Leanna Carter known to most as “Nikki,” has been modeling since a young girl with the Barbizon School of Modeling. As an adult she realized there was something she was missing therefore began to pursue her dreams of modeling. After shooting with local photographers and becoming affiliated with other local plus models, she was invited to attend a plus model casting in Atlanta, GA for Theary Sim creative designer for Youtheary Khmer and booking agent for Plus 10. That was the day her life would forever change, she began to grow as a model landing jobs she never imagined.
Named Plus 10’s most successful model in 2012 therefore becoming the face of the Youtheary Khmer collection for two consecutive seasons. After the attending Full Figured Fashion week in 2012, she promised herself to set goals to network as much as possible to hopeful become more acquainted with heavy hitters in the plus size industry.
Little did she know upon her return home that hot summer Sunday afternoon the events that were about to take place. She had been invited to Las Vegas, NV to model at the Neighbourhood Awards for Steve Harvey’s women’s line sold exclusively in K & G stores. While backstage in Las Vegas, nerves ranging and palms sweating she realized she was the largest model in the entire show noticing Steve Harvey’s head designer arguing about the fit of the clothing on the models selected for the show, she became worried. It was in that moment she found the courage to face her fear of self doubt when Mr. Harvey’s head designer whispered in her ear, “that is the way the clothes suppose to fit, full and to the T.”
Through her modeling career she has been awarded opportunities in fashion, glamour, body-part, commercial print modeling and most recently fit modeling. Currently employed by Belk Department store company as a fit model, she enjoys assisting in the planning of upcoming fashions for today’s trendy woman.
Nikki has joined the nationwide movement to be healthy therefore promoting size healthy not skinny. She loves modeling and being an example to the young women of her Native American tribe that you do not have to neglect your morals to be successful in the modeling industry. Despite the odds she has faced she still believes everyone should follow their dreams no matter how far fetched they maybe. In the future, Nikki plans take on the adventure of creating summer workshops for young girls in her area focusing on self-esteem and self love. She hopes to continue to push outside of her comfort zone in the upcoming year. People ask her how do you do it and her reply is simple “invest in yourself.”
Check out our Q&A with this inspirational model!
Natasha: How did you get into modeling?
Nikki: I am a former glamour student. I went to modeling school then life happened. When I was married, my ex-husband used to tell me that I could never model. After the divorce, I was motivated to do everything that he said I couldn’t do!
Natasha: What are the things you like about the plus size modeling industry?
Nikki: The plus size community is a very tight community. And, I love that I get emails everyday from women who tell me how I inspire them!
Natasha: What are your dislikes about the plus size modeling industry?
Nikki: The things that I don’t like about the industry can be fixed. My biggest issue is that plus size models are still not seen as models.
Natasha: Who are some of your inspirations?
Nikki: My mom is my number one inspiration and Devonda is my closest friend and practically the president of fan club 🙂 And, I am blessed to say that I come from a big supportive family!
Natasha: Does being Native American affect your modeling career?
Nikki: Yes, it has put me into a category of being light skinned Black, Caucasian, or mixed. My diverse background has given me an advantage for brands looking for that exotic or different look.
Natasha: What advice do you have for women interested in modeling?
Nikki: #1 Be flexible
#2 Stay open to criticism
#3 You need to have thick skin
#4 If you can go where the work is, then take advantage of those opportunities
#5 Network, Network, Network
Natasha: What are common mistakes you think aspiring plus size models make?
Nikki: Mostly, I see women selling themselves too short! You don’t have to do 40 shows a month to be successful. It is important to pick and choose what will move your career forward. It is easy to be steered off into the video vixen scene. Make sure that every photo you have taken you would be proud to have your parents and family be proud to see.
Natasha: What are three things people don’t know about you?
Nikki: #1 I live on a family vineyard
#2 I am an Aunt
#3 I have a huge blended family
Nikki is doing her part to help society to see body diversity as a beautiful and amazing!