The Canadian model is one of a kind
Vanessa Jev Productions in Toronto has served as a cultural staple of the city, as its plays provide a wealth of diversity and representation for the attendees. In it’s African themed Cinderella retelling, the play was laced with Nigerian culture, much to delight of the guest in the crowd. One of these guest, Oyin Olalekan, who just so happened to be in search of a model for her Master’s thesis, couldn’t seem to keep her eyes off of the girl playing Cinderella. Olalekan would go on to approach her after the show and the rest was history. Abigail Whitney, the girl with the flying cheekbones was the black Cinderella that night. Meeting Olalekan helped jump start her career, and change her life forever. “I was floored at the opportunity,” She says. “My experience of working under the creative direction of Oyin Olalekan and the photographic brilliance of Chantal Rose was the opportunity of a lifetime.”
What Whitney can only describe as divine intervention, is the reason that she is currently on the cusp of a major breakthrough and signed to Dulcedo Modelling Management. With her foot in the door of the industry, there is nowhere for her to go now but up.
“My experience of working under the creative direction of Oyin Olalekan and the photographic brilliance of Chantal Rose was the opportunity of a lifetime.”
While meeting Olalekan was a big factor in Whitney’s rise as a model, she was already a seasoned creative talent in her own right long before. She had a hand in various artistic mediums, as well as being a skilled gymnast. “When I think of my upbringing, I have flashbacks of music programs, singing in after-school opera programs and participating in many theatre programs,” She says. Her background has allowed for her to tap into different versions of herself during shoots, and also pull inspiration from a diverse range of experiences. Whitney maintains her inspiration through observation, and the beauty that comes with every little detail of life. “I’m constantly learning, unlearning and relearning how to be human in my interactions,” She says. “I’ve always been sentimental, the small things matter a lot to me.”
“I’m constantly learning, unlearning and relearning how to be human in my interactions.”
Since bursting on to the modeling scene, Whitney has walked for a number of different brands, one of her favorites being the work she did with Madeleine Porter, an old family friend, at the Mass Exodus Fashion Show. She has also graced the pages of Photo Vogue, Vogue Italia, a memory which she recalls as being completely spontaneous. “My sister’s friend Natasha Thirlwell was building her photography portfolio at the time and she asked to photograph me,” She says. “Natasha wanted to integrate her younger sister’s purple tights into the concept for the shoot but she wasn’t entirely sure how. After experimenting with the tights in different forms, she ended up sliding them onto my arm and merging it with the black-one piece. As she’s positioning the tights on my arm, she squints and declares: ‘That will do.’ ” The moment stands as a landmark accomplishment for Whitney, one she hopes to build on in the near future.
“I genuinely believe that when you’re confident in yourself, in who you are, in what you stand for, it’s when you have the most control in your life.”
As with any other profession, being a model has come with its share of uphill battles. One in particular is the industry’s insistence on external factors that are beyond a model’s control, which can result in a feeling of weakness to some. Whitney is at peace with what she brings to the table though, and maintains the belief that no matter what, she is enough. “I genuinely believe that when you’re confident in yourself, in who you are, in what you stand for, it’s when you have the most control in your life.” She says.
Whitney’s goals moving forward are to continue to work regionally and abroad with brands she sees herself represented in as well as continue meeting like minded individuals who inspire her. Expect to see her and her distinct cheekbones on a billboard near you as her creativity and spontaneity are already beginning to make waves. Oyin Olalekan knew she seen a star that night, and Abigail Whitney can’t help but sit back at times and think about how far she’s come since then. “I can definitely be found daydreaming from time to time,” She says. “The experiences that led me here, the memories I carry, they make me who I am. I think that’s unique and it belongs to me.”
Special Thanks To:
Ebony Anita Ghadafi
Christine Lazuli McGregor