Being a model in Uganda means enduring everything and break the rules to get noticed and known. To those outside the industry, it means becoming a prostitute or a misbehaving kid who has no morals especially for a girl. However, according to Justine Nswemu a 20 year old model, modeling is a passion that only models can understand.
Born and raised in Kyebando by a single mother, Nswemu is commercial model that has represented various brands in the country.
She attended VicenteAlex Primary School, Buloba High School for secondary school and later joined Makerere University for a bachelor’s degree of Arts in Education.
The model met up with Shamim Kawalha to discuss her career as model, taking nude photos and her personal life.
Do you ever think of being a teacher after your degree?
This degree is for my parents as for me, I just love the subjects I am learning (English and literature). I have never wanted to be a teacher but if fate leads me there later, I will follow.
So what inspired a teacher in making into modelling?
It started way back in high school I have been in pageantry all way. In my vacation I joined sketch and it taught me the walking the posing a lot.
I have learnt so much in industry especially after getting an agency, I loved the art of modeling and I was eager to learn. I have worked with many people, fashion designers and I have had opportunities.
Didn’t you height affect you?
There was no limit of heights. Heights don’t matter, unless you want to become a runway model. But u can be walk in a fashion show, commercials, photography, besides people who just want to demoralize others from coming into the industry.
Have you have taken nude photos as a model, why did you do it?
Blushing…Yeah, it’s a normal thing, it doesn’t feel so bad because everyone can do only that most of them don’t put them out. The only problem is the criticisms you get later. But it’s one thing most models do as a portfolio. And that is art in modelling especially when someone else sees the photos.
How did your parents feel after seeing your nude photos?
My mum called me and I was out of the country, she was disappointed and hurt and told me I was spoiling the image she was creating in me. You know how parents feel; it’s never good news to see your kid’s nudes on social media or newspapers. I tried talking to her and she later understood. Some people think when we take nudes pictures then we are easy to get to or you are selling yourself but that’s not the case.
What has your experience been so far in the industry?
It has been fair, but it hard. Everything here is expensive especially for shoots. Some clients have particular shoots they want before giving you a gig but even when you take them they can still deny you the job. They won’t care how much you invested in, like the makeup, the clothes, the photography and the time. I have no source of income apart from my mum, which means a lot. She can’t accommodate everything I need. But all in all I have grown a lot and seen new and beautiful things.
Have you had advances from older men?
Yeah that’s a challenge. You can go to a fashion show and men just want to use you but you need to have a limit and control yourself.
Are models really paid less?
Yes it’s true, but you need patience to flourish in this industry. You need to start from down to rise. But it depends on how you brand yourself; some people earn more than what office guys earn. Some managers want to use girls for sex for them to get paid or add them on the pay lists. Some clients too say first give in sex for you to get a gig.
So what is the biggest amount of money that you have been paid?
I can’t remember but I have ever gotten money worth paying my tuition. To me that’s enough so far and I know I will get better someday. I am working hard for that.
Have you ever given sex for any favour in return?
I have never given sex for anything and I don’t think I am soon going to do so. There are some morals my mum has instilled in me as a young girl that I am not giving up on so easily. Having cross generational sex is among them. I hope to give sex to someone I love not because I want a work favor from them.
Are you in a relationship?
No I am not in any. I am still a student trying so hard to make it in my modeling career and I think relating now would be destruction to me. I am also happy like this and I feel free to do whatever I want as a single person the only person am answerable to is my mum. We still stay in the same house so I always have to tell her where I am and who I am seeing.
Do you listen to Ugandan music, if so, who are your favorite musicians?
Yes I do a lot; in fact 80%of the songs I listen to are Ugandan. I love Lydia Jazmine, Rema Namakula, Voltage Music, and B2C. I spend most of the time listening to music.
Which Ugandan celebrity do you crush on?
I have no one I crush on, since I am young when I crush on someone I would want to be with them. That’s why I hardly crush on anyone (laughing out hard).
Any advice to young girls wishing to join the modelling industry.
One thing I want to say is that don’t rush, this industry needs patient and hardworking people or else you will end up messing up all your life. There are beautiful things a head of us all, when we are patient. Don’t care much what people say let them care why they say it. Just walk to the best runaways and grab the best deals in the world.