“A lot of people just see me as “just a pretty face”, but I’m not” | Top model Teminikan says in an exclusive interview with Yellowlyfestyle

Idowu Teminikanijesu
Idowu Teminikanijesu

The YellowLyfe interviews are back! We call them exclusives with top rated professionals in different fields, where we have intimate conversations that highlight what you did not know about these people – and the truth.

Nigerian model, Idowu Teminikanijesu is our chat buddy today and oh my! We had a lot of questions, but we asked the ones we could and you will want to see her interesting responses.

Hello Teminikan, tell us something we don’t know

Um… I’m pretty much a very geeky person. There’s this side of me that would rather just bury myself in books, computer works. So I have that side to me that most people don’t know. A lot of people just see me as “just a pretty face”, but I’m not. I would choose books over going out. I’m actually like a stylish introvert that just glued into an extrovert that didn’t have a choice. I would choose to stay in my house just reading or sleeping rather than having to go out. So, this side of me is something that work is gradually erasing. If there was a way to make money without leaving my house, I would definitely choose it.

What kind of books do you read?

I am a huge romance fan, and I love fantasy. Enid Blyton is my favourite author, and I love her so much. I also love adventures, magical movies, and business books, but I would instead read fantasy books when I’m reading for fun. I’m just a baby in my head, so I love to live that side of me. No matter how old we are, we still want to be babies somewhere in our heads. So I love reading those books because they remind me of how much we are still children; we might be adults, all grown up with responsibilities and all, but there is still this side of us that is still young, wild and free.


So have you been up to lately? Any projects?

I have been modelling for seven years of my life, so I have decided to do something different this year. I want to focus more on the influencing side of my work. I usually do food blogging for fun, but now I’m focusing on making something from which I can earn money, so I do restaurant blogging and reviewing. I also have a jewellery brand that will be one year old next month. I have had it for that long, but I’m not very loud on it. Most people don’t think modelling is a job, but it is. That’s the difference between someone who wants to do modelling as a career and someone who does it just to make some money or get famous. It can consume you and take up all your time due to all the different aspects involved in it as a career. There is self-development purposeful research, and that’s the thin line between people who become successful at it and people who drop it along the way. It has been taking a lot of my time, but now I’m focusing on my jewellery brand, rebranding it at the moment, but I’m almost done with that. It’s just to launch it, doing the complete fix and anniversary next month.

So how has getting into influencing been?

It has been fun. I have always been out there; it’s just that I have never really tapped into it until mid last year. I wouldn’t say I like the idea of being a model and doing many different things. However, I recently discovered that you could be those things without taking too much from one. So as soon as I discovered I could manage all of that, I moved. The funny thing is I already had a queue of brands waiting, so I just had to select which one I wanted to work with and get on the job. Modelling is a form of influencing, people don’t know, but it is because you are promoting/selling the brand. So it is a form of influencing. It has always been there, so it was just for me to tap into it.

When did modelling become a full-time career for you?

I started modelling when I was in school – late 2013. There was one very unserious shoot that I got into; that was how I started shooting. We shot it in one dirty river like that, you know, one of those funny-looking shoots where you wear one awkward looking chain around your neck. In early 2014, I did a lot of free shoots back then in Ibadan because I was schooling in Ibadan at the time, there was an ASUU strike for six months, and I had nothing to do. So I was just at home taking pictures of myself; as soon as school resumed, I went back to that same photographer and told him to let’s continue. So we started from there. Bolaji Fawehinmi of Few models saw one of those pictures and reached out to me; she said she wanted to manage me, and that was a significant deal for me because I started visiting Lagos frequently. I would sometimes leave school and travel to Lagos to take my polaroid. It was rough because I had to choose between school and work many times. It wasn’t a full-time career at the time until I realised it could be. I got my first job and modelled about fifteen outfits for thirty-five thousand naira then. So I was like, “wow, so this thing can feed me”, then I started getting serious about it. I couldn’t even believe I finished school with an excellent grade, but I did. It became a full-time career when I started making money, so I started taking time off school to come to Lagos to do collaborations and shoots. From 2015-to 2017, I was under Few models management, then I left Few in 2017 and competed in the Face of Zaron, and I won. So that was my first year of freelancing; between 2017-2018, I was on my own, not under any management. 2018 to 2019, I joined Beth. I was already the Face of Zaron, so I had become a brand. So Beth reached out to me saying that they manage brands because I was now “The Teminikan”, not just a model. So I joined and became like the Face of Beth because when you have a popular model, you tend to put that model out more than your other models. I was with them for just one year because I noticed that I was booking the jobs. When you are famous, the clients come to you, so it became an issue because you would book the jobs but still have to share your percentage with the agency. So I just left.


That period between 2017-2018 when you were freelancing, what was it like?

Freelancing is tough, especially when you think you have arrived but haven’t. Oh my God! It is tough not because you won’t get the jobs but because you would get priced down badly. You would be approached to accept 40,000 – 50,000 naira when your agency can quickly negotiate 200,000 to 300,000 naira for you.  I mean, I’m a freelancer right now, but it’s different because I have done the work. So I always tell people, “with every profession, you have to do the work”. I read it in a book, “40 ways to know that you would become rich asides from having a rich parent is the fact that you must have worked for it”. Everything in life, you must have worked for it. You must have done a certain number of years, building yourself up cultivating habits. If you ask someone whose business is flourishing right now, they would tell you that they have put in work over the years. You must have consistently put in time and effort before it begins to work by itself. It’s like a tree that’s planted but isn’t regularly watered, it might now wither, but it won’t grow like it’s supposed to, but if it were taken care of as it should have been, it would get to a particular stage the tree grows by itself with little or no effort. So I always tell aspiring models that it’s not just about being a pretty face; you must work hard for what you want, take in all the insults and trials that come with the job, and then say you are ready. You must have gone through a process, so now I can say that freelancing has been so delicious that I do not ever want to be under an agency ever again because I have done the work.

Hmm… So what if an international agency decides that they want to manage you?

I would join but it has to be worth the sacrifice. If an international agency is signing me right now, they would be bringing me on as a major face of their establishment. International agencies build you up and make you into a brand but I’m already a brand so I wouldn’t want to settle for getting paid just 10% of the earnings. It would be a case of what job the agency can get me that I haven’t gotten myself. We would be talking about Vogue, Elite, and other major agencies that can get me major campaigns like a Zara campaign for example. I wouldn’t want to join an agency only to start from the bare minimum again.


What was it like juggling school and modeling? Was there support from family and friends?

There was zero support from family because my parents are from the Apostolic faith, so those deep religious tenets were against me. They didn’t know that I was a model until the Face of Zaron competition went viral. When my mum heard about it, she fainted. I had to go and meet her at the hospital where we eventually had the conversation. However, I was able to gain their trust by not crossing that line from the very beginning of my career. That was the only factor that brought my parents back to me because they realised that as much as I was modelling behind them, I didn’t do it to embarrass them, in all my decisions I put them into consideration. So, when I got into trouble years later, when there was a scandal about me and Adekunle Gold, my mum wasn’t bothered because she trusted me and knew I would never do anything like that. I was so worried when that news came out but my mum called and asked how I was doing. My religion is very important to me and it has really helped me a lot. I’m very big on God, that helped with my career a lot and I think that’s what helped me through school as well, because it was really hard in school. I missed many tests while I was away for jobs. During fashion week, I was also writing my final project in school. I started preparing for exams immediately after fashion week and the stress was a lot, so I fainted during the exam. I couldn’t write that paper.

You talked about the Adekunle Gold rumour, are you close to the Kosoko family?

No, not really. Adekunle Gold and I were just friends. We have been friends since 2016 so we just follow each other on social media, you know normal social media friends. We just did a job together, my very first music video actually. I had always stayed away from music videos, so that year I just wanted to give it a trial and immediately the person said it was Adekunle Gold, I was like, “Oh! My friend”. Obviously, I’m comfortable with my friend so I can do this and it was fun. When I got to the set, he was like , “Oh! It’s this naughty girl that you people brought”. We were that cool but you know people can be very funny, they just want to cook up stories that don’t even make sense and ruin good friendships.

How did the rumour affect you? Your work, your relationship?

However, it did affect me a lot, I was sick for about a week. I went off social media. I lost a three million naira deal because of that rumour. I had signed that deal a week before. I had done a shoot for this brand before, I don’t want to mention the name but it’s a hotel. We had done a shoot but they wanted to do a video campaign. I booked everyone on the set from the videographer to the make-up artist, then the scandal came up and the deal was off. The following week, my entire crew worked with another model. The manager called a few days later to tell me that the owner of the hotel said he didn’t want anything to do with someone who was involved in a scandal. I lost that job. I’m big on integrity, I don’t like things splashing on my white. I’m always in my own bubble so that situation felt like someone just came to burst my bubble. I felt naked, it was very embarrassing but we thank God.

So how were you able to come back from that?

I just woke up one day and decided I was done being sad about it. The person in question was moving on with his life like nothing happened. So I put up a disclaimer, the blogs that didn’t even carry the rumour like Linda Ikeji, Instablog carried my disclaimer because everyone knows the blog that carried the rumour isn’t a sincere blog. The important blogs carried it and I moved on with my life.

What’s a typical day like for you?

So when I’m not shooting, I’m just indoors sorting jewellery deliveries. When I’m not doing that, I’m probably planning the content for my next shoot or resting because just one day of modelling can take two days of rest from you. Modelling is extremely hectic, it’s like going to the gym. I try as much as possible to inculcate resting and pampering myself. So at least once a month, I go to a spa and get a massage, sometimes two or three times a month. It is extremely important to just have that lifestyle. I understand that it’s expensive and not everyone can afford that but as soon as you can, just ensure you add it to your lifestyle. It is also important to eat well and treat your skin well as a model. I try to do at least one skincare routine in a day if I’m not just randomly washing my face, I have a couple of things that I use to just wipe my face. It is not even compulsory to do something extra or use a lot of products, just grab a wipe and wipe your face.


You also seem to be a foodie

Yeah, Food is a thing for me. I don’t eat so much but I eat a little bit of everything and I have come to understand that food makes me happy. I think we are plenty in that WhatsApp group. It gives me some sort of joy when I order food and it’s almost here or I’m going to a new restaurant to try their food. The colourfulness just draws me in, the leaf here, the crust of the bread, those little things, that’s what got me into food blogging. This is why I said I’m focusing on my food blogging this year, you are going to start seeing a lot of that on my page. I have started posting restaurants and reviewing them. I used to do a lot of that on my story but this year I want to focus on it. It’s part of The Teminikan Brand focus.

So what are the things that a person must do to be a successful model in Nigeria?

Um… I’m not giving you guys the full gist because I’m having some kind of lecture next month. You need self-development, physical development, emotional development, consistency and determination, a good agency and a manager. Those are the very important ones, they should register for my class if they need to know more. Skincare is under physical development.

What’s your favourite quote?

I have two quotes. The first is You only live once. That’s for my chop-life enjoyment. While the second one is, Time is money. It is very important because age and time waits for no one. It is important to spend time like you are spending money. Whatever you are spending your time on, ensure that it is worth your while. Don’t just waste time. 

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