Today I have decided to shift some focus into another industry that I got some soft spot for, modeling, and explore what it entails and the myths surrounding it. Every basic definition portrays a model to be a person with a role either to promote, display, or advertise commercial products or to serve as a visual aide for people who are creating works of art. The question is, do people aspiring to be models know this? Worldwide modeling is a lucrative industry envied by many young people and many go through thick and thin just to make the cut. Beauty pageant events and fashion modeling runways from Dubai to Paris litter our cable channels attracting the biggest players in the industry and with it promoting biggest products and designs the business sector can offer. Same can be said of back here in our country Kenya, all over the country pageantry and modeling events nowadays take centre stage and are equally used as the main platform to market products and lure clients. The Kenyan modeling industry has its fair share of success having produced the likes of Ajuma, 21year old Malaika Firth who always grace international runways and a copy of determent stemming from the players to the prospective young model candidates.
Kenyan born super model Malaika Firth
My job as an events manager and having worked with the best modeling experts in our Kenyan industry has exposed me to realities and facts that come with this industry and plenty of challenges it bestows. What I have deduced till now is that most contestants enlist without background knowledge of what modeling entails. The myths that modeling is a quick fix cash earner, modeling is glamorous or models are employed if they look great personality are some of their inspiration not knowing these are just but flowery thoughts. Part of these myths bear some truth though like every other job with the right qualification on the onset the pay is never enticing until you build that portfolio to back up the wage increment. The glamour that come with modeling is earned and that’s necessity since the industry invests more on image to achieve its objectives. Agencies don’t go for the ‘pretty’ face mentality , having a vibrant personality is as important as the good looks a person posses and in international beauty pageant competitions like Miss World, Miss Universe or Miss Tourism personality always acts as the cutting edge in the competition, beauty with no brains in this business in useless.
Who can be a model?
To work as a model you need a good appearance and the right ‘look’ for the branch of modeling you wish to go into. You don’t need any formal qualifications.
For fashion modelling, you should be tall and well-proportioned with regular features and healthy skin, teeth and hair. The basic recommendations that you should have the following body measurements, even though they vary:
• females: bust-waist-hip measurements of no more than 34-24-34 inches (86-61-86cms) and height of at least five feet eight inches (1.72m)
• Males: 40-inch (97 to 102cm) chest, 33-inch (84cm) inside leg and height of at least six feet (1.83m).
For other types of modelling you would need to fit in with the look that modelling agencies want. For example, ‘plus size’ modelling agencies may mainly be looking for size 12 to 16 models, although opportunities exist for size 18 and above. Classic model agencies may look for people of all ages, and agencies who supply models with an ‘ordinary appearance’ could take on people of different ages, weights and looks.
On top of that model prospective should posses these sets of skills, interests and qualities; good grooming and willingness to look after yourself, fashion sense and awareness of trends, good coordination, confidence, self-reliance and discipline, a pleasant, professional attitude with good ‘people skills, good time-keeping, patience, stamina and fitness to cope with long, tiring days and travelling and the always controversial one, the ability to cope with criticism and rejection.
Depending with the kind of audition, one would usually start his/her career by sending photographs and details of your measurements to a modelling agency. Many model agencies also employ talent scouts, who go out looking for people with the potential for a modelling career.
You do not need to do a modelling course or have an expensive portfolio of pictures to get onto the books of an agency. Reputable agencies will be able to assess your potential without expensive photos or training. If an agency is interested in you, they should help you to build a portfolio of good photographs.
Fashion model Salim Swaleh
You should not have to pay an up-front fee to join an agency, the opposite though happens with most Kenyan agencies, although they may deduct an administration fee when you start to earn money. You should do your research and make sure that you join a reputable agency.
Through my research on all the agencies in Kenya I settled on very few that I have confidence in and their reputation always speak for them. Follow the link modelling agencies and familiarize yourself with their line of opportunities.