Phina Oruche speaks to Female First ahead of her show Identity Crisis at Ovalhouse (9 – 13 May).

Phina Oruche

Phina Oruche

I struggled with traction alopecia in my mid-twenties and after childbirth, and stress-related alopecia later in life. All the thread plaits and cornrows, the twist and the dreads took their toll on my hair, so I have learned to work with what I have and keep it free from stress.  It has served me well because wearing my hair natural was part of the reason that I broke out as a model when I had my ‘moment’. It was because I was being myself, I had tried and failed to copy the ‘hair norms’ of Naomi and Tyra, and Stephanie Roberts with the big weave thing. I hated weaves and so it was a compromise too big for me to wear one for long, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t try for a little while.  When I finally gave up the pretense, I soared. I now have a full strong healthy head of natural hair and a big bag of wigs for TV roles! Word to the wise!

My proudest moment in my modeling career is split between walking the catwalk for Chanel hired by Karl Lagerfeld with Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Carla Bruni, and Helena Christensen and when I represented the GAP and was all over the globe on buses!

I am too shy to have a highflying media career, that may seem oxy moronic or counter intuitive but I struggle with the social element of it. If I had my way, I would do it all in a vacuum!  Just for the love of it. That’s why I write and do radio.

I feel for the young ones now because they have the beast of social media. I loathe it - I am more and more a Luddite. When my account gets more than a certain number of followers I delete it because I find it difficult to focus on my own creative voice and thoughts with the constant interruptions.

I am scared of heights, yet once they put me on the Chrysler building in NYC to do a fashion shoot, and I jumped over 200ft in I am A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here on a bungee jump! Which lets me know how much of a professional I can be, when the stakes are high enough I you pardon the pun!

I have a Masters Degree in Media by research. It was so important for me to go to University as I wanted to bust the myth that existed in my head that you can’t make money off your looks and still be intelligent in an academic way.

When my niece died in my home in 2011 my reaction to it was delayed. Then the depression and grief that followed made me choose to lose everything that wasn't essential for survival. A profoundly dark period and I am forever changed by it.

A letter writer stalked me on my radio show and it led me to quit everything and stay home for over a year, only going out to do the essentials. I recovered by writing Identity Crisis and going back to University.

I see myself as Scouse-American because these are the places where I have grown so much. I need Liverpool for our grounded, practical sense of humour and I need LA for the weather, the great drama school reared friendships and the possibility of versatile parts on TV shows.

I am happiest with my son and my Frenchie Minnie. As I have got older I require so much less. I have great friends across the world but find myself often on long walks or giggling with my son who’s every uttering and learning curve fascinates me.

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