We had the good fortune of connecting with Ionia Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ionia, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think risk taking has played a large role in my life and career. It’s the entire reason I am even in Phoenix. After prayer and fasting, my husband and I took the leap of faith and moved across the US to a city we never visited and had no family in. That one risk happened to be one of the best decisions of our lives. That gave me the confidence to pursue risks in other areas of my life, especially creatively. I stepped out of my comfort zone and started doing my own “photoshoots” with my husband on instagram. Eventually others reached out to work together as well. Although I had some past modeling experience in a different city, everyone I met in Phoenix was a new face. The reality is that modeling is a career of risks but my faith and a great support system keep me going.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love being a living canvas and bringing someone’s art to life whether it be clothing, photography, or makeup. Modeling allows me to story tell and express myself using the elements of my own body. I’ve always been a performer and explored both poetry and modeling in college while pursuing my psychology degree. After taking a few years after college to focus on my career and community work, I decided to reignite my passion for art during the pandemic after makeup artist Caty Bruce reached to do a project with her and Photographer Nader Abushhab. That lead to so many more oportunities such as working with brands like Herstori Wraps and photographer Martez Cornelius. After doing various shows and photoshoots around the valley, I recently signed with Scout Model Management to continue my modeling journey!
When it comes to the fashion aspect, I’ve learned that relationships mean more than a brand name. There’s something special about knowing you supported someone local who shared their vision with you or that you supported a black business that keeps the community going! As a long time worker in non profits and with youth, I’ve learned that fashion has a bigger purpose than we know because any creative medium can be used to make a difference in the lives of others!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well that’s easy to answer because we did exactly that when my husband and I’s families visited from Florida!
If you’re going to visit Phoenix, you HAVE to try the tacos first. We started by taking our families to Unos Tacos and Feednix tacos food truck. After that, we usually suggest Queen Creek. Not only do you get a little bit of Phoenix agriculture history, but they have plenty of local and fresh products to try within their store and restaurant. Depending on what our family has a taste for, we try to support as many black businesses as possible. For dessert, Onyx Bakery is our go to but for a quick meal, definitely Monroes! Now for shopping, you can’t go wrong with the first weekend of the month. On First Friday you get a little taste of so many local shops and businesses down Roosevelt and the first Saturday is the buy black marketplace held at Archwood exchange! Lastly, we have to include hiking and the sights. If you’re not used to hiking, Popago is a great starting point for a light trip. Canyon lake is also a great sight seeing spot with an unexpected gorgeous view that will leave visitors stunned! There’s plenty more to see but only so much we could fit into one trip.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to God, my husband, my family, and my “PhoenixFam”. I could not do anything without Christ and such a strong support system near and far. My husband is always willing to be my personal photographer and manager when needed and keeps me on track! My mother is always quick to share what I am doing with the rest of my family and friends back home so I still feel their support from afar. My “Phoenix fam” is a group of friends old and new who also embarked on their own journeys here in Phoenix and remain our family away from home.
Headshot with grey background: Nader Abushhab Red swimsuit & headwrap: Photographer Martez Cornelius for Herstori Wrap brand Other photos were done by my husband I (King & Ionia Wilson).