"I knew I was doing something to help push an important statement."

By Samantha Sutton
Updated: May 15, 2019 @ 2:55 pm
Courtesy Calvin Klein/Mario Sorrenti

Don't get us wrong: photos of Noah Centineo soaking in a pool or Shawn Mendes tugging at his shirt are quite the treat on a normal day. But, when they're part of a Calvin Klein #MYCALVINS campaign that also includes rapper Chika Oranika, looking badass in a matching sports bra and underwear set? Sorry boys, it's this girl's time to shine.

You'll likely recognize Oranika from her viral video, where she called out Kanye West for his controversial political views. Her freestyle rap was thoughtful, powerful, and, unsurprisingly, gained her a healthy fan base. Now, thanks to Calvin Klein, Oranika's​​​ not only a talented lyricist and rising artist, she's a full-on model with a billboard in New York City.

“It’s really crazy to see myself in a CK campaign," she tells InStyle over email. "I don’t think I’ve totally processed how wild it is. I feel like in a couple years, I’ll look back and be like, 'Wow. That was a moment.' I never anticipated it.”

Some would find it intimidating to strip down for photos that will no doubt be widely circulated and seen by millions. But, while Oranika admits it required a bit of a pep talk, her own words ended up inspiring her.

“When I first heard I would be ‘in my Calvins’ there was hesitation," she says. "I’ve never wanted my career or message to center around my body and I knew it could bring a lot of attention. But, the more I thought about it, I felt it was integral that I practice the same self-love and boldness that I preach. That made the day a breeze for me. I knew I was doing something to help push an important statement."

Courtesy Calvin Klein/Mario Sorrenti

Of course, Oranika hopes more major brands will begin recruiting a diverse group of models, following in Calvin Klein's footsteps.

“It’s important because models should be based on reality. A model is not what is aspired, it should be inspired. I look like a lot of people who don’t often see themselves reflected in media. Doing that creates this gap between reality and the ‘perfect image,’ and that gap inspires discrimination. We need to normalize reality and embrace each other’s differences.”

Overall, Oranika says the response to her campaign images have been pretty positive.

“The response has been nothing less than overwhelming," Oranika reveals. "I’ve gotten more messages in the past few days than I have in the past month. So many have reached out to show support, pride, respect — it’s very humbling.”

And as for the people who doubted the rapper's ability to make it big, who she made sure to call out via Twitter? She has a few words for them.

“HEY, Y’ALL. HOW YA DOING?”

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