Sambi Alieu is a Liberian/ Sierra Leonean Model. Born in Monrovia, Liberia, she immigrated to the United States, along with her mother, at two years of age, in order to escape the horrors of Liberia’s Civil War. Sambi grew up in Staten Island, New York, and now resides in Philadelphia, PA.
Sambi is working to break her way into America’s modeling and acting industry, whilst striving to be the first 5'0" petite model to grace the catwalk of runways across the globe. She has done promotional modeling for companies, such as Indique Hair, a luxury celebrity hair company, and recently became the face of "Angel's Lips Cosmetics," a luxury cosmetics brand owned by Liberian model/ actress Lisa Togbah.
After hearing Tyra Banks announcement that the upcoming Cycle 22 of the show had removed all height requirements, Sambi made no hesitation in submitting her information to audition for the America’s Next Top Model Cycle 22. She immediately went to the Internet to ask her followers for help in getting the casting directors to notice her as "The Name To Remember". But she was hardly prepared for the flood of support & encouragement she received through Face book, Instagram and other social media outlets, after her pictures & information about her went globally viral.
As an African, this 26-year- old believes this is her chance to show the world what she is made of. Being a mixture of both Liberian and Sierra Leonean, she understands that her heritage is one of the many things that will set her apart from the competition, while connecting her to citizens of the world. Her Sierra Leonean background comes from both her mother & father. All of her grandparents were born in Sierra Leone. Her grandmother is a Margai from the Mende Tribe; and her Father's bloodline is Tarawali, from the Temene tribe.
Sambi feels there are some people who are given life, with a natural gift to share with the world. She knows that her life was spared in the war for a reason. Her passion for this dream is everything to her. It has gotten her through the toughest moments in her life and continues to keep her going. Her goal is to be able to touch the lives of others through her story & the things she stands for. She also wants young girls to be able to look up to her. “There aren’t many West African faces being represented in Hollywood or across the globe today,” she says, adding that many African kids grow up ashamed of where they come from and now seek only the European view as the standard of beauty, instead of loving their blackness. She wants to help restore the pride & unity which had once thrived in the African & African-American community. She is set on showing the world that you don't have to be a size 0, and stand 6 feet tall to command a room, or take over the entertainment industry. Here in a Q&A she chats with Lib Life about her inspirations of wanting to become a model, personal stuff most people don’t know about her and some of the most difficult pose she has ever had to do during her modeling career.
LIB LIFE: Hey, Sambi, we’ve heard a lot about you and excited that you are doing a fantastic job with your modeling career. Tell us, what inspired you in the first place in wanting to become a model?
SAMBI: I've always wanted to model; it first began when I was a child, watching TV. I wanted to be the little girl on the commercials, modeling for Gap, smiling for Colgate. I used to stand in front of the mirror, with my mother's high heels on and pretend I was the girl on TV and in the magazines that everyone one knew. My passion grew even more when the show America's Next Top Model aired, and I watched Eva Pig ford win Cycle 3. At the time I realized some of the height rules in the industry, which was set for 5' 7" and above for runway. However after watching her win, even though she was only 5'5", gave me so much hope. From that day I made a promise to myself that I would not take no for an answer in following my dreams.
LIB LIFE: Tell us a little about yourself.
SAMBI: I am 26 years old; I was born in Monrovia Liberia. I came to the United States of America at the age of 2. I grew up in Staten Island, New York, park hill projects to be exact.
LIB LIFE: And when exactly did you start taking modeling seriously?
SAMBI: I began taking modeling seriously during my junior year of college, after modeling in fashion shows at my college campus. My friend André Jones was a graphic design major at the time, and wanted to get into photography. Since he knew I was interested in modeling he asked me to be his muse. I used those images from our shots, to bookwork when I moved back to Philly after school.
Photographers liked my work, and that's how I began to work with different photographers, designers, and companies around the city.
LIB LIFE: Now, I understand you’re trying to at least get an audition to be amongst those chosen for the American Next Top Model. Tell me, what does this really mean to you?
SAMBI: Getting on America's Next Top Model means a lot to me because there is no representation of what looks like me in the industry. I come from both Liberian and Sierra Leonean background. But growing up I've never seen anyone from our land represented in Hollywood. My story is one that is real, inspiring, and uplifting. The things that I stand for the world needs to see. And I believe getting on the show will shed a new light on the American modeling industry.
LIB LIFE: What would you say has been the most difficult pose you ever had to do?
SAMBI: Most difficult pose? Umm I'm not sure I've had to come across that just yet. But when I do I'll be sure to master it.
LIB LIFE: And when you’re not working, what else would you be found doing?
SAMBI: When I'm not working, I'm home spending time with my loved ones. Laughing, dancing around my living room, reading and trying to expand my knowledge on different areas. I also enjoy the spontaneous moments spent with the people I care about. I'm always like guys, let's do this; and my friends are crazy enough to say yea lets go for it! Lol, nothing too crazy just fun. I live for the moments in life that you can't buy, or get back!
LIB LIFE: And who’s managing a beauty like you?
SAMBI: I do not have a manager; at the moment I manage my career.
LIB LIFE: Wow! That sounds like fun! So, when last were you in either one of the countries of your origin?
SAMBI: the last time I was in both countries of my origin was when I was a baby. I have not been back to ever since. However I do plan on going to visit probably within the next 3 years.
LIB LIFE: So Sambi, what advice would you have for young aspiring models who are probably reading this right now?
SAMBI: My advice to any upcoming model or aspiring model is, to just be yourself and follow your guts. Never take no for an answer, and always keep going no matter what. People may discourage you along the way, but as long as you know where you are going and stay focused, you will get there in due time. Do what you know you are able to do, and be the best you can be. There may be others, but always remember you are you for a reason, and no one can do what you do. Stay humble, stay positive, keep God first in your heart, and recognize your weakness as well as your strength. Everything will work out, if you just keep going.
LIB LIFE: Wow! I feel you. I know you’re probably going to say, girl it’s none of your business. But guess what, everything is my business. So tell your readers; Now, tell us five things that most people don’t know about you.
SAMBI: Umm… five things people do not know about me. Well…
1) I love laughing, and making people laugh. To me it's one of the most genuine things in this thing we call life. A simple laughter and smile can get you through the roughest days. Not to mention it's pretty good for your health too.
2) I absolutely love plantains and Ateké & fish, like adore them, I could eat them every single day;
3) I'm very passionate about my people;
4) I'm a peoples’ person, but I love my solitude; I love spending time alone with animals and nature. Sitting in a peaceful spot, reading, meditating, and taking in the scenery. It keeps me balanced whenever I feel overwhelmed;
5) I also love acting, and dancing.
LIB LIFE: Well it was nice chatting with you, Sambi. We wish you all the best. Keep making your countries and your continent proud.
SAMBI: Thank you for your interest in interviewing me. It is always my pleasure in making us proud. And thank you guys for your support.