Time out with Nigeria Super Model Oluchi Onweagba


2-Connect-Nigeria

Oluchi Onweagba is a Nigerian supermodel, television personality, and entrepreneur. She is known for exposing the world to Africa as a source for supermodels. Not only is she beautiful, but she has brains as well. She graduated from New York University with a Bachelor’s degree in management. Although it seems hard to believe given her supermodel career, Oluchi struggled with body image as a teenager. She always struggled with being underweight, but things took a turn when she was encouraged to try out for the “Nokia Face of Africa” competition. The judges loved her, and she won a $150,000 three year modeling contract with Elite Model Management. Oluchi moved to New York and her career skyrocketed. She worked with famous photographers such as Steven Meisel, Nick Knight, and David LaChapelle, and walked runways in Paris, Milan, and New York. She quickly rose to supermodel status, and in 2002 she became a member of the elite Victoria’s Secret angels. In 2005 she married Italian Fashion designer Luca Orlandi and began a four year stint in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She has since used her success to open a modeling agency in Africa to pay it forward for the next generation of aspiring African models.

Childhood & Early Life
  • Oluchi Onweagba was born on August 1, 1980, in Lagos, Nigeria. She grew up with her brother and sister in Lagos. Her father was a civil servant and her mother was a nurse.

  • She struggled with her self-image throughout her youth. She struggled with being too thin.

  • At the age of 17 her friend convinced her to give modeling a try. She tried out for the “Nokia Face of Africa” competition and won.
Career
  • Winning the “Nokia Face of Africa” competition in 1998 launched her modeling career. Part of the prize was a modeling contract with Elite Model Management.

  • She made her debut on the runway in 1998. It was for designer Marc Bouwer.

  • In 1998, she was selected as the cover girl of Nars Cosmetics.

  • In August of 1998 she was photographed by Steven Meisel for the Italian cover of Vogue.

  • September of 1998 was the end to a great year for her. She walked the runways in Paris, Milan, and New York for world-class brands like Gucci, Chanel, and Christian Dior.

  • She became the face of the new Gap campaign in 1999. She also did another Vogue shoot with Steven Meisel.

  • She didn’t slow down at the turn of the century. She graced the cover of the British magazine Surface

  • She kept it going in 2001 with a runway appearance for Christian Dior in Paris.

  • In February 2002, she walked for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. This was her first of seven consecutive years walking in the show.

  • In 2003, she returned to Africa to participate in the first annual Cape Town Fashion Week.

  • Year 2004 was a huge one for Oluchi and she started by signing a contract with Cover Girl.

  • In March 2004 she walked in the John Galliano fashion show in Paris. Later that year she walked in the Kenneth Cole and Tommy Hilfiger shows in New York.

  • Oluchi did print work in 2004 for Lancôme. She also did catalog work for Victoria’s Secret and Bergdorf Goodman.

  • She also made her film debut in 2004. She played the girlfriend of a character in the movie ‘After the Sunset’.

  • In 2005, she did her first shoot for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. This was her first of four straight years in the magazine.

  • She launched her own modeling agency in Africa in 2008. Named OModel Africa, it has offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

  • Currently she serves as host and judge on the reality show Africa’s Next Top Model.
Major Works
  • One of Oluchi’s biggest modeling milestones is her work with Victoria’s Secret. To be in their annual fashion show just once is an achievement in itself, and she walked the runway 7 straight years.

  • Another one of her big achievements was her work with Sports Illustrated. She appeared in their swimsuit issue for four consecutive years from 2005 to 2008.

  • In 2008 she opened her own agency in Africa called OModel Africa. Her goal is to use the exposure her career gave Africa to make careers for aspiring African models.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 1998 Oluchi won the Nokia Face of Africa competition. This got her a $150,000 contract with Elite Model Management.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • In 2005 she married Italian designer Luca Orlandi. The couple has 2 sons together.

  • She does charity work in Africa with LEAP Africa and NIPRO. She has lent her image to their campaigns free of charge.
Net Worth
  • Oluchi is estimated to have a net worth of $2.5 million. She has amassed her net worth through her modeling work, as well as her modeling agency and hosting gig on Africa’s Next Top Model.

Trivia
  • Oluchi has a Bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Management from New York University

  • The name Oluchi means “God’s work” in the Igbo language.
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