MODELS & VIDEO VIXENS SURVIVING IN AN INDUSTRY THAT UNDERPAYS
The significant roles of models in the demand and supply chain of products and services in any society cannot be over emphasized. They play a major part in the promotion and advertisement of brands across board. I am of the opinion that they are arguably one of the unsung heroes when a brand becomes successful. Whether it’s runway, glamour, fitness, bikini, promotional or commercial print modeling, models are one of the major influencers that attract target audiences to purchase goods and services. If advertisement is instrumental to the success of brands, then we can conclude that the use of models to communicate advertisement is very important to the breakthrough of brands as well.
In today’s music industry dominated by hip-hop vibes, the influence of hip-hop models and video vixens is enormous. It does not matter if morally you concur to that profession or not, the fact remains, as long as sex sells and hip-hop music continues to be prominent, video vixens will continue to be in demand; like the saying, ‘Don’t hate the player, hate the game’. Arguably, it will be hard to separate the importance of hip-hop models and video vixens from the success of a hip-hop music video. To be candid, vixens drive massive viewership to hip-hop music videos. Vixens indirectly generate income for artistes from YouTube; they drive audiences to show up at concerts and are also significant to the amount of income artistes receive in royalties from television networks.
As several multinationals continue to make inroad into Africa and especially Nigeria to establish and increase their market share, it will not take a rocket scientist to realize that marketing budgets will increase and in so doing, models will be in demand. The influx will also benefit artistes by making money from various activations and brand endorsements. As artistes continue to make money, they will be shooting more videos and by so doing video vixens will have opportunities to make more money as well.
Ideally, this is how the story should read but the reality on ground tells a different story.
Considering the amount of work they put in, models and video vixens are not getting the reward they deserve because their industry lacks proper regulation and much deserved recognition. This limitation is not out of the ordinary; the music industry, disc jockeys, and also the photography industry have all passed through this hurdle.
There was once a time when artistes received peanuts to entertain and disc jockeying was not seen as a premium profession. There was a time when the art of photography could not be respected more than the way they are viewed in campuses but today the story is different. Gone are the days when no child dares tell his or her parents that they intend to choose any of those professions. Today, music, disc jockeying and photography have become high earning jobs. Who knows, models and video vixens may be making more than enough from their industry in the nearest future. In my quest to understand the state of the modeling and video vixen industry in Nigeria, I sat with several models, video vixens, and their various managers to understand the progress they have made and the difficulties limiting their profession. With the existence of several modeling agencies and the encouraging numbers of hip-hop models/vixens/dance groups, it’s obvious that the country is churning out a considerate amount of models and video vixens in this country, which begs the question; why are most of them underpaid despite the fact that there is demand for their services?
The general consensus is that they earn less most times because most of their clients seldom want to pay them professionally. Clients constantly request professional services from models and video vixens but they don’t want to pay with the same rules.
‘They (client) always request for the best that suits their target. They want the finest that portrays their brands. The models and video vixens in that level have invested on their own brands to tick those boxes. They have expended a lot physically and mentally to fit that bill, so why won’t they want to pay? While some clients pay pretty well, other don’t because they think they will go for any random or desperate few to give them professional services which often they don’t get. Most clients need to wake up to the realization that this is a professional industry’ – words from a video vixen’s manager who wants to remain anonymous.
I also sat with Angella Phillips, a professional fashion and commercial model signed with Beth Model Management Africa. She has been in the business for half a decade and she has a lot to say on the state of modeling in Nigeria:
‘Modeling in Nigeria has improved since the last 5 years I’ve been in the industry. Nigerian models are signed all over the world now. Things are fast progressing in the industry. As an upcoming model, you may not get financial returns in your first year. But as a professional model it pays more. Though it’s been a major issue in the industry for a long time now where designers use models to sell their ridiculously expensive clothes and don’t pay the models. And yes, the financial return is good enough if you have a great manager and choose specific jobs to do.’
On some of the setbacks in the industry:
‘For me, I feel there are too many models for a limited amount of jobs, and worse, lately more and more companies prefer to use celebrities like actors as the faces for their brands instead of models. Other limitations in the career is that some models would do jobs for free or much less than what agencies charge which makes it so hard to have a modeling career in Nigeria.
Commercial modeling pays more in Nigeria. Then again there are few commercial jobs for models since most companies will prefer to use celebrities as the faces for their brands.’
On what she thinks of the industry in the next five years:
‘In the next five years there will be more jobs for models because the top models at the moment are being exported to other countries. As for my expectations, I would love to see Nigerian models being recognized and paid per hour in the next five years.’
The conversation with super hip-hop model/video vixen Alamutu Abiola, popularly known as Mz Nyra, was also quite revealing. Her take on the state of the video vixen industry today:
‘Despite the fact that the industry lacks proper structure, people are still making lots of money. Some dancers and video vixens are still doing about three to four jobs in a week earning close to one hundred thousand, so imagine if the structure is right, more money will be made.
I feel our industry is evolving rapidly same as the music industry in Nigeria. I feel the need for a structure that treats us as professionals is needed for us to compete globally. By this I imply price, quality, time, recognition and most importantly RESPECT. Our content is now being exported globally and the world is receiving it with open arms’.
To progress, we would need stronger platforms to learn, enhance and transfer skills to upcoming models and vixens. We aint gon’ be here forever. We need to enlighten Nigerians that models/vixens are not music video add-ons, prostitutes, or escorts rather we are the art expressing an artiste’s content. It takes a lot more than a beautiful face or body to stand in front of a camera and interact. To move forward, models/vixens and producers should always work with respect and professionalism so we don’t keep passing the wrong message to the society about our industry’.
It will be criminal to talk about hip-hop models/video vixens without talking to Jennifer Oseh Okpekpe popularly known as TheladyVhodka:
‘The significance of our role in the industry cannot be overemphasized. I get DMs via Instagram & Snapchat quite often from young girls who want to be video vixens, reason being they believe you can get fame & money from the business; both are correct. Most people actually watch videos because of certain models.
Basically this part of the industry is like a foundation for those that plan to branch out into acting, styling, music, etc. In the line of duty, you get to meet people already in those fields that are at the top of their game. As of now, this industry is proving not to be a sustainable profession in the sense that it has a time span. I also think – rather – I KNOW Models, Video Vixens & Dancers work very Hard but don’t Get enough Recognition for it’.
Her views on the growth of the industry:
‘There is definitely growth in the industry. This year, we have been getting more attention from the media. We really appreciate that. Dancers especially have been able to carve a niche for themselves, creating several dance groups in a bid to make more money & gain repute. I totally commend them. Directors as well have started flying models outside the country to shoot videos; it’s really a big deal!
Years ago, that wasn’t the case so we bless God for growth. Slow & steady growth but there’s room for MEGA growth; bigger appreciation platforms. Maybe HipTv awards, NEA’s ‘Video Vixen of the Year?’ I look forward to the time when more models/vixens will own at least a car! I mean what’s the point of being in over 30 music videos and still jumping buses? Lol’
ON THE CHALLENGES:
‘Authoritatively I can say that there is not enough value attached to the amount of hard work put in by models/vixens/dancers. When you hear the word ‘Video Vixen’ in Nigeria, the wrong impression comes to mind, which is why I never call myself a video vixen. There’s more to me. Let’s look at it from my perspective, what is the difference between an actress in a movie smoking and dancing on set & a video vixen? They are both playing to a written script. We are actors! We switch personalities on every different set, from a girl partying with her friends by the beach in a bikini to a woman getting married to the love of her life, wearing a wedding dress. A little respect to the name is necessary. We have earned it!
In addition, I urge models/vixens/dancers to ‘NOT PLAY WITH THEIR MONEY’. Fame is great but fame doesn’t pay the bills! There’s a whole new generation ahead, let’s set the right foundation for those coming behind.
In conclusion, it’s obvious that the industry where models and video vixens are operating has huge potential. It’s also fact that a huge number of professionals exist inside this industry where several potential up comers are springing up day in day out. As time goes on, if proper structures and regulation surfaces and the perception of this industry changes for the better, this could be one of the most vibrant industries in years to come. To show support for the hard working young ladies and guys in this industry, I decided to put together the images of some of the models and video vixens I could reach out to. This is more like a look-book for models and vixens in the budding industry.
Agency: Catch22 Model Management
Waist – 25
Hips – 34
Height – 5’9
My name is Angella Phillips. I’m a professional fashion and commercial model signed with Beth Model Management Africa. I’m inspired by photography and art. I started as a professional model in 2010 where I got my first title as 1st Runner up in RAGD model World Photo-contest and later worked to become a Nigeria’s top model. Since 2012 I’ve become the face of some brands such as Emisara jewellery, Taos cosmetics, GT bank SME, etc. My passions are modeling, makeup and fashion styling. When I’m not modeling, I’m occasionally on a project with creative minds in the industry and also researching new locations for shoots. I’m the CEO of AccessoriesbyAngella.
My dream is to become a top designer for swim wears. I love swimsuits, tankinis and bikinis. I believe no dream is too big to achieve.
I’m Sophia Rufai, I’m a model and an actress. I’m 20 years old, I love drumming and dancing. I have been modeling for three and half years now, and been able to do some major jobs like Music Meets Runway (MMR), Lagos Fashion and Design Week (LFDW), Mercedes Benz fashion week Johannesburg, African fashion week Nigeria, just to mention a few. I started acting some months ago and thanks to God I have been able to act in major TV show, Jenifer’s Diary.
Jennifer Ndukwe Stephnorah.
G&G Model Management
BSC in History and International Relations, Abia State University
Shoe size: 40
Catch22 Model Management
Catch22 Model Management
Bust – 33
Waist – 25
Hips – 36
Height – 5’11
Full Name – Aisha Ahmed Ibrahim
G&G Model Management
Shoe size: 39, 40
RITA AFI AHADZI
Born to Ghanaian dad and Nigerian mum
G&G Model Management
Shoe size: 40
Oyebade Adebimpe Evelyn
G&G Model Management
Currently signed with:
Isis models Africa
Rock men Paris
|Height||189 – 6′ 2″|
|Bust||89 – 35″|
|Waist||72 – 28″|
|Hips||93 – 36″|
Born in Lagos state on the 15th of July, “Naira” hails from Ogun state and has featured in I Love You by Tjan ft Reminisce, Pay As You Go by Ketchup, Ezege by Phyno, Panya by Bracket ft Tekno, Finally by Masterkraft ft Sarkodie and Flavour.
Afije Roseline is one of the few video vixens in the industry that doubles as a dancer and also as an actress. She ticks all the right boxes when it comes to being professional. She alongside her GGB group have featured in some of the record-breaking songs in the country. She has played the role of a vixen in videos like Rayce – Jack Sparrow, Skales – Lole, Skales – Farawemi, Olamide – Durosoke, Tuface – Go, Psquare – Ejeajo, Olamide – Konkobility, Falz – Bad, baddo, baddest (her and her group GGB). Rose and her group were featured in the Skales video titled Ajaga featuring Davido and Timaya. For the first time ever in Nigeria, the video was revolved around the group
JENNIFER OSEH OKPEKPE
She’s one of the top dogs in the industry. This model, actor, fashion stylist and style influencer in the making knows her onions. Born June 18 1993, she became a force in the industry after featuring in Jesse Jags’ ‘Redemption’ music video where she played lead role. Since then, she has also featured in Under The Blanket by Orezi ft Olamide, Celebrity Girlfriend – Falz, Body Hot by Praiz, Jealousy — Burna Boy, Jaburata – Kayswitch, Loyalist – DJKAYWISE, Eyan Mayweather – Olamide, and Deaf – Eva which she also co-styled.
CELINA AME UWAGBOE
Her stocks in the industry are high; Celina’s credits come from celebrity music videos, promotional, and commercial modeling. In the late 2014, her lead role in Kiss Daniel’s Woju Music video set her up for industry wide success. She was rated the number 1 video vixen in 2015
EBERE ADA BLESSING
She’s one of the few video vixens out there that strictly separates her private life from her business. When it work, it’s just work. Her tenacity sees her double as a dancer. She featured in VJ Adams ft Skuki – If you don’t Mind, Ycee ft DJ Consequence – In a benz, Sojay ft Reminisce – Sugarcane, Stanley Endow ft Ice Prince – Yours, Yemi Alade – Ferrari.
Words by Sesan Adeniji