1999.Shola Creative Studios, SuruLere.An (Androgynous) Male Model has to be psychologically strong; there’s a lot of rejection!In the spirit of FashionWeek, allow me dig out my dusty portfolios and throwback my first ever professional modeling shot!●Despite d disgusted looks from passers by, I walked with my defiant confidence to d local bus-stop to board a Molue that’ll take me to another Designer’s showroom.I had developed a knack for appearing at Fashion Designer showrooms and their houses to present my pictures & my overwhelming personality. All in a bid to convince them to walk in their shows.Mind you; I was the shortest, skinniest Male Model at that time, but that didn’t deter me. The Hustle was real!I got to a designer’s house and saw a cluster of top models. They all burst into laughter when I walked past but then, who cared? Sighting a familiar face, I ran up to her and was told fittings had begun. In my usual bravado, i saw the designer & walked up to him. Moment i introduced myself & my intentions, he stared me down and asked,“Are you a Refugee?”.“No Sir, but I’m the model with a unique look who’ll love to walk for u,” I threw back confidently. He looked me up and down and said, “U can never walk on my runway. U look like a malnourished Somalian refugee”, and with that he faced his tailors & continued giving directives. “I’ll wait in d Showroom Sir, till u’r ready to fit me”, I answered bk & walked in to the reception. This designer actually hissed & went in. Came out, dismissed all d other models without me noticing and left the building. Wit all d bravado I could muster, I waited for an agonizing 12 hours. I was scared to go get something to eat cos i didn’t want to miss his entrance. At bout 11pm, he strolled in wit some other models. They obviously had finished a shoot & he seemed to be in a light mood. Seein my chance, I walked up to him. This time, he lost his cool.But that didnt stop me from walking his show weeks after.He refused to pay me & not only was I stranded but had to walk from V/I to Yaba wher Vigilantes made me frog jump on the express!●The Designer? We’re friends till date!Why? Denrele get clean mind!
Starting MODELLING in 1999/2000 was quite surreal. Everyone was always like, ‘U’re so different! So weird! So bizarre!’ And Im like, ‘Im so normal. What are u talking about?’ ● Stil in d spirit of FashionWeek; Starting out was CHAOTIC! There weren’t go-sees, comp or Z Cards.. just thousands of auditions & myriad of Castings nonstop! I once auditioned for d debut edition of d St Moritz Style Selection Fashion show & when it was my turn to walk in & face d panel, they burst into animated laughter. Stupefied but not showing it, I joined in not realising I was the joke of d century! There was this other designer who the moment sighted me walking into his compound, told the other models in a snickering tone, “We can’t have that GAY SHE-BOY on our runway..” Well, I later found out that d designer was even d Queen Mother of the Rainbow itself and a “She-Man” in all ramifications, but who am I to judge? One other Designer would send me on endless errands all in a bid to walk his show, but when it was Showtime, I was sent to d audience to sit & watch! Finally, one designer took a chance on me after endless rejections! KESE JABARI & his amazin wife, SABINA UMEH. My first shoot with KESE was a disaster but it later turned out good. I recall a certain Male Supermodel, Jude who was outrightly nasty to me from the get go! “Guy shift from here. These clothes arent your size. Dunno wat u’re doing here sef. Move before I wooze you.” Omo, d guy humbled me! Dint wanna talk back cos I didn’t wanna ruin my chances but I recall Linda Ikeji, Meg Alabi & Biola Boris standing up for me. But it was my turn to finally SHINE! Kese brought clothes my size & my pics made it into every publication! D Daily Comet, City People etc & most esp, Folorunsho Alakija’s “African Connection”. I saved up to buy all. I still wasnt PAID but I finally felt Fulfillment! Then d Commercials & Billboards came; In 2002, HI-MALT was my first TVC! First modellin paycheck; 100K (I was paid 10 times; 10k every wk). And then, I wz face of MENTHOS, FANTA PINEAPPLE & more! ALL DONE WITHOUT AN AGENT! ● Your life is a personal lesson. For everyone else it is a loud example! 📸: @sholacreativestudios #arisefashionweek