With America’s Next Model soon to wrap up, we caught up with one of our favorite contestants: Naima Mora. Even via email, it’s almost sickening how nice she is. Every correspondence is steeped in appreciation. Each question is answered humbly. You’d think she had something to prove. Then, you re-watch a Youtube clip or remember an old episode from the show and remember her reserve. This quiet, confident beauty brought home a winning contract in “Cycle 4” proving you didn’t need scandal or diva tendencies to win. Check out what the ex-ballet dancer turned model/musician had to share.
So Naima, what have you been up to? Since winning ANTM, I’ve done so much. The first two years I worked a lot with Cover Girl, then I became one of the faces for another beauty line called Sheer Cover. I’m fortunate to have worked for many talented designers and photographers doing runway and magazine editorials. But as we all know, a pretty face doesn't last forever. So I’ve also been giving my time as an inspirational speaker to young people across the country. It’s really important to me to make a lasting contribution to the world and to touch people's lives. I have a rock band now as well! Galaxy Of Tar. I absolutely love the music that we’re making. It’s the most challenging, rewarding and fun thing I’ve done in my life.
How did Galaxy of Tar actually begin? My very close friend Elias and I have been working on writing music for the past several years. We had a previous band but recently we developed a new project called Galaxy Of Tar. I love singing for the band and expressing myself creatively within it. We tour a lot and are now recording our second album.
Are you still focused on modeling? Or are you only doing music? I’ve never decided to stop modeling, however my focus is definitely more on creating art work now. It takes years to develop any craft well and when I started making music, I told myself the same thing I did when I went for modeling: "If I'm going to do this, I am going to do it well—or as best as I can."
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced since being on the show? Well, being part of an internationally televised competition, let alone winning it, propels contestants into fame very quickly. None of us went through the vigorous years of working in the industry before we became well known. So it’s been a bit of a challenge figuring everything out as the years have passed. I think I have the hang of it now *wink.
Do you feel reality TV shows like ANTM shine a legitimate light on the fashion/entertainment world? ANTM shows the best of the fashion world, where models are celebrated for their differences and what makes them unique. All the contestants are always amazing! Working in the industry though I have seen a lot of ugly things most often propelled by insecurities. But that’s like all things in life. There is always good and bad. Also, on ANTM the girls are given amazing shoots and the chance to meet photographers and designers. In the real world, a model is out there every day working to make it to castings, trying to earn a spot at a photo shoot.
There has been a lot of discussion lately about more multicultural and Asian models on the runways…do you think this is a trend or do you see this as something long-lasting? In my opinion fashion is a pop art industry that thrives on trends. Life happens in trends. Luckily for us, a lot of the people involved in the fashion industry are more courageous in making things that are normally taboo something amazing, celebratory and artistic. So if there are more women of color on the runways now than before, it’s a trend worth keeping around.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers know? Anything. Don't be afraid to reinvent yourself time and time again. If we limit ourselves, how can we learn our true potential? Check out GalaxyOfTar.com for info on their soon to be released second album (which will also be available for free) and Naima’s blog about the songwriting process.