“Black models have a hard time in the fashion industry,” says former Grambling student Reneicia Johnson. “It’s very rare for black models to be considered high fashion. Most of the time, we are limited to nudity, swimsuits, or sexually subjective material.” But Johnson was recently afforded an opportunity to participate in New York Fashion Week presenting Spring/ Summer 2016.
Johnson, a native of Gary, Indiana, worked hard for her spot in one of the largest fashion weeks in the world. She modeled in Small Boutique (SB) Week for MARIEJANAE, a Houston-based brand. SB Week is the top Indie Brand event during fashion week. The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is for top designers like Donna Karan and Tommy Hilfiger.
Because she is an independent model and she could not physically be in New York for casting, it was twice as hard for her, but that did not stop her grind.
“I would search for castings online every day! I sent photos and videos to every designer that would accept online submissions. A few designers emailed me to ask that I be a part of their show.”
“It took me a while actually get into modeling because I became discouraged when I was younger,” Johnson said. “When I would go to different castings or modeling events and I wouldn’t get chosen, my grandmother would say it was because I was ‘too dark’. At that age I didn’t understand. It wasn’t because I was literally too dark, but that some people would not choose me based off of the color of my skin. I started actively pursuing modeling a year ago and it has been presenting some great opportunities thus far. If I would have continued modeling as a youth, I would have been further in my career than I am now.”
She currently serves as part-time dance instructor at various dance studios in Illinois and Indiana. Most frequently, she teaches at the South Shore Dance Alliance, a non-profit performing company and dance studio in Northwest Indiana. SSDA was founded to provide professional dance training to aspiring dancers who may otherwise not receive training because of lack of financial resources.
In addition to being a student, part-time dance instructor and model, Johnson is the full-time mother of a beautiful 2-year-old daughter.
She said her goal is to become a fashion mogul. “I want to have a designer line, and be able to control how the image is in the media.”
After getting her degree, she said she will then pursue aesthetician certification and possibly going to cobbler school to get certified to make shoes.
On April 16, Johnson will be modeling for Blake Martin’s Le’Carnivale Show in Chicago in the Gustavo Museum of African American History.