Watch the full interview below
Can you tell me about winning Supermodel Canada 2017?
It's an amazing platform to reach out to the millennials and inspire them and to allow them to be confident. For me, I was bullied growing up. Being bullied and ridiculed about your looks and your features when you're young and then coming into an industry where it's all about your looks and your personality, it was a dramatic transition. Coming into that role has really allowed me to open up and be myself. It's allowed me to embrace who I am, and I no longer have to listen to the lies of the past. It's helped me become who I am and who the fullness of Nini Amerlise is.
You were bullied as a kid for your looks, and now you get to shove it in all those kids faces by being the prettiest person Canada, at least in 2017! Is that how it works?
Well, I wouldn't say now I'm the prettiest person in Canada. It's the fact that I'm able to do away and forgive my past and embrace who I am today. It really brought healing, understanding, and wisdom to me. It's embracing who I am so that other people who may want to be a model or just be anything that they want to aspire to be, like a doctor or dentist or anything, just having those goals. When you can overcome an obstacle and really grow into that fullness, it's beautiful. That's what I aspire to do.
You mentioned that you like to inspire millennials in particular. By that account, you're a millennial, so am I. What does that mean to you? What does it mean to inspire a millennial?
Being unafraid and stripping off the layers of any insecurities, and any struggles. Just honing everything that you are. Saying that “I can do that no matter what anyone says, no matter what people may think, that I can't do it and I can achieve it.” Drawing that like-mindedness, that process will bring other people like you or people who may not even understand how to get there, to get to that level.
Are you saying it's all about practice and making connections?
How did you get into modelling specifically?
My first ever casting was for the face of African Fashion Week. I saw that online, and that actually gave me a fling to try this industry. Like I said before, I was bullied, so I didn't feel like I would be able to work in this niche market or anything like that. Coming into that field, even though I didn't place in that competition, it gave me a new fire to explore different avenues.
What year was this?
This was in 2014.
You didn't place. I'm sure that was a bit of a heartbreak?
It was a little bit of a heartbreak, but I wanted to do better and try something and see if I can get more than what I attained at that time.
What did you do after?
I researched everything about how to become a model, how to do fashion, what does it take to bring it to the next level. I saw that you have to get a portfolio, that you had to have a runway walk and stage presence. A different look about you. Initially, I didn't know what my look was because I had my hair straight at the time. I didn't know how to embrace my natural hair texture. In 2016, as I went along this journey and this process, I began to test out different hairstyles and one day I said, you know what? If my hair grows out, I'm just going to leave it out, and that was my signature look. Now, people are booking me more than ever before because of my natural hair texture and stuff like that.
That's a really courageous choice for yourself. Was that one of the things you were bullied about? Your hair?
Yes. In seventh grade, one of the other students said to me, "Your hair doesn't move like ours." It was predominantly a European-based school, so I didn't fit in. I was of only three black students in the school. They told me, "I don't like how your hair looks. I don't like how it moves and I don't like the texture." I felt really awkward and insecure about that all my life. To hide it, I'd wear a lot of extensions and keep it tucked away so no one could see my natural hair texture. During the journey, I eventually was able to test it out and now I love it. I haven't turned back since.
It's such a good story and message. The thing that you thought was holding you back as a kid is now your most notable feature. What are you doing now? It's been a year since the contest.
I'm doing a lot of interviews and motivational speaking. I'm also in the process of opening my own charity and organization. I want to help alleviate the homelessness in Toronto and different regions of North America, as well as the Caribbean because I'm part Caribbean and part African as well. I am actually 1/4th Chinese, so I want to go all over the world and hopefully bring this change. Even though it's not something that happens overnight, I really have a heart for outreach and helping these needful souls. They need love, they need people to actually care for them. That's what I really want to do.
You're very busy and always on the road, doing castings, working out. Diet must be one of the things you're always concerned about and trying to manage. What do you generally eat?
In the mornings, I usually have oatmeal with apples. That's a typical day where I'm not too busy. When I am busy, I tend to have a quick cereal or after that, I have little sandwiches with rye bread. No cheese because I'm lactose intolerant. I have eggs in it or tuna. For dinner, I'll have soups and light pasta. Not much pasta because model life is very strict on their dieting, unfortunately.
When you're not at home, what do you go for?
When I'm not at home, I'll have fries. Wraps from Wendy’s, because I don't like burgers that much. I'll have smoothies and shakes, but not the healthy vegan kind. I'll have stuff from Wendy’s like Frosties, which are not the greatest things. Bubble teas, as well.
We set you up with a week's supply of the Athlete Shake. How did that change your diet?
It was amazing. It was quick because I would prepare the shake the night before and then I'd leave it in the fridge and grab it in the morning when I have to run out of the house. It saved so much time. I'm usually spinning around a gig in the morning, so I just put my clothes on, do my makeup, grab my drink and run.
Check out Nini first experience trying the Athlete Shake!
Did you like the vanilla or chocolate flavor?
Vanilla! I love the chocolate, but there's just something about the vanilla that tastes like porridge, and I like porridge. That's why.
Did you only grab one for breakfast in the morning or did you keep one on you?
I had one in the morning and then I keep one on me. I usually have the vanillas in the morning and the chocolate in the evening. Honestly, it's so good and I eat it so quickly, but it keeps me full for at least four hours. Then I'll catch another one, and I feel pretty much full for the whole day.
That's fantastic. Any other comments about the shake?
I love the texture. I'm really particular about textures and stuff like that. I feel like it has a smooth consistency. It keeps me energized. I have an iron deficiency, so I feel like it really compliments to that. It boosted up my energy because I usually crash during around 4:30-5:00 PM energy-wise. With your shakes, I felt like I could push on beyond that. It was really good. I recommended it to a lot of my friends and they're all interested, actually.
Any final words of recommendation or words of how people can be more like you?
Honestly, being yourself is the biggest recommendation I can say. The moment you're yourself, you're free to be who you are. You're free to express yourself to the best of your capacity. You're not limited to people's standards and you are now open to just walk through the doors of opportunity and potential.
Thank you for your time.
Follow Nini’s journey forward by following her on Instagram and Supermodel Canada 2018: