Living & Lifestyle

Interview with model, Vanessa



Photographed by Synthia Bahati | Retouched by Frank Axel Nyabagabo

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Vanessa Umugabekazi, I am a creative mostly known for my work as a model. In addition to modelling I also write expressive pieces, I dance and I sing too. Due to my inquisitive nature, I am constantly exploring, whether that be through different ventures, art forms or my personal style. I am full Rwandese however, I was raised in Auckland, New Zealand. I moved to New Zealand at the tender age of 4 and have been living here since. I am very passionate about creating safe and positive working spaces for models.

How did you become a model?

As far back as I can remember I always had an interest in modelling, whether that was making sure I was posed and ready for a photo or putting on runway shows at home for my mum and aunties modelling was something that got me excited. Since a young age, I had heard it from many people that I should become a model. I remember when I was younger I was scouted by a few agency scouts – at the time I was shy and didn’t pursue the opportunities to have further meetings with the scouts/agents. After working with a few photographers I gained confidence in my ability to pursue modelling as a career/job. I signed to my first modelling agency at eighteen and the rest was history.    

Do you have any modelling agency?

I am proud to say I am a self-managed model. Bookings, invoices, contracts, etc… I manage it all myself. I love the learning and growth that comes with being self-managed and personally being in contact with clients.

What’s your favourite place to hangout in Rwanda?

December 2017 was my first time travelling back to Rwanda since I left at a very young age. From my experience, I’d have to say I really enjoyed having some downtime on the rooftop at the Kigali Convention Centre. My favourite place to eat was at an eatery in Nyamirambo. Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the place but I remember always leaving the eatery feeling very full and satisfied, the food is absolutely delicious there! I also really enjoyed the nightlife in Rwanda.

Which five words would your friends use to describe you?

Hmmm… This is an interesting question haha. I feel like my friends would use words such as genuine, ambitious, optimistic, bold and empowering. I feel very lucky to have friends who strongly support me and shower me with loving words and encouragement.

What’s one of the most interesting shoots that you’ve done? 

I would have to say a music video I shot in Victoria, Australia. I was covered in silver metallic paint from head to toe, dancing under the sunset on a pink salt lake.  The landscape was absolutely beautiful! Shooting the video was an amazing experience and the result was incredible. The music video was for Nathaniel, a South African artist based in Australia.

You are quite active on Instagram. Do you think it is necessary for models to be active on social media?

I do believe social media is a powerful tool that can enhance your network and be an advantage to your modelling career; however, I do not believe it is necessary for a model. You can still have a very successful modelling career without being active on social media.

You have a lot of followers but what kind of accounts are you following? What are 5 Instagram accounts that inspire you and why?

Taylor Giavasis, BadgalririAlton MasonSonny Turner and Shit Model Management; these accounts are my current favourites at the moment. A lot of the accounts I follow either inspire me in fashion or the account holder and their content empowers me. I like to follow accounts that vibe with my frequency and get my creativity kicking.

Do you have any advice for those who want to start modelling?

Believe in yourself, stay true to who you are and your values/morals, be proactive and make sure you understand any work and obligations you sign to.

Where can we follow you?

On Instagram, you can follow me @vanessaumugabekazi and on Facebook, you can like my page @Vanessa Umugabekazi.