Mayowa Nicholas, Davidson Obennebo, Victor Ndigwe… these are some household Nigerian names that are paving the way in the international modeling industry, from the biggest runways to the most groundbreaking campaigns – but what do these top models have in common? They all got their big break into the fast-paced industry through the Elite Model Look Nigeria competition.

Elite Model Look 2014 – Winners Mayowa Nicholas & Victor Ndigwe

Since 2007, championed by Elizabeth Elohor, the competition has offered African models that pivotal push both internationally and locally and it is undoubtedly one of the leading modeling competitions on the continent. A former model herself, Elizabeth got the drive to set up an agency and seek the Elite Model Look franchise when she moved back to the country.

According to her;

The main mission and goal of EML Nigeria is to discover African youths and to give them a pedestal to succeed internationally, also to promote and develop the African fashion and modeling industry.


Ahead the the competition’s 12th edition, BellaNaija Style‘s Mary Edoro caught up with the beauty and brains behind EMLN and she discussed the journey so far, what it takes to make a top model as well as what to expect from this year’s competition holding this weekend.


BNS: How did it all start for you? 
Elizabeth: It started when I was a kid, I always wanted to be a fashion model. When I became much older I decided to follow my dreams and I also contested in Miss Nigeria UK in 2001/2002 and I emerged the winner. When I moved back to Nigeria, I used to get calls from people requesting me to come and model for them. But when I searched for a modeling agency, which is the way it is done internationally, I found that there was no recognized agency in Nigeria. I decided to set up an agency so as to help young aspiring models in Africa achieve their dreams. Also, I decided to broaden my spectrum by obtaining the Elite Model Look Franchise, it is a way to help young aspiring models get internationally recognized.


BNS: Tell us about Elite Model Look Nigeria?
Elizabeth: Elite Look Model Nigeria is one of the biggest modeling competitions in the world and I obtained the franchise in 2007. The modeling competition has discovered most of the successful models from Nigeria like Mayowa Nicholas, Victor Ndigwe, Nora Uche, Davidson Obennebo and many others. I have always wanted to make it an African search and finally, I secured the approval this year, to organize Elite Model Look in East and West African countries like Ghana, Senegal, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, and Nigeria hence introducing Elite Model Look East and West Africa. The journey has been wonderful so far.

BNS: You have positioned EML Nigeria, as a top standard competition in Nigeria and Africa, how were you able to do that especially in the early beginning when Modelling wasn’t as it is now in Nigeria.
Elizabeth: To be candid, it has always been the drive, when I get faced with any challenge; I always find a way to push through because of the vision I have always had for my company. To be honest, we have had lots of challenges; from searching for the models and trying to get the right face but I will say it has been God through this journey and what kept me going was the drive to empower young girls and boys in Nigeria and Africa to make their dreams a reality. So I strived through it all and made a name for my company.

Elite Model Look 2019 casting in Kenya

BNS: What have been some of your best moments so far? And the biggest learnings?
Elizabeth: Overall, It has been making the decision set up a modeling agency in Nigeria and to see that something I started out so small has grown to be this big. It was a major decision and has brought the best in me. Also, the annual Elite Model Look competition has empowered me to discover models in Nigeria who are now internationally represented, witnessing a model produced from the Competition (EML Nigeria) walk the biggest show in the world. To live and take every day as a gift, what you have, you have been given (you win some and lose some) lol.

My biggest learning has been on how to be patient, honestly at some point I have had various challenges and I just felt “not again”, I have felt like quitting a couple of times but I just had to keep fighting and proudly, now I can proudly say a number of this challenges are behind me.

BNS: What is your main mission and goal for EML Nigeria as well as the young models that participate?
Elizabeth: The main mission and goal of EML Nigeria is to discover African youths and to give them a pedestal to succeed internationally, also to promote and develop the African fashion and modeling industry


BNS: What are some of the judging criteria for the models?
Elizabeth: Basically, we look at the height (Female 5’9-6ft and Male 6ft-6’3), size (4-8), Age (16-26years), Nose, skin, a well-constructed face, defined features and a well-defined figure.

BNS: In your expert opinion, what makes a model stand out and succeed in Nigeria as well as internationally?
Elizabeth: First, a models personality is essential; humility takes you everywhere, second a striking face. A face that stands out!

EMLN 2019 Finalists

BNS: What are some things we should expect this year?
Elizabeth: Everyone should expect a competitive contest this year, as this is the first time we have scouted from several African countries to participate in this competition. We officially launched EML East and West Africa and we would be having models from some African countries participating at the Grand Finale at Eko Hotel & Suites. We promise you all an exciting show. Not to sound cliché… but watch out!.


The Elite Model Look Nigeria 2019 competition is set to take place on Sunday, 8th September 2019 in Lagos.
For more information, visit @elitemodellooknigeria