Is the modeling industry more diverse and accepting now? Atteridgeville – Pretoria born model and actress Lelizwe Sibisi, would like to think so.
Certainly, 25-year-old, signed with District Models, reflects on changing perceptions in an industry that hasn’t always been known for broad notions of beauty.
The modeling industry has tossed aside its strict height requirements and is now embracing models of any size, age, and ethnicity too. Instead of focusing on how tall a model is, modeling agencies are focusing on the whole package: beauty, personality, professionalism, and so much more. However, it is important to note that some industries will be harder to break into. High fashion and runway do tend to favour taller models.
“I personally haven’t experienced any challenges. I think we’re gradually moving away from those restrictions. I’ve found the industry to be more welcoming to people who previously wouldn’t “qualify” as models based on their looks,” says Lelizwe.
In the past, models were often a major factor in establishing society’s standards of beauty. Now, as beauty standards become more inclusive, they’re shaping the types of models we see making their way down the runway.
“Beauty doesn’t always come with confidence, but a confident person automatically exudes beauty; it radiates from the inside,” she says.
However, she expresses that the stereotype that the only thing models are good for is looking pretty, and the expectation for models to be perfect, is disheartening. “We’re constantly under pressure to prove ourselves to be educated women who are more than capable of applying our minds to different issues that affect the world we live in,” she says.
As a model, Lelizwe seeks to align herself with brands which speak to who she is as a person. She is a successful new model and a Brand ambassador for Style Alert SA, a Joburg based clothing brand. She explains how she was discovered; “Thuli Mola, owner of the Style Alert was looking for an ambassador at the time and she came across my pictures on social media. Someone in her team knew a friend of mine and we got in touch from there,” she says.
“I relate very much to the kind of woman the brand speaks to. As a result, I never really have to step outside of who I am in order to align myself with what the brand stands for. In essence, my job requires me to continue being myself while wearing their different styles of clothing. The brand itself is very chic and effortless. This makes my job very easy, I always try not to model the clothes too much and really just let them speak for themselves,” she says.
I want to see my name and face on a Vogue cover… It’s only a matter of time!
Her dreams and aspirations as a little girl were to make an impact, but at that time, she didn’t know in what way. But Lelizwe says it later became clear that she wanted to be at the forefront. She says, looking at her life and career now, she thinks that she has achieved her dreams and aspirations.
“I’m very proud of my achievements so far. I do, however, believe that I’ve only just scraped the surface. There’s still so much more to conquer. I dream big, that means I must be willing to work hard and smart to get there,” she says.
Lelizwe is also a BA Drama graduate signed under Leads Artists and very passionate about the craft.
Here’s a quick Q&A on her acting career
What roles have you played so far?
I have played the role of Becky in a television series called High Rollers on SABC 3. Playing this role was a learning and rewarding experience.
What type of role do you wish to play one day and why?
Any role that challenges me. The more I’m able to stretch myself as an actress, the better.
How do you prepare prior to a photoshoot or a tv camera?
My theatre training has taught me to always get in the zone before any of my shoots. I’m a big fan of music so, I usually jam to my favourite songs and get my energy up.
Do you think acting and modeling complement each other in some way?
They do. I’ve taken many lessons from my theatre training and applied them to modeling.
Which do you prefer theatre or television?