinions influence your actions. This is who I am and this is what I want to show. My personality is not defined by gender but instead is an expression of me in my truest form. These are are some of the lessons I have learnt from the Me Too movement.

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In what way are you making a change in this world with your creations (i.e. art, design, music, science etc?
I am trying to change how people communicate. Not just here, but also in Africa. Back home, there are usually places where people come together. For my thesis, I am working on a design for a community centre. I do not know of any places in Nigeria that you could easily access as there are many restrictions. There are places that are for certain people and these spaces are usually categorized by a person’s social class. I would like this community centre to be a place where anyone can come in and feel comfortable because I feel like social values should be given more importance in Nigeria.

Interview by Zoë Roiati

Photography by Jon Kim

Styling by Anna Luo

Make Up by Mary