The fashion and modeling industry, just like other industries is feeling the pain amid the COVID -19 pandemic and resorting to developing digital solutions. With modeling work at a standstill, for the most part, newcomers like Sejeng Mashoene are bearing the brunt of the lockdown restrictions due to the pandemic and the biggest surges in infections currently in South Africa.

At the beginning of the year, barely two months into modeling, Sejeng was booked and busy! She secured a booking with an amazing pan-African fashion brand, Maryzo Designs to showcase their new clothing range. A few days later she was announced as a finalist for Miss Regal International South Africa 2020. Subsequently, she was in a pageant production with Mrs South Africa 2018, Nicole Capper. On the very same day at the pageant production, she got a call from her agent informing her of a call back for an ad campaign that she could not attend due to the clash. A few days later, she received confirmation from her agent that she had been booked for another print media ad campaign which she shot a few days later. Shortly thereafter, she was offered an opportunity to be a model trainer and scheduled to start at the beginning of April 2020. But then the unexpected COVID – 19 pandemic occurred globally, forcing the world to come to a standstill in the middle of March 2020.

As the country reported more and more cases of COVID-19 throughout March, this meant that photoshoots and castings had to be postponed or cancelled altogether. Just as she thought that her new career was flourishing, Sejeng’s plans became increasingly unstable.

“When the Coronavirus made its way into the country, my modeling career that was literally taking off had to come to a halt. To be honest I was crushed!  After struggling with unemployment, I finally had something in my life to look forward to, but all that had to a pause,” says Sejeng.

Currently, South Africa is on level 3 lockdown regulations which means that the rules are now more relaxed, compared to level 5 and more than eight million people have returned to work. However, the economy has taken a hard knock and still at the early stages of recovery. But things are not the same and everyone is adjusting to the “new normal”.

As hard-hitting as this may be, Sejeng remains optimistic. “What keeps me positive during these uncertain times is interacting with my fellow Miss Regal finalists. I’m keeping in touch with my agency through videos and live sessions on Instagram providing insight with the way forward in the modeling industry during the pandemic. In my own time, I continue doing pageant training with Stride to keep me prepared for the pageant. I have also joined a lockdown campaign with 4ourth Roc clothing where I shoot indoors wearing 4ourth Roc gear. Being creative, learning new skills, staying informed, updated and being open-minded to change in order to adapt is really what has kept me sane during these indefinite times,” she says.

Going forward, Sejeng has learned and is finding new ways of pursuing the modeling space virtually. She is adapting to self-taped castings which are a great time saver. “This is something that can really assist in the future even when the pandemic is over.  I do have hope that my modeling career will still take off with the same energy after the pandemic.  I can’t wait to get back to the buzz again! I’d like to work with big brands in the industry. For now, though, it’s all about creativity and adapting to change.

MORE ABOUT SEJENG

She is an Economics graduate, a passionate teacher, a model signed to Rage Model Management, a model scout at Opulent models and a Herbalife entrepreneur.  She was raised by a single mother in a township called Lebowakgomo in Limpopo and attended a multiracial private school in the city of Polokwane.

Before venturing into the modeling industry, she obtained a BCom degree in Economics and Econometrics at the University of Johannesburg, with the intention to pursue an honours degree the following year. Unfortunately, that did not come to pass, due to unforeseen circumstances. She tried seeking employment with just the degree but was unsuccessful, in the year 2017. Her mother suggested that she study teaching by doing a post-graduate certificate in education, and she did. Upon completion, she worked as a temporary teacher at a school in Midrand – north of Johannesburg. After her contract expired, she continued looking for employment while modeling for her cousin who is a photographer, to assist him with his portfolio. That is where the spark began. As she searched for modeling inspiration on the internet, she came across a post by The Model Academy, inviting aspiring models to a workshop. She booked and attended the workshop and thereafter attended two courses offered by the academy until she received the certificates. She then took the decision to sign with Rage Model Management in November 2019. In February 2020, her career as a model began… And…SHE IS THE NEXT MODEL TO WATCH!

Photographs and Clothes by Maryzo Designs