The Face of Jamaica Down UnderSunday, October 10, 2021
“I would love to be a Fenty model,” shares Tanisha Edwards. Edwards is one of the rare 25-year-old Jamaican models who represent the black, green and gold Down Under. Diversity and inclusion sit at the heart of Rihanna's brand and the university student's ethos.
Born into a family of artists whose Jamaican roots can be traced to the parish of St Catherine, she was surrounded by inspiration. The start of her modelling career is very much like her idol, Naomi Campbell.
Scouted at 19, whilst working in a high street fashion store, Edwards found herself launched into a world of commercial product and fashion shoots. The first time she saw herself in one of celebrated Australian lensman Johnny Diaz Nicolaidis' photos was an extraordinary moment. He captured the essence of her spirit: Curious and empathetic. She quickly became aware, though, that modelling was not just about glamour. “People are quick to assume that we are pretty mindless. Models need to have a social intelligence about them. Plus, there's a business side to what you do,” she says. That side exposed her to a lack of diversity in the industry.
Australia's version of beauty has long been blond, slim and trim. “It can feel dehumanising when you sit in the chair next to a white model who is getting her hair and make-up done, and here I am, getting my own sorted. With no black creatives around, I can be made to feel less than,” she shares.
Perception of black models can be problematic too. “A lot of times, people think that we are asking for too much because black women are getting a chance,” she explains. But these myths are being addressed by models like Edwards, who can be the change the industry needs. A day in the life of a Jamaican-Australian model is a combination of fashion and commitment.
“Your body is your brand,” she opines and definitely puts effort into hers! She's an early riser and believes in meditation. Eating the right foods at the right times is essential. “I try not to have a big breakfast. I don't want to feel slow and sluggish,” she informs. The shoot is fast-paced, and there are many crew members to interact with, all of whom expect the best of a model. “The whole process can be taxing on my body. Typically, I could do three or four shoots of ecommerce. I'm doing about 100 poses.” Part of modelling is keeping fit mentally. Boxing helps this model stay fit and sharp. There's a rigid discipline to the sport where mind matters.
Clients demand creativity with their products which pushes her towards staying alert and creative during assignments. When she struggles to find that inward drive to be at a shoot, she channels the energy of others on-set. It is her way of giving her best self to anything she does.
With the modelling industry changing its cookie-cutter requirements, the five-foot-seven model is keen to channel Jamaican culture Down Under. “Authenticity has to occur from the ground up, which is why Fenty is so attractive to me,” she says.
Her roots are steeped in resilience and proud ambitions. The Australian modelling industry needs her. Who knows, maybe Fenty will come calling soon too.
To find out more about Tanisha Edwards, please visit her Instagram account @tani_ed
— Bridgett Leslie
Bridgett Leslie is an internal auditor by day and media correspondent by night.