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MODEL CITIZEN: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ALPHA DIA

Editor ANA MARKOVIC sits down with top model ALPHA DIA to talk about his first steps into modelling, what he would like changed in the fashion industry and his work with the Alpha Dia Foundation.

ALPHA DIA

Hi Alpha, hope you are staying safe and healthy. How do you pass the time during coronavirus self-quarantine?

Hey guys, hope you are doing well. I’m currently in Hamburg with my brother and close to my family. I’m doing pretty well and finally finding time for myself after the crazy past 5 years. 

How did your modelling career start?

I was scouted in a bar in Hamburg by a photographer named Christian Bendel. Soon after I got signed in Germany with my mother agency Modelwerk who helped me develop representation all around the world. My first runway debut was walking for Prada in Milan during the men’s fashion week. That is what motivated me to pursue modelling and believe I can reach my goals in the industry.

alpha dia interview
Shirt – CLOSED
Trousers – JIL SANDER
Shoes – PAUL SMITH

You need to trust your agents and work with them together as a team. I know they always have my best interests in mind. All my agents around the world worked together on building my career and made me who I am today. I am beyond thankful for that.

You were the face of BOSS, Salvatore Ferragamo, Givenchy, H&M…. What do you think is the secret to succeeding in the fashion industry?

I think it is super important not only to have a certain look, but also a strong character and a great team behind you.

You need to trust your agents and work with them together as a team. I know they always have my best interests in mind. All my agents around the world worked together on building my career and made me who I am today. I am beyond thankful for that.

I live by the quote: Don’t let people’s compliments go to your head and don’t let their criticisms go to your heart.

What is your most memorable shoot? And best runway experience?

I love to remember the days in London shooting the Pirelli Calendar 2017 with amazing people like Edward Enninful, Naomi Campbell, Whoopi Goldberg, Lupita Nyong’o, P Diddy, and RuPaul. Talking about runway shows it is hard to pick one. Starting with Prada was definitely super special.

alpha dia interview
Trousers – PAUL SMITH Underwear- CALVIN KLEIN

Building the Alpha Dia Foundation was something I dreamt about finding a way to give back since I started to have this platform through modelling.

What are the projects you are most proud of?

Building the Alpha Dia Foundation was something I dreamt about finding a way to give back since I started to have this platform through modelling. I recently started fundraising to help my hometown  Grand Dakar in Senegal during the Corona virus pandemic.

We were able to raise more than 5,000 Euros in 24 hours and I’m really thankful and proud of everyone thinking of others during this time.

Could you tell us more about the Foundation?

I was born in Senegal which is in West Africa. Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility and we are working together with partners to offer quality services with focus on positive results for children and families. As the Coronavirus is attacking our everyday lives all around, the main goal was to offer assistance to those who need it most. Even under normal circumstances, many families in Senegal are forced to survive on a minimum wage. They try to stay afloat one day at a time. The pandemic worsens this problem further. The idea is to offer help to those in need by at least addressing their nutritional needs.

alpha dia interview
Shirt – CLOSED

In your opinion, what are the highs and lows of being top model?

I am very aware of the benefits of being a good working model and I really appreciate every part of it. There are many reasons why people all around the world are dreaming of becoming a model. For me, I think it is a great privilege to know where you are going to be next week, or if you are able to spend your time with your loved ones during special days.

If you could change one thing about the fashion industry, what would it be?

As a model there is not much we can do to make changes in the industry except leaving our best footprints so the models coming next will fill them easily – like advising them in the new carrier. I dream about fashion shootings in third world countries, like seeing big brands going to a small village somewhere in Africa to shoot to use the people for the production and give back to them in the form of new classrooms or medical supplies.

alpha dia interview
Shirt – JIL SANDER

What do you love the most about fashion?

That’s a hard one, because for me it is part of my life and happiness. It makes me smile, inspires me, gives me hope for a better life, opens my eyes, allows me to live my dreams… Fashion is the chance to be like everybody and stand out at the same time.

I dream about fashion shootings in third world countries, like seeing big brands going to a small village somewhere in Africa to shoot to use the people for the production and give back to them in the form of new classrooms or medical supplies.

How would you describe your personal style?

Easy! I have mostly basic essential pieces in different colourways so it makes it easy to pick. Sporty! Nothing better than joggers. Cultured! I like to have hand pieces from around the world.

alpha dia interview
Trousers – PAUL SMITH
Bag – MODEL’S OWN

Tell us, what are you watching / reading / listening right now?

My brother and I are going through the list of imdb.com 100 best movies. We are at number 13 since the quarantine. I can’t really concentrate to read at home right now, nevertheless I do like to read self-help books.

African zouk music is the one that I turn on at home., [laughs].

Fashion is the chance to be like everybody and stand out at the same time.

How do you stay fit during self-isolation?

Since I do not have a gym membership, it doesn’t make a big difference to me. Whenever I feel like working out, I do some push ups. I prefer to keep my mind busy.

alpha dia interview
Trousers – CLOSED

Any hidden passions?

I didn’t even know that I was into gardening, I only found that out during the quarantine!

Can you recommend to our readers:

– Favourite TV Shows to binge-watch / Movies to watch:

  • Atlantique ( first Senegalese series on Netflix)
  • La Casa de Papel
  • House of cards
  • Hidden Figures
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Blood Diamond
  • Diamond Cop
  • Like Mike (my favorite kids movie)

– 5 Artists / Albums to listen to:

  • Fela kuti
  • Oumou sangare
  • Toumani Diabate
  • Burna Boy
  • Bob Marley
alpha dia interview
Trousers – JIL SANDER
Shirt – CLOSED
Shoes – PAUL SMITH

Books to read
Even though I am used to reading mostly while I am on the road, I think Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by by Reni Eddo-Lodge is a good read.

I didn’t even know that I was into gardening, I only found out during the quarantine.

Any Tips for a good selfie?

The first selfie u snap will usually be the best.

alpha dia interview

Hopefully, it’s back to normal soon, with highest energy!

When this is all over, what are the places that you would like to travel to?

Cuba is my dream destination.

What makes you happy?

Several things, like spending time with friends and family. To know everyone around me is doing well. It is cliché, but mostly the smallest things have the most impact, especially during my time abroad, I recognize and appreciate many things that I didn’t see like that before.

alpha dia interview

What’s next for Alpha Dia?

Hopefully, it’s back to normal soon, with highest energy!

Keep up with Alpha Dia on Instagram @alpha_dia_ and @alphadiafondation

You can help Alpha Dia Foundation with their current Health Relief Support project addressing the difficulties Senegal is facing during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis by making a donation on their GoFundMe page. Every little bit counts, Alpha and his team have explained a bit more on their GoFundMe and actions they are taking to help the people of Grand Dakar in Senegal.

Photography & Styling: Dietmar Herbert @dietmarherbert
Retoucher: Janina Hunger @janinahunger
Special Thanks to CLOSED PR, LOEWS PR and Jannik Paare at Modelwerk

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