Yamani Wallace is the newest face of Natural Models LA. The L.A. based model, is not only photogenic but stunning in person. She makes it look effortless as she takes a seat wearing her curly tresses in a top knot bun, yoga pants and a fleece sweater. Did I mention, no make-up? That’s optional. She’s confident, relaxed and in her element. Aside from her aesthetic, I wanted to learn more about Yamani’s intersectionality as a black queer woman and balancing those identities.
Interview by, Javonne Crummby
JC: You are signed to Natural Models LA, an agency whose mission is “to let models be healthy and happy.” What is it like being part of such a body positive agency?
Yamani: It’s GREAT, but it’s also challenging because the stigma in the model world is if you’re a straight size model, you’ve gotta be a [size] 0-4, instead of [sizes] 12-16. I like it personally, because I’m in that awkward not straight size, but not plus size, and not such a curve model. And a lot of people look up to the movement ‘healthy is the new skinny’ because of the body positivity that is somewhat a trend now. You get a positive vibe being on set with a lot of curve models, and plus size models to the point where you don’t have to not eat so much before a shoot. Or, starve yourself before a shoot so, I love it! It’s really comforting knowing that there’s other women and other girls that look up to me. I get DM’s on a daily like “oh my god, I know I’m not this size but do you think I can still fit into the agency?” I’m just starting out and people are already looking up to me, thinking I’m this famous person because I’m on the agency’s website and that’s not the case. But it’s so empowering to speak to a young lady over social media that wants to pursue her dreams even though she’s not a straight sized model. The agency is very becoming of women and body positivity.
JC: Hey Yamani! So your Instagram bio says “Black with a little bit of cream.” What is your racial background?
Yamani Wallace: My dad is Black and my mom is White and Black. Her white side is German and English and my dad is a red tone with green eyes and freckles, so we have a blend of something else. When people ask me I always say Black. I don’t like saying “mixed” because people assume that means just white and black.
JC: Interesting! Did you ever face any challenges growing up being a mix of different races?
Yamani: Definitely. I noticed it more around middle school. I had a best friend she was white. We hung out all the time. It was me, another black girl and our white friend. Her mom told her going into 7th grade, that she hung out with too many black people and she needed to cut it out. We went to a predominately white school. I’m from a predominately white area [San Dimas, CA]. I remember there were like 10 people, I could count on my hands that I graduated with, that were people of color. At lunch one day we were all hanging out around some dancer and the proctor came over and said “there’s too many of you hanging in one area, you need to disperse, because it looks bad.” There’s a lot of stuff like that. Even in sports it’s like “oh you’re gonna be good, because your black.”