You Can Still Be Successful Whether Married Or Not- Aken | Independent Newspapers Limited
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You Can Still Be Successful Whether Married Or Not- Aken

Jenevieve Aken
Posted: Jun 26, 2016 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Jenevive Aken, is the 2011 winner of MTN/British Council Model of the Year 2011’ which came with the prize of N1,000,000 (One million Naira) and a modeling contract with BETH Modeling Agency.As a visual artist/photographer, she uses her works to fight against the stigmatisation of women, thereby providing a voice to many who are maimed and voiceless.CHINYERE ABIAZIEM, had an exclusive chat with the poised, courteous, smart and dark beauty at a fashion event recently; where she spoke on her career, advocacy work, the need for unmarried women not to feel inferior and many more. Excerpts:

You are a model and also a photographer, what influenced your choice of career in photography?
I will say photography chose me because I never knew I would grow up to become a photographer until when I got to know what photography is. I think I fell in love with it and was inspired by a friend who taught me the basics. I ran with that and went to do a two months course in South Africa and Germany. So I have been into photography for years now. Before then I went to study TV journalism in Jos and stepped down to focus on photography because I was not inspired nor enjoying it. I felt that instead of wasting my time I rather do what I will be able to practice and get a career out of.

How profitable has it been so far?
It has been great. I have had like four bodies of works now. I have exhibited in Nigeria severally. I have also exhibited in South Africa, Europe and the last was in April in New York. It is just left for me to work more and create more images.

Can you talk about the peculiarity of your works?
My works are very conceptual and strictly for exhibitions, but I still do commercial if I’m being commissioned to work.  I also use my works to speak for the women folk in the area of sexual harassment and the various forms of stigmatisations against them.

You look so beautiful …
Ooh! (Chuckles) I get to hear that a lot.

Where did you get your foreign accent from, because you speak more in a foreign accent?
I don’t know. I can’t really tell where my accent is from. I grew up in Cross River State but now I am a mover, I go anywhere. For me I think I sound like any other person.

Does it have to do with the modeling part of you?
I do not think so; I think it has to do with how liberal I am. In life when you realise who you are, certain things start falling into place and that has to do with your behaviour and who you are.  You just mould yourself into that.

Can you share your growing up experience?
It’s quite a long story; I would really not want to go into that.

Is there anything life has taught you?
Well, every experience and what I have learnt in life have made me who I am today. There is so much I have learnt in life. I have had so many experiences that I have learnt from, which have formed my achievements as the Genevieve speaking with you. Life for me is a journey.

Can you recall any remarkable moment in your life?
The remarkable moment that I will never forget was when I was awarded as the model of the year in 2011.  I never dreamt of it. That night was a great night and one that I will never forget. There are so many amazing things that have happened that could take like a day to talk about.

Various people see fashion in different ways, what do you take fashion to be?
For me fashion means simplicity, arts, knowing your style and how to go about it. Fashion is not meant for anyone but finding your own style and how to carry it.

What really makes fashion an art?
That is why I said it comes with a sense of it and that it is not meant for anyone. It is you knowing who you are and finding that style that you think you can carry.

How about your marital or relationship status?
I’m not married yet and I do not have a boyfriend. It is a personal decision. It is my choice, maybe not now but later.

Do you see marriage or relationship as a form of distraction?
No. I do not see it as a form of distraction, just that I have my own rules and have my decisions to make. It also has to do with the person influencing me positively.

These days, some ladies prefer hanging out to eat than finding time to prepare their own meals. Hope you find time to cook?
Ooh! I cook very well, remember I am from Cross River State.

What dish is your favourite?
I do not have any favourite dish because there are so many foods out here. Infact I am still exploring other people’s food.

Do you have time to actually relax?

I love relaxing a lot, lying in my bed, sipping wine and reading a book and creating.

What is your religious belief?
I do not have any religious belief but I know that I am a Christian.

How about your life principles?
Go for what you want!

There are several allegations of sexual harassment in the modeling industry, have you once been a victim?
Yes there is a lot of sexual harassment in the modeling industry.  I was harassed but was not raped, I won’t deny it.

So how did you cope with the sexual harassment?
I know my work and where I am going. There was a time in Abuja, when a man told me he would help me to be a super model in and outside Nigeria. I knew he was lying and was only making the fake promises because he wanted to sleep with me. My spirit did not accept the promise because I knew I had to work for it but not in the sexual way.

Going forward as a young woman what are your dreams for the future?
My future is now. I see every minute as my future. For me the next minute could be a turnaround for one.

Do you agree that unmarried women/ matured singles are usually looked down on in the society; be it in the workplace, family or church and what is your piece of advice to women in this category?
Yes I do. You know this actually took me to the first series of my work where I tried to address the issue of stigmatisation against unmarried women. The society has made it to be that if you are not married then you are not successful.  I believe this norm can be shifted only when we change our perception. I will advise women in this category to keep being themselves, being the women that they are and refuse to be intimidated. I have made up my mind that even if I do not get married I would not lose my inner happiness, which is very important.