Commercial Models


When I approached Kampala based Tracy Kyasiimire for an interview, I thought it would be a major hurdle, not because she’s just so beautiful, but because some fast-rising models have bloated ego.

However, in her case, she was kind and down-to-earth. I sought to find out how she became an Instagram sensation, with many ‘shout-out’ pages tagging her, and blogs from as far as Ghana trailing her.

By Kimani Judy, Contributor

As one of the finest models Kenya has ever produced, Olivia Sang is representing the country very well.

The passionate professional model dished out on her success journey, which has seen her getting signed to Boss Models, a leading model management agency in South Africa. She has also appeared in reputable magazine publications, including Essence, Marie Claire South Africa, and True Love East Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen meet Malaika Firth, the Kenyan-born top model who has been wowing the Internet with her astonishing beauty.

Many of you may not know her but you’re about to start paying attention because she is putting Kenya on the global map.

Born and bred in the coastal region till the age of 7 until she relocated with her family to London, Malaika would never have thought in her wildest dream that she would become a supermodel until she was encouraged by her mother to try it out. And so her journey to stardom began at 17 when she was signed after only one casting by Premier Modeling Management, a UK based modeling agency.

The highlight of her promising career was when she was picked as the face of Prada, making her the second black girl after Naomi Campbell to become the face of the world-acclaimed brand. She has since graced runways for famous designers like Burberry, Jean-PaulGautier, Dolce and Gabbana, Valentino, Kenzo, Victoria Secrets, Marc Jobs…the sky is the limit for Malaika.

Malaika has in the past talked about being bi-racial and takes pride in being both white and black. On being compared to supermodel Naomi Campbell, Malaika said that she was amazed and honored but also wanted to build her own name and image. Growing up as a shy kid in the East London, Malaika spoke about how modeling has helped her become more confident around people. We wish her nothing but success in her modeling career.

Here are her 10 most iconic moments on the runway:

1. Malaika Firth for Anthony Voccarello Spring/Summer 2015 collection – Paris Fashion Week.

malaika firth

2. Malaika Firth for Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2015

Malaika Firth

3. Malaika Firth for Versace Spring/Summer 2015 collection- Milan Fashion Week.

Malaika Firth

4. Malaika Firth for Chanel Spring/Summer 2015 collection – Paris Fashion Week.

malaika firth

5. For Dolce & Gabbana at Milan Fashion Week, Fall 2014

Dolce and Gabbana is just among the big names that are on Malaika’s modeling CV.  This beauty is truly representing the Kenyan talent on the runway and here, she rocked this Purple and pansies “Enchanted Sicily Collection” by Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2014/Winter 2015 Milan Fashion Week, Italy.

malaika firth

6. Malaika Firth for Valentino, Spring 2014

malaika firth

8. Her off duty looks are fun, fresh and trendy

When Malaika is not busy being a supermodel she still pulls off her A game with this off-duty looks, talk about being a model and having a sense of style.

malaika firth

8. Victoria’s Secret Campaign

Malaika Firth has been featured in several campaigns – think of IVY PARK and Marc Jobs – her major one being the Prada one that led to a lot of people comparing her to Naomi Campell, as she was the first black model to be featured after nearly two decades. Here Malaika does a pajama campaign.

Malaika Firth

9. Missioni, Spring 2016 – a continental expedition through color and pattern

malaika firth

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Burundian social media influencer Nella Neth sat down with us this week to speak about her new journey as a mother, the little things she cares about the most, and revealed her ultimate hangout joints in Stockholm, Sweden, where she is based.

Nella, you’re now a mom to someone very special to you. How has motherhood changed your lifestyle?

My lifestyle hasn’t changed completely. I surely do not have time to attend certain events or do some stuff because of responsibilities, but I manage to take care of my son and make sure I take care of myself as well.

Over the years, you’ve branded yourself as an actress and performer. You’re now regarded as the most beautiful influencer to crop out of Burundi. How does it feel to have such a crown?

I don’t consider myself the most whatever but I do have a creative mind. I am entertaining and can also be unpredictable- so if that’s what beauty is then I am so damn beautiful. But when it comes to appearance, Burundian girls are beautiful; I just happen to be the one that has used my platform shamelessly and became more visible.

What do you regard as your most notable achievement in your professional career?

I have achieved a lot when I look back even though I tend to discredit myself. However, my biggest pride and achievement is the fact that I have established a connection with my followers. There is nothing better than having someone you don’t know, they don’t know you, they don’t want nothing from you but an ear to listen and an open heart. I speak a lot privately with my followers and they share a lot about themselves with me. That kind of trust is priceless. People sometimes just need someone they can relate to.

How have you managed to maintain such a terrific body after giving birth?

I must say that it’s genes because I haven’t worked out or done any consistent diet. I have been eating whatever, so let’s thank my parents for passing me the fit genes.

Also read: 10 Times Azziad Nasenya Looked Super Stylish

How’s your day-to-day routine now that you’re a parent?

My days are different; anything can happen. I just adjust and add on my normal schedules.

Sweden is known to have great fashion brands, a vibrant culture, the iconic reindeer, a great landscape, the canals in Stockholm and much more. What would you recommend someone to do while in this beautiful country?

OMG! I don’t even know where to start because I might break it down like a tourist guide. Stockholm is a beautiful city; very vibrant, very busy and clean. The parks, the breath-taking architecture, the cafés and the shops.

I would recommend someone to have window shopping in Östermalm, go to Södermalm to eat some delicious vegan meals, go visit the royal palace at Gamla stan and at the end go to the clubs in Stockholm — not the most popular, but the underground, Facebook event kind of clubs. You will have blast and don’t forget to put yourself on the list because clubs here can reject you for not being on the list.

What kind of music makes your days easy to go through?

Koffi Olomide. I can even feel my body shaking already just by thinking about Congolese music.

Also read: Dancer Mary Erica: ‘When It Comes To Your Dreams, Just Shoot Your Shot’

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Reality shows. I haven’t been watching Basketball Wives this season and I feel like I have missed out.

Has your fashion sense evolved since you became a mum? In what way?

My fashion hasn’t changed a lot because I don’t follow trends; trends are tacky. I am a classic girl that dresses according to what looks good on me.

What’s your vision in life for the next 5 years?

I see myself very successful. I just can’t tell anyone my projects – I tend to believe in the evil eye. Inshallah God has great plans for me

What or who’s your muse when it comes to a dose of positivity?

My son he is happy boy; his laughter gives life. Oh and Pinterest. I just type key words like “happy, motivation quotes” and baam I feel good. There’s no particular person that makes me happy.

What’s that childhood memory that you will never get over?

I have plenty…my childhood was quite amazing.

What’s your parting shot, a word of encouragement or appreciation to your fans?

Thank you for being the sunshine on my good and bad days. I love you endlessly. You made me who I am when it comes to being an influencer.

Meet Lihle Nkosi and Phuti Phala, two South African upcoming media personalities who just found that they look alike. At first, it could not settle easily with them, but they’ve found comfort within each other.

When it comes to doppelgängers, science states that each one of us has at least 7 people in the world who look exactly like them. Rarely are we lucky to meet even one, but in the case of celebrities, many people usually come out to claim the spot. For example, Taylor Swift and Obama’s lookalikes are popular in their own rights.

lihle and phuti
Lihle (Left) and Phuti (Right_

Meet Lihle Nkosi and Phuti Phala, two South African upcoming media personalities who just found that they look alike. At first it could not settle easily with them, but they’ve found comfort within each other.

At first sight, you can easily confuse them as twins. In fact, when Lihle first posted a photo of them on Instagram, I wondered why she has never posted her sister for the 3 years I’ve been following her.

It turns out that indeed they are not related. Here’s what they had to say!

Harun: So guys just give me the backstory on how you met…you two look so alike…is it a coincidence?

Lihle: Everyone is confused, because we met in December through a mutual friend in Johannesburg who had told us we look alike.

lihle and phuti

Harun: How was your reaction when you met the first time?

Phuti: When we first met each other we didn’t think we look alike. It was only after we got to talk to each other more and go through each other’s pictures. We took a video that same day when we met that had my other friends confused on who’s who.

Harun: Wow…and what has been everyone’s reaction since then? And do you feel like you two share a lot or you are completely different personalities?

Lihle: People always told us we look alike but we both didn’t take it seriously.

The first day we met, we were just speaking the whole time and we honestly didn’t realize we look alike. We were just chatting the whole time and then started realizing how alike we were. We also found out we share a lot in common. Phuti also has a passion for media and television.

lihle and phuti

Phuti ZA: Everyone is as shocked as we are. I find People’s reaction really funny because they don’t believe us at all; some even suggest that we should do a DNA test and question our parents.

Harun: Do you plan on actually doing that?

Phuti: We are not related I know that for a fact. We’re doppelgängers who are just lucky that they don’t stay too far from each other.

I think if we were to test it would be just to prove to people that it’s possible that there’s someone who looks like you and isn’t related to you

We were talking the whole time our friend even said we talk a lot and we still couldn’t help but continue.

lihle and phuti
Phuti Phala

Lihle: We have very similar personalities, we have the same style in terms of fashion, we into the same career field and we actually even have the same scar on our forehead 🙈 we both fell when we were young. The whole experience has honestly been lovely, feel like I found a sister.

Harun: That’s so cool!

Phuti: Don’t forget that we both went to Catholic boarding school.

Lihle: Yeah that’s true and the funniest things happen, for example this morning we sent each other good morning messages at the same time.

Harun: Wow. That’s just…insane.

Lihle: We both have problems with our eye sights. Oh yes! We both went to a catholic boarding school.

lihle and phuti
Lihle Nkosi

Harun: Have you guys considered starting a show together? You know…it could be a hit.

Lihle: Yes!! A friend of mine Barney suggested we start a show where we answer questions about how we met, like how we are doing now but also show people how similar our characteristics were. It would be really cool to start a TV show or even be featured in a TV show. We are working on that.

Phuti: Yes we’re planning on taking over.

Harun: Why did you two start a joint Instagram account by the way?

Lihle: We shared picmix pictures of ourselves on social media and realized how much attention we got from brands. We actually just did a shoot for Kolorz, a makeup brand in South Africa based in Greenstone & East Rand Mall. SissyBoy Jeans sponsored our outfits for the shoot.

It was a really great start and we want to create this platform and who knows maybe one day we will be as big as TheBadura Twins and monetize on looking alike.

lihle and phuti
The “twins”

Phuti: Yes. So the social media page makes it easier for brands to see our work and book us to work with them.

Harun: So have you had any negative energy thrown your way? How did you deal with it?

Phuti: At this point we’re getting a lot of positive response from people and we’re hoping that we will get approached by more brands.

Lihle: We don’t know of any other doppelgängers that have been social media influencers so it will bring negative remarks as you say but that really isn’t our focus. I think we’ve created a solid relationship in the few days we’ve known each other and concentrating on negative remarks won’t divert our attention from the bigger goal. But luckily we haven’t received any attacks on social media, just love and support.

Phuti: People have just been really supportive; it’s overwhelming. As much as our parents are shocked, they support us and are very happy for us.

Harun: What’s your age difference?

Phuti: 7 months apart, Lihle is older than me. I was born in 1998, February 6th and Lihle was born in 1997, June 25th.

lihle and phuti

Harun: What did Phuti study in campus? Or are you still enrolled?

Phuti: I studied TV production at AFDA and I’m graduating

Harun: By the way that is a close age range guys.

Lihle: Right? It’s so amazing, I feel like God had a greater reason for meeting at this point in our lives!

When I interviewed Puma Middle East Ambassador Fatma Al Bakry last month, the Omani beauty revealed a lot of interesting stuff about herself.

One of which, how she became the face of the brand for the Arabian market.

“Okay, haha just to clarify this…Fenty is the Rihanna collection in collaboration with Puma. Given my ambassadorship with Puma,I have access to all the collaborations that drop so Fenty is just a part of it!”, she said.

It is worth noting that her success came out of her making meaningful human connections. For a girl who will soon be in Los Angeles touring and making new exciting industry friends, things have really gone well for her.

Also read: Our Inteviewee Olivia Sang Lands An Interview With BBC Africa!

“It’s actually a crazy story. I went to a Bryson Tiller concert back in 2015 in Amsterdam. While I was at the merchandise section I met a guy who was in charge of sales and we became friends and exchanged emails. We kept in touch because he was in the fashion industry and told me he’d need to work with a photographer for his brand,” she revealed.

So how did she end up getting this gig?

“He said he’s always in Dubai a couple of times in a year because his best friend lives here. His best friend turns out to be one of the founders of the creative agency (Jungle Beige) that Puma Middle East hired to do all its marketing campaigns. They decided to come up with a street team called the Suede Guerrillas, and I was selected as a candidate because the guy I met in Amsterdam had suggested me as a person of interest to his best friend as I was someone who fit what they were looking for. And the rest is history,” she added.

Fast forward to 2018, the gorgeous model did a collaboration with Dubai based makeup artist Mohammed Hindash and the results were splendid! The team at Fenty Beauty could not help but marvel at her that they gave her a shout out! Check this!

Fatma also went on to appear on Vogue Arabia. The feature was about her International Women’s Day exhibition, and she did the collaboration with Puma. The event took place at the newly opened Renaissance Hotel in Dubai.

“Fenty Beauty was created for everyone: For women of all shades, personalities, attitudes, cultures, and races. I wanted everyone to feel included. That’s the real reason I made this line.” – Rihanna

I  got to sit down with Nomazizi, South Africa’s fast-rising commercial model and influencer. She is a graduate of Duke University in the USA and the daughter of Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya, the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa. She was appointed by former President Jacob Zuma. Maya is the first woman to hold the office since the establishment of the court in 1910; basically, she made history

Despite the modeling industry being a tumultuous world, only courteous to the Gigi Hadids of this world, she is not holding back…she does what she is passionate about.

Instagram: @nomazeezee

According to Tracy Mutinda, an editor at The Star newspaper in Kenya, your profession shouldn’t limit your passion.

“Whether you are a lawyer or a pilot, that shouldn’t tie you down from pursuing whatever you love. You can be a model or video vixen and don’t mind about being judged by people. Just do what you love. If you can multi-task, do it,” she opines.

In our conversation, Nomazeze talks about how she rose to be a big social media influencer in the SA.

BMRA: What inspired you to start your natural hair journey, and tell us your go-to hair products at the moment?

Nomazizi: I’ve always had hair that was at least shoulder length, but as I got older I realized that it seldom got longer and often returned to that length, so I started doing some research on how to grow my hair longer and that’s how I stumbled onto the natural hair movement. Right now my hair is in box braids so mostly I’m using my favorite braid spray from Jabu Stone as well as castor oil for my edges.


B: How did you feel when you got featured on a Kenyan magazine (Pulse) yet you’re based in South Africa?

N: I felt great! But seriously, it’s an honor and I’m grateful for the appreciation.

B: Do you intend to pursue tennis professionally or is it just a hobby?

N: Lol it’s barely even a hobby!

B: I understand that you visited Duke University sometime back, what’s the South African thing you encountered in the USA?

N: I was studying at Duke. It’s in North Carolina so the community isn’t quite as diverse or cosmopolitan as, for example, a place like New York or LA. I didn’t really come across anything that was distinctly South African except for this time I heard one of my American friends playing a song by Black Coffee. That was a surprise so far from home.

B: Why did you choose to study law? Did your mother influence your decision?

N: I studied law because at school I was pretty good at debating, English was my strongest subject and I was an avid reader and writer. My first choice was journalism, but I decided that my personality was better suited to the law. I wouldn’t say that my mom really influenced my decision, but she definitely did expose me to what a life in law looked like.

B: What your opinion about the state of fashion modeling in Africa in regards to Instagram influencers?

N: I think it’s pretty exciting. Everyone seems to be having fun and trying new things, which is what it’s all about.


B: What’s the best advice your mother has ever given you?

N: To hang in there because all rough patches eventually pass. When you’re an ambitious person, you tend to encounter a lot of rough patches and it’s always nice to think back to that reminder.

B: How do you feel about the South Africa Court president being a woman, especially since the court was established in 1910?

N: I feel incredibly proud, not just because a black woman has finally penetrated such an important court, but because it’s my mom. It’s also exciting because it inspires other women in the legal profession and shows us that we can achieve anything with hard work.

B: Have you ever been cyber bullied because of being a “thick” model? How do you handle such challenges?

N: Hahaha! No I don’t recall being cyber bullied for being thick. I generally delete all negative comments immediately and don’t let them get to me. After all, I’m an ordinary person and I don’t try to be perfect.


B: Most ladies who follow you on social media love your outfit choices and how you piece everything together; tell us your secret to shopping. Are you more of an online shopper or you prefer physical shopping?

N: I looooove online shopping! I find that physical shopping is too time consuming and I don’t enjoy going to the mall, looking at and trying on clothes and then standing in line to buy them. I often know exactly what I’m looking for, so it’s convenient to type that into a search bar on websites. But the convenience can easily lead to overspending, I’ve probably spent hundreds of thousands on clothes in the past year.

B: What’s your diet like? How do you maintain your body?

N: I really only diet when I’m working because it’s easier to stick to a routine during the day. I’ll usually snack throughout the day on fruit, nuts, protein shakes. Then at night I’ll eat whatever I want, like meat and veggies and some sort of starch. Often I’m too tired though and will probably just get Nandos. I do try to get to the gym at least 4-5 times a week and mostly do cardio, and luckily my body responds quite well to minimal exercise.


B: If you were to go on vacation on a remote island with an African celebrity, who would it be and why?

N: That’s a tough one. Probably Siphokazi because she has such an amazing voice (this is assuming she’d be willing to sing every day!). Also, she’s Xhosa-speaking like me so it would be nice to have someone with whom to converse in my mother tongue. Or maybe Sindiwe Magona, because she’s such an amazing writer. I’d love to pick her brain.

Also read: Get To Know Fancy Makadia: Her Source Of Money, Fashion Inspiration & Big Dreams

B: What’s your long term career plan…do you plan to take your modeling to another level or you would love to fully concentrate with Law?

N: I don’t know yet. That’s what’s so great about living in this time (anything is possible). I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

B: What’s the best advice you would tell to your younger sibling?

N: I’d tell them to say yes to new opportunities and experiences. Often as young people we’re in such a rush to “find ourselves” that we miss out on a lot of enriching experiences that take us out of our comfort zones, simply because we think they’re not “our thing” or that we won’t be good at them.


B: If you were to be in a movie with your all time woman crush, who would it be and why?

N: Gal Gadot, she’s Wonder Woman (need I say more?)

B: When was the last time you cried and why?

N: I cried at the airport in 2016 when I moved out of the country for a year. Goodbyes are tough.

B: Finally, what’s the best thing that a fan has ever done to you?

N: My followers are generally friendly and supportive. I wouldn’t say any one did something in particular but they do send kind messages which I appreciate.

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