"Three weeks ago, I worked on the Givenchy campaign with Erykah Badu  and the photographers Mert and Marcus. It was the first big job that I’ve booked as a model. Actually, on my way here [to ITG], I saw that Riccardo Tisci tagged me in an Instagram of the campaign, where he wrote ‘Black Angel.’ It’s so surreal. And working with Erykah Badu was amazing. She is really sweet and really funny. I grew up in Detroit listening to her—my mom was always playing either Erykah Badu or Mary J. Blige. Every day. So on set, I was like, ‘OK, this is happening.’ She was so silly, making jokes and everything. And she looks amazing! She looks like she’s 20—so beautiful.
Growing up, people always told me, ‘You should model, you should model.’ But I was pretty insecure because I was also made fun of for being so dark and skinny. I just thought people were being nice when they said that, but after people I didn’t know started saying I should model, it was like, 'Maybe I can really do this.' Now that I’ve booked Givenchy, my family is going crazy—I’m 22, the baby of the family.
Before I started modeling, I just washed my face with hot water and soap, but with this job and so many people touching my face, I have to use a facial cleanser. I’ve been trying Cetaphil, and it actually helps a lot. I got that from Pharrell. He looks so young—I had to know what he did, so I Googled it. And I drink a lot of water—that came from Pharrell, too. [Laughs] Other than that, I keep my face really moisturized with Pond's Dry Skin Cream. I just use a very little bit because I don’t want to be too oily.
I don’t really wear a lot of makeup, since I get made up for work. When I’m not modeling, I like to give my skin a little freedom, so instead of using concealer and a full face of foundation, I just use L’Oreal True Match Liquid Makeup in Soft Sable as a highlighter underneath my brows, and sometimes down the center of my nose to give myself a little light. It’s two shades lighter than my skin tone—I learned that from a friend of mine who's a photographer—and I apply it with this little, flat angled brush. He also told me to stop filling in my eyebrows with a black pencil. He actually took it away from me. [Laughs] My eyebrows are so not there, so I have to fill them in—really lightly—but now I use a brown MAC Eye Brows pencil instead; it looks more natural.
I used to wear fake lashes, but now I can see that they looked so phony. I could get away with stuff like that when I was first modeling in LA, but in New York everyone was like, ‘No.’ Now when I go to castings I just wear Mary Kay Ultimate Mascara. It works well on my lashes, so you can see them a little.
For my hair, I like to use a flat iron. If I’m feeling like curls, I can curl it with the flatiron, too, because I have one of the curved ones—the Remington Pearl Pro Ceramic. It gives a good curl. People usually say you need to have a really nice flat iron, but I spent $30 on mine and it works wonders. I just broke one in London because the outlet made it burn out—I was so mad! It makes my hair bone straight without having to use any styling products. You can’t tell me anything after I use my flat iron!
I never used to wear perfume, but a friend of mine whose father works for Nicki Minaj gave me her perfume, Minajesty. The bottle was really cute, and it smells really good! I wear it everywhere. People are like, ‘What are you wearing?’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, just some Nicki.’ [Laughs] It’s what I’m wearing right now, at this moment.”
—as told to ITG
Riley photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on December 12, 2013.