In the modeling profession, only a few people are aware that apart from runway, which appears to be the most popular; there are other money-spinning aspects of the career such as commercial, fitness, and a host of others including nude modeling. In this interview with Zebra News, nude and hip-hop model, actor and vixen Careema Umar bares it all about how she navigates the murky terrain of the unlikely profession.
The law graduate also talks about how she deals with criticism and how being a nude model has come to help her appreciate her body better and build self-confidence. How is nude modeling different from the other types of modeling; apart from getting naked before the camera?
Modeling generally gives you the chance to get creative and apply yourself in different artistic options. But more specifically, I do nude modeling in form of advertising, and I create website outlook for adult sites.
Does this pay better than runway modeling?
It’s first about the passion for your job, before the money. The pay differs, it depends on the brand. But it is largely meager. Not worth the art in Nigeria. But there’s a bigger picture in the future. Where nude modeling will be mainstream and even hip-hop modeling will be respected.
What brands have you worked with?
Bet9ja, Haze, Lot of fashion brands, swimwear brands, to mention a few.
How often do you get jobs?
That is also not stable. Sometimes, I’m engaged with brand projects almost every day of the month, other times, jobs don’t come that frequently. Like right now, I’m jostling between a photo shoot and a movie set. That’s how clumsy my schedule can be sometimes. I’ve not had good sleep in days now, but what can we do. At least, I’m paying my bills. I thank God I’m busy.
Do you have an idea what your counterparts in other climes earn?
Lot of my model friends outside the country earn enough to own at least a property.
Are you signed to any agency?
No, I’m a freelance model. There’s so much involved with working with agencies.
What growth would you like to see in the industry in the next five years?
I want nude modeling to be mainstream in the next five years; people should see nude modeling more like an art. An art of sexuality. That way the profession will be respected, and people will get due credit for their art.
What’s your relationship with other nude models? Are you guys jealous of each other?
I have not noticed any amongst my colleagues. It’s more like a personal thing, because, I’m just on my lane and I only focus on the positive. Some of my colleagues that we talk, it’s all love. We love and even route for ourselves.
Have you had to exchange sex for jobs before?
I have not really experienced that, because honestly you just must know what you’re doing. No matter how good you’re in bed, if you’re not good at what you do, you won’t go anywhere.
How long have you been doing this? And what’s your inspiration?
I have always wanted to be a glamour girl since I was little. I grew up on Naomi Campbell and I admired her a lot. I wanted to just be a model, but I started having a thing for this genre of modeling when I was in school. I struggled with self-esteem and low confidence. I was bullied because I was dark, I was bullied for my hands and feet (most people claim they’re not pretty), for my hip dip (you’ve double nyash, your ass is weird) and all. So, I struggled with low self-esteem, I started nude shoots in school as a form of self-healing/therapy just to own the flaws and all, but as time goes on, I began getting gigs and stuff. And what’s more beautiful in life than doing what you love and getting paid for it. I still do other forms of modeling, but this is where the beast in me flourishes.
You said you started in school; how did it not affect your study of a conservative course like law?
As much as my course required much of my time, I still find time for modeling because it’s what I love to do, it’s my passion. When you love something/someone you create time even out of no time. It was very hard balancing it, so I had to slow down on the modeling till I graduated in 2017 when I now went in fully.
What more apart from confidence does anyone need to be a nude model?
Apart from confidence, you need to be passionate about the job. And you need to know why you’re doing this in the first place. It is not just about taking sexy and tasty photos for Instagram. You must know the essence of nude modeling.
Does being a nude model not affect your relationships?
To start with, I don’t have a boyfriend. No man with an African mentality can handle this. And most Lagos boys are. So, I’ve taken my mind off any relationship. Besides, most of them think I’m trying to seek attention (hawking my body) so they just come for sex and honestly that’s the least of my worries now.
How long have you been single for?
Don’t you miss being with someone?
Let’s just say I’m used to myself. And if sex is what you mean, I get that if I want. If I need someone to talk to, I simply vent to myself.
And your family, do they accept your line of job?
Well, that’s still kind of tough but they understand. At least, I’m not sleeping around. And I’m financially independent.
How did you let your family know about your choice of career for the first time and what was their reaction?
That’s a long story, man. I won’t like to share that part maybe someday, but not now.
How did you get them to cooperate with you?
They’ve not fully cooperated with me but we’re making progress because they understand it’s what I want. It’s still kind of hard for some of them but we’re making progress. I believe they’ll come to terms with it fully one day.
Ten years ago, nude modeling would be considered impossible in Nigeria, what do you think accounts for the daring increase in professional nude models?
Times have changed; the way people live ten years ago is different from the way people live now. People are becoming bolder and more confident you know. Secondly, seeing other people do it serves as motivation for others to start. People are gradually unlearning the myth they learnt about some harmless professions.
Where are you from?
My father is from the Yoruba part of Kogi State, Isanlu. My mother is from Bauchi.
How do photographers handle female nudity during your shoots?
It’s their job. They just must be professional about it. I don’t care how they do it. I don’t care about their erections. I learnt very early that if you want to last in an industry, you shouldn’t be too quick to open your legs no matter who they are. Normally, I’m jovial and all but once it comes to work, I don’t joke. I try to be professional because any slip, it’s a fall.
What’s your educational background?
I spent most of my preliminary education years in Kwara state. I attended various schools in Kwara, before I proceeded to Kogi State University to study Law. So, I’m a Law graduate, although, I’ve not attended law school. I graduated 2017 after which I came to Lagos to actualize my dream.
What are your career plans/projections?
I am hoping to explore every possibilities (limitless) in the movie and modeling industry, be it Nigeria or anywhere in the world. I don’t want to be tagged to “Nollywood” actor or Nigerian model. I want to cut across every country/genre I can learn new things and do new challenging gigs (acting or modeling). I want to star in a Nollywood movie, star in a Bollywood movie, American movies, even Korean. I’m looking at having my own modeling agency that can provide a safe environment for nudists and models so they can be treated just like other professionals.