Model. Actress. Music Producer. Christina Cooper does it all! It was only last year that we interviewed Christina as part of our London Fashion Week 2016 features week and since then, this talented young lady has gone on to new horizons - signing to 'The One Models' based in Milan, gracing VOGUE.COM once again and landing a role in the upcoming Netflix series 'Dear White People' (based on the 2014 film of the same name). I was able to catch up with Christina during her European trip and find out what she's been doing so far and discuss ongoing issues within the modelling industry.
TFLC: What made you first become a model? Who/What has influenced you so far in your modelling career?
Christina: I honestly never planned on becoming a model to be honest. I used to be a tomboy. I hated dresses, skirts, shorts, you name it! But I was scouted while working at the Fox Hills mall in Culver City, and since then, I have fallen in love with modelling.
I have been influenced by so many wonderful human beings. My dad Ashton Cooper, has been my number one supporter and I couldn't have made it this far to Milan without him. Tonya Love, who I will be starting a modelling school with has motivated me to be the best model I can be and I'm forever grateful. I would also like to give credit to my boyfriend Darron Anderson and my best friend Brittani Lloyd for always supporting me.
TFLC: Now that your a model, have you experienced any obstacles and how have you overcome them?
Christina: Yes, I've experienced so many obstacles. Its hard to be a model of colour in this industry. I remember at one of my fashion week shows, a model told me she was shocked I booked the show because I'm black. I was extremely insulted, but it happens. You have to have really tough skin in an industry like this, so I am learning & growing from these experiences. This career is making me stronger mentally and emotionally- which is good!
TFLC: When we last interviewed you, we spoke about body image and Rosalie Nelson's ongoing petition to introduce a UK health law for models. We've seen an increase of plus-size models such as the likes of Ashley Graham, being able to break into the industry and speak out against body-shaming etc. Being that your naturally slim, how do you feel about the controversy of the size 0 debate in the industry? Is there enough being done to educate models and the public on the importance of health within the fashion industry?
Christina: No, they do not educate us on this and I think they should. Okay, they want us to fit a sample size 0-2, but not everyone is naturally slim like I may be. Some girls do crazy things just to stay skinny, and it is really unfortunate. Models are criticised everyday for how they look and I feel we should be more properly informed on what to eat to stay healthy and not necessarily skinny. The fashion industry should be open to all sizes, colours and looks! It's about that time people!
TFLC: Do you feel like the modelling industry is taking 'one step forward but then two steps back' when it comes to promoting diversity (race, religion, body image etc.) yet still have an issue when it comes to employing plus-size models or allowing Muslim girls to wear the hijab on the runway?
Christina: Yes, I definitely think so. I think it was Prada who casted coloured models one season but then it's like they'll (including other high fashion brands) only cast coloured models because of the ongoing 'Black Pride'/ 'Black Girl Magic' campaign. The next season, you'll notice that there isn't a variety. I just feel like is this whole thing of diversity in the modelling industry genuine or are they just doing it for the hype or to fill in quotas?
TFLC: As a successful model in your own right, what advice or tips can you give to those who want to start a modelling career and even those who are in the industry now?
Christina: I would say my first tip would be to just have faith in yourself and just go for it! I'm still new to the modelling industry so I'm not a pro or anything but the industry has there on take when it comes to eccentric beauty. There is something that the agent or designer sees in you that you might not see in yourself so it's good to have high confidence and self esteem even though there may be looks that your not sure about.
Secondly, I get a lot of girls asking me what sort of photos they should send for castings. My number one advice is to send pictures of yourself wearing no make-up and wearing a black tank top, black jeans and black heels with a white backdrop. Keep it nice and simple when sending photos to agencies.
TFLC: What can we expect from Christina Cooper this year?
Christina: I will be walking in the fashion show for Project Runway which is sometime in late February and I'll be starring in the TV series 'Dear White People' which is set to air later this year*- I'll be playing the character 'Miko' in a couple of episodes. I've got an editorial for a magazine coming out in March so I'm looking forward to that.
To find out more about Christina, follow her on Instagram @thechristinacooper
*Air date is 28th April 2017