A young girl with big plans afoot
You're at college in Clapham doing your A-levels. How do your fellow students react to you being on television in The Model Agency?
I told my friends at college but the students in younger years come up to me and say, "You're the girl on TV" - yeah, I'm also the girl who has been at your college since September.
Do you think your friends had much idea what modelling involves before seeing the programme?
Not really. Before, people would say: "I'd like to do modelling as a hobby too." But when they saw me crying they realised it is hard work. Now they ask: "Are you really that stressed, do you cry when you go home?" Actually, I wasn't crying; it was just a little wetness that came to my eye.
When did you realise that you were better-looking than most people?
I never really thought about it. Up until 14 I never wore makeup, I just did sports, creative writing, never did my nails, never did anything girlie. I knew I was quite smart, but I never thought about pretty stuff.
How did it feel when you got scouted?
People used to come up to me and tell me I should do modelling but I just thought it was one of those stereotypical things - you're tall, you're skinny so you should be a model. The time I got scouted by Premier was the first time I thought that I could pursue it for a career.
Since the show's been on, do you get recognised in the street?
Let me tell you about my stalker experience. I was with my friend on the underground when this woman recognised me. She sat with us on the train asking me all these questions. When we got off the train, she said she'd followed me on Twitter and that I had never followed her back. "Follow me right now, I know you've got Twitter on your phone," she said. So I logged on and followed her back. Then I got on the bus and she took the same one. Next, she wanted to take some pictures together. When we got off the bus, I don't think she knew where she was. She was a grown woman. You're not meant to meet your Twitter followers in real life.
What are you thinking when you're on the catwalk?
The catwalk is nerve-racking. I don't feel like a dick, but I think: Oh my God, I can't believe I'm doing this. I'm thinking: move your arms, don't make your face too tense. The lights are so bright you can't see the audience in any detail - my mum came and she asked me to look out for her, but you're not going to stop and wave.
Is Naomi Campbell a role model for you?
I met Naomi at a party to celebrate her 25 years of modelling in New York. I didn't talk to her. I felt sorry for her as everyone was trying to take photos with her. She's as pretty in real life as she is in her pictures. She's been successful so she's opened a lot of doors for dark-skinned models, but I wouldn't say she's exactly a role model because of the negative way that she's portrayed in the media.
In the show people say you look like her or Beyoncé, but you don't really do you?
I don't look like them at all, it's just a skin tone, it doesn't define me. It annoys me because Naomi and I have two different looks and we're from different generations.
Premier co-founder Carole White says that sometimes photographers and makeup artists don't know how to work with black models...
Yeah, that is true. I don't see it as racism, there aren't a lot of black models in the industry to work with. Sometimes hair stylists take offence if I bring my own hair products, but they have to be conscious that we do have different needs. If I do a shoot with a white girl, we need different lighting and that can be difficult.
Do you mind being naked in shoots?
No, I don't mind, it's just my body. There's a Marie Claire shoot with my nipple out - boing! Boys at school ask, "Leomie, is that your breast?" "No, it's not, it's my penis." Obviously, it's my breast, just get over it. I don't feel embarrassed on the shoot because it's professional, I know they're not going to portray me in a page 3 kind of way.
Is it hard for a black model to get work?
During the times when there are no shows on, a white model might get sent to Tokyo to work but that doesn't happen to black models. There's a wider market for white models. If designers feel they are trying to reach the majority of the population through their advertising they would probably pick a white model. It's not representative of the whole population but representative of the majority. They find that safer to work with. In the future it will change.
Do you think people watching you think you spend your whole life being chauffeured around, living the dream?
I think so. My friends say, "I saw you in a Mercedes, you're rolling in it." They think it's for free, nothing is for free. I don't even get my Oyster card topped up.
When you were in New York for the shows, you lived with 11 other models...
It was very new experience for me, I've never lived with anyone apart from my mum and brother. Having to share the bathroom is hard. And people try on your stuff behind your back. The first time I went, my underwear was stolen, the second time my shoes were stolen.
What magazine would you most like to be on the cover of?
Obviously, Italian Vogue. At the moment, I'm on their pull-out cover with some other people. I'm central and my eyes are focusing on the camera, so it feels like it's just me. I'd like to have another shoot with fewer people in six months, and be on the cover on my own within two years.
What would you like to do post-modelling?
I want to do fashion journalism or be a magazine editor. Or a TV presenter. I'd like to be on the Alan Carr show. Put that in, so he can read it and invite me on, I deserve a five-minute slot.