After entering Models 1's excel competition with Evans 369.com, wowing the whole team with her striking beauty and grace in front of the camera, Philomena Kwao is the incredible addition to our books, leading the way in a new generation of models. The economics graduate talks to Models 1 about life as a model, her recent trip to Miami with Cosmopolitan and her hopes for the future...
How did you hear about the Excel Evans competition?
Through a friend who saw it on Facebook.
Had you done any modelling previously?
No not really, maybe friends playing around with my face and hair, but nothing serious!
Was it something you were always interested in?
When I was younger yes, but then I felt it wasn't something I could have done because I looked at Models on the TV and in magazines and they were all a smaller size, which I had never been, so I didn't think I could fit the criteria of a model!
What was involved with the competition?
The way I entered was online, with a friend putting my application through, but you could also go in store to an Evans shop where the Models 1 and Evans team were taking pictures.
Then there was an interim finalist's stage where we were invited to come into the Models 1 agency which was incredible! I was so nervous the night before I came I couldn't sleep, but I walked in and all I could think was oh my god I'm actually here! After that stage I got a phone call saying that I had made it to the finalist's day. It was a really cool shoot in East London, and was great because I got to meet some of the other finalists. It was a really relaxed day, everyone was chatting and there were so many looks to the
After the finalist's day I got a call saying I had won, and now I'm here!
What advice wold you give to those hoping to get into the modelling industry?
I think research. When I was younger I didn't realise there was such thing as plus-sized models, so it just proves that looking around is so important. Also be really confident and just go for it, it's always worth a try!
You are part of a wave of new models breaking the mould. How does that make you feel?
It is exciting because I'm going to be remembered for being one of the first of this new wave of modelling, but it is also a little scary, people are not used to it and I'm treading into new water.
I'm so excited, it's a very positive message I'm sending out!
What would be your ultimate modelling achievement?
If I got on the cover of Vogue or a massive campaign like Versace or Prada.
How did you feel when you saw yourself in Cosmopolitan?
It was almost unreal, I had to look twice at the double page spread! My sister was screaming when she picked the magazine up in a shop, and people started turning round and looking at me thinking, is it her? My blackberry and Facebook pretty much crashed with all the lovely messages I received, people had sent me messages saying how amazing I looked and how I had inspired them, it was so lovely.
My mum is proud, she worked so hard to make sure I had a good education and support me, so I'm just so happy that I've made her proud!
How has your life changed since winning the competition?
My day to day life hasn’t really changed, it’s just school, work and then house work. But I’ve noticed people stare and look at me a lot more, probably from recognising me in Cosmopolitan. My Twitter and Facebook have gone mad, I’ve had so many messages, everything has been so positive.
You recently went to Miami to shoot with Cosmopolitan, how was that?
Miami was the best experience of my life! I felt like I was blessed, I was travelling with the loveliest people, taken to the most amazing restaurants and my hotel was beautiful. The shoot was by the beach and every second of it was incredible.
Where would you most love to visit?
Tokyo, I've heard such great things about it.
Who inspires you?
My grandmother, my mum and Beyonce.
Which models do you most admire?
Crystal Renn, Tara Lynn, Toccara Jones and Naomi Campbell.
With such an incredible start to the year, it's going to be difficult to top! What's next?
Passing my exams with flying colours and hopefully more editorial work. I would also love to do a campaign!
BEHIND THE SCENES ¦¦ PHILOMENA'S MIAMI PHOTO DIARY
Models 1 also signed Katy Syme through the competition. Look out for our interview with her!