Phenomenal Woman: Vanessa Vanderpuye for FRUK Magazine
From modelling for the likes of Samsung, Coca-cola, and Pantene to starring in Sky One’s Bulletproof Season Two; a series created by Nick Love, Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters. Actress, and model Vanessa Vanderpuye is a rising star to watch. Known for her roles in the multi-award-winning series Dreaming Whilst Black, which resulted in two nominations for Best Actress. Although Vanessa got diagnosed with an extreme condition, Endometriosis two years ago and still dealing with the difficulties of the condition, she continues to achieve great things in her career, create awareness and break boundaries.
Vanessa Vanderpuye is our phenomenal woman of the month, photographed and styled by our Editor-in-Chief Liz Olusesan. She wears powerful pieces from the likes of Sankt, Knitss, April & Alex, Syra J, Xumu, Komono and also 1302 London.
Vanessa talks fashion, beauty and acting with our Editor-in-Chief Liz Olusesan in FRUK’s new phenomenal woman series.
When did you start acting and modelling and how has this shaped you as a person?
I trained as an actor after studying Criminal Justice at university. If you know African parents, acting is not a suitable vocation! The deal was to get a degree, then follow my dreams after. I then trained and did several courses until I landed my first theatre role then worked my way up. I knew TV and film was my main focus. The hardships and constant rejection definitely made me more resilient as a person. I learned to stop trying to fit into someone else’s world, I strive to build my own.
Who has been your biggest inspiration growing up?
My dad. He taught me as long as I work hard at it, I could achieve anything in life
You’ve had an incredible career so far working with the likes of Samsung, Sainsbury, Coca-cola, and also modelled for brands such as Pantene. Is there any brand in particular you’d like to work with?
Dior! Charlize Theron has been the face for 10 years, I think it’s my turn now. Their perfume commercials are the best!
If you had to choose one for the rest of your life- Modelling or Acting?
Definitely acting! Bringing a scripted character to life is definately more rewarding
What has been the most challenging part of your journey so far and how did you overcome it?
The most challenging part was about 3 years ago. My health was at it’s worst after my surgery for the endometriosis, meaning I wasn’t my best self. I gave myself some goals to achieve before turning 30, and I failed. Took a few months out and gave myself some time to pray & heal and understand how to deal with my condition. I now have more understanding on what my body likes/ dislikes. Learning to be more vocal when I’m in pain also helps and always keep painkillers on hand!
What advice would you give upcoming black models and actresses?
Find out what your niche/ brand is. There will be a few trials and errors on the way, but once you know, use it, stay strong, be persistent and be unapologetically you!
Is there any other model and/or actress you admire and would like to work with?
Angela Bassett! The first time I saw her depiction of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It, I was in awe. Such an incredible actor and I feel I could learn so much from her. Not forgetting her incredible physique.
Describe your style in three words?
Classic, bohemian & chic
Are any fashion designers or fashion brands you would like to work with?
I would absolutely love Vera Wang to create my wedding dress! I love colours, silhouettes, and a great suit! I’d love to work with David Koma, Oscar De la Renta & Brandon Maxwell one day.
We love how your skin glows, can you share with us your daily skincare routine, beauty secrets and any products you swear by?
Thank you! I have combination/sensitive skin so I use mainly natural products on my skin such as raw shea butter and olive oil. I’m also in love with the Murad range! Their serums and eye creams have been doing wonders!
As a black female actress and model, do you feel pressured to act or look a certain way for any roles?
For years, the industry pressured me to have a certain aesthetic; whether it was being told by agencies to loose weight to be considered, or to wear my hair straight to conform to what society perceives as ‘good hair’ or a ‘smart look’. However, going to LA 4/5 years ago and seeing so many beautiful women embracing their natural hair, gave me the confidence to re-educate myself on my natural coils and do the big chop. When I came back to London, my modelling agency would not allow me on set with my natural hair, or add those images to the website. She didn’t know how to market me with my natural hair, so I left. Best decision of my life!
What’s the best piece of advice you would give your younger self on sex, relationships, friendship, career and family?
Sex & relationships- Learn to love yourself before wanting love
Friendship- Your next chapter is going to cause some people to wish they treated you better!
Career and family- Resilience is powerful but you’re not weak by asking for help.
Growth is uncomfortable but it sure is beautiful
Having being diagnosed with Endometriosis, how has this impacted your life, career and what advice would you give others that may be going through the same thing?
Dealing with endometriosis has its good days and bad days. At its worst, I physically cannot get myself out of bed or eat. It can be frustrating especially when I have a 12hr day on set. The last commercial I did, they nearly sent me home as my temperature was off the roof! After an hour, the medic convinced them it was related to my condition, not covid! Lol.
There are so many ways you can try to manage the pain. Taking time to unwind, listening to my body, and fitting my endometriosis needs into my schedule helps me feel in control of my symptoms. Having a clean diet also helps balances my hormones. I focus on high fibered vegetables, drink at least 2 litres of water a day, workout when possible & cut out gluten and diary (I still treat myself to Haagen Daaz ice-cream. It’s called balance!). Remember, Endometriosis can increase your risk for anxiety and depression, so having a support group or therapist to check in with can be a lifeline. If you are a sufferer, listen to your body and never stop fighting!
2020 has been an overwhelming year for everyone and Mental health is an important topic we like to spotlight – we’d like to know what this means to you, any suggestions on protecting your mental health and avoiding the stresses of life?
I’ve learnt to be more kind to myself by putting myself first during lockdown. As a creative, there is always something to do! So I had to give myself permission to rest, put my phone and laptop away. Binge on my favourite shows for a few hours, or listen to music and try a new recipe or just facetime my friends and family without feeling guilty for not working or looking for work! Just giving myself that space to breathe, meditate and pray.
What are your future plans, are there any upcoming projects you can share with us?
The Bulletproof Special will be out on Sky 20th January 2021 on Sky TV! A family holiday with Bishop takes a dangerous turn in the new 3 part special. The most exciting thing I’ve shot yet!