Modelling just like any other job is a difficult industry to break into however only those who are determined enough to endure the tough journey of modelling eventually start to reap the benefits that come with it.
Every model that is now seen on bill boards, TV commercials. Runway shows among many other platforms have all had to go through a process in order to have made a name for themselves, with many of them describing it as rollercoaster. With Namibia being such a small country and its modelling industry that is believed to be one that still has a lot of room for growth, a few of the country’s top models during a Modelling Survival Guide talk hosted by Memory Talent Management, brought forth Varaa, Chelsi and Luis who are all well-known models in Namibia and are no strangers to international modelling platforms as well.
Based on experience, Varaa, Luis and Chelsi during the talk all gave insight on their own past experiences and advice on how upcoming female and male models who dream of finding a place in the modelling industry need to carry themselves if they ever want to make it.
Chelsi who has made it big in Cape Town kick started off by narrating her tale of how she made it big on an international level. Having come from a family who did not believe that her modelling career would ever materialise into anything that was good, Chelsi never gave up because she knew what she wanted to achieve as a model. She however noted that it was not an easy journey because having gotten to Cape Town not knowing anyone and being placed in a house with other models who were drug addicts she made it a point to those who attended the talk by noting that it was very important as a model to avoid mixing with the wrong crowd and to avoid drugs at all costs.
During the talk Chelsi spoke passionately about avoiding drugs in the modelling industry because in most cases, the wrong crowd which may include club promoters would promise an upcoming model, modelling gigs only if they were willing enough to do drugs and in some other cases try to sleep their way up to the top, which maybe an easy way for a few but she noted that situations such as that should be avoided because the wrong crowd can easily drop you and leave you with a tainted reputation.
“One should also know that their sanity matters, be careful when you go out there, people will promise you opportunity’s that you’ve dreamt by forcing you to do the wrong things to get them. Do not buy into them, avoid fellow models who also sabotage others and remember that there is no easy way to get into modelling”.
Remember that everyone is trying to make it, the possibility of someone trying to ruin your chances of getting a gig is high. These things do happen so don’t be oblivious to it”.
She highlighted the importance of reading contracts, by stating that as a model before signing any contract for a job, one should always make sure they read and understand it before signing it.
“I cannot stress the importance of reading contracts, because there will be times where you do a gig and you think you would be paid but then realise that you won’t. Perhaps the contract stated that it was not going to pay but would give you exposure, now you find yourself angry for no reason, so read well.
If you do not understand certain contracts then feel free to ask models that have been in the industry for some time now who know a thing or two about how to go about it”.
She further made it a point to share that models need to learn the art of being comfortable in front of other models be it during fashion shows or studio shoots.
“In modelling nudity is normal, changing in front of other models whether their male or female will have to happen. During fashion week as a model you can’t tell the production crew I have to go to the toilet to change, things happen fast on the runway. If you are set to walk as the second model there is no time to run to a toilet to change, you will have to change there and then as quick as possible.
So if you are shy then clearly modelling cannot be a career path for you”.
Being backstage can be quite tricky says Luis who has model both locally and internationally. Luis shared his tale of experience by stating that as a model there is wisdom in having etiquette in all that one does which he applies to modelling as well.
“Being backstage there are a lot of people, as a model you will have to respect any and every one that is there even the cleaner that may be present on set. It’s important to know that word back stage can spread fast so if you offend even the cleaner they may end up telling the production manager who will then not want to work with you. Learn to be well mannered”.
Knowing the client you will be working for is also of equal importance says Luis as it is always better to get on a set and give the type of energy your client is looking for.
Luis who also describes himself as an energetic model highlighted that it was very important as a model to show enthusiasm even when one is backstage because production crews usually watch the models, be it the makeup artists or even the person that brings the food on to the set for the models word spreads fast, they may recommend you at some other point as a model that’s bubbly and has great energy.
Being recommended for other gigs is also a form of establishing exposure for a model and at times models won’t always be paid however Luis noted that as an aspiring model one should remember to not always make it about money.
“There will be times that where your money will come in late after a gig that you just did. It can take up to three months to get paid, this is why I am saying don’t make it all about the money. Focus on building a portfolio for yourself, get exposure even if some of the work is free. You might end up being place in Elle magazine without being paid.
Don’t worry so much about the money because making a living from modelling will start to how two to three years after you have started so you have to be very patient”.
Varaa who is a local model and is building quite the brand for herself in Namibia stressed the importance that aspiring models should have a great attitude and be confident by opening up their minds to bigger platforms.
“There is so much to modelling be bold enough to do research, learn about fashion PR, try and tap into other modelling platforms because this shows agents and those that scout for models for work that you know a lot about the industry that you are trying to tap into”.
Putting oneself out there into such an industry will seem scary, Varaa highlights that this should however not stop aspiring models from doing just that.
“There will be times where you might apply for a gig and get rejected and this may discourage you a little but don’t let it because in modelling people get rejected all the time and its never about you perhaps at the certain time you may not be what they are looking for.
I urge you to continue applying, DMing agencies and put yourself out there someday somewhere someone will give you a positive response”.
In conclusion Varaa further urged the models to sign up with agency’s that they have done proper research on because there are so many agencies out there that are scams.
“If an agency asks you to pay to a gig avoid it, if you are not sure about it talk to someone ask for clarity because somewhere someone knows something that you don’t”.