There are women….there are beautiful women….and then there are models. We have seen them on TV, bought magazines with their figures gracing the pages, fantasized about them, meditated on them in bathrooms….but there is always this painful thing about “see but can’t touch”. Again, there is this idea about models not being useful for anything other than their looks and curves, but with age comes the desire to find out more beyond the surface, so I decided to find a model to interact with, to learn more about their act. No, I didnt want any of those Instagram models with 2000 purchased likes, I was aiming for one who did her thing on an actual runway, so when I bumped into Jazzy Ogagaoghene, I knew it was a blessing. (I know say nor be Gisele Bundchen or Allesandra Ambrosio, but make i hold this one first).
I first ran into Jazzy back in February at a fashion event in Asaba, when I still plied my trade in the South-south. I usually have no business at fashion shows (I am more of the nerdy, book club kind of guy), but I found myself there anyway, and at the time, Jazzy was still trying to carve her path (pun intended). Fast-forward to November, and Jazzy is presently involved with a thriving modelling agency, her feet having treaded carpets in various colours within and around the country, and she is also a beauty queen. Yes, Miss Ogagaoghene is the reigning Miss Nigeria Top Model International, a pageant organised by top modelling agency Brendan & Crusader Limited, which is why when I ran into her last month in Lagos, I knew I had to interact.
It takes a bit of reminding for her to remember my face. Well, there is only celebrity in the space, and it’s not me. We exchange pleasantries, and at that point my inquisition game comes alive.
I ask her of a little background about herself, and she says, “I am Jazzy Ogagaoghene, I hail from Delta State, and I’m 18 years of age.”
I want to ask if she’s actually eighteen, of if it’s ‘football age”, but there are other more important things I want to find out, and I know better than to talk silly so early in the day. I smile inwardly and I ask, “what inspired you to take up modelling?”
“My environment. I love to be in touch with nature, all that”, she replies.
Nature! My mind goes back to the girl whom I saw dressed in just leaves at a show in my university days. Again, I overcome the urge to talk trash and move on to my next inquiry.
“Did you always have modelling in mind from a younger age?”
“Yes. I remember learning to catwalk at the age of eight.”
I can imagine her staring at the mirror at that age, practising steps, trying out her mother’s shoes and stumbling over. I almost want to say “e don tey wey your shakara start”, but I am treating the conversation like a game of chess, cautious and all.
“So much has been said about the exploitation of wanna-be models. Some even become prey to sexual abuse from fraudulent men seeking to take advantage. What’s your take on that”, I ask.
“Well, most of the stories you have heard are true. Girls are even taken abroad for prostitution in the name of modelling. My advice to aspiring models in this regard is, DO NOT sign a contract with any agency who is not registered under the Corporate Affairs Commission. Secondly, beware of those who ask for sex in return for pushing your modelling career. There are genuine agencies out there, and if you want to learn about them, Google is your friend.”
I inhale deeply. I have learnt quite much, and I particularly like the CAC part; it’s sort of where I come in…but I’m not done.
“Again, people tend to see modelling a seasonal thing. I mean, people view it as very dependent on age, size, figure, etc….”
“That’s not true”, she cuts in, chuckling. “There is a model who is seventy-seven years of age. If you work on yourself, no matter how old you are, you can still rock the runway. There is a reason the likes of Heidi Klum, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks don’t go out of style…..and speaking of size, we have different kinds of models. There are skinny models and plus-size models. Anybody can be a model, depending on the event and the designer. What I’m saying is, a designer may have plus-size people in mind for a given event.”
“And how does your boyfriend handle your line of work.?”
I ask that question to know her emotional status. Who knows, a bachelor may have hope….but she dishes out a wide smile and says,
“My boo is mature.”
Ok, she is taken, noted. I clear my throat and say, “he probably is. Not everyone is bold to date a model.”
“Haba! Wetin models do una?”
“I nor go get mind dey watch my babe show body for TV and magazine like that o”, I reply. “Truth is, dating a model wont let me sleep well.”
This time she laughs loud and hard. It’s LOL first hand, not the insincere ones you see on social media chats. Jazzy regains her composure after nearly a minute and says,
“If your girl is a model, try to understand and study her. Not all models are prostitutes o. And you should know, modelling is an act, it does not reflect the real persona.”
“You are a pageant winner, reigning beauty queen, that kain thing. I’m sure it didn’t happen with a magic wand. Tell me about it.”
“Truth be told, I wasn’t initially interested, I just decided to try my luck after coaxing from friends. So i bought the form, made it through the audition, and SMS voting began. After getting past that stage, i needed people to vote online. It was then that some people came to me, promising to amass millions of likes on Facebook and Instagram, but i knew they were out to defraud. Well, the rest is pageant history. I have a three-year contract with Brendan & Crusader, return tickets to Dubai, and lots of other perks I’m not about to disclose.”
She adds that she is studying Political Science and Public Administration. I grin. It’s nice that Jazzy has found her calling. Besides, who certificate don help?
I mean to ask more questions, but she has a flight to catch; she has a runway in Warri to light up. I glance at some of her photos, and honest to God, I envy the photographer. We part after a few ‘corporate hugs’, and I leave with some fresh knowledge.
(P.S: Follow Jazzy Ogagaoghene on Instagram @jazzyogaga)