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Oluchi Onweagba

Real name:
Birthdate: N/A
Status: Single

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Oluchi, whose first name in her native Igbo language means "God's work," was born in the Nigerian commercial capital of Lagos. Her father was a civil servant, and her mother was a nurse. She and her siblings (two brothers and a sister) lived in Ayilara Street, Ojuelegba, in Surulere, a low-income area of the sprawling metropolis. She spent her high school years as a good student, and enjoyed playing tennis and ping pong. To make her story one of rags to riches, it is often reported that to make ends meet, she sometimes sold bread on the streets of the city.

She was urged by a family friend to enter into the M-Net Face of Africa preliminary screening at the M-Net office in Victoria Island, Lagos which she scaled through. The agency immediately groomed her to be one of Nigeria's entrants for a model competition, the M-Net Face of Africa (now called the Nokia Face of Africa). This despite the fact that, growing up, she had maintained a relative ignorance towards fashion and modeling. With the support of her family and friends, she decided to compete in the inaugural edition of the Face of Africa in 1998. This was the first-ever continent-wide model competition, as opposed to a mere beauty pageant, and was organized by the South African subscription television channel M-Net in collaboration with Elite Model Management. With her slim, tall (6 ft 2 in) figure, and her natural beauty, she captivated the judges, and she handily won the competition. She was just seventeen years old. Elite Model Management awarded Onweagba a three-year modeling contract, and a whirlwind life as a highly-sought-after fashion model began.

Moving to New York City, where she is currently still living, she began to make an impact. Onweagba graced the covers of Italian Vogue, i-D, ELLE, Untold, and Surface, and she also was featured in Nylon, Marie Claire, Allure, and other national editions of Vogue around the world. She also became the face of the campaigns for Gianfranco Ferré, Victoria's Secret, Gap, Express, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor. Onweagba's runway experience has been with John Galliano, Christian Dior, Costume National, Chanel, and Giorgio Armani, amongst others, in London, Milan, Tokyo and Paris. She has worked with such high-caliber photographers as Steven Meisel, Nick Kight, and Patrick Demarchelier.

As her career took off, she did not forget her roots and attempted to give back to society. As one of the most high profile international models of Nigerian origin, she tries to serve as a role model for other aspiring talents in the west African country, especially young girls. She volunteers her time and her image for such NGOs as LEAP Africa (an entrepreneurship incubator) and NIPRO. She also is continuing her higher education, having studied for an associate's degree in the New York City educational system.

After her three-year contract with Elite expired, she signed with DNA Model Management. She was also signed up to be one of Victoria's Secret "angels," making her the first model of Nigerian descent to achieve this status. A highlight of her career so far was when she was featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue three times, in 2005, 2006 and 2007.


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