V125 NEXT GEN: Adwoa Aboah
“When not modeling, I’m training to become a pro Muay Thai champion. This summer, I’ll be reading six books back to back, and not talking to anyone for long periods of time.” -Adwoa Aboah
A new generation of supermodels is here. They’re on the world’s runways, magazine covers, music videos, and iPhone screens. They are everywhere in our connected world. As summer rolls in, they prepare for some well-deserved rest and relaxation—even in the face of COVID-19.
As one of the most photographed models in the world, Adwoa Aboah steps behind the lens of photographers Inez and Vinoodh with styling by George Cortina. In addition to her modeling career, Adwoa is an activist, founder of Gurls Talk, mental health advocate, former stylist, creative director, and now a V125 cover star. Vocal with her own mental health and confidence over the years, Aboah’s career propelled when she reclaimed her own narrative. As one of the most fearless voices in the industry, V checked in with the model. Learn more about Gurl’s Talk, how this public health crisis has affected Aboah’s fast-paced lifestyle and her summer reading goals.
Pre-order your own copy of V125, here.
Read the full interview, below.
V Where are you from?
ADWOA ABOAH I’m from West London, and I’m half Ghanian.
V How would you describe the summer of your dreams?
AA [The summer of my dreams includes] Reading six books back to back, sunbathing, dancing and competitive shouty games of Articulate with my family. And to not talk to anyone for long periods of time.
V What is the ultimate summer song?
AA “Smiling Faces” by East of Underground, “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen, “Jalisco” by Babeheaven, “San Francisco Bay” by Lee Oskar, “Ain’t Nothing Going On But the Rent” by Gwen Guthrie.
V Where are you aching to travel to this summer? Why?
AA [I don’t have a destination in mind but] I’m aching for an adventure somewhere new with my nearest & dearest.
V [Earlier you said you were excited to read a few books back to back this summer], What is on your summer reading list?
AA [My summer reading list includes] Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, The World I Fell Out Of by Melanie Reid Trainwreck: The Women We Love by Sady Doyle, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
V What is your favorite summer memory?
AA Phosphorescence in Kenya
V When you’re not modeling, what are you up to? Do you have a hidden talent? What would people be surprised to hear?
AA When I’m not modeling, I’m training to become a professional Muay Thai champion. Also working on Gurl’s Talk [my organization that’s an online platform where girls and women from all around the world connect to share stories and give advice.]
V How would you describe the current wave of models/generation?
V How do you feel in front of the camera? [What is your go to facial expression?]
AA I’m proud of my resting bitch face.
V What do you hope for this year?
AA I hope [to achieve all of my goals for my company] “Gurls Talk” and that mental health for girls finally gets the respect that it deserves in 2020.
V How did the onset of this year’s public health crisis change your outlook on life and/or work?
AA I’ve always been aware of how fast-paced my life was but it wasn’t until this pandemic that I realized how little time I spent with myself. Like many people who are experiencing prolonged solitude for the first time, unwinding and focusing on myself is something I find quite hard to do. I was also unaware of how many things I crammed into a day. My busy work schedule created a routine that had been crucial for my mental health. Now I have to maintain my own routine to keep on the straight and narrow, which can be challenging.
I’ve always felt fortunate and grateful for my community, but I’m especially thankful for the people I’ve been able to surround myself with during this crisis. I’m eternally grateful for the Gurls Talk community, which continues to inspire me with its creativity, support, and resilience in these difficult times. I see how hard this is for everyone, especially for those populations who do not have the option of staying home and are most at-risk; I have so much empathy for everyone and extreme admiration for how people are coping.
Finally, I’m really thinking about how the world will change, who I’m going to be in this world and what will be important in my life. A part of this experience feels like grieving—for physical connection, for the lives lost, the old world left behind –so I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m leaving behind and how to cope with the uncertainty of what the future holds.
V What have you learned (or what do you think people can learn) while in solitude / practicing social distance?
AA I’ve learned to be easier on myself. The amount of pressure we put on ourselves because we’re not living our usual lives makes it feel like there’s this need to come out of social distancing as a new and improved person who’s written a novel or painted 1,000 Picassos. I think it’s fine to just sit. Before this pandemic started, I was thinking about goals and plans for the new year, and now I’m learning to be gentler and not put so much pressure on myself.
I’ve also learned to value my freedom. Even though I would normally describe myself as a social hermit, I like to pick and choose when I’m out, a luxury we don’t have right now. Though people have different circumstances, everyone is feeling the effect of this and it’s valid to feel down, lonely, and fearful of what this year holds.
V Many people are reevaluating travel plans… If you were to be in one place for most of the summer, where would that be?
AA I don’t really care where I am this summer. I could have a British Summer and be happy, to be honest. I just want to be around people that I love.
V The public health climate has shaped many peoples’ reading/viewing habits—what are some reading or viewing material you’ve sought out in this time?
AA I’m limiting my news intake and activity online right now for the sake of my own mental health, but have been reading a lot. I’m currently reading The Cost of Living, Deborah Levy’s mind-blowing memoir. It’s an incredible feminist account of a woman going through immense personal change and a fascinating exploration of what it means to be a woman in modern society. I’ve also been reading and discussing lots of research and articles with the Gurls Talk team in an effort to provide support and resources to our community. While not surprising, it’s been really troubling to see the spike in levels of anxiety and depression and to read about how the crisis is putting so many women and children at a heightened risk of domestic violence and abuse.
In terms of viewing material, I’ve been watching light things that are easy to process – comedies, romcoms, lots of old classics, and of course Tiger King.
V How have you “given back” in light of the public health climate?
AA During this pandemic, my Gurls Talk gang and I launched #CopingTogether, a digital campaign aimed at leveraging the power of art to promote coping and mental health in a rapidly changing reality. Since we launched this, community members from around the world have submitted works of art – everything from painting to drawing and knitting – to show us how they’re coping. We’ve all found solace through an art form during this time. I think using art to cope is so important because it allows us to channel our feelings, energy and thoughts into physical works that can help us grow and inspire others.
V How are you planning to give back this summer?
AA I’m going to throw myself into the Gurls Talk community this summer, tending to anything that they need to make this time a little gentler. We started off as an online community, so we’ll be concentrating on bolstering those real-life connections while providing education, support and resources to a wide network of young people navigating their mental health. What will be scary, but enlightening, will be talking to people who have never had the tools or language to tend to their mental health until now and letting them know that Gurls Talk is here and available. I want to help people in the aftermath of this pandemic and to be a support and resource to all those whose lives have been massively changed by it.