Numéro : You grew up in West London. What was your childhood there like?
Adwoa Aboah : When my mother had me she was about 25, and she’s lived there, in the same house in West London, ever since. She’s from up north, the Lake District, and my dad is from Ghana. Growing up in London was the best thing in the world – it’s one of my favourite places, if not my favourite place in the world. Even though it’s grey and gloomy, and everyone is quite grumpy there, there’s something really comforting about it – I feel very grounded when I’m there. It’s not too boring, nor too manic, as New York can be. I still have the same friends I grew up with. At 13 I was sent to boarding school in the countryside.
How was it there?
It was awful. Boarding school wasn’t for me. I wasn’t supposed to be in a bubble – I was so used to having different age groups around, hanging out with older people, hanging out with younger people. And there were so many rules at boarding school, in this weird bubble. I hated it!
Is it around that time that you started having anxiety problems and feeling depressed?
“Gurls Talk is definitely helping me a lot. Stopping to think about myself and taking the time to think about others is what gets me up in the morning - it’s completely therapeutic. It’s quite funny that I had to go through such pain, feelings of uneasiness and loss to get to this point in my life.”
Did you know already what you wanted to do with your life? What was your perception of the fashion industry?
I don’t think I even had a perception of it, because I was so involved in it because of my parents’ jobs, and the jobs of their friends. It all felt quite normal, and the fashion industry people were family friends. In a way it was very exciting – I love that I met all types of people so early, straight, gay, black, white… It’s probably one of the things that I found difficult about boarding school – it felt isolated, straight and boring. So that was the kind of perception that I had of the fashion industry. But I definitely didn’t think that I was going to be a part of it or that I was going to model.
Were you into theatre?
Yes. When I was about 13, I found my love of theatre. Besides a few friends, it’s one of the few positive things I found at boarding school. Theatre is something I carried on after school and into university. I don’t think I knew at all what I wanted to do, although I knew for sure I wanted to be independent, so slowly but surely I fell into modelling. But at first I also had to work in shops and I was a nanny for a bit, as well as going to university. I think also when you’re so uncomfortable in your skin, and you’re so uncomfortable in general, finding out what you want to do in life is like… I didn’t really have time to think about it, I was already kind of lost anyway, so thinking that far in the future was terrifying. I just tried to deal with the present. When you’re depressed, you feel that inability to get up in the morning and do your work. Everything just felt complacent and heavy. I wasn’t lazy, I got through university and I did my jobs, but it wasn’t exciting, I didn’t put my heart into it.