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Zelia for Kevin Allwood

I wish to jump right in so here goes. When did you wake up to the idea that you wanted to not only be a model but on your own terms of fitness and healthy body image. 

Since I was a kid, I have always eaten healthy foods because of my Mom. I’ve always been very active doing everything from dance, gymnastics, soccer, and track and field. When I was 8, I worked on set as an actor and that’s when I learned about being behind the camera. I decided that I wanted to try modeling because I enjoyed how some pictures told a story without talking. Looking at billboards or magazine covers with healthy mixed or black women always seemed like they are happy doing what they’re doing, and I felt like I could relate to that representation. For example, Lupita Nyong’o inspires me. Also, I didn’t feel I should change for the modeling industry. The body that I have, and be- ing healthy, makes me happy. 

Is there a specific personality or model that you would look at and say to yourself this is cool she is someone I would definitely aspire to be like. 

The women that I love are usually mixed like me or have the same skin tone as I do. A lot of people have told me that I look like Alicia Keys. But I love the Aaliyah vibe, Sade, and Lauryn Hill. 

You have an amazingly strong pro-Africa vibe where did this come from.
One of the things that I love about myself is being part Congolese. Growing up, there was a lot of Latin and European influences, but my roots always went back to Africa, especially with music. A lot of my friends are African and have taught me a lot about Congo and their countries as well. This has brought me into a huge African vibe of listening to African music, movies, and continuously wanting to find more Africans in Toronto. 

What is the tackiest pickup line that you had to suffer through ( you can tell about the guy who said you are cute for nothing)
Haha wow. I was caught off guard once. A guy walked up to me, placing his hand on my arm, and asked for my name. I said: “Don’t touch me.” He answered: “What, so you’re cute for nothing?” I started to laugh and walked away. 

In an industry that is completely about looks, you seem to be focussing more on being a complete human. How did you make this decision. 

I am a very observant person, so looking at magazines and pop up ads online, most girls that are hired focus a lot on how they wish to be seen ex 

Photographed by Kevin Allwood

Makeup by Patrick Ryan