Inna Modja is a Parisian-based, Mali-born model turned singer currently signed to Warner Music/Atlanta. She is also the new face of the Mizani haircare line. When I found out that she was a fan of BGLH I invited her to do an interview. Here it is… Enjoy!

On her origins
My father is from Mali, West Africa. He was a diplomat when I was a kid so we traveled a lot. I was raised in Ghana, Nigeria and I have lived in New York and DC. My parents are retired and now living in Mali.

On getting into modeling
I started modeling when I was 17. I was going to see a movie with my friends and I was just waiting for them at the cinema when a woman came and asked me if I would like to model. I said, “Yeh, why not, but I’m not tall and I’m not pretty.” And she said, “You are. This is my cell phone just give me a call.”

I called her and we did a photoshoot and a lookbook and then I started. It’s a crazy life. I was with Elite Model Management. I did commercials, photos for Louis Vuitton and runway shows. A lot of things.

I didn’t really like it. I didn’t hate it because it was mostly fun, but I didn’t take it seriously. It was just a way to earn money when you’re 17. It’s cool, you go to school and you make money doing a fun thing. When I finished business school in Paris I decided to just model because I’d earn more money doing that and I didn’t want to work in a bank somewhere. So I moved to New York and continued modeling.

But there’s a lot of pressure on the girls. You have all the top models but you also have models who work a lot but don’t have name recognition. There’s a lot of competition between girls; you have to stay thin, you have to always be good looking, you have to fit in what they’re expecting from you. It’s not always easy. If you take that really seriously it can lead to trouble.

Eventually I stopped modeling and moved back to Paris to do something I’d always dreamed off, getting back into music.

On her new music career

Inna shooting the music video for Mister H.
My sound is a mix between pop music and folk and soul. It’s very acoustic. I love the guitar, I taught myself how to play through books and the internet.

When I was modeling I still did a lot of music. I was composing for some artists here in France so the boss of my current record company heard about me and came once to listen to one of my gigs. They really wanted to work with me so I said, “Okay. Where do I sign?!”

The response to my album Everyday is a New World has been amazing. I couldn’t even dream about this. It’s crazy because I spent almost two years on the album. I wanted everything to look like me and I wanted something really personal from this album. When it was released people went crazy, I was doing interviews with all these journalists and TV shows and it was great because I didn’t expect that. I just wanted to do music.

Inna with Jason Mraz, a frequent collaborator
Next I’m going to tour in Japan but I would love to perform in New York. I really miss the U.S.

On Nneka, and other young African artists
I don’t know Nneka closely, we just met like one or two times. But she’s great, I like her music. Here in Europe there are few African artists really rising. So it was cool for me to have Nneka before so now it’s kinda my turn, so I’m happy.

On whether her hair is real
It’s real. The real hair is even bigger than the wig (laughs). I wear a wig for some shoots because when I work I have to have the same head, the same look. But my hair underneath is natural.

On going natural
I used to have natural hair as a kid but my sister is a hairdresser and she started relaxing my hair when I was 11. At the beginning I liked it because it was smooth and just like all my friends, then I started hating it because it hurt and even when I took good care of it it broke off.

Seven years ago I thought, okay, I’m going to stop. I cut off when my hair, I didn’t even know that was called ‘transitioning’. I just let my hair grow and then I started cutting out all the relaxed hair gradually. It was difficult to take care of both textures, so I did a lot of braids.

At the beginning it was difficult because I was taking care of my natural hair like I used to take care of my relaxed hair, so I wouldn’t wash it very often because I was not used to that. When I was in New York I had a friend who was natural and she told me about what she was doing so I tried out different things.

On her regimen
When I’m working I use a lot of protective styles like weaves that I don’t keep more than 8 or 10 days. My hairdresser braids my hair underneath very loosely so that the front doesn’t break off.

I wash my hair once a week and I also wash when it’s really hot like, now it is in Paris. In the winter I shampoo every two weeks. In between shampoos I co-wash with conditioner.

I use Mizani products because before becoming their spokesmodel I wanted to try them on my hair to check if they’re really good, and they are. I also use Alba Botanica and Amazonia Preciosa products. I deep condition once a week before I do my shampoo using castor oil with rosemary, ylang, ylang (an essential oil that smooths my hair) and shea butter.

I spritz everyday with water, castor oil and jojoba oil. Before I go to bed I braid my hair, and spritz it. When I wake up in the morning I put some Mizani cream in and comb it or do a braid out.

As far as styling, sometimes I do twists and braids. If I’m wearing my real hair to a shoot I’ll do an afro or twist outs. Here in Paris it gets really cold in the winter, so I do a lot of protective styles.

On being the new Mizani spokesmodel
Mizani is a line for black hair, relaxed or natural and they didn’t have any spokesmodels for that. They asked me to do it about 6 months ago so we’re going to start shooting in September and I’m really happy about that. L’Oreal (Mizani‘s parent company) is such a huge company for cosmetics and hair. They have spokespersons for their cosmetic products, like Beyonce and Kerry Washington, but they didn’t have anyone for black hair products. That was bizarre because so many black women are buying their stuff. So I’m really proud to be the first one. I really, really can’t wait.

Her number one beauty tip
Always take off the makeup before you go to bed. And get facials when you can.

Inna, thanks for chatting with us! For more of this lovely lady check out her Facebook page and her MySpace page.

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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17 Comments on "Inna Modja // Natural Hair Style Icon"

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[…] amazing but few dare to do the same. I’m always wearing a flower in my hair, even before Inna Modja became famous. But now that she is, I use to hear people calling me “Inna” whenever I go out. So […]

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Athena

I don’t like her music that much but i think she’s gorgeous.
But i’m kind of disappointed because she’s lying when she’s saying that her real hair are bigger than the wig (wig she is wearing in all the pictures here).
She is the “face” of Mizani L’Oréal and we can see her real hair on the posters advertisement.
Hair which are really beautiful btw ->comment image

Iris
YAY! Another Parisian girl! I’m French too, and her music video for French Cancan was just broadcast, so I wanted to check if it was her real hair or not, and to my surprise BGLH did an interview with her!! I was like, so happy! Anyways, I’m so glad it’s her real hair, it proves some ignorants that yes, with time and care, Afro hair can grow llooooooooong! It would be so cool if you could do an Ayo interview, and ask her about her famous updo style! I think its a one strand twist coming up from the nape… Read more »
Jana

She is so beautiful.

pat

I love her style!
You can find her music on youtube. The only song I know from her is Mister H (as in happiness, I think). It’s pretty cool and refreshing! Check it out!

jadedpoet

Love her hair and style!!

Britney D.

Great interview! I hope my hair can look get that big someday! 🙂

tam

LOL what wig is it?! Can I buy it for this winter?!?! LOL

Samya

I love her music it’s 60’s and 70’s but it’s still fresh. I bought her whole CD and I wasn’t dissapointed.
i loved this interview made me like her more.

Jai

She’s a gorgeous young lady, I look forward to hearing her music. That fro is tha bizness!!!

Minimalist Beauty

She is absolutely beautiful! I love her hair! Great interview. I’m hoping she has a preview of her music on her site.

ElectricFeel

I’m really feeling her afro..* wig or not*
Great interview!

alana

nice hair!

aJwitaFrO
I’ve never heard of this artist before but I enjoyed the interview. cool that she was raised in Nigeria part of her life, my Country :-). Anyways, I noticed that in the US they really put a lot of emphasis on advertising to the black community. I guess because the black population is so large there. In canada there isn’t really that many campaigns or companies directly geared towards black people. I also liked how she was very honest about her personal views on the modelling industry (ie, not really taking it seriously,etc..). has anyone listened to her music? what… Read more »
vonnie

she’s gorgeous and that head of hair is WOWZA. loved the interview, very chill 🙂

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Shones

Nice interview. I love that her real hair is actually bigger than the wigs. That’s what’s up!

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