One of my New Year’s resolutions 2014, was to get over my writer’s block and write. Over the weekend, I shared a by line with Gloria Haguma on January 8 2014, in the Full Woman Magazine; a pullout in the Saturday Monitor. While the world has its eyes on Aamito after her victory on Africa’s Next Top Model, I take you down memory lane. I talked to Priscilla Ray and Eva Mbabazi of the fishnet dress fame. Take a look.
Priscilla F. Ray: A model from way back
Olive Nakiyemba caught up with the former teen model who made her mark on the Uganda market, online.
“I was barely 12 when, after watching models on Fashion TV (Ftv) I decided I would try out modelling too. It wasn’t the money or fame that appealed. I just wanted to wear fabulous clothes and be in beautiful pictures.
At 15, I walked to Sylvie Owori’s Zipa Models, and was immediately signed up. My life after that was dizzying with excitement. Not because of the money, since I didn’t get any, but because I was realising my dreams.
My most memorable incident was taking part in the Nairobi Fashion Week, as the only Ugandan model.
The greatest fun was being on the runway and the unending parties. With Sylvia Owori, we attended every high end party in town. Had it not been for my common sense, I would have quit school. I knew modelling wasn’t a career, just a hobby, and I needed my books to fall back on.
The reality of modelling in Uganda is altogether less glamorous than people tend to think. Yes, it does have its perks, but like any job, it can be stressful and downright terrible at times. Imagine waking up at ungodly hours to do photo shoots (if you are lucky enough to be chosen) and having to pose over and over again until the photographer got the perfect shot he wanted. Unlike Europe and America, models in Uganda do not get to bring home a nice pay cheque, you have got to have a real job to survive, in fact throughout my time as a model, I did not earn any money. I know it is unbelievable. My boss used to tell me that she was saving my money but I never received a penny.
The older girls were paid Shs. 50,000 per show. I actually starved sometimes because I was too broke to afford lunch!
The perks of this job and, of course, the most interesting part is getting to meet all kinds of interesting and important people.
On the flip side, some family members thought it was prostitution under the guise of modelling. However, their opinion did not matter to me because my mother, who raised me single-handedly had no problem with it as long as it didn’t compromise my studies.
I quit because at around 18 when I realized modelling in Uganda was non-existent, no one took it seriously and it wasn’t seen as a career choice. I mean, you couldn’t survive on modelling, it wasn’t a real job. It was also time to focus on my studies since I was joining university.
I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Administration at KIU and went on to do my Masters in International Business and Management at the University of Westminster, UK. I went on to forge a career in finance, worked for a Hedge Fund in London for two years and finally quit to start my own business. I’m now pursuing some private projects in Uganda.”
Eva Mbabazi of the fishnet dress fame
Now stationed in London where she pursues a TV career and runs her own modelling agency, Mbabazi opened up to Full Woman’s Olive Nakiyemba via chat online.
Who is Eva Mbabazi?
I was born in 1974 in Mengo Hospital to a Munyankole mom and a Muganda dad. I grew up with my mother, hence favoring her side.
How did you get into modeling?
A lady walked up to me when I was out with my girls at Nile Grill (present day Café Bravo on Uganda House). She convinced me to take part in the Miss Tourism contest in 1992 that was organised by Captain Mike Mukula and his wife. I was sponsored by Crane Forex Bureau and I emerged the first Runner Up.
In 1993 and 1994, I took part in the Miss Uganda pageant and won the Miss Photogenic title in 1993. By this time, I had gained the confidence to rock a swimsuit. In 1994, I went to German, where I was approached and asked if I would be interested in modelling.
I signed my first modelling contract with Viva Modeling Agency in Berlin. I did a bit of runway, magazine, TV and movie extra work. Part of my work as a model was to work in the Cloakroom. There, I met a designer who suggested I get into music. I was young and very ambitious; I could do just about anything… However, I found out that I wasn’t cut out for music.
What’s the story behind the bald look?
It was hard to stand out as a Black girl in the Fashion Industry. All girls had weaves and wigs. At one time I had blue hair, anything to stand out! Unfortunately, that just didn’t work out, so I went bald. When I did, work started pouring in as everyone seemed to remember the bold bald Black girl.
How was it? Did you enjoy it?
Oh I loved my work! I am that kind of woman, I give everything I do my all. The only flip side was the racial inequality. Blonde girls with green eyes were highly favored. Thank God that has changed!
How was the pay?
It varied. Movie extras were paid 100 Euros,music video vixens – 600 Euros and photo campaigns paid 1,200 Euros.
The Infamous Fishnet Dress…
Oh, that dress! I met Sylvia Owori when I had returned to Uganda in 1999. A hair dresser friend who used to work on the Miss Uganda pageant told me that Sylvia Owori wanted a model. Sylvia and I hit it off right away. I did the TV advert for her shop; Sylvie’s Boutique on Ivory Plaza and I was the Face of Sylvia Owori. My job entailed wearing her dresses and stand by the roadside to be admired…
At the time of the Fishnet dress, she had wanted something fresh, something that would make “Kampalans” talk. So she went to London, bought the dress and I decided to wear it with the G-string. Of course, she had to hire body guards for our safety. That night, we went to Rock Gardens and Club Silk. It surely did its job; people talked for days, months even.
No. I do not have any regrets.
Here’s the link to the full article – http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/Full-Woman/Tales-of-gloom-and-glamour-by-models/-/689842/2149900/-/eyrq4vz/-/index.html