You’ve really broken onto the scene in the fashion world. What was starting out as model like for you?
I was 18 when I was finally got signed as a model, and I still wasn’t a hundred percent comfortable [with my albinism]. I was going to other countries and going into agencies, and then there would be those reactions. My eyelashes are really blond, and so are my eyebrows, and like many girls—I’d go in without much makeup—to which agents would say, “You should always wear mascara.” When you’re young, you really take heed to those kind of things people say.
What’s the best beauty wisdom you’ve ever received?
Less is more, especially with makeup. When you’re young, you like to play with makeup. [But it’s important] you can take it all off sometimes. You shouldn’t feel insecure without it. I know some people don’t feel comfortable going outside without makeup because they’re used to wearing it and used to seeing themselves a certain way. It can make you feel hesitant to not wear it. So, you know, I think you should feel comfortable with your natural beauty, as much as you would feel when you’re wearing makeup too.
How did you ultimately become comfortable in your skin?
It took years. I think if I was more educated on it when I was younger, I would have felt more comfortable talking about it. I just knew, okay, albinism. I have white skin. Then, I stopped caring and realized it’s not the only thing that I have to offer. I found other parts about myself that I love. I got more into sports, became a great athlete, and came into my personality. My albinism is a part of me—and it’s beautiful—but it’s not all of me. It makes me who I am, but it doesn’t make me as a whole.
If you could go back and tell your teen self anything about beauty, what would it be?
When you’re a teenager or going into your teen years, you’re around that age when you’re feeling yourself out or you’re in a new school maybe. I was always kind of skeptical of meeting new people and having to explain what albinism is. It was a whole thing. So I’d tell her to feel more comfortable with explaining it. People aren’t only going to look at you because of your albinism.
What’s your feeling toward traditional beauty standards? How do you think they’re evolving?
I think they’re moving in a good direction. There are a lot more women of color being represented in a beautiful light. There weren’t for a while. And even just different looking people [you’re seeing a lot more of]—like Winnie Harlow, who has vitiligo. The more models there are with different looks, the more role models there will be. And I think that’s great. With my albinism, I get so many messages from people who are happy [to see me]. People are becoming a lot more open-minded and tolerant and understanding, and just, overall, better.
You’re also a new mom. Congrats! What’s the biggest piece of beauty advice you’d pass on to your daughter?
I would tell her what beauty really is. And what beauty is to me is a beautiful person, a beautiful soul, a spirit—a person who has good energy and who is caring and kind to other people. There’s a glow about them. That’s what’s really important.
What’s the one product you absolutely can’t live without?
Maybelline lip gloss! I love something with a little pink in it.
What would you say is the most beautiful thing about yourself?
Definitely my albinism—and my hair. When I was younger, my mom used to relax my hair all the time. I never really had my natural texture. It’s only just recently that I’ve started wearing it more natural and in my ‘fro. I love it. I think it’s so beautiful. It’s been a journey for me.