It’s not every day you hear about someone getting the opportunity to be mentored by iconic supermodel Naomi Campbell. But in 2014, black model Afiya Bennett appeared on Campbell’s TV series The Face, and the coaching she received on the show laid the foundation for a successful modeling career. Beyond modeling for Maybelline, Fenty Beauty, Nine West, Mac Cosmetics, Nike, and Levi campaigns, Bennett also landed features in editorials for Vogue Italia, L’officiel India, Glamour South Africa, Marie Claire U.S./Indonesia, Instyle Magazine, Essence, and Self. With no plans of slowing down, the Brooklyn native also snagged a role as a Global Brand Ambassador for Fiji Water. Now, with the launch of The Afiya Collection, a luxury hat line offering a vegan-friendly range of materials including leather, patent leather, and wool—she adds entrepreneur to her long list of boss moves.
Fueled by the discouragement she received from people about her ambitious nature, she chose luxury military/biker styled caps not only to represent fashion and style, but to send women a message of strength, versatility, and ability to turn fear into greatness. Below, the Wilhelmina model takes BLACK ENTERPRISE through a day in her life of casting calls, photo shoots, and running her own business.
My daily schedule varies from day-to-day depending on what brand I am shooting for and if they’re based in New York. Typically, I wake up at 7:30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. call time. When I wake up, the first thing I do is pray and thank God for waking me up another day. I normally eat breakfast at 9 a.m. I am a huge coffee lover, and most times breakfast consists of a cappuccino and eggs, nothing too fancy. After that the hustle begins.
My client list ranges from shooting campaigns for Nike and Nine West to editorials for Grazia and Vogue. Between running to castings, catching flights to shoot in the States or out of the country, working out, attending red carpet events, staying on top of your social media and building a brand, and maintaining a smile on your face, being a model is far from being all glamorous.
The three biggest misconceptions about models are one, models don’t eat, two, models lives are all glamorous, and three, models are uneducated.
All are false. I can certainly tell you I love food and being a model is way more than being pretty. Lastly, I have a degree in media communications and business. People would be most surprised to know that models have some of the lowest self-esteem. Although we live a life that may seem picture perfect on the outside, we are in an industry where we are constantly being critiqued and compared to our counterparts. No woman should ever be made to feel small.
I created the Afiya brand because it embodies standing together in solidarity. It’s for ladies who do not want to take ‘No’ for an answer. The Afiya Collection is here to inspire young girls to keep their heads up by following their dreams and not backing down. This collection is for women around the world to be reminded that strength is always in numbers, and it is time to make those numbers count.
Lunch always varies based on what is being served on set, but I never try and eat anything too bad, where if I got the booking of my dreams tomorrow I couldn’t bounce back
By the end of the day, I am often running home or running to an event. When it comes to meetups, I like to surround myself with other successful models, business owners, financial advisers, and personalities—all areas in my life that I am striving to be better in. A good friend once asked me if I had one more hour in the day what would I do with it and I responded I would invest it into myself and my business.
Once I walk through my door at home, I begin checking orders, shipping hats, and updating my marketing plan. It’s safe to say, I have long days. Dinner usually consists of chicken with sweet potato fries or brown rice and salad. The last thing I do before I go to bed is to pray the same as when I wake up. We live in such a crazy and unpredictable world. I love to acknowledge God in every aspect of my life both big and small; and when I do that I am just grateful to make it through another day.