We recently chatted with Tobore Oweh, a Lagos born, U.S.-based beauty and commercial model who’s grown to become a well-known face in the American beauty industry. Tobore has been featured in publications like Weddings Unveiled Magazine, Ellements Magazine and Constance White Presents Queens & Kings of Style. She has also done ad campaigns for top companies like Coca-Cola, Budweiser and Kiss Products.
With the face of a goddess and the mind of a visionary, Tobore easily destroys any existing negative stereotypes against beautiful girls as you’ll “see” in this interview. She’s got big dreams that culminate to transforming the black race by spreading the message that black love is black power.
Tobore is represented by such beauty agencies as Modelogic Wilhelmina (VA), Bella Agency (NY), Product Model Management (NY), Abbey Lynn Models (NY) and Marilyn’s Model & Talent Management (NC).
Tell us a bit about yourself. Who’s Tobore Oweh behind the gorgeous photos?
Who am I hmmmm (laughs)? Well first and foremost, I am Nigerian born and raised. I came to America at a young age but I’ll say my heart belongs to Nigeria. Both of my parents are Nigerian and have been married for 35 years. I’ll add that having both parents around to raise me really helped shape me into who I am. My parents aren’t your typical Nigerian parents as my dad is a musician and my mom, a dentist. I love them dearly. I have 3 older brothers.
How did you end up becoming a commercial model?
To be honest, I didn’t ever really dream of being a model. As a kid in Nigeria, I remember my mom putting me in the church and school talent shows and me loving it! When I came to America, I didn’t do much of that because I was a chubby kid so modeling never crossed my mind. I eventually grew into myself! It kind of just came to me when I volunteered with a production company. Working with them, part of my task was assembling models for various projects. Being in that environment, I will say helped spark the idea that I too can model.
My look is very commercial, although I do creative beauty as well. It is important to understand where your look falls under in the industry to avoid wasting your time.
You recently became the face of popular American beauty brand, i.ENVY lashes and was also recently featured in a new campaign for another major beauty brand, Sensationnel Hair. Tell us about your rise in the modeling industry. What has your journey been like?
Correction, I am NOT the face of i.Envy…I have been fortunate and blessed to work with the two amazing companies. The journey is definitely not an easy one but I am beyond grateful. I think many people have a misconception that modeling is easy but to do it professionally takes lots of planning, practicing and self-confidence. You’ll hear plenty of NO’s but it only makes the YES’s that much sweeter. When you’re intentional in what you put into the universe, you walk right into your purpose.
To clarify, by “face,” I mean that you appear on i.ENVY product packaging.
We know that the modelling industry is quite cutthroat by the competitive nature of the business. What has been your greatest challenge, especially as a black/Nigerian model in the American fashion and beauty industry?
“My greatest challenge in this industry has been staying motivated in it. Yes, I book gigs and it may seem like all glitz and glam but staying motivated in such a bias industry is difficult. The majority of the industry is Caucasian, with a sprinkle of black models. Even in the sprinkle of black models, there are very specific looks they go for when it comes to black girls. For example, the new trend is “the black girl with an Afro”. It makes me sick, because at the end of the day, we are NOT a trend…we are people…period. And there are different variations of our beauty that have yet to be expressed on such a platform.”
Also, and this is from personal experience, it’s had an impact on my morals because sometimes I’m hired to fill in the black stereotype, for example “being a single black mom” and that’s not something I want to promote as a black woman. It’s no doubt difficult, but I am grateful for my experiences because they have helped mold me into the woman I am and the beautiful person I’m becoming. It’s opening my mind up into exploring a deeper purpose in my gifts and talents.
You come across as a very confident, conscientious and soulful person on social media. What or who inspired the person you are today?
I will say first and foremost my mother! She is my hero and motivation. If I can be half the woman she is, it will be a blessing! Honestly, I will also add growing up in the society we live in today. Society has pushed me into opening up the door to consciousness in my life.
Do you have any beauty or style icons?
I love Beyoncé and the messages she stands for. When it comes to beauty, Diana Ross comes to mind! I love Rihanna, Zendaya, and Ciara when it comes to style!
What is the biggest career mistake you’ve ever made?
I don’t really look at it that way. Everything I’ve done career wise has been positively impacting my growth into other things and in life. Whether at the moment the circumstances seemed good or bad, I believe everything I go through is ONLY for my greater good.
What music do you currently have on repeat?
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly, it’s really affirming and revolutionary.
So tell us, what do you do when you’re not busy modelling?
Apart from modeling, I am a freelance floral & event designer. I’ve always been fascinated by design. I am a curator of good vibes and black pride! Also, on my off days, I’m thinking and planning ways to brand myself. I’m reading and learning. My goal is to reach higher levels of consciousness. No days off!!
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
“I see myself using my gifts and talents, across Africa and in the Diaspora, spreading the message that black love is black power. An understanding and love for self is a vital part in the keys to success as black people so I really want to make it my mission in spreading that message across the world, especially to our children. The kids are our future so it’s important we let them know who they are as Kings and Queens before society gives them the idea that they don’t matter.”
What advice do you have for anyone who’s considering a career as a commercial model?
My most important advice to anyone considering a career as a commercial model is to be concrete in who you are and what exactly you are doing it for! Do your research, find a mentor or reach out to people who inspire you for advice. It’s an industry that takes lots of perseverance, consistency, self-confidence and self-motivation so be prepared to know what you’re getting yourself into!
Tobore, it’s been really wonderful getting to know more about you and what you do. We wish you the best of luck as you continue to grow your personal brand.