Badlands 777 magazine, Issue #3 ‘Wake up. We’ve arrived. We’re changing the world’ is a wildly felicitous title to adorn the face of our cover girl: model, blogger and entrepreneur, LEOMIE ANDERSON. Whilst her distinct beauty is staggering, her resolute attitude towards women’s issues and appetite to adopt a proactive role is refreshing and inspiring to say the least. The authenticity of Leomie’s ardour and feeling towards her many fans, and the entire female community, further cements her status as a valuable icon within the industry, and a contemporary role model for young girls and women everywhere.
Describe yourself in 3 words …
Optimistic, spontaneous and loyal.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in South London, near Wimbledon!
Describe your teenage years …
A colourful, sunny blur with faint memories of shoobz getting locked off at 11:05, going on Ls (links/dates) and having long, red hair! 14-19 were amazing times in my life.
Tell us why you love London …
London is such a vibrant city, a melting pot of different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds that we often take for granted. When I lived in NYC I realised just how amazing London truly was, we just know how to keep it real and have a laugh.
How did you modelling career begin?
I was scouted by Premier when I was coming home from school at the age of 14! When I was approached, I immediately thought ‘Stranger Danger’ and got on a bus but he came back the next day and told me to give his card to my mum – still didn’t call. A few months later, someone else from there approached me and I thought maybe it was a sign … ten years later, here we are!
Who would you ultimately love to work with?
I can honestly say I’ve had the pleasure of working with most of the people I really look up to such as Rihanna and Kanye; I’ve even had Rihanna wear my clothing brand! I would love to work with some iconic photographers such as Mario Testino or have my clothing brand featured in an editorial (the new pieces I’m working on are amazing!)
When you initially discovered that you had been cast in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, how did you react?
The first time round I cried lol, I was so thankful that my time in New York wasn’t in vain and that all my hard work had paid off. The second time I was just so elated, I couldn’t stop smiling and thinking about my looks for Paris haha!
Who/what do you attribute your success to?
I am very focused on succeeding in everything that I invest my time into and I guess it’s because I grew up knowing how incredibly hard my mum worked to make sure I was able to do whatever I wanted. She never let lack of money stop me from trying everything I was passionate about and I want to make sure I am able to give her everything she wants with my success.
Your clothing brand “LAPP” reflects your dedication to female empowerment and the individual rights of women. What, predominantly, inspired you to do this?
When I wrote a post on my own personal blog about consent and the pressures young girls are under to say no, it went viral and I was given many opportunities to speak about the topic, including going to a school. When I asked the girls who they would turn to for advice, if they didn’t have an older cousin or sister, they felt they had no one and I felt obligated to create something to help them and other girls and women. Every day we see women getting dragged within the media and I wanted to create a safe space on the internet free from such negativity where women and girls can go for advice and inspiration.
In regards to your career, what is the most valuable advice you have received?
Probably a conversation I had with Jourdan years ago about moving to New York. She said that if I can do it, I should, as it would be the best thing for my career and now, looking back, it’s clear that it was. I hate New York but career wise, it was the best move I ever made.
Through your many projects you frequently start important discussions regarding various female issues, which is so right on. However, do you ever feel irritated by those who choose to ignore their ability to raise awareness of issues?
I think it’s stupid to think that everyone who has a big number of followers or influence has a duty to speak on issues that people feel they should address. Not everyone can convey themselves well to an audience, not everyone can write a blog, not everyone is even passionate about issues that people assume they should be. I speak because I am good at it and I am passionate, it doesn’t mean that every model with a big following should do so. If you are passionate about something, say something of course but it is unfair to say that every social media influencer should speak on political issues.
Success in modelling and fashion is notoriously fleeting – what, do you believe, sets the icons apart from the rest?
The 90’s idea of models is dead and gone in my opinion so to become an icon in this day and age I think nothing beats being humble, hard-working and truly yourself. Acting like a diva after two show seasons isn’t “iconic” it just means you’re likely to be replaced by your third season (I’ve seen it happen) so, in my opinion, to last in this industry, it pays to not be an asshole. People don’t want to keep booking assholes. People don’t want to remember assholes.
Racism and sexism remain towering issues that many like to discard or ignore, despite a daily glaring presence. As a successful, female, black model, do you feel a certain amount of pressure to fight specific battles?
I don’t feel pressure to do anything honestly, no one can make me speak on something, the same way no one can stop me. If I have something to say, I say it, if I don’t feel like my commentary will add any value or mean anything, I won’t speak.
You are a role model for young women, both inside and outside of fashion. When you are personally approached by these women do you feel further motivated to continue striving to make a difference?
I am inspired by people’s positive comments every day, especially in regards to LAPP because it is something that I created and am fully in charge of. It’s very difficult to balance modelling and my own personal pursuits but when I get tweets and emails saying how much the content on LAPP has helped someone or how writing for the blog was therapeutic for someone, it does make me push harder to make it an even better and bigger platform for these women.