Source: (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images) / (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
Name: Arielle Van-Mballa
Agency: Fenton Model Management
Claim To Fame: Van-Mballa has been featured in Vogue Mexico and Paper Magazine. She has also starred in a campaign for Cover FX and walked the runway for The Blonds and at ESSENCE fashion house.
Arielle Van-Mballa’s mother was wandering through an Ulta when she spotted a familiar face glowing from the Cover FX signs – her daughters.
The moment was a result of hard work and a willingness of Van-Mballa to humble herself.
“I’m from Houston, went to school at Baylor in Waco, Texas. So moved to DC right after graduation. And then after that I was working at a law firm,” she told HelloBeautiful.
“I was miserable,” she added about her time at the firm. “I was modeling on the side. I actually got signed to like a smaller MA-, mother agent in D.C. but after a while I started realizing they weren’t doing enough for me.”
She was working at a Washington D.C. law firm when she chose to pivot towards the New York modeling industry. She convinced her parents to get on board with a formal pitch deck. The gesture was required coming from a culture that didn’t consider modeling “a profitable profession.”
“We’re very, just like being an engineer, a lawyer, be a doctor,” she said. Her choices reflected the type of perspective shift inspiring movements like the great resignation. “I feel like this generation is good at being like, I’m just gonna leave this alone and maybe then choose something that makes me happy. So I did that.”
Source: (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage) / (Photo by Thomas Concordia/WireImage)
She set her sights on New York, explaining to her family why the choice was right for her. “I gave her and my dad a five-year presentation. Like, this is what I’m going to do in five years. This is where I’m going.”
She was no novice. “I did do New York Fashion Week a couple of times before I actually got signed,” she said. “I’ve always loved fashion. Like I always grew up watching like Dior and Prada and Gucci and wanting to be like one of those girls,.”
She initially got involved in fashion during undergrad. She worked on the “logistics” end of fashion shows hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. As she put her efforts into every portion of the show her classmates brought up an aspect she was skipping.
“My friends were like, ‘Why aren’t you teaching the models? You’re doing this, you’re doing that. Why don’t you actually just start modeling? And I was like, ‘Oh, you’re actually correct.’ So, I ended up doing some freelance stuff.”
Today she is “in stores,” and “doing commercials,” for other brands including Naturallogic skin care, one of her personal favorite brands.
“I’m doing stuff that I would’ve never dreamed up back in Houston. And now that I’m doing that in New York, it just feels like a blessing to me.”
Source: (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images for ESSENCE) / (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images for ESSENCE)
She hopes to expand the hopes of other Cameroonian models. “We don’t have like Tyra banks or Naomi Campbell coming from Cameroon,” she said.
“If I keep being persistent, that’s going to, hopefully one day be me.”