Image Courtesy of Annabelle Cosmetics

Model Nyakim Gatwech on Self-Love and Black Girl Magic

With her nickname ‘Queen of Dark,’ Nyakim Gatwech has dedicated her career to shattering traditional beauty standards.

Recently announced as the newest face of Annabelle Cosmetics, she’s featured at the forefront of their EDGE campaign, a makeup line inspired by strong women who dare to boldly embrace their differences. This incredible accomplishment is a testament to her relentless perseverance despite whatever harrowing circumstances have been thrown her way.  From experiencing the perils of refugee camps to overcoming constant bullying for being “too dark,” Gatwech has transformed her negative past into an optimistically bright future, openly discussing her work, activism, self-love, and black girl magic.

-If you don’t love me now…Don’t love me later.

A post shared by Nyakim Gatwech (@queennyakim) on

FASHION: How did your campaign with Annabelle Cosmetics come to fruition?

Nyakim Gatwech: Annabelle Cosmetics came across my Instagram page and reached out to work with me. I want to thank Annabelle Cosmetics for believing in my brand and I want to thank my Instagram followers for giving me an amazing platform to do important work.

What’s the key to being comfortable in being authentically yourself?

The key to being comfortable is knowing who you are, where you come from, your history, and having a vision. With these four aspects, anything you put your mind to, you can accomplish.

 Do you get treated differently by makeup artists/designers compared to other models?

Yes, because of my skin colour, makeup artists have a hard time matching my skin tone and creating an amazing look. Rather than taking on the challenge, most makeup artists choose not to work with me. I had a problem with one designer who said that a bright orange dress does not go well with my skin colour, yet at the casting they knew exactly the tone of my skin. At that moment, I was beyond confused but I chose to not partake in the show to stand against colorism.

 What’s your favourite product from your recent Annabelle Cosmetics EDGE campaign?

I love every EDGE lipstick in the new Annabelle Cosmetics line because it represents me, but the lipstick named “Kelly,” a fuchsia, is my absolute favourite.

 Do you feel pressure being a voice for diversity? Or is being a voice for those who maybe don’t have one something you embrace?

I embrace it, but I also feel the pressure. But it is something I am okay with because others do not have the platform or the voice I do to address these issues. There is always going to be pressure in whatever you do. It is up to you if you want to take on that pressure or not.

You mentioned in the #BlackGirlMagic video you did with BET that darkness can be viewed as a ‘trend.’ Do you think that’s truly the case or is diversity actually happening in the fashion/beauty industry? 

I do think it is a trend. With the growing popularity of chocolate tans, more and more people are trying to gain darker skin tones year-round. Though, I am also a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due. I think diversity is increasing in the modelling industry but not fast enough. We can all do a better job in representing the real faces of the world. 

What does EDGE campaign, which promotes unconventionality and boldness, mean to you as an individual who already dared to be different?

I was chosen to be the face of the EDGE campaign. I feel like I am being represented in a positive way whereas many black women are not. It means that I have broken barriers and have paved the way for girls who look like me. It means that I can wake up each morning and know that out there someone thinks I am beautiful. In this EDGE campaign, not only are girls like me represented, but so are women from different backgrounds regardless of their shape, size, colour, hair colour or texture, etc.

What advice do you have for young girls who look up to you and feel like they don’t fit into society’s unrealistic standards of beauty?

Love yourself in the face of adversity. American beauty standards were built on a racist and unjust system. It was designed to keep girls like me in the backdrop. Continue to challenge these standards every day by expressing yourself through your appearance and personality. Taking actions like wearing your natural hair and wearing lipstick colours which are brighter than your skin tone goes a long way.

Annabelle Cosmetics’ EDGE collection will be available in mass drug stores across Canada and online at as of late July.