Being a successful model is more than just knowing how to take good photos. You need to be professional, market yourself and deliver what your client needs. If you’re obsessed with fashion and modelling, why not consider a career in the field? We sat down with Joram Muzira, the creative director and founder of Joram Model management, a model agency. Joram is behind the success of Aamito Lagum, the first winner of Africa’s next top model, Paul Mwesigwa, the first Ugandan Male Model to be signed to an international agency in Capetown, South Africa and Patricia Akello, a home grown international model based in New York, Paris and Cape Town. Joram set the record straight on how to build a career in fashion. It is not as glamorous as it is seems. In fact, it is a lot of work. Read on for his insight on what it takes to be successful in the modelling world.
Tell us a little about what you do
I am the founder of Joram Model Management, a model agency that is working super hard to change the modeling industry in Uganda. I am also a Pageant Coach who has mentored thousands of young girls during different pageant seasons like Miss Tourism, Miss Uganda and a series of university and community pageants. Additionally, I am Model Scout, voice-over artist as well as a TV Personality at Urban Television where I present the Urban Fashionista. My career mainly revolves around fashion, Modeling, television, discovering and nurturing talent to get the best out of it. I would say that I love to get the diamonds out of the rough!
Why did you choose this field? Is it something that you wanted to do when growing up and in school?
Being in the Modeling and entertainment business is something that I grew up loving right from when I was 6 Years old. I remember obsessively watching Fashion TV. I used to organize Village Pageants for all kids in the neighborhood. When I was in primary and high school, if there was anything to do with beauty, fashion, style and entertainment, I made sure to be part of it. I guess I was born for this.
In university, I studied Urban Planning at Makerere University but this was mainly for formality of getting a degree but that’s not what I wanted although am glad it helped me look at life differently. Perhaps I will eventually get to practice it but I highly doubt because I eat, breathe and live this thing called fashion and modeling.
What misconceptions do people have about working in the fashion and modeling industry?
People believe it’s just all about glitz, glam and beauty which is not the case! It’s a jungle full of hard work. It is tough work to make it in this business!
They also think that it’s a joke being in the fashion industry plus most people think Models are just toy boys or call girls & boys who just want to be socialites and marry white men or women which is also wrong!
Modeling is a billion dollar industry globally and if we could take it seriously, it can grow.
What do you look for when scouting models?
When scouting, I look for personality, zeal, character, burning passion to break boundaries and succeed. It also look at the international standards of beauty because I don’t just scout for the local markets but also for global fashion markets. I love high end fashion the most because I believe they are super different. In Uganda, we haven’t embraced them that much but they are usually the ones that have amazing long lasting careers in the global fashion markets of Milan, London, Paris, New York and Cape Town. That’s where my niche is. Above all, I scout for a face that can stand out in thousands of faces! I look out for the X Factor- that one thing that you just can’t place your finger on but someone either has it or they don’t!
What advice could you give to someone who wants to break into modelling as a career not a hobby?
Simple. They must eat, breath, and live it! Modelling is a professional career and a fast business where clients and bookers don’t have time for people that consider it as a hobby. So anyone interested in pursuing a career as a model should know which particular kind of modeling they want to do or which particular kind of model they want to become because sometimes not everyone can be a Model. People should stop fantasizing about being models when they don’t have what it takes or even close to having the standards that the modeling world looks for.
What’s the most surprising thing about working in the fashion industry?
The Fashion industry is brutal. A cut throat business. It’s a Jungle where only the best succeed and it doesn’t wait for anyone. However great you could be, if you don’t push the envelope higher, you end up being eaten!
You have worked with Aamito Lagum who went on to win the first edition of Africa’s Next Top Model. How can Ugandan/Africans models become competitive on the international scene?
Burning passion and zeal to succeed is rule number one! Aamito got on a bus for 16 hours to Nairobi to audition for Africa’s Next Top Model season one in 2013. She didn’t even know whether she would be selected or not but because of her drive, she was succeeded. She has gone places with her modeling.
African models should learn to be ambitious but not desperate. They should know exactly what they want to achieve in life. Hard work is important as well as getting the right local representation. They should look for the right talent managers because these will help guide them and push their careers further. International scouts are always on the lookout so social media especially Instagram is everything for a model. If used right, anything can happen. Plus, Models should study the business more and know exactly what it takes to be an international global fashion model!
What’s the most important skill to have as a fashion model?
As a fashion model, you need to have an A plus personality because No booker or client or designer will work with you if your personality sucks! You must be able to walk into a casting and make sure that everyone on the casting team remembers you! If you are unremarkable in this business, then you won’t book any jobs. It’s that simple. Stand out.