YOU WILL REMEMBER THE MODEL NATASHA FOR A LONG TIME
…’I have always said one thing, if you join the modelling industry because of money or for the glitz and fame, darling, you are in the “wrongest” industry. Modelling has to do with a lot of passion and a lot of self control so you don’t go breaking people’s heads backstage at fashion shows’ – Natasha Yamala
So far, since I have decided to always put out an editorial on models in each of my editions; I have entered conversations with several models and dropped by during some fashion shows. It’s funny but this lady’s name has usually filtered into most of the modelling narratives and she’s been part of the high profile fashion shows reported in this country. Could it be her work ethics or professionalism that have made her a toast for most beauty photographers wanting her on set? The answer is reflected in her photos in the photo book of several creative photographers. She’s one of the most valued models in this country. Calm, collected and determined, this lady has come a long way and she’s getting that much closer to becoming one that will be celebrated all over the globe. It’s never out of place to have a conversation with her.
Tell us about you and how modelling started?
‘My name is Natasha Yamala and yes, my parents actually named me Natasha and my surname is Yamala. I started modelling about six years ago and modelling sure has its ups and downs, it hasn’t always been a joyful ride but I thank God for all the ups because it’s has made grateful. All the downs because it has made me stronger. I was always the tall kid in secondary school and the skinny one also, so I guess modelling was inevitable for me. I didn’t quite know how to start but I was lucky enough to have someone show me the ropes, plus I started out as a freelancer which was a lot more work than upcoming models have to face now. And of course I went for tons of auditions, some were favourable while others were more like… NEXT!!!’
As a model and also a student, how have you managed to strike a balance between the two considering the demanding time?
‘Hmm… Managing being a full time model and also a full time student is a whole lot of work and I wouldn’t lie it hasn’t been all roses. I have had to miss classes a lot of times, even my course mates have a nickname for me, which is DLI student… Which means Distance Learning (lol) just because I usually am not in school, but I guess it’s all about time management and
setting priorities. I mean, if the job’s not that important or after you weigh the pros and cons you find out it would be better to just attend the class, then by all means attend your lecture but if missing that lecture won’t hurt your grades then go for the job. I have missed tests quite a number of times but I have to say this: BLESS THE UNILAG LECTURERS THAT GIVE MAKE UP TESTS. Hallelujah (lol)!’
In the unique modelling industry in Nigeria, where designers you go on runways for delay payment or pay less, how have you managed to keep the passion burning?
‘I have always said one thing, if you join the modelling industry because of money or for the glitz and fame, darling, you are in the “wrongest” industry. Modelling has to do with a lot of passion and a lot of self control so you don’t go breaking people’s heads backstage at fashion shows (lol) because I promise you, there would be a lot of times your pay would be delayed or the agreement changes or you are being lied to about how much the client is paying and there is absolutely nothing you can do. People keep saying sue them, but what they don’t understand is that Nigeria is not yet there.
‘Most Nigerians still don’t regard modelling as a profession and that is one mentality that needs to change. Models need to start getting better treatment. However, the funniest thing is that even when we decide to stick up for each other, there are some select few who are… I don’t know, what’s the word? “Ebina.”(meaning I never chop) I don’t know if I got that right but really they still go around to accept the jobs with demeaning pay and it’s not just right. You know how you are in secondary school and the whole class planned not to remind the teacher of an assignment, but there is that particular person or group of know-it-alls who will still raise their hands to remind the lecturer? Well, that’s how it is here also.’
In detail, tell us about the highs and lows in your career thus far?
‘I’d like to say I’m enjoying modelling a lot better now after some years. I feel like I have paid my dues and earned the right to call my own shots. I mean now if I’m not comfortable doing a shoot, I could just speak up and not be afraid of being called unprofessional or naive because honey, take a look at my track record; I have done pretty well for myself from being on the covers of magazines, to being featured in some, to making new friends, I mean modelling has helped me a lot. I remember the first photographer I shot with, his name is Avril, his IG handle is @themister_grey. He was so patient with me, didn’t stress me and I was super comfortable with him and we are still good friends till today. In fact Avril if you are reading this, just know you are a special somebody (lol) and you will always have a special spot with me.
‘Another of my highs was when I shot with Prince Meyson for the first time, now I need you to understand this shoot happened years ago and I kid you not, I still have people asking me questions about that particular shoot. It’s pretty funny because I’m like “Oh, you like looking at my boobs?” Another high is getting tons and tons of emails, messages and DMs from people telling me how much they love me and my pictures are inspiring and that just makes it all worth it. I remember the first time I walked down the runway and everyone would expect it to be magical right? Wrong! I had the whole “You can do this, just walk back and forth and try not to fall on your face” speech going on in my head (lol). It was pretty intense but looking back now, I bet I’ll do it all over again. Now to the lows…..
‘I mean before I grew a thick skin (but trust me, the skin is never thick enough, some things will still get to you) I would cry my eyes out if I heard anything terrible said about me, whether it’s as a comment or in passing or anything. I felt like, I’m obviously trying to do my best possible, can’t they see that? But my mom kept telling me “Baby girl, if you had it easy you won’t have a hilarious story with nine lives to laugh about in the future.” The children of the internet are pretty brutal and will make you look stupid at any point, I don’t understand why but I guess they are way too broken to let any other person shine bright, so right now I just ignore. And don’t even get me started on the amount of auditions/castings I would go for and before I even carry two steps I’m already hearing NEXT! And in my mind I’m like…. YOU HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN ME WALK! That always was a low because at a point I though about quitting and finding something else to do with my life but there came my mum again with her almighty rounds of wisdom (just what my brothers and I like to call my mum’s long speeches) and here I am today. You can fill in the blanks.
‘Doing free shows, not getting paid or ducking pay or not getting paid in time is always an annoying low and as I am typing this, I am experiencing delayed pay for over a month now and it’s so annoying but I can’t go into details, just help me pray I get paid in time so I can go and make it rain all around town but thinking about the money now, I don’t think that would be possible anymore. It will only cover one place (lol).’
How do you want to be perceived as a model and what are your future aspirations?
‘I want to be the greatest and baddest model out there. Badder than Naomi on the runway, voguing poses better than Coco Rocha… I mean, isn’t that what most models want? I guess I just want to be known as me, just me, Natasha Yamala who always makes backstage at any fashion show hella fun and is also a great friend; a living proof to younger girls to let them know it’s not always going to be easy and they would have to stand their ground at some points but at the end, modelling is fun and if it’s all about the passion, you would definitely enjoy it.’
Outside modelling, what else do you do or like to do?
‘What people might not know is… I also work, like a legit 10-whenever the job is done (lol).
I work as a red carpet and talk show host at PopCentral TV under Redbox Africa.’
So there you have it… Natasha Yamala! – Female – Student – Model -PR
– Sesan Adeniji