SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS: Eunice Olumide was awarded her prestigious MBE at Buckingham Palace
MODEL, ACTRESS, broadcaster and philanthropist – the veritable polymath Eunice Olumide MBE is an inspiration to all.
And now she’s pioneering her own fashion event in aid of the Windrush Generation. Olumide’s Next Generation, Regeneration event will hit London Fashion Week next month.
She has arrived at this socially conscious showcase as part of her belief that, in her words, “we live in an unsustainable fashion” and feeling that world health is paramount.
Olumide had always recognised the social and environmental dangers of the capitalist society we live in.
Studying the history of capitalism alongside mass media at Glasgow Caledonian University gave Eunice a nuanced socio-anthropological perspective, influencing agencies she chooses to sign with and the brands she has chosen to work with through- out her modelling career.
“Through ideological apparatus, such as TV, humans have reinvented reality… fixing people into particular boxes,” she says.
But as a ‘jack of many trades’, who has been told she has her finger in many pies, she continued: “It’s not good for human mental health to do one thing, it’s not beneficial for humans to be so far removed from each other, it’s only beneficial for marketers.
“In fact, there is nothing separate… everything is interconnected, swimming in perfect manner.
“Actually, if people did have their fingers in many pies, they would understand individual rhetoric better.”
Having once worked as an artist and now a curator, Eunice had first-hand experience of this. It was only when she made that transition to a managerial position that she recognised the importance of being a polymath and having your foot in different doors.
She complained that our brains have become so “compartmentalised”, contrary to how “life is one continuous flow”.
After playing Sandra in the Bafta-nominated short Middle Man, the part-time broadcaster also appeared on the BBC’s Question Time early this year.
While other panellists squabbled endlessly over Brexit, Olumide brought the discussion to a standstill with her culturally revolutionary insight on racism and capitalism.
“The elephant in the room is the Transatlantic slave trade and colonialism, which nobody ever wants to talk about – despite the fact that it’s one of the most significant and horrifying points in history,” she said.
“For 400 years people living in indentured slavery… When those people who were given freedom or civil rights in the ’60s… it’s very recent history.”
The V&A design champion was once asked why she was campaigning about the transatlantic slave trade and the colonial culture that still exists within the UK today.
She said: “In my entire life I have campaigned about almost every injustice in the world.” Olumide is an ambassador for Zero Waste Scotland, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and has helped fund Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, The Well Foundation and Love Music Hate Racism.
She is also a patron for Best Beginnings alongside the Duchess of Cambridge and for Adopt an Intern, helping to get women back into work. The fact that her other campaigns did not meet resistance doesn’t surprise her.
“When I was helping the West you congratulated me, now when I campaign for Afro Caribbeans’ rights you criticise,” she said. “I found it sad.”
It was then she began to realise “people in the UK think it’s wrong for people of colour to work together”.
In her book How to Get Into Fashion, she tackles these issues. While focused primarily on the elusive fashion industry, the book delves into more general career roadblocks, hurdles and how to ensure you always achieve your goals.
And achieve them she has, as the Nigerian-Scottish model is set to appear along- side Stormzy in a BBC adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s award-winning novel, Noughts and Crosses, currently being filmed.
Olumide’s story is one we can all take something from. As a young person in education, as someone seeking the next step in their career, or as someone simply seeking inspiration to completely diversify their talents and prospects.