Name: Eka Eyoh
Agency: Zodiac Management/ Muse Models NYC
Claim To Fame: Eyoh was able to become one of the original models for Savage Fenty and appear in the Pyer Moss x Reebok show before getting an agent. She has also appeared in campaigns for MAC,
Eka Eyoh leapt off a Midwestern conveyor belt “30 minutes outside the twin cities,” to find something “more.”
“Where I’m from, people live there, they start a family and then they just stay there. They don’t really expand,” she told HelloBeautiful.
The pre-prescribed path didn’t excite her. “For me, I was always like, I want to move to the big city. I want to learn. I want to just grow into like this bigger and better person and just see what I can do from there.” After a stint as a Wisconsin art student she moved home to Minnesota and began to formulate a plan to move to a city that offered more career options. “ It’s an amazing state, but I always knew, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life here,” she said.
Ambition wasn’t the only thing spurring her migration. “Living in Wisconsin, it’s very racist, it’s in the middle of nowhere. And I was just really depressed and I was like, I can’t even live here,” she revealed. She completed her degree at the University of Saint Paul while saving money from her position at a “government agency,” to relocate. “When I was 25, I graduated and I was sort of met with a decision. I can either stay in Minnesota and worked a nine to five in marketing and, you know, live that typical life here. Or I could take that leap of faith and move to New York city and become a model. And I was like, I’m 24, like it’s time, so I decided to take the leap of faith and move to New York City.”
Years after she made the decision she’d be laughing at pool parties in the Hamptons and smizing in lingerie ads in magazines, but first she’d have to hustle.
“When I moved here, I had this assumption that I was going to get signed right away and it was just going to be smooth,” she said. Despite moving to one of the most expensive cities in the world with only $6000 she knew stardom was coming. “I was going to have all these bookings. I was going to have all this work and photo shoots and I was just very optimistic, but I also was willing to put in the work. Unfortunately it took more than willingness to succeed. “When I finally moved here, I couldn’t get signed. I had photo shoots here and there, but for the most part, things were just not falling in place and then within like a couple months I ended up, I was broke,” she said. “I was just like maybe moving here and modeling just wasn’t a good decision.” Despite her doubts, she picked up extra work to support herself. “ I ran through my savings and I ended up getting a job in catering.”
The gig put her closer to the modeling industry but the proximity represented cruel irony. “I was at these really big industry parties, serving people like me, appetizers and picking up trash.” The experience wasn’t what she purchased a one way ticket for.
“Back in Minnesota, I was just really manifesting as much as possible,” she continued. “But then when reality set in, I moved to none of that. I was like, here I am picking up trash. I did not even imagine that and then I fell into a really deep depression.”
She acknowledged, “this is not the life I want,” and continued to network with the people around her. Those efforts led to her getting discovered by a casting agent for Savage Fenty. “I went to the casting and then two days later they got back to me,” she said. She was then off to London where she manifested in a different setting. “I remember I was crying like tears of joy,” she revealed before admitting that the experience provided her “reassurance.” Later she would appear in shows for Pyer Moss, features in Vogue, and be signed to several agencies who would book her high profile work.
“You’re meant to be in New York city and you’re meant to be doing this, just keep going,” she recalled telling herself on the journey. The experiences confirmed she was capable of experiencing the life she had been desiring since she was a child. Knowing who she was helped her stay grounded through the challenges on the way and she wants to encourage other models to connect with themselves.
“I love to define myself outside of a model and I’ve been on that path,” she said. “I have models that ask me all the time, like how, like, what advice can you give me? And it’s kind of like an overwhelming question because they want to hear how to get signed,” she continued. She would rather focus on “how can I explain to them how important it is to be grounded or really know yourself before you stepped into this industry.” She hopes to work with an organization to emphasize the importance of that.
“I’d love to put together something to really help.”