MIC, Oct 2017
Philomena Kwo on inclusivity: You're not diverse if you only have one plus-size white model.
According to Philomena Kwao, she has Lupita Nyong’o to thank for her career getting off the ground.
First scouted in London in 2012 as she was wrapping up her master’s degree in international health management and policy, Kwao says no one cared about her look as a dark-skinned, short-haired black woman.
“When I first came to New York [in 2013], I didn’t work at all,” Kwao said in an interview with Mic. “I came over as a dark-skinned woman, a plus-size woman and I had my head completely shaved. They weren’t quite sure what brands wanted to do with me. For the commercial plus-size industry, they always wanted a girl next door look, but then I remember Lupita [Nyong’o] became famous and she really, really changed how beauty was perceived. I was here for almost a year before I was booked. Then Lupita came and all of a sudden I was booked.”