Neza Rachel

” Be humble and appreciate each other’s differences. There’s big enough space for all of us to shine.

I am still learning. “

PLEASE TELL US ABIT ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?

I was born in Kampala Uganda and raised in Kigali Rwanda, post Genocide as I am a second born in a big decent family of six siblings and my passion for fashion started after finishing high school.

AS A MODEL, WHAT WOULD/DO YOU PREFER IN A PHOTOGRAPHER?

Before a photoshoot there’s a concept behind, just like an actor needs a character background and storyline to work with, so too does a model. I like to shoot with a photographer who is flexible with directions, gives positive energy and most of all have fun.

YOU HAVE BEEN MODELLING FOR ABOUT 4 YEARS, RIGHT? SO, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS SO FAR?

My work related accomplishments so far have been; being able to work with LDJ producers of New York Fashion Week and big fashion houses in Rwanda, being the face of collective Rwanda and becoming a pioneer in Made in Rwanda initiative, I walked in Fashion weeks in the continent, working with Cosmetic Brands, Airline and Telecommunication Companies. I am grateful and looking forward to the future.

I UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN FOREIGN PHOTOGRAPHERS OR DESIGNERS COME TO RWANDA; THEY OFTEN TEND TO REFER TO YOU FOR THEIR SHOOTS, WHAT IS DISTINCTIVE WITH YOU?

I think it’s connections. When you work with a client and they like you or your level of professionalism there’s a chance that they will recommend you to someone else. Also, personality or ability to interact with people matters most.

YOU WERE VOTED MISS EARTH RWANDA, A TITLE NEVER SEEN BEFORE IN THE COUNTRY. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT IT AND THE ROLE YOU PLAY IN IT?

I am passionate about nature and environment in general which is Miss Earth pageant’s cause; to reduce the effects of climate change and Global warming. I have been working with some NGOs because as a country Rwanda has a lot to teach the rest of the world regarding protecting the environment from practices like burning plastic bags, UMUGANDA (community work which happens every last week of the month in Rwanda), Kigali being ranked the cleanest city in Africa etc. I believe nature is the only gift God gave us and everything surrounding us including animals and it is important to protect it for our future generations to find it beautiful and safe, I mean who doesn’t like to breathe fresh air and drink clean water?

MANY FAMILIES IN RWANDA DON’T SUPPORT MODELLING, DOES YOURS SUPPORT YOUR CAREER AND WHAT DO THEY THINK ABOUT THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY IN GENERAL?

Well, my parents are supportive in everything I do but they don’t know much about the fashion industry which I think is our responsibility to tell them about as a part of our passions and interests. After all, your family wants the best for you and they will always be there for you even when you succeed.

IN THE RWANDAN MODELLING INDUSTRY, WE HAVE WITNESSED SEVERAL MODELS, MODELLING AND RETIRING OVERTIME WITHOUT MUCH SUCCESS OR NOT EVEN SUCCEEDING IN INSPIRING YOUNG ONES. SOME EVEN DISAPPEAR WITHOUT A TRACE, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS HINDERING THEIR SUCCESS?

I can’t speak for everyone as people have different challenges; I, however, think it’s about the journey more than the destination. I model because I love fashion and art. Modelling is my best way to communicate with society. I want to inspire the young generation and young sisters who look up to me now and in the future.

YOU HAVE TRAVELLED TO SOME COUNTRIES IN EAST AFRICAN AND OTHER COUNTRIES ON THE CONTINENT. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE LESSONS THAT YOU HAVE LEARNT FROM SOME OF THE MODELS YOU MET IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES?

Be humble and appreciate each other’s differences. There’s big enough space for all of us to shine. I am still learning.

MOST PEOPLE IN RWANDA BELIEVE THAT MODELLING IS JUST A HOBBY RATHER THAN A CAREER, WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THAT?

Modelling and fashion industry is still growing and evolving but just like any business or career modelling too takes time.

AS A MODEL, CHALLENGES HAVE COME YOUR WAY, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR LOWEST POINT THAT MIGHT HAVE MADE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU SHOULD LEAVE THE BUSINESS?

Challenges will always be there, so is struggling with being patient as everything takes time. What keeps me going almost always is to remember why I started!

IF YOU WERE PART OF THE GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION, WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO BOOST THE MODELLING CAREER IN RWANDA?

There’s still lack of international exposure and local support, for instance, Art or modelling schools and programs which would be my point of concern.

THE MODELLING INDUSTRY INVOLVES A LOT OF PLAYERS, SUCH AS; FASHION DESIGNERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS, MAKEUP ARTISTS, MODELS AND MUCH MORE. WHO DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST INFLUENTIAL TO THE INDUSTRY AND WHY?

In my opinion one cannot do without the other we are all connected so it’s not what you do but how you do it. So, it doesn’t matter which kind of field you’re in as long as you do it well you will always be influential and inspiring.

BESIDES MODELLING, WHAT OTHER TALENTS DO YOU POSSESS?

I do voice over and interpretation as a parttime job.

I UNDERSTAND THEY ARE SEVERAL MODELS TAKING THE CAREER INTERNATIONALLY. WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE INTERNATIONAL RWANDAN MODELS?

I have a lot of models I look up to in the fashion industry not just Rwandans, but I have always loved Liya Kebedde, (an Ethiopian model and WHO goodwill ambassador). I find her inspiring in many ways..

DO YOU FROM TIME TO TIME ATTEND MODELLING CLASSES? HOW AND WHERE??

Not really, as I mentioned before, we don’t have modelling schools in Rwanda which is a challenge but I always do my individual research on the internet and use my experience as the best teacher from fashion weeks and photo shoots.

I UNDERSTAND YOU HAVE DONE SO MANY CASTINGS, HAVE YOU EVER FAILED ONE, AND WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING ONE

I can’t remember which one as they’re a lot. There’s balways something different a client looks for like skin color or body type and it is not an offense when one is not selected. it may work today and not work tomorrow. It’s just how it works.

WHAT’S YOUR STRONGEST FEATURE AS A MODEL?

There is a different kind of Models, but I would say my height, bone structure, skin color and facial features especially eyes, smile. Thanks to my parents for the good genes but it’s good to acknowledge that we are all beautiful in our own unique ways.

DO YOU THINK MODELS HAVE TO BE TALL AND SLENDER?

I don’t think so, it depends on what kind of model you are. For example high-end fashion models, sports and athletic models, lingerie models, plus size models, commercial models etc. all these have different body types not just tall and slender. Fashion is evolving every day.

WE ALWAYS WISH BEFORE WE END OUR INTERVIEW THAT YOU LEAVE SOME LESSONS FOR YOUNG AND ASPIRING MODELS OF TOMORROW.

To young aspiring models I would say; it’s important to get your education first know what you want from yourself and do enough research find a good modeling agency to guide you and then work towards your goals with discipline and God/the universe will help you on the way like linking you with the right people at the right time..

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