OF Her studio New York


Hey, i'm Zumi.

Faces of Her Studio New York is a series that highlights creatives in our community.




Photography by: Lesley Xiaohan Ma

Produced by: Her Studio New York

Directed by: Stephanie Rommelt

Interviewed by: Shayna Viola

Tell us about yourself.

I moved to NYC at 17 from Louisiana completely by myself and only $300 to my name which was just enough gas to drive up. I’ve been modeling for 4 years now and this is 125% my purpose in life. Luckily enough, I’ve always been a hard worker and am very talented when it comes to animals which has helped me to succeed in my efforts in pursuing modeling and I truly believe this sets me apart from so many especially as a black plus size woman in this industry.

Do you have anything you would like to highlight about yourself?

I recently had a baby Dec. 11th 2023. While I was pregnant I felt like a completely different person but now that I have my baby I feel like a fire has been reignited in me.

What has motherhood been like for you so far?

Motherhood has really put life into perspective for me it’s helped me to see what’s really important and that from this point forward my entire being revolves around my baby girl. 

What made you realize that modeling was something you wanted to pursue?

I’ve always wanted to be a model since I was a little girl. I’d watch Tyra banks or Naomi strutting the runway on our desktop computer and was in absolute awe. Luckily for me my mom fed my passions and spoke life into whatever it was that I wanted to do. 

What is it like devoting your time and love to your precious new baby whilst also chasing a creative dream?

It’s an absolute privilege that I’ve been able to stay at home with my baby and we’ve been able to acclimate ourselves and get to know each other. Her dad has been my biggest supporter and makes sure that I’m not only pouring into our baby girl but also myself. By having this strong foundation I’m able to dive head first into my career and elevate and evolve as a creative and show our daughter that just because you may have to pivot it doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed. 

Do you have a specific area of modeling that you enjoy the most? (Editorial/Commercial/Beauty, etc.)

I love editorial, you don’t see too many editorial plus size models but when you do, they really show up and show out. I love that’s it’s so freeing and you can be as creative and crazy as you want. 

What challenges have you overcome in your creative career and how did you go about it?

A few challenges that I’ve overcome has most definitely been about my hair and body. This is something that so many plus size, let alone black women struggle with when breaking into this industry. When I first started out I was about 12 and already pretty shapely, someone told me I should stick to acting bc my look is “so much”. Fast forward to me now being 22 I’ve worked with hair care, swimwear, and lingerie brands that absolutely love my look. By staying true to myself I’ve been able to access these opportunities for myself. 

March of 2023 I stepped away from my 2 agencies and a few weeks ago I walked away from my job that had me completely comfortable to recommit to myself and truly walk in my purpose.

Connect with Mannese!
Instagram: @itsmannese

March 6, 2024

Meet: Mannese