Height: 178 cm
Country of origin: Nigeria
Mother agency: Beth Modelling agency
Tracy placed in the semifinals of Elite Model Look 2008 contest.
Tracy: The modelling world's rising star
By Hauwa R. Mukan
The 5ft 10, doe eyed beauty appeared on the scene, stealing hearts and wowing judges as the winner of Elite Nigeria's Model Search.
Her dreams of becoming a model had come true before her very eyes and thousands of others, the crowning moment captured and aired repeatedly on the Silverbird television station.
From the catwalk, to print, Tracy Onyekachukwu has embarked on a life changing journey, to proudly represent the face of Nigeria to the fashion world, following in the steps of Agbani and Oluchi, on a quest to be an international top model.
Her three-year contract with the Elite modelling agency begins in a few months, and will be the actualization of Tracy's hard work and life long dreams of becoming a supermodel. She will be whisked off to London to continue a career in print advertising campaigns, runway shows and be the fashionable face of Nigeria until her tenure expires.
Seated gracefully in the comforts of my living room, it is easy to see why fortune has smiled so dearly on this 18-year-old head turner.
She is humble, wise beyond her years and has striking facial features; a deadly trifecta for any of her other modelling competition, as these qualities will ensure her place in the spotlight. I sat down to talk with her about her dreams, challenges and expectations for the next few years.
Life is Beautiful
"I thank God for this opportunity. I am walking the path that God has already made for me and I am so excited, but one thing I promised I would do is to be a resource in the global fight against AIDS," she says, describing her sense of duty to a country she is proud of.
Tracy was born and bred in Delta State. In 2004 she left for Lagos in pursuit of employment, after the passing of her father in the previous year. "It was a little hard for us, but here I am. It has been cool." She is one of 11 children and has a set of twin brothers and a twin sister.
In a fit if giggles, she explains, "My twin and I are not identical. She has bigger bones."
Her interest in modelling developed as a young girl in the village, seeing models in magazines, and on television sashaying to and fro in runway shows. Fearing the trap a lot of pretty girls fall into when they come to Lagos, she decided to let things flow organically and hold out until she found the right course of action.
From 2004 till 2007 she waited patiently, biding her time and getting wise. "I met different people and they would tell me I should be a model. They would say, "I have a name of an agency here, Beth Modelling. You should go there."
Then another person would come along recommending Beth Modelling Agency again. I thought if it is a trick I will leave it. What is all this about Beth Modelling Agency?" After the umpteenth referral, she decided to visit the agency head offices in Ikoyi. Her meeting with the owner, Elohor Isiohor, and her personal assistant, proved fruitful and she was signed. Tracy was entered into the Elite Model Look Nigeria competition in November 2008, despite not having all the requirements to participate.
"I didn't have 5000 naira for the registration; I didn't have swimwear for the competition." But they took care of everything and the rest, as they say, is history.
Nigeria's Next Top Model
She beat out 15 girls from all over Nigeria, winning the crown as our country's very first Elite Model Look winner. The next phase of her journey took her to China, where she competed with 80 other girls from all over the world, all vying to become the next big thing in the world of fashion modelling.
These tall damsels ranged from professionals to novices within the industry and they were all beautiful."It was very challenging, I must tell you. Competing with 80 girls, for me to have been a part of it was a great honour."
After placing top 15 in China, she signed a three-year modelling contract with Elite Model Management, the world's premier modelling agency, managing over 800 models on five different continents. Elite has managed the careers of Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Claudia Schiffer, to name a few. Tracy leaves for the U.K in a few weeks, and is understandably excited.
She admits that she will miss a lot of things when she leaves Nigeria. "I'm going to miss my twin sister. I won't be able to beat up on her and I miss her already. She would have grown up so much by the time I come back and I will miss my mom very much too."
Who Says the Elephant Cannot Dance
One of her most exciting experiences occurred while competing in China, while performing in the talent segment of the competition. Her spirited dance performance to D'Banj's hit song "Igwe" won her the crown for the night, beating out 80 other models and splashing her face on the covers of Chinese newspapers and television stations. She is now the face of the upcoming advertising campaign for the 2009 Model Search Competition in China. "It was very exciting. Oh my God, the camera men put their cameras down. They wanted to dance with me; it was a blast!"
Tracy says the only challenges she currently faces come in the form of dealing with her new found local celebrity status. From having her face in magazines and the low haircut she sports, it is not hard to identify her in a crowd. "What I am facing right now I don't know how to deal with it. Before, people would see me, greet me and act normal. Now I'm facing so many people, even old people and girls."
Whenever she passes through her neighbourhood they burst into song, usually TuFace's hit African Queen. "If I am coming back home they know and they wait for me to sing the song, even from the BRT bus, they sing. Cars stop and they all have to look even if it is causing hold up. I wish I had a car with tinted windows. That would be perfect."
Thank You, Elizabeth
"I really have to thank the Beth Modelling agency and Elohor. I never thought I could meet someone like her; she is so beautiful from the inside. When I went to China, she and her mother were with me, making things so easy when it was hard for me. I will always look up to her."
Her advice for girls out there aspiring to become models is simple: "If you want to achieve something, you need to get focused and fight for what you believe in. Never give up. It may be difficult to get there because it is always hard. You have to be very strong. If you fall, get back up again and come back to hit it hard and you will see you can achieve whatever you want. Just believe in yourself."