Plus Model: Kori Leilani
ACM: We’ve watched your growth over the past year. When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion model and why?
Kori: First let me say thank you for following my journey thus far as I pursue a career as a Plus Model. You acknowledging my growth means so much to me. Thank you. At first I can honestly say this was a hobby for me. An outlet so to speak. I took pictures because it was always something my late mother knew I’d be good at. When she passed in December of 2008, I was in a weird place in my life not knowing what to do or who I was. One day 2yrs after her death, I literally woke up and thought to myself “what am I doing? And “is this the life my mother wanted for me? And most importantly… “What am I showing my 2yr old daughter?” so I began to take modeling more seriously and began to study and research and reach out to people in the business. At that time I entered my first model search. “The Face of Evie Foster Designs”. Long story short… I entered it with just the hopes of having the sense of accomplishment for taking the next step in my journey… Not having any idea I would actually win it… But I did! I did win it… And I truly watched a different person arise from it. This confidence I never felt before. This belief in myself that I never really new existed. This was what my mother was telling me I had in me for years… I just needed to find it. And from that moment in June of 2011… I decided to put all I had into pursing this career.
ACM: What are some of your accomplishments as a model?
Kori: It’s so crazy to actually think that I have accomplishments in the Plus Size industry, but I do! *smiling* When I first started I was featured as a Spotlight Model of the week for 8 Plus Diva’s and Spotlight model of the month for Plus Model Magazine. I have been featured as the Cover Model for Daily Venus Diva Magazine. I had my first editorial in Skorch Magazine in October 2011. I was then cast to be the face of “Eva the Diva” a character in a novel by author Eva Tremaine, Seven Again: Coming Full Circle released November 2011. As recent as November 5th, 2011 I embarked on a new-found adventure: hosting my own Plus Fashion Show “La Curve Fatale” which was a big success in the Pacific North West. From there I’ve recently had my second editorial along with fellow friend and model Sommer Green that was published in the June 2012 issue of Plus Model Magazine. I’m just coming back from a huge accomplishment of mine which was walking in FFFWeek 2012! Not only did I walk in the two showcases but I also was chosen to be 1 of 10 models to walk in the Bloomingdale’s showcase and was also chosen to be 1 of 3 models to model on the fashion segment on Good Morning NYC on Fox 5 news. *exciting!!!*
ACM: Are there any models which inspire you and why?
Kori: I enjoy following models such as Ashley Graham, Fluvia Lacerda and of course the late Mia Amber. They all seem so normal. Real women. It doesn’t seem like it’s all about the hype of being a Plus Model. I look at them and their work and I always feel like I can relate to them. And that’s what I like about following them. Following their work, learning and studying their careers has been really beneficial to me. I relate to normal… because that’s how I see myself.
ACM: How has modeling changed other aspects of your life?
Kori: I have become so much more confident in myself. I believe my confidence helps me be a better mother, sister and friend. When you’re sure about yourself… You tend to trust yourself more and not worry about things that you can’t control.
ACM: If you could pick 3 fashion must-haves that every woman should own, what would they be?
Kori: lol… Well I don’t consider myself a Fashionista or anything… But if I were to choose my 3 fashion must haves would be…
*Basic pair of skinny jeans
Torrid is my favorite right now…
*Basic summer dress
Forever 21 and Kmart have plenty that I love and own!
*And then I’m really into big purses right now. With big flowers on them. I LOVE them and have so many!
ACM: What are your goals as a model? How do you see yourself progress in this field?
Kori: I really hope to make a difference in the Plus industry by breaking the size and color barriers that are currently there. The average person may not see them, but as models we experience it every day. The No’s because I’m considered “too plus” or the No’s because my hairs too short and you don’t look like “the girl next door”… I mean, really when you think about it, depending on which culture you are from and where you were raised… the girl next door look is different in all of them. So, just wanting there to be more open mindedness and acceptance to women of color in not just fashion shows and runways but in commercial print for major companies that represent me.
ACM: Do you have any advice for aspiring fashion models?
Kori: My advice would be to work hard. Work hard and never give up. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t. Because really, YOU CAN! That goes for all aspects of your life, not just modeling. Also, do your research, study and network and soak in as much information as you can from those in the plus industry. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. Don’t follow in any one’s footsteps. Pave your own way. Be yourself. I always say staying true to myself is what got me where I am today… And I’m proud of that.
ACM: Who is one of your favorite local models to work with?
Kori: Before FFFWeek I hadn’t worked with many models. Sommer Green is a local model that I have had the great opportunity to work with and become friends with as well. Coming out of FFFWeek 2012 I had the awesome opportunity to work side by side with some amazing women. That I now call friends. I would be honored to work with any of them. Kristen Rose Piccone, Katrina Robinson, Telethia Penn, Laura Johnson, & Nicole Zepeda are just to name a few 🙂
ACM: What can we expect for you in the future and where can we find you on the web?
Kori: I’m working on becoming a signed model right now. So I hope you will all see me on a Plus Model Agencies board really soon! I’m always working on getting involved in editorials and interviews and working hard to get my name out there and becoming a working model. I’d love it if you’d please visit me on FB “Plus Model Kori Leilani” you can find me on Model Mayhem “Kori Leilani” and you can also view my website at www.korileilani.com and email me at email@example.com