Lola Chél, a beautiful name for a beautiful girl in and out. Lola and I met for the first time shooting a new campaign for Seja cosmetics. She and I, and a few others girls spent a few hours together and bonded over our shared ambition and drive. The first thing you see when you see Lola is probably her beaming smile. It warms you as soon as you meet her and draws you in, as if her natural beauty weren’t enough.
I met her again during Basel at a Samsung event she was working, and again that smile radiated as she made it around the room. You could tell she loved the life she was living and the energy was contagious. As you’ll be able to tell by her answers to these questions, wallowing in self pity is just not an option.
In the interview I chat with Lola about her experiences as an African-American model in the industry, making your disadvantages your niche and the balance between love and success.
What industry are you in currently?
Modeling and entertainment
Is your industry one usually dominated by women? How did you fight stigmas?
There are many prominent women in my profession. The fortunate part is that in some avenues you can create your own demand and in which case you can set your own price. As far as stigmas go I do my best not to dwell on them because that takes time away from making things happen in spite of them.
What are you most proud of at the moment?
My blooming blog which has now crossed the 1000 subscribers mark as well as my up and coming editorials.
How big a role has your culture and gender played in your journey?
Both my culture (African American) and my gender (Female) has taught me a level of resilience that can’t be bought.
Any major life events in the last 6 months you’re working through? (Quit a job? Changed cities? Breakup? Marriage? Etc. positive or negative )
Deciding to focus all of my energy on modeling has been a major decision but it’s guided every move I’ve made since then and has shown in my work and growth.
What is your version of success? When will you say you’ve “made it”?
When I can do whatever I want with out hesitation or waiting on other people for decisions and/or financial stability while simultaneously giving and sowing into others that’s how I’ll know that I’ve made it.
What’s one thing you’ve realized with age/time in the industry? (and want other women to realize as well)
Don’t wait for someone else to create an opportunity for you. If you want something get out and go for it yourself.
Love or success? Should you have to choose?
You shouldn’t have to choose.
What makes you and your partner “work” while you simultaneously reach for the stars?
He has supported me since before I became the Lola you see today. He met me through the modeling troupe I got started in when I was in college. He was a fellow model and accepts me even when I’m not model ready. I think that’s the key to be honest. That plus out communication and mutual support of one another has kept us growing.
So it’s safe to say your niche in beauty, where does that come from ? Is there an interesting story behind it? Such as self acceptance? Or were you always very secure in who you are and how you look ?
Beauty is a space that I can excel in no matter my height or weight – it’s all about my face. The fact that beauty caters to both my assets and perceived flaws makes it a great space for me to work in. I haven’t always been secure in my looks but it’s something I’ve grown into and have to continue to work on dalIy.
How do you face rejection?
I look for the lesson in the rejection and how I can improve myself.
I notice that even as you promote yourself, you tend to provide a lot of insight for other women and you highlight many models. What is it you hope to do for other women?
You are only as much as you give to others. Due to the fact that I can’t shell out crazy amounts of money to give back I do it through my time and platform. I hope to give women pursuing modeling the information I never had when I got started as well as inspiration through highlighting other models who are also grinding to become great as well.
Many African-American models find issues in the industry in terms of dealing with makeup and hairstylist that actually know how to effectively dress and style them, what is your experience with this? How do you navigate this?
My experience is really no different than theirs. For this reason I suggest admittedly to all models of color (and models in general) learn how to do a basic face and 3 to 5 simple hair looks. There’s nothing worse than performing sub par because you don’t feel you look good. This will not only make you a more desirable model but you’ll eliminate many of those potential situations in the future.
Can you elaborate on ignoring stigmas? How did you develop a more resilient mindset rather than succumbing to falling victim to them?
I don’t absorb my efforts in the reasons why people won’t book me for something simply because that will never help me advance. I had to develop this mindset because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be a model. I would never look at obstacles as a way for me to elevate – instead they would become barriers in my career. When I turned negative into a positive opportunity things have looked up ever since.
What do you see for yourself in the future? Will you stay in the beauty industry or do you hope to branch out?
Well at the moment I’m already doing beauty, catalog, and editorial modeling to name a few as well as a few minor acting gigs and hosting jobs.
Any new endeavors?
My YouTube channel where you can goto ask any question you’d like about modeling and see the answers I’ve given already.
You can find Lola at :