Tell us a day in the life of Dora Owusu?
A day in my life starts by heading to lecture at 9 am then another at 10 am. My break begins at noon in which I sometimes go to auditions and rush back to campus to make it to my 2 pm lab. Between 4:30 and 6 pm I squeeze in a bite to eat and some studying before my next class which is from 6-9pm.
Where are you from? Where are you based now and do you travel for shoots?
My blood is from Ghana in West Africa. I was born in Los Angeles California but raised in the city of Rancho Cucamonga which is about an hour east of Los Angeles. I am currently based in the Los Angeles and luckily most of my shoots are within the LA area so I usually don’t have to travel over 30 miles for a shoot. Some shoots can be out of state which are always fun because I get to experience how people live outside of California.
Growing up did you know you wanted to be a model, if so who were you influenced by?
I definitely wanted to model growing up but my mom said ‘no’. She feared that I would be taken advantage of or scammed. She told me that if I wanted to model then I should “call Tyra Banks” as if her phone number was a simple google search away. I wasn’t influenced by many besides Naomi Campbell. It was nearly impossible to find a positive representation of myself in society.
How or when did you start modeling?
I started my modeling journey in May of 2016. I was approached by a brand that had a large influence on Instagram. After my photoshoot with them, my photos were being heavily reposted, photographers began reaching out to me, and people were asking how much I charged per photoshoot. I was overwhelmed by all of the love I was receiving but rejected any money offered for the first few months. I wanted to practice and perfect my craft as a model, I didn’t feel right charging people or taking money to do something I didn’t feel 100% confident in.
What do you look for when deciding to work with a photographer?
When a photographer reaches out to me, I first look at their Instagram to get a feel of the look they typically go for. Next, I check out their website to see any other styles they’ve tried in the past. If I like their style of work, I will ask them if they know specifically what they would like to shoot with me. They often send over a vision board and we set a date. Stylist and makeup artist are very important for every shoot. It’s best for the photographer to have an MUA and stylist to ensure that the project will be executed properly.
How important is social media in your success?
Social media plays a major role in my success as a model. Casting directors and agents have asked for my Instagram handle and checked my numbers. Also, social media has helped in getting me noticed by brands and booking me for a great number of gigs.
What else do you do outside of modeling?
Outside of modeling, I am a full-time student studying biology at California State University, Los Angeles. I plan on one day becoming a Physician Assistant however, I recently concluded an undergraduate research program conducting research on thermogenic (fat burners) which expanded my interest in research. I like to keep my options open and go wherever God leads me.
What are some of the mistakes you made starting out a model?
I would say I made the mistake of not being selective enough with the photographers I shot with. Some photographers’ visions did not align with looks I was completely comfortable with and others did not know how to properly light deep skin tones so I end up having photos that I cannot put in my portfolio.
What advice do you have for Working with Agencies for New models?
I would advise models to look up agencies in their area and find when the agencies have open calls and set the time to go. I would also suggest to update their portfolios consistently and lastly, not to be discouraged if someone says ‘no’. When searching for an agent I knew that I would hear a ton of no’s but I just needed one yes to get my foot in the door.
What are 5 Things clients look for when hiring a model in your opinion?
- Positive attitude
- Fitting the look that the client is looking for
- Healthy skin
- Social media presence
How did you grow Your Instagram account?
My Instagram growth mainly came from being reposted on pages that had more followers than myself. I know sometimes people tag the pages with a larger following to get noticed and reposted. Also, some pages charge a fee to promote a person’s photo on their page.
What are some Keys things to Landing BIG Clients from experience?
- Great personality
- A developed portfolio
- Connections with other creatives (MUA, Photographers, Creative directors)
- Having a decent following
What are some of the Risks Every model Needs to Take to Be Successful?
Be prepared to risk your current lifestyle. You have to be in shape year-round, maintain clear skin, and have an open schedule because auditions times and shoot dates are unpredictable.
Who are some of your 10 Must-Follow models on Instagram?
In no particular order
- @ adwoaaboah
- @ lili_ann