UK-based Nigerian Supermodel, Ibukunoluwapo Jegede could at best be described as a modern day Superman joggling modeling, politics and studies. After being persuaded by a photographer to try out modeling, Ibukun has risen within a short period to become one of the most sought after and accomplished male model of colour in the UK.
The 6.2 ft tall international model who is currently studying Information and Technology at the Nottingham Trent University won Britain’s Next Top Model of Colour in 2008 after competing with 4500 models at the Chelsea Stadium. In 2007, he was awarded Standout Model of the year by Modelsat and again in 2008, he was awarded most fashionable male model in East Midlands UK. Another award came for him in 2009, when he won the nod for Best Male Model of the Year at the BEFFTA Awards (Black Entertainment Fashion Film Television and art Awards) in London.
Ibukun’s rise has also been highlighted by working with several African and European designers. He has hit the runway for shows like the London Fashion Week, London Alternative Fashion Week, Wimbledon Fasion Week, Croydon Fashion Week, Mahogany Bridal Show, Fashion Africa, and House of Fraser Fashion Show. As an ambassador for Podium International in the UK, he has showcased outfit for worldwide designers like Paul Smith, Fred Perry, Timberland, Hugo Boss, DKNY and Aaron Dowie.
The Nigerian top model is signed to Mahogany Models and Standout Model Management and he serves as an ambassador to aspiring Nigerian models based in the UK. However, his passion goes beyond modeling. He has worked in different charity projects to help the motherless babies home in Africa. Ibukun joined British politics in 2008 with the Labour Party and serve as a member of Nottingham East Constituency.
I caught up with Ibukun to find out more about his journey, career, aspirations and plans for the future.
I am originally from Nigeria. My father is from Osun but I spent part of my lifetime in Lagos and Nottingham. I am currently located in Nottingham East Midlands UK.
Ameyaw Debrah: what inspired you to get into modeling?
I started in Lagos Nigeria but wasn’t serious about it. I later relocated to the UK and found myself in the industry. I was somewhere at Selfridges and a photographer saw me and told me I had what it takes to model. I took it up from there. I was inspired by Tyson Beckford, and generally I love fashion and looking good, which is part of my job.
Ameyaw Debrah: Do you have a role model in the profession?
Tyra Banks. She’s beautiful and I love her for her hard work. I think she’s unique and most of all I love the fact she is helping aspiring models through ‘America’s Next top Model’.
Ameyaw Debrah: What type of modeling do you do?
I do any thing as long as I am comfortable. I work on the runway, commercial, Editorial jobs and so on. I am hoping to explore artistic nude as well.
Ameyaw Debrah: What else do you do aside modeling?
Aside modeling I am a student pursuing a career in Information and Communication Technology which will be over soon. I am also a British politician and a member of Nottingham East Constituency Labour party.
Ameyaw Debrah: Do you have any other ambitions, say acting?
I might say presenting maybe in the nearest future.
Ameyaw Debrah: What’s the fiercest or wildest photo shoot or job you ever did?
I actually did an editorial shoot and was almost naked. That’s all I’m going to say for now.
Ameyaw Debrah: Who is your favourite photographer?
Maybe, I would choose Ian Dew and Jonathan Bailey.
Ameyaw Debrah: How did you feel winning the Britain’s Next Top Model of Colour, and how has it affected your modeling career?
I didn’t expect to win but it has been a great opportunity for me especially being the first African male model to win the title. It has affected my life in so many positive ways. Now, I am proud to say with that title I have traveled to some countries I never dreamt to be in, to work. But I hate the celebrity status because it’s too demanding.
Actually I just got back from Nigeria recently. It’s difficult on the international scene especially for Africans in the UK. Nothing good comes easy. Personally, I advise models to work in Africa or the US where they can sell.
Ameyaw Debrah: What have been some of the challenges for you?
Trust me, people see me and think everything that comes my way is easy but life is all about facing challenges. For example, to get a job isn’t that easy especially combining lot of things together like my university work and political work.
Ameyaw Debrah: What’s your role in the Labour Party?
I joined to represent international students in Nottingham. I am guessing I am the only international student in NEC Labour party but I try to bring out problems we face to the board for consideration.
Ameyaw Debrah: What is your routine day like?
I wake up in the morning; have a short prayer before I have my shower. I go to the university for lectures, hangout with friends, have a drink up, go to the gym, go to meetings if I have any, travel if I got any modeling jobs and end up ‘Facebooking’.
Ameyaw Debrah: Do you have a training or exercising regiment?
I try to go to the gym at least 3 times a week, I try to avoid junk foods and drink lot of liquid. I run on the treadmill for 20 minutes, lift weight and do lot of sit ups.
Ameyaw Debrah: Any special diets or habits to stay in shape?
Drink a lot of water, fruits, vegetables and stay off fatty food.
Ameyaw Debrah: What’s your favourite African food?
Actually I am thinking of having pounded yam and Egusi soup after this interview.
Ameyaw Debrah: What do you hope to achieve with your career?
I want to represent Africa and create a positive impact on the lives of people.
Ameyaw Debrah: Are you going to have a related profession to your university studies or will you model fulltime?
I will definitely have a company in IT and model along the side.