In the past, models had to be represented by an agency, but now in a highly competitive market with fewer jobs, models are taking their careers into their own hands and starting to create their own freelance pathways. However, being independent and working as a freelance model can be quite challenging. This means that you have to represent yourself and are responsible for finding and booking your own work. Nontobeko Mothabisa currently works as a freelance model and shares more insight into being independent.
Q. When did you start modeling professionally?
A. I started modeling in 2016 whilst at College. I landed a contract with an agency called Manifest Modeling agency based in East rand. That’s where I learned how to walk, pose, and to represent myself in front of people.
Q. What do you love about modeling?
A. Modeling has taught me discipline and self-confidence. These are two important aspects that make me strive to look and be my best at all times. I also like fashion photoshoots because I get to wear different clothes from various brands.
Q. How long were you signed under Sync Models?
A. It was a 1-year contract from July 2018 to July 2019.
Q. How was the experience for you?
A. I had a great and challenging experience with Sync Models. The agency helped me to build my image, but the challenging part is that having agency representation doesn’t necessarily mean that a model has signed up for success. You still have to work hard and find gigs on your own.
Q. How has freelancing modeling been for you?
A. Being a freelance model has been challenging. Working independently has not been easy. Finding gigs and bookings on my own, building my own portfolio, marketing, educating myself about the modeling industry and networking has been quite a daunting task!
Q. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a freelance model?
A. The Advantages: There is no contract involved with many rules and regulations. The Disadvantages: You are responsible for finding your own work and sometimes you don’t get big gigs. Brands mostly reject freelance models and consider those from agencies.
Q. What type of modeling do you do?
A. I’m into commercial, swimsuit and lingerie and promotional modeling.
Q. What is the process of finding work for a freelance model?
A. A model should have professional pictures, set up an online portfolio because social media sites are not as professional as websites. Networking with people in the modeling industry and going to open casting calls is important.
Q.So, does this mean that you can sign with different agencies as a freelance model?
A. Yes, I can sign with different agencies as long as they don’t overlap. However, the agencies have to be separated by city.
Q.Have you secured any modeling gigs so far?
A. Yes. I have done music video shoots.
Q. Can you make a full-time living just modeling as a freelancer?
A. Unfortunately not! I cannot make a full-time living modeling as a freelancer because I don’t always get paying gigs every month, and I have monthly bills to pay.
Q. Being able to do your own hair and makeup is one of the requirements for a freelancer – Can you?
A. Yes, I can. I have makeup skills and I can do my own hair.
Q. How do you ensure that you build a strong online presence in order to be spotted?
A. I am always active on social media and always ensure consistency. I also manage my posts in terms of when and what to post, as well as keeping track and looking out for opportunities.
Q. How do you take care of your skin and keep your body in shape?
A. For my skin, I avoid using strong soap and I use a moisturizer to keep my dry skin moist and smooth. To keep my body in shape, I try to follow a healthy diet and avoid eating junk food.
The modeling industry can be a tough place to try and make a living from. Many designers, agents, clients, and photographers have no problem pointing out your flaws or imperfections, and if they don’t like what they see, they move on to the next model.
Unfortunately, the modeling industry is very narrow and furthermore, rejection is inevitable. But that is only a problem for those who don’t know how to deal with it. Yolanda Dikobe, a 22-year-old model from Hammanskraal in Pretoria knows how to bounce back from rejection.
She started modeling two years ago but says she would have liked to start modeling sooner. However, she was rejected many times before by agencies. “Honestly, I didn’t believe it when Fabulous.Com Models invited me for an interview. So, when they signed me, I was very excited,” says Yolanda.
Since being signed, she has been featured in magazine editorials and has travelled to Paris through the agency. “It was my first time on a flight and also my first time out of the country. I’ll never forget that moment. Travelling to a country where most people don’t speak English was quite challenging. As a result, I’m currently learning French online,” she says.
“Modeling was my dream. As a teenager, I was inspired by Kimora Lee Simmons and I wanted to be like her, a model and a businesswoman. I have many models that I look up to, like Naomi Campbell, Joan Smalls, and our very own Candice Swanepoel. All of them have achieved many things that I also wish to achieve,” says Yolanda.
tough. There’s no way around it, and most of us will deal with it at several
points in our lives. What separates the pros from the amateurs, however, is how
you deal with being rejected and told “no.” If you are a model, and you are
told you weren’t chosen for a specific job, are you going to give up and let
that break you, or are you going to work on becoming a better model so the next
time has the outcome you desire?
Models are constantly at risk of being told no, especially when they are just beginning their career. Yolanda says she hasn’t been criticised for her looks, but she has been told that she doesn’t have the look for particular jobs. But she never takes it as a criticism because she believes that different features work for different jobs.
says; “Previously, I used to hate my features, thinking that they are not
strong enough, but I’ve realised that they are perfect for me as they allow me
to do high fashion and commercial modeling,” she says.
Remember, even Kate Moss who is now an iconic supermodel was often told no because she was “too short” to model. And, supermodel Gisele Bundchen was turned down by over 40 agencies before she was signed and is now one of the highest paid models of all time.
“I’m convinced that I can achieve anything! I just have to put in the work. One of my fellow models always says something very profound to me. She says, “trust your process”, and this is working. Now I know that when the time is right, I’ll get what’s mine.
Over time, Yolanda
has learned that “no” will turn into “yes” and understands how to turn
rejection into lessons that will better her as a model.
Someone once said that true success means living out your
unique life’s purpose and that who you believe you are, how you relate to
others, and how you engage with the world around you is directly aligned with your
purpose. Thulani Ndzotyana, is a 21-year-old model from the Eastern Cape who came
to Joburg to uncover her purpose. Over the years, she was accorded many titles in
the pageants and continues to strive for more accomplishments, including occupying
the highest office in South Africa in 2044. She opened up and shared her life
story with me.
Tell me about growing up as a little in the Eastern Cape?
I’m a proud product of the New Brighton Town in “the friendly city” of Port Elizabeth. Growing up a kilometer away from the Red Location township was quite eventful and colourful. I took part in traditional Xhosa dancing, sports, and modeling. It was here that I realised that I had a passion for giving back and that I wanted to make a difference in my impoverished community.
What were your dreams and aspirations?
As a child, I wanted to serve in the military, but as I grew older, at 12 years old to be exact, my aspirations shifted. I had new aspirations of becoming the President one day. Then later, I made a declaration that: I Thulani Ndzotyana aspire towards becoming the President of South Africa in the year 2044. This is an ambition I continue to work towards, and it is fuelled by my passion to empower and boost the low morale of the youth in my township.
When did you start modeling?
Growing up, I was tall and thin, as a result, they called me ‘slender’ and ‘model’. So, I started to have the desire to pursue modeling. Then, I entered a pageant called Miss Gunguluza named after our street. I was the second runner up, in a group of girls who were much older than me. Thereafter, I signed up with Extreme Models, a modeling agency in Port Elizabeth for a period of five years. Being part of the agency boosted my confidence and gave me an opportunity to walk for brands like Edgars, Truworths, and Legit. I also became the Face of Extreme Models for 2012-2013.
When did you realise that you could model professionally?
Whilst with Extreme Models, I figured that if I moved to Johannesburg or Cape Town, I could pursue modeling and actually make a career out of it, as these are the Capital Cities for models in South Africa. Making this decision has proven to be a successful move.
Which modeling agency are you currently signed with?
I am currently signed with Rage Models. It’s an agency that predominantly caters for commercial models, like me. But I am working my way towards becoming a high fashion model and will look for agencies that provide this.
Mention three major modeling gigs that you’ve been booked for thus far
Working as a Production Manager for the Buyel’ekhaya Fashion Show in East London in 2018.
Walking the Huawei P30 show in a Quitteira & George Garment.
Walking the Sof n Free Hair experts show, which showed on DStv channel BET Africa.
Which model do you look up to for inspiration?
Andiswa Manxiwa inspires me, she is not just a supermodel, but a fashion entrepreneur. She also comes from the Eastern Cape and she is one of the most humble and genuine people I have ever met in the industry. Her involvement in the industry spreads throughout the continent. She is our Tyra Banks.
Who inspires you outside the modeling industry?
My mother has been my role model since childhood. She was a teacher in a rough neighbourhood in Port Elizabeth, Motherwell who opened up our home to those of her students who were in need. She has taught me a lot about caring for others and she always gives me affirmation that all my dreams are valid.
As a football fanatic, I am also inspired by David Kekana ( who sadly passed away recently). His knowledge of sports was remarkable, and I looked up to him for guidance. He was a football encyclopedia. His passing is a huge loss to our nation. May his Soul Rest in Eternal Peace!
As an aspiring radio personality, I also draw inspiration from Bob Mabena. His career and journey continue to prove that he is a living legend.
Tell me about winning Miss Mamelodi Sundowns last year –
why you entered, the competition and the winning experience
Winning Miss Mamelodi Sundowns was a blessing that I still thank God for to date. The title changed my life for the better and brought me closer to my dreams. I will forever be grateful to the President of the club Patrice Motsepe and his wife Dr. Precious Moloi Motsepe. Through this title, I was able to meet great women, and build a sisterhood that extends beyond the provincial title holders. I had always wanted to get involved with the Foundation, so, being their Ambassador was not only a dream but a crucial part of the validation of my dreams.
How did winning this title boost your modeling career?
This opened various opportunities and allowed me to mentor
and judge in other pageants, like Miss Ekurhuleni and Little Miss Soweto.
Tell me more about model training
During my reign as Miss Mamelodi Sundowns, it was an honour for me to spend time traveling in the townships of Tshwane and motivating students. Many girls approached me seeking advice and mentorship. My training involved catwalk or pageant walks and speech articulation. In 2019, The Model Academy asked me to train their catwalk course. I am currently training upcoming models about posing, model etiquette, and scams. I also do private training and have taken part in pageants like Face of Devotion Mzantsi 2018. Later this year, I will be traveling to the Limpopo Province in Matlelerekeng, to train the Miss Moutse contestants.
What is the Helping Hand initiative about?
Helping Hand is what I call my first self-driven initiative, founded in December of 2017. I collected non-perishable goods and hygienic goods using social media and collecting from my family and friends. Together we collected 25 food parcels and distributed them to car guards and street vendors. In 2018, we gave food parcels to 60 families based in Gauteng and Port Elizabeth. I was blessed, to be sponsored by PUMA South Africa for my ‘Kicks with Goals’ initiative last year. This was aimed at encouraging students of Masiqhakaze High School to continue kicking towards their goals in exchange for Puma sneakers and grocery parcels for their families. This year in August, I distributed 30 food parcels in Johannesburg as part of my ‘Winter Drive’ initiative.
Tell me about #2044
I think I answered this question in my dreams. However, for now, vision #2044, seeks to establish and create initiatives which address some of the social issues we have in South Africa. There is a lot that I am currently working on in this regard and it is beginning to materialise. In due course, the impact of my vision will be realised in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. I plan to expand it nationally to ensure that we produce some sustainable solutions to beneficiaries in the foreseeable future.
You have an athletic body – what do you attribute this
Fitness is something I’ve incorporated into my lifestyle for creative purposes. I think and plan better when I am at the gym. I am also blessed to be built like my late father; whose legs were very toned. In 2020 I hope when this question is asked, I can attribute it to healthy eating as well.
Tell me more about your ambitions of becoming a President
in 2044. Is this a serious plan with a strategy in place?
I play life by the hand God serves me. I have academic goals, and I have a vision board. The #2044 project for me is to expand my knowledge, to discover opportunities and share with South Africa. #2044 for me is about being the difference I want to see in our nation. It is about breaking boundaries as a young black girl in South Africa and I hope that completing my B Com Law Degree will further develop my skills in pursuing this movement. When I was asked at school what I wanted to be, I said a South African President. In High School, I dreamt of my inauguration day and all I remembered from that dream were banners behind with 2044 written on them. My mother laughed and was fascinated when I told her about this dream. She then shared it with her colleague who counted that 2044 would actually be an election year. My mother and I believe that this was God’s hand validating my dreams.
Do you think you have what it takes to occupy the highest
office in SA and why?
Every day, I take steps towards making South Africa a better place, and every day is a learning curve.
Where does your ambition, drive and passion stem from?
These stem from having a mother who validates my dreams by simply believing in me and holding me accountable to my words.
What message do you have for young girls who look up to
In a world that continues to be shaped by social media; do not allow this to change who you are. Strive towards being the best version of yourself. Love yourself and everything else in your life will flow from your heart. Remember that your current circumstances don’t define who you are. Your dreams are valid! Also, remember that Rome was not built in a day.
When three, dynamic, and intellectual women endeavour to pursue
a venture together, it is most certainly guaranteed to be a great initiative. The
exceptional trio, Ndihone Ndzinisa, Sizani Ngobeni and Thando Soko joined
forces to launch Mrs South Africa Green in March this year.
This is not just a pageant, but it is a movement fuelled by a passion
promote and increase awareness of a healthy, sustainable and enviro-conscious
society. It is a pretty phenomenal pageant and leadership programme for
married women between the ages of 21 and 50 who are driven and passionate
about their communities with an outstanding knowledge of environmental issues.
Mrs South Africa Green seeks to connect with women who are wives,
in some cases mothers, entrepreneurs and dedicated social change makers who are
authentic and relatable. The brand is about beauty with a purpose and geared up
to becoming the country’s leading pageant and a revered female empowerment
program for ‘green’ conscious married women in South Africa.
“Our mission is to promote the importance of saving our planet environmentally. In addition to helping protect the environment, we are going to use the pageant as a platform to showcase the ecotourism aspects of our beautiful country by way of sensitizing the rest of South African citizens and international visitors alike about the importance of sustainable travel, says Ndihone.
In line with its ‘Pretty Down to Earth and Pretty Green’ tag
line, the Mrs South Africa Green aims to become a one-stop ‘green-eco’ living
advocacy platform for sustainable living – from green living to conserving
water and energy as well as protecting wildlife and saving plastic pollution.
“The first woman who will be crowned Mrs South Africa Green,
will be a person that truly understands that human nature impacts Mother
Nature, which is why she will lead the way to responsible living, promoting
sustainable developments,” says Sizani.
“We believe that feminism is not about making women strong
or empowered. Women are already empowered, strong and are natural leaders in
their personal, family, professional, business and community lives,” she adds.
“We aim to crown a global role model to represent the honest values of South Africa, whilst promoting Mother Earth. We also aim to promote awareness around household waste management and community waste reduction,” concludes Thando.
About the Founders
is a wife, mother and an entrepreneur who is passionate about nature
conservation, beauty and education. As a businesswoman she helps other women to
fully explore their potential in life. She owns a Multidisciplinary company
namely Ndihone Holdings (PTY) Ltd.
She is also a Co-Owner of Sithandi PR and Events which co-owns Mrs South Africa Green.
Sizani Ngobeni is a Medical Practitioner, who also holds a post graduate diploma in occupational medicine and health, with a special interest in Aesthetic medicine. In the 17 years that she has been working as a medical practitioner she developed a passion in uplifting the lives and roles of women in her community. She is a director at Sithandi PR Events and Mrs South Africa Green.
Thando Soko is a wife and entrepreneur. She holds an Honours Degree in Human Resource Management and a Certificate in Payroll. She is a Director of Rito Construction South Africa, Director of Tido Hygienic Services and Co-Owner of Sithandi PR & Events. Thando is passionate about women leadership movements, community development and giving back
Would you do a
“playboy” shoot? “A big YEBO!” says 22-year old Soweto based model, Tebogo
Ngakane. Posing in a risqué shoot, stripping off and baring all is for many models
not exactly a comfortable experience, whatever the context. But for her, posing
nude is an empowering experience.
She pushes boundaries in every shoot that she does and says nude shoots can have a positive effect on women: ” Personally, it never really bothers me, but I can see how it might be confronting for some. It makes me feel very womanly and empowered,” she says.
bring an erotic, sensual or emotional edge to a photograph and as such, it has
become such a popular theme in high fashion. “I’m the most comfortable in
my own skin. Besides creating beautiful images and giving me a full-time
career, posing nude has helped me grow both as a model and as a person. It’s my
way of showing diversity and sexiness. Models
are definitely expected to be comfortable being naked. A lot of
the time you are expected to change in front of people on set,
be comfortable stripping off in line while changing looks. Most of
the time people are pretty considerate but in saying that, you are expected
just to get on with it and do your job and make it fast,” she says.
But Tebogo does
different types of modelling, not just nudes. She is inspired by Somali born
fashion model, actress and entrepreneur – Iman. “I’ve been a model for as long
as I can remember and have always loved fashion and looking different. I have
found power in fashion. I admire and respect her Iman so much. I think she’s just
perfect,” she says.
She has worked
with some of the South African and International brands. “I work with lots of
photographers and do a lot of travelling. But I want to work with as many
photographers, brands and collaborate with other models too,” says Tebogo.
When asked what she wouldn’t do when it comes to modelling, she said: “Settling for less when it comes to my craft and allowing people to bring me down. NEVER!” she says.
However, she points out challenges that she encounters in the industry. “I’m passionate about modelling and it is what I do for a living. There is nothing as disheartening as being booked for a shoot and not getting paid for it. Also, photographers can be very degrading towards models and if you aren’t strong enough, you will never make it. Don’t allow fear to be your worst enemy,” she says.
Is the modeling
industry more diverse and accepting now? Atteridgeville – Pretoria born model and
actress Lelizwe Sibisi, would like to think so.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.