Amanda Khamkaew


At the age of six, UK-based Kenyan model Debbie Opiata would play dress-up. This sparked a long-term interest in fashion, and over the years, she has grown to appreciate it even more.

“I find beauty in owning, accepting who you are, and learning how to say who you are without having to speak, but through your style. In my world, there exists nothing like being overdressed,” Opiata says.

The 22-year-old style enthusiast is hugely inspired by Coco Chanel, who once said ‘in order to be irreplaceable, you’ve got to always be different.’

Debbie Opata
Debbie Opiata / Courtesy

Her Instagram reflects just that. Her style is distinct and is an embodiment of who she is. Opiata is a budding micro-influencer whose fan base is highly engaged.

From her comments, you can tell that people adore what she loves doing, and is a next-generation young leader in style and influence. We sat down with her to find out more about her journey in fashion. You wouldn’t want to miss this one.

Also read: Mary Erica: ‘When It Comes To Your Dreams, Just Shoot Your Shot’

Fashion Today: What inspired you to venture into fashion modeling?

Debbie Opiata: I had always dreamt of venturing into fashion modeling but I didn’t quite have the self-confidence it required. My biggest inspiration was Yelena, a UK-based fashion model, and blogger who unapologetically owns her body and who she is. Being of a similar physical build, Yelena inspired me to do the same.

FT: Is there someone you have always looked up to in this industry?

DO: Yes, not just one but multiple. The top two being two highly influential, bold, and beautiful queens, Rihanna and Beyoncé take the lead among the icons I have always looked up to. I also love Yelena, Amanda Khamkaew, and Jess Hunt among others.

Debbie Opata

FT: How has your experience been so far?

DO: Every new day has its own new lesson, but I’m glad to have had a positive and rewarding experience so far in many different aspects. I’m definitely looking forward to what the future holds.

FT: Are there any brands you’ve worked with that you loved?

DO: I love and respect all the brands I’ve worked with so far as they all embody what I believe in; individuality, inclusivity, and most importantly, elegance.

Also read: 10 Times Azziad Nasenya Looked Super Stylish

FT: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had and how did you overcome it?

DO: My biggest challenge so far was building my self-confidence in front of the camera. As far as I can remember, I was never the type of girl who loved taking pictures but thanks to one of my friends who possess amazing photography skills, I was able to overcome this through having multiple photoshoots with him and I’ll forever be grateful for that.

FT: Many people ask, does modeling pay? What’s your answer to that?

DO: The answer is yes, it does pay. However, I have learned that getting to that point requires a lot of patience, determination, consistency, and understanding that everyone’s journey is different. It’s all a matter of time.

FT: Since the world is rapidly accepting models of all sizes…what would you say to encourage those who are afraid because of body shaming?

DO: I believe it all goes down to learning how to accept and love yourself for who you are because there’s no one else in this world like you.

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You could be the most beautiful person in the world, and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, none of that even matters. Self-love and acceptance go a long way.

FT: What’s your biggest goal that you are yet to achieve in the industry?

I believe in dreaming big, working towards your goals in silence, and letting success make the noise. Nonetheless, my ultimate goal would definitely have to be owning an all-inclusive fashion brand that would encourage anyone and everyone to love and accept themselves for who they are, and most importantly leave behind a legacy of inspiration in the industry in all possible ways. I believe I’ll get there.

FT: Who has been your biggest support system so far?

DO: My close friends. I have to admit staying consistent and believing in myself isn’t the easiest thing to do at all times, but I’ll forever be grateful for my close friends for always encouraging and believing in me with no doubt. Hand in hand with my personal self-confidence, they are the reason I believe that I will surpass my goals.

FT: Finally, what do you have to say to your fans?

DO: Just as my beautiful mother always says to me, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. No dream is ever too big to be actualized.

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