photographer: Robin Navarro-Harraga / post-production contributor: Mario Ernun / interview: Charin Chong
You might remember model Davidson Obennebo from our “Let Me Be Your Valentine” editorial last year, and this time we were happy to have him solo for our Model Crush « King Davidson ». Since he kickstarted his career two years ago after winning Elite Model Look 2016, he’s enjoyed a strong track record of being in campaigns like for Versace Jeans and walking the runways of Paris and Milan Mensweek for Balmain, Givenchy, DSquared2, Issey Miyake, Moschino, Cerruti 1881, Dirk Bikkembergs among many others. This down to earth, stunning model from Nigeria has the whole world before him and we can’t wait to see what else he has to offer.
What did it feel like winning Elite Model Look World 2016? How has your life been like since then?
I remember cracking jokes with my agent back in Nigeria, we were saying that if I make it to the Top 15 that would be fine. We would be proud, and we would pack our things to go back to Nigeria. If you watch the Finals again when they announced my name for the Top 15, I was so excited, like, “it finally happened, I made it to Top 15!” Then when I heard them call, “…from Nigeria, Davidson,” for the winner and I couldn’t believe it, I thought that maybe it was a mistake. Then someone from the crowd said that I broke the record, being the first black model in 33 years and all the pressure I had been feeling just disappeared.
Since then, I know some models in my situation would be like, “oh, don’t you know who I am?” but not me. In this industry you have to remember that everything is a waiting game. You get to meet a lot of people from different cultures and backgrounds and you have to be patient, be humble and be nice to everyone. If you walk into a room and you’re just in your own world no one will want to work with you. The personality matters a lot, you can walk into an agency with hundreds of handsome men and beautiful women and it all boils down to the personality that compliments everything, it’s not just about the looks.
What did it feel like being able to represent Nigeria?
Honestly, I felt a lot of pressure at first, because it was a sort of breakthrough for young aspiring black models not just from Nigeria but Africa as a whole and it means that they recognized where I’m coming from and normally I’m more of a sanguine, I just live my life the same way, I’m the same old me from before I won, nothing has changed. You have to balance things and make sure that you’re in a good place and that the pressure doesn’t get to you that much.
What would be one of your most memorable experiences since you started modelling?
Opening and closing Versace, I was the first black model to do so that. I was really excited, and so far in my modelling career that’s one of my highlights. My first campaign was for Versace Jeans as well, so that’s another big one.
Even though you’re still relatively at the debut of your career, I’m sure you’ve learned quite a few things along the way. What are some of the lessons that you’ve learned that might help other young aspiring models?
Echoing what I said before, I’d say remain humble. Community is key in this industry, so be nice to everyone, be friendly, don’t be too reserved and don’t let pride kill you. The moment you let pride in just because you’ve done a front cover or some campaigns and you act like, “oh, don’t you know who I am,” at that point I think life’s karma will bring you back to the ground because you were nothing before you got there, so you should remain humble always for the long run.
You also have a background in dance, can you tell us a bit about your other talents?
Well, this isn’t about pride, but I think it’s important to know when you’re good at something. I would say that I’m one of those lucky people in the world to be multi-talented, for instance if I tried to do music, I think I would be good at it, or if I wanted to play football or any sports I would strive to be good at that. I sketch, I dance, when it comes to learning something that has to do with creativity or physicality and the body, I could be good at that. Not really when it comes to academics, because that’s different and not really my thing. When I was much younger, around age 13 I did a movie back then and this is also something that I’d like to pursue after or even while modelling. Really anything that comes my way, I am open to it, maybe not football since it takes training, nor music even though I love it, it’s not what I really want to do. It would most probably be acting, because then I could go to school and keep modelling and maybe one day I get the right script and who knows.
So we know that you get pretty busy with work, but what do you enjoy doing when you get some down time?
I like playing games and chilling with my friends. I try to play video games whenever I can, my favorite console is the PS4, I had all the previous consoles before that PS1, PS2 and PS3, I really like the controls and the games. XBox is great too, no offence but personally I’m a fan of Playstation.
What about music, what sort of music would you recommend that we should be listening to?
You should be listening to some good music out of Nigeria, like Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Tekno, what else… who’s making it hot from Africa? If we go to South Africa there’s Cassper Nyovest, Nasty C, then from Ghana there’s R2Bees and more from Nigerian there’s Mr Eazi, Tiwa Savage. But especially Wizkid, Davido and Burna Boy are from the next level, you should definitely listen to these new generation musicians from Africa.
You’ve also been able to travel quite a bit since you started modelling, where do you consider to be some of your favorite places that you’ve traveled to?
I think I love Amsterdam, although the weather is a bit bad. I also love Paris, the only problem is the language barrier, since they speak more English in Amsterdam, I find it also quite beautiful and everyone is nice and accommodating. London reminds me a lot of Lagos, where I live in Nigeria. To me it’s a more refined Lagos, with the same fast pace, the same traffic, but it has that old culture to it. I love Barcelona as well, and all the great islands like Mykonos in Greece and I would love to go to Guadeloupe or Reunion island in France. I’ve also been to Cape Town which is beautiful and when I went during summer and I really enjoyed it. I’d love to go to Miami or even live there one day. And I’ll never forget Lisbon for what it did for me the night I won the competition, so I’ll always love Lisbon. I love everywhere I’ve been to, I wish I could combine every place that I’ve been to in one city and live there. I’d call it Son of David city (laughs).