IxD x Tia Maria
Model Profile: Tia Marie Dawson . 22 years old . Omaha native . 5' 10", 32-26-37.
Miss Tia arrives at Aromas with boyfriend and popular music artist, Scky Rei, both looking photo shoot ready. Her leather, open toe, platforms with black socks, long legs showing under her denim cutoffs and over-sized jean jacket. And of course she's adorned with her trademark black lipstick and box braids, topped with her Fedora. We find a comfy couch, exchange some random convo and delve right into the interview.
Well I actually started at 12 years old in a Younkers fashion show. It was a little bootleg, but so much fun. But about a year and a half ago I was at an event called Love and Art fest where I met photographer Pierre who goes by Kenal Louis. He came up and was like 'I really wanna shoot you' and of course I was thinking 'oooh weirdo, haha', but my mom said to just give it a try. We shot later that year in November. Did my own makeup, dressed myself and that shoot got me two covers. After that I was like 'ok, Lets do this.'
Would you consider that your big break?
"Yea, it was planned out, but it was never like, oh we're shooting this for a magazine cover! Midwest Black Hair based in KC and I was offered one in Africa called Theta. Midwest Black Hair was super cool because I had my first and last name and like three pages inside to myself plus the cover. And on the website I was the background- it was so super dope! I was really excited about it.
What big projects do you have coming up?
Only thing I have going on at the moment is a video shoot for Scky. This month I've already done everything I need to do. I've done Omaha Fashion Week, RAW, a few shoots here and there. One coming up with Damien Grace and you know Legalized Rebellion, I always shoot with them. The beginning of March was like photoshoot, photoshoot, photoshoot, fashion show, fashion show, so it's been pretty busy.
What would your dream modeling job be?
You know what, I would love to be - I already have a list, haha - I would love to be in UNIF clothing, Urban Outfitters, Nasty Gal, love Nasty Gal. And Moschino, that style, I saw the Fall 2015 line, it's gonna have the Looney Tunes characters in it, I love, love weird stuff like that. Yea, I'm not really like the couture type of girl, I like the different, the edgy. That would be a dream come true. Anything different, I don't do basic. I love weird, different stuff.
Have you already or are you looking forward to traveling with modeling?
I actually wanna do a traveling trip with, of course my boyfriend Scky Rei. We want to relocate, him as far as music, me as far as modeling. We're setting up a trip to Chicago. I want to go to Ford and different modeling agencies. Because I don't wanna just do modeling here, I don't feel like my look is really here, so I need to broaden out. I've also done Kansas City Fashion week and after I did that I was thinking, I've done enough here, like I've done 3 OFW's now. It's like I need to do another fashion week somewhere else. We'll definitely be working on that this summer, like in May, I'm shooting for May.
What do you do to make sure you establish your own identity in this industry and stand apart from everyone else?
Honestly just being myself, I've always been odd. Since kindergarten, I just looked different. I think i was like 5 and in this school pic I had all these chokers on and the braids and this velvet dress, it was like I looked odd back then so it was meant for me to be different. I'm just myself and I throw on what I want to throw on and it just looks different, because the way I think and the way I do things is just different. So I feel like even if I go somewhere else I'm still gonna be just me. But it's like when I look on Insta and at people from other places, some of them look similar to me and then I think, well maybe I'm just too different for Omaha, NE. Even with the hair, like I was just tired of my real hair so I decided to go back to braids. I've always had them when I was young and then I started modeling and thats how people know me now, like I'd feel weird taking them out, thats how people notice me. I also feel people are like intimidated of the braids, like the stylists just throw them around like, 'I don't know what to do with them' and its like they're just braids. During the summer show I had to do my own hair twice, and one of the times I actually got in the World Herald. I actually styled my outfit too so that was really cool.
Speaking on your look and things people know you by, the black lipstick, is that one of your statement looks?
I love black lipstick, I love dark lipstick. I always gravitate towards the dark colors. Like this color, I had to wait for it to come back out, its like limited edition (MAC Hautecore), put it in my cart fast and I barely use it since it is limited. But yea the dark lipstick, of course the braids, and I always have like a fedora and the jellys. Oh and the unicorn bun.
Has it been difficult getting into the modeling industry here in Omaha?
I feel like here for me it was really easy, I got noticed really fast and I don't like saying that because it sounds really cocky, but it's true. The girl with the braids, that's pretty much what people know me as, the black girl with the braids. And I'm kinda nervous to go somewhere else, because I know that there are women who probably you know, skinnier, taller. So of course theres gonna be more competition than here, but I feel like I've conquered Omaha, like i need to find some other competition. All the models here know each other, I wanna go where it's like I don't know anybody and like make my name there.
Are you signed with anybody here? No. Have you thought about that to help the process along?
The thing is I kinda wanted to be independent for a while because I've gotten so much in my portfolio now, like I've got beaucoup pics and its like when you're with an agency they want you to go with who they want you with. I wanted to build my portfolio first and I want to travel and see which agency I want to be with. There is like Sasha Models and Develop Management, but I want to see outside of those. And not to throw any shade, but like the African American models in develop, I don't really feel like....well you see them, but it's like they're not really there. And I want to be winning. No shade. But I want to be marketed like everybody else. I also feel they look more commercial and I'm not really commercial at all. I don't want to have to change up so much, (unless the dollas is high, ya know, haha), but honestly I don't want to change up this, [waves at face], I want to be my own person and I feel they're looking for a look I am not.
Some of your favorite things to do when not modeling?
Shopppppp. I have the biggest shopping problem, like clothing makes me so happy. And my style changes every few months. I was working at Forever 21 for like 4.5 years and my fashion sense just went up and I was always shopping, shopping, shopping, it just makes me so happy, like up. I love going out. I'm also a full time student at UNO, studying psychology. Although I should've went for maybe something in fashion, something I'm more interested in.
Well ultimately what do you want to do, if you weren't modeling?
I would love to come up with my own clothing line of like weird dope stuff, i can't draw, but I would explain what I want to someone; I just want a partner, we could come up with these amazing ideas, that's what I want. I should've went into fashion, fashion marketing. Been in school 3 years, might as well finish now. But I know I'll end up in something in fashion, that's like my heart. I was like modeling...and styling I love that. Its so hard here, because you know people don't really pay for that. But I know if I go somewhere else i could get into that because I love styling ya know. I style myself everyday, then at Forever 21 people would come in for me to style stuff for them, I just need bigger clientele. It's like people have told me they come to my job just to look at what i have on to mimic it and I'm always like I probably just threw something on!
"Be on the lookout for me and my styling y'all, I'm gonna be on some covers."
Your skin is flawless, girl, what are your tips and tricks?
You know what I was pizza face back in the day so it is amazing that you say that, thank you very much. Retinol is your friend. I use retinol and I heard someone say your skins starts aging at.. I forgot the age, but it was like, I'm to that age now. So I'm not gonna let that happen. I use hair, skin, and nail pills and biotin and just exfoliating. One more thing that I use is like a Palmers cocoa butter oil and it has retinol in it, i use that and it has helped my skin tremendously.
Describe how you feel on the runway or in a photoshoot, what kind of emotions do you go through?
On the runway - ok, its two different feelings for me, when I'm on the runway it is fierce, I am a fierce woman. It's like Tia Maria for real, and then when I get off I'm just a goofy person, just Tia. I'm really not that fierce in person. The runway is such a high, its like rocking those clothes and knowing you look good doing it, is such a natural high. And then photo shoots I'm actually quite shy, believe it or not. There was a shoot I did with Kenal before he left and I didn't have a shirt on and I was kinda like, 'Oooooh', [covers self], like people are looking at me. I was just really shy. Even though I come off looking fierce, I'm definitely quite shy. Especially when I'm missing clothes. And I'm always thinking, turn my head here, lift my chin and I learned that from Kenal. He really did train me and I thank him all the time. I mean if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't even be modeling, I never really thought I could model, always thought I looked too different. I was tripping.
Believe in yourself, because at one point in time I didn't have the highest self esteem, I really didn't. Like I said, I was a pizza face, I didn't feel like I was attractive, tall enough, skinny enough, you know all that, and it discouraged me so I missed out on a lot of things. So when you feel like that try and remain positive and don't pay attention to like the magazines and stuff like that because that stuff is photoshopped, that stuff is not real. You gotta look at yourself and know you're beautiful and embrace that and ya know, models, I talk to so many that say they just started because they weren't confidant and its like, life is too short, don't let your self esteem ruin your big break, don't let fear block that. You just have to be fearless and go out there and if it's not your calling at least you tried. I know I've been fearful, really until Kenal came up to me. So yea, be fearless man.