Here's our story and interview with Akii, a humble gorgeous model and mom from Tenessee.
Akii's Instagram @theakiilanier
Scenario: You’re in an elevator with a stranger and the stranger asks you- Who is Akii? What would be your response?
I'm a God fearing, independent mother that is passionate about making others smile; a creative lover of people and cultures who laugh often and enjoy seeing others succeed. Oh and I'm a country girl through and through!
What inspired you to be a model?
Honestly, I wanted to be a professional ice skater, but all we had were hardwood floors and socks. Modeling was never anything I wanted to do. I was kind of in the right place at the right time so I reckon God had other plans for me! Haha
How long have you been modeling?
I've been modeling now for almost fourteen years. I tried to retire to be home more with my son when he started school and sports but that only lasted for about two years.
What’s your favorite part in being a model?
I would have to say traveling the world, visiting countries I probably never would have thought to visit if I weren't doing this and meeting so many different personalities in the people I get to work with. I grew up in a not so diverse part of Tennessee.
Your most memorable experience in modeling so far.
Once I had to travel to Brazil and the crew got the days mixed up so they weren't at the airport to pick me up. When I finally got a hold of my agents in the States I found out that they thought I was coming in a day later. That trip I actually got to be a tourist, get out and roam a bit. I was so excited to get to see something other than the hotel and a studio.
How is it being a mom and a model? How do you manage your time?
Well my son is almost five years old now so it is a bit easier. I have always had an amazing support system in my family so help was never an issue. It was more of the fact it was hard for me to leave.
When he got to the age where he could [finally] talk, I would always hear
"Mommy don't go!" and it would break my heart. Now i choose to try to take at least five to seven full days in a row off so I can be at home with me boy.
If you can compare your modeling experiences with food, what would it be?
HAHA (lumpia/eggrolls) I love it and once you start it’s so hard to stop, but too much of it is not a good thing either.
It’s not the healthiest thing to eat in the world and in that sense when your job is how you look it is easy to pick yourself apart. You start seeing, so called flaws that you probably never would have noticed before- Like too many freckles or bags under the eyes that no one else sees but you. It’s definitely a double edged sword!
Book that you’re currently reading
What else keeps you busy aside from modeling?
Nikko Sage my son. He wrestles competitively, plays soccer, and football so needless to say that’s a full time job on top of a full time job!
What comes next after modeling?
Honestly the possibilities are endless. I just know that whatever my heart desires to do I'll be jumping in head first with everything I've got. Whether that’s acting, opening up my own agency, or becoming a missionary or a stay at home mother. Who knows what’s in the cards for me.
Being able to work with or around someone like Oprah Winfrey and pick her brain. She has accomplished so much not only as a woman, but as a woman of color and she has done so in such a positive way for many people of many different cultures giving everyone an equal and fair chance. I just feel we need more of this in the world and it starts with knowledge!
Tell us a secret.
My nickname used to be Akii Balboa. I used to be a bit scrappy when I was younger.
Currently binge watching _____
Game of Thrones.....Yes I'm one of those
Love and Hip Hop.....Yes I'm one of those too! haha
If you’re gonna have a book what title would it be?
Maybe Shes's Born With It,
Maybe It's 5 Different Filters...
The Many Layers Of Akii
If you will be given the chance and opportunity to help a specific charity, what would it be and why?
It would be a charity that helps families of fallen soldiers get through losing their loved ones.
My brother was in the United States Army, where he did a tour in Afghanistan and made it home safe. He was stationed in Louisiana where he was murdered and until this day they have not found who did it. It kind of left my family in shambles because R.J. (my brother) was the golden child! Always by the book and the best human being I have ever known!
I'd love to be able to help these families pick up the pieces!
Photographer IRVIN RIVERA
Photographer Asst PHILL LIMPRASERTWONG
Styling MALCOLM JORIS BACANI
Makeup ERIK TORPPE
Hair SHELBY SWAIN