Elohor Elizabeth Isiorho: Placing African Models On The World’s Biggest Stages
Elohor Elizabeth Isiorho is a woman of many parts. C.E.O of Prive Luxury Wedding and Event company, Prive Atelier, Beth Model Management and the Creative Director of Elite Model Look Nigeria, she is also the founder of Future Face Africa. The astute businesswoman has made her mark in the industry and has not looked back since she started. Since she secured a franchise deal with Elite Model Management Paris to organise Elite Model Look Nigeria in 2008, she has consistently churned out thousands of commercially successful models till date.
On how she has been able to achieve this much success, she says that fashion for her was natural. Drawn to the entertainment from her young days, she took her passion a step further when, in 2001, she signed up for a beauty pageant known as Miss Nigeria UK and emerged winner. Winning Miss Nigeria UK was a great launchpad for her as it introduced her to new people and raised her profile in the industry.
However, she says with conviction that, “there are many different paths to success and I’m sure if I hadn’t entered the pageant then, I would have still found my feet in the industry one way or another.”
Three years after this win, she launched Beth Models. It would be a turning point for the then 24-year-old. She says that, unlike these present times, the industry then had some obstacles. First, she had been rejected as an intern in several agencies because they thought she “was too young.” Using the experiences she has garnered as a model since she was 16, she was “able to fill most of the gaps in my knowledge through endless research. The rest I learned on the job.”
“There weren’t really any agencies around at that time, which meant that it was difficult to recruit models or communicate our aims and goals to their parents in a way that they could understand. Models didn’t want to sign contracts, as there was no precedent for that here. They wanted to just work as freelancers, which doesn’t work for agencies. Meanwhile, advertising agencies didn’t really want to work with us either. Also, a lot of people saw modelling as no different from prostitution. That stigma made it difficult to be taken seriously as an agency.”
Given her success, she took this a notch further when she kicked Elite Model Look Nigeria in 2007 with a vision to take the industry in Africa to a different level. She says that she wanted her agency as well as the models discovered, to be recognised globally and have an international presence. Her efforts paid off.
Today, EML is known by all the top agencies and casting directors in the world. If she highlights these achievements as her reward, she would not be wrong. Yet, she says that using her agency to transform lives has been her source of fulfilment. “It’s so important for young women to be given opportunities to succeed because, in the world we live in, it can be so easy for young people to turn down the wrong path,” she adds.
She admits that establishing EML has given her some privileges and in each stage of her journey, she has learnt how to block out the noise. “The most important lesson I’ve learned along the way is to block out the noise. There will always be people who will try to discourage you or who will say you’re dreaming too big. Ignore them. Just stay focused on you and your vision.”
I AM WOMAN
Being a woman has its troubles in a male-dominated world and the business environment is no exception. Elohor notes that what kept her is her ability to focus.
“People will often disappoint you, people will fail to support you and people will look down on you. You just have to keep going. There will always be times where things get difficult, but if I had given up during those hard times, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Now, I’m able to dream bigger than I ever thought I could. Try to find people who will support you along the way. A good mentor who can give you guidance and positive advice can also make all the difference for a newcomer.”
Elohor admits it is easy to look at her and all that she has accomplished and thought she has her life settled, but opines that she is far from perfection. With strong convictions, she notes that humans are the sum of experiences, good and bad. Her life has been a learning process, and this is only possible because she resolved to see every opportunity to learn and grow.
These experiences are the sum of what has now birthed Future Face Africa, one of the biggest model scouting platforms in the world. Elohor explains that she started to pursue this dream after observing firsthand the steady growth in appreciation and demand for African models. However, there was another side to it- the untapped potential waiting to be brought to the forefront.
But with Future Face Africa, she is taking applications from models all over the world and giving them the chance to be placed with top agencies worldwide and to work with top casting directors. To ensure that it is all-inclusive, her team has embarked on a casting tour to nine different countries, Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Senegal, Kenya, Rwanda and the United Kingdom.
Perhaps, one can argue that her drive to see women succeed stems from her belief that women should open the door for other women to thrive.
“I think mentorship is very important,” she says. “It’s one thing to hold the door open for other women, but it’s another thing entirely to show them what they need to do when they get to the other side of that door.”
Still stressing the need for mentorships, she opines that having people who can educate and direct young people is paramount. To ensure that she contributes to her quota, she is hosting her next mentorship programme in the coming months to speak to young girls and advise them about their careers.
Speaking about the future of modelling agencies, she opines that unity has never failed. Stressing on the need to work together, she believes that with one voice, there would be revolutionary changes in African modelling agencies, which will give rise to more, stronger collaborations.
She noted with disdain how African models are often treated poorly and how she hopes that with her efforts, as well as others, clients would make it a part of their ethos to pay models fairly for their time and talent.
“I also think African models should be celebrated more. If you look at our media platforms, we don’t celebrate our models enough compared to the way models in other parts of the world are celebrated. I really hope that changes over the next few years,” she added.
Her hard work is getting noticed not just outside but even more close to home. As she talks, her face lights up, talking about how everyone around her is proud of her work and dedication to what she believes in.
“The other day, my youngest daughter said that she was really proud of me and that she wants to be like me when she grows up. For me, that is all the motivation I need to keep doing what I’m doing. I want to be a role model for them, and for all the young people I look after and look up to me,” she says with a wide smile.