By Fab Mc
Top model Uganda is a leading model search, Awards and Fashion event with a proven track record of discovering fresh model talent, launching careers and creating dreams. For many young people in Uganda. I had a one on one with Mr. Kamoga Sula, the Business relations associate for this franchise and we talked about business, talent and everything in between and below is our conversation.
Fab Mc: What prompted the birth of Top Model Uganda?
Mr. Kamoga: Top Model Uganda started with a purpose of creating a platform for the youth especially those with a passion for modeling both male and female with an aim to empower, educate and skill our youths , to promote positive body image, inclusion and diversity. Models should come in all body types and heights.
To change the perception of the modeling industry in uganda where most upcoming models are exploited financially and sexually.A lot of models have been coming to us sharing stories of being exploited by different agents that ask them for a joining fee. We don’t believe in charging a membership, upfront or signup fee. A genuine modeling agency should not be asking for an upfront fee, they should first and foremost find the models work from which they should take commission to cover any fees they have invested in a model.
We as Top Model uganda take on new faces , mentor them and give them training all free of charge because our competition and other work we do doesn’t only involve beauty but mentorship, empowerment, education and health promotion especially endometriosis and sexual health. We have to make sure that every model learns something from the time they spend with us as they put in their time.The other reason we started was to provide a platform for upcoming artists to be seen and be discovered.Fashion involves collaborative working for example makeup artists , fashion designers, photographers etc all have one thing in common and that is complimenting each other’s brand by working together.
Those that have made it started from somewhere which can be very challenging. For Example some of our models are fashion designers but not alot of people knew them and we are hoping to introduce them to the industry. If they had never joined us we would have never known about them so do some of our networks .
We love to empower the youth and we believe in promoting our own before anyone else.Uganda has a lot of talent and we want to introduce and promote that talent through our brand. We are Top model Uganda , the leading modeling competition and we should be top in everything we do by making sure that everyone wins.
Fab Mc: What are some of the criteria for those who are participating in this talent search?
Mr. Kamoga: Commitment, good listening skills, ability to take on negative criticism, willingness to learn and having a professional attitude.
Fab Mc: What issues have you noticed in the modeling industry that you hope to resolve with this talent search?
Mr. Kamoga: The stigma surrounding modeling, a lot of parents and guardians tend not to support models as they believe that modeling is linked to a number of risky behaviors yet risks are in every profession. We both travel by car and as soon as we get into that car, or even crossing the road there is a risk. It is about how we manage those risks or else we would be very limited in everything we do.
We are very honest with our models about these risks and encourage them to stay away from anything that they might not be happy for their children or even grandchildren to ever discover about them. Modeling is just like social media; where one should only put out something they can control. Our models are aware that their of relatives,friends and the community are watching them so it’s important for them portray themselves positively.We believe that with time those viewing modeling negatively due to stereotyping will have a change in their mindset but it’s up to the models to prove them wrong.
Fab Mc: How do they want to be seen by the public?
Mr. Kamoga:To us they are our brand ambassadors but they are also ambassadors of their families and communities , how they have to portray themselves doesn’t only impact our brand but everyone around them.We do advise them to portray themselves positively but at the end of the day they are adults and by law they should be able to do what makes them happy. It is their human right and for that case we can’t control everything they do as that would be very restrictive. One thing we have to remind them is that Top Model Uganda is not accountable for some of the negative behaviors which could damage our reputation as a brand. We all every now and then, make unreasonable choices or decisions that we might think are right when we make them but others might find them very wrong. That doesn’t mean we are wrong, we are just doing what we feel is right for us at that time.These are young adults that will every now and then make unreasonable choices hence the reason we encourage them to use and engage their brains at all times. One way to avoid certain mistakes is through seeking support and guidance from those that have been there and done it.
Fab Mc: What are your typical responsibilities as the officiators of this talent search?
Mr. Kamoga: Scouting, training, empowering and safeguarding the models,making sure that we perform to the expectations of our partners.
We also ensure that we secure and tap opportunities for our models including but not limited to ushering gigs, hosts etc.
Fab Mc: How have you expanded your customer base?
Mr. Kamoga: We have expanded the brand through media such as social media, the traditional media of radio and tv, networking, collaborative working and through positive reviews. Reviews are very important from partners and models; positive ones show that we are doing something right while negative ones help us to improve so we can do better. We have also done a number of outreaches and CSR activities in our bid to reach to the common people.
Fab Mc: What market does your company serve?
Mr. Kamoga: We serve a lot of audience including the mass media, youth and high end. e.g., models, hospitality, media,education etc.
Fab Mc: Where did you get the idea for your business?
Mr. Kamoga: Idea came from wanting to make a social difference.For example, there are a lot of youths that would love to be models or in the entertainment industry however very few dream of making a difference or think they can make a difference. So the right way to go about it was to get them into doing something they love and through encourage them to make adifference in their societies by giving back, advocating for others and promoting health. Top Model Uganda is a social enterprise that is all about making a difference in society.
Fab Mc: Tell Us the time you worked with a difficult model how did you handle the situation
Mr. Kamoga: We wouldn’t say there is, however we face some challenges since we are working with young people. Some of the models are at that stage where they don’t follow professionalism, structures or simple rules. This is either because there has never been any rules in place for them or they just choose to break those rules for whatever reasons or have challenging behaviors. Our models are from different social backgrounds.
However Top Model Uganda we believe in professionalism, structures and rules so it is tough for some of the models but rules are basic ways of life. Rules start from our homes as all homes have set values . From a very young age our parents determine what time we wake up otherwise we would spend the whole day in bed.We then go to schools where we have to follow rules and so on.
It’s called structure! Our models sometimes think we are being very tough however following rules is a reality of life and we don’t want everyone one to behave the way they wish. No one is forced to be part of Top Model Uganda so if they can’t follow the rules and regulations they should stay away .If I didn’t follow the rules and regulations of my job, I might end up losing my job.
If models are misbehaving, not following the rules, and are not respecting the other models , then there are consequences as we believe in one being accountable for their own actions. If they can’t handle it, we advise them to take their business somewhere else. Respect is paramount for us and people that just decide to ignore the rules are just being disrespectful. We respect our models and we expect them to respect each other and our brand.
Fab Mc: What advice would you give to aspiring models?
Mr. Kamoga: Not to act so desperate. It’s a cruel world out there. So many people will prey on their desperation, naivety and gullibility. A lot of conmen are out there ready to take advantage; horrible people ave started agencies to sexually exploit models. They should also be careful with photographers that persuade them to take images that they are not comfortable with. Some photographers like making names and such images can get them known however the models may get a totally negative reaction from such shoots . Models should also be careful with men that recruit young models to do soft porn that is then distributed all over the internet. Once something is out there it can’t be controlled.
Fab Mc: Many people think modeling is just about looking beautiful and wearing nice clothes. What’s your take on this?
Mr. Kamoga: Of Course that’s not right. Models are brand ambassadors; they are also advocates. A lot of people started as models and are currently successful business people. This is why we have a lecturer on our judging panel (Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo). He has no experience in fashion but he is an academic. His role is to look beyond beauty. The models have media interviews and make appearances. They should be able to open their mouth and whatever comes out compliments their beauty. Most people consider that as beauty with brains.
Fab Mc: What are your upcoming projects?
Mr. Kamoga: We will be having our grand launch that is scheduled on the 18th of October 2022 at Nexus lounge in Najeera. This will also be our elimination event where we will choose 20 female models and 10 male models to take part in our grand finale on the 4th of December 2022 at Mestil hotel. Before our finals we have a number of activities lined up for the models to take part in which will all be judged.
Fab Mc: With which brand would you like to associate in future?
Mr. Kamoga: We would love to connect with the best local and international brands so as to create opportunities for the youth that we work with.
Fab Mc: What kind of struggles have you had as a company?
Mr. Kamoga: Definitely as most startups, we have also had challenges in breaking through to the media to accept us as a recommendable brand but thank God we have managed to assemble a young team that has managed to overcome some of these challenges in a short period of time. The other challenge is the work ethics of Ugandans as most Ugandans take work for granted and don’t honor commitments.
Fab Mc: What kind of changes do you expect in the modeling industry?
Mr. Kamoga: We want to uplift the industry to regain its lost glory and have models appear on the international stages more often and probably get a chance to sign to international agencies.
Fab Mc: Do you think the modelling industry in Uganda is growing or not?
Mr. Kamoga: The modelling industry is definitely growing but we need to improve on it’s image and push it further.
Fab Mc: Your last words
Mr. Kamoga: We call upon the populace to accept us and support us as we grow into a remarkable and reputable company. Last but not least, We are Top Model Uganda the leading modeling competition. Please check out our different social media platforms.