Adia Coulibaly: Redefining Style, One Strut At A Time.


Can you share with us your journey from Senegal/Mali to America? What inspired you to pursue a career in modeling?

I was actually born in Paris, France, and I was discovered there. I did a worldwide campaign for Benetton. Bethann Harrison saw my picture and brought me to NYC, and the rest is history.

How has your Senegalese/Malian heritage influenced your sense of style and identity as a fashion model?

Being from Mali and Senegal greatly influenced my sense of style. I wear traditional clothes all the time, and I feel like I am carrying my heritage and my culture.

What challenges have you faced as an African model living and working in America, and how have you overcome them?

I retired from this industry because I had to deal with my own mortality. I had triple negative breast cancer, the worst case of breast cancer. I am a mother of 2 girls. I had to have a double mastectomy and an oophorectomy,  and I struggled with depression afterwards.

A big kudos to your confidence and resilence, As a model, you have a platform to influence perceptions of beauty and fashion. How do you use your voice and presence in the industry to promote diversity and inclusion?

As a former model I feel that I do not have a platform. The same people who abused me and took jobs from me throughout my career now continue to abuse young Black girls in the industry under the guide  of inclusion, and these people still have power and influence. Therefore I don’t feel that my voice would be heard while the industry is in the state that it’s currently in.

What advice would you give to aspiring models, especially those from Senegal/Mali or other African countries, who dream of making it in the international fashion scene?

I would tell aspiring models to focus on their education because modeling is an ungrateful business especially for our people. We really don’t have a voice in that industry, even in the modern day which is much more progressive than the times where I was

In what ways do you think African fashion and models contribute to the diversity and richness of the global fashion landscape?

To be honest, when it comes to Africans there is a lot less diversity than you would think. They may take girls from different countries, but overall there is a certain look that casting agents tend to go for when it comes to African girls. This can create an oversaturation of models who may be from different parts of the continent, but all have similar features.

Can you talk us through any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re excited about?

Currently I’m working on spreading awareness around breast cancer, specifically for African women. Breast cancer took my mother and my aunties, and now I have had to endure it as well. I am grateful that I was able to persevere, and now I want to dedicate my life to helping other women persevere as well.

Finally, what legacy do you hope to leave behind as a fashion model from Senegal/Mali living in America?

My legacy will be the struggle I had to endure and the ways in which I overcame them. My struggles did not begin with breast cancer, and they will not end there either. However, I came out stronger after everything I’ve been through. Even despite the struggles I encountered while modeling, I do not have a chip on my shoulder and I’m proud of the work I’ve done and I am confident that I made my mark on the world.

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