By Kimani Judy, BMRA Ambassador & Contributor
As one of the finest models Kenya has ever produced, Olivia Sang is representing the country very well.
The passionate professional model dished out on her success journey, which has seen her getting signed to Boss Models, a leading model management agency in South Africa. She has also appeared on reputable magazine publications, including Elle South Africa, Marie Claire South Africa and True Love East Africa.
Here’s what she had to say:
Judy: : Being a BSc. Finance graduate, i am aware that you had other options in your career path, speak to us about your decision to do modeling and what was the first job you got as a model.
Olivia: My first modeling job was on a gospel music video with a few other friends of mine for a local artist while I was in my second year in college. I did have a couple of other jobs in my finance career but my passion for modeling was more and I decided to pursue modeling full time.
Judy: I understand that you were teased when growing up about your skin color, how did that affect how you saw yourself as a black model in the industry? And generally how have you dealt with the stereotypes of being a black model?
Olivia: I view myself as an individual who has the opportunity to knock down stereotypes of there being a token black model and to being hired because of how good I am at what I do. I do still have some days that are not all great which happens to us all as individuals.
Judy: Speaking of stereotypes of being black model, would you change yourself for a modeling job?
Olivia: Everyday I grow, learn and evolve into better versions of myself but I would never change my character for anything.
Judy: You have worked with leading fashion houses, leading designers and photographers the likes of, Woolworths South Africa, Mr. Price, Brandon Barnard, Truworths and others. How do you keep yourself grounded? How do you keep in shape for such big roles?
Olivia: I do take my health and physical fitness very seriously. Getting enough sleep and hydration always keeps me in high spirits and therefore I can do my job effectively. I keep myself grounded by keeping my goals in mind, where I came from and where I want to be in my career.
Judy: Being brought up in a typical Kenyan household usually entails conservative guardians, and we see the likes of Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid do nude photography, tell us what your opinion on nude photography is?
Olivia: Art comes in all shapes and forms. Everything we set our eyes on is art as long as it’s conveyed in the correct way and in a manner that is not offensive to anyone.
Judy: How did you end up working for Boss Models in Cape Town and how has it been adjusting to life in foreign country?
Olivia: 2017 has been a year full of blessings for me. Adjusting to life in South Africa has been pretty exciting because of all the wonderful people I have met and all the places I have worked. It has been an adventure. Boss Cape Town scouted me from Johannesburg where I still am signed and work from time to time and that’s how I ended up working in Cape Town.
Judy: Speaking of relocating to South Africa from Kenya, did your parents support your move to follow your dreams, despite being so far from home, and what do you miss most about home?
Olivia: My parents were very supportive of my move. Being so far from home so often, I miss my family all the time but I get to meet all kinds of people and make friends from all over the world. It’s an experience.
Judy: let’s talk about the cliché idea that most casting agents or even designers have about how models should look — body size,body type or even what eat — have you ever fallen victim of not being accepted for a casting because of such and generally what are your views about this?
Olivia: Personally I have not experienced this ideology of what to eat or how to look. There are so many times that as a model I have not been what the client is looking for which is fine because you will not always be right for the job. Models come in different shapes and sizes and I believe a model is as good as he or she believes.
Judy: Is there someone special in your life right now, and would you date in the industry, like a fellow model?
Olivia: I have always kept my personal life private because it tends to make one’s work subjective which is not the goal when you are trying to build a brand. That is not to mean that there is a lack of existence of personal life, it just means I choose to keep mine private.
Judy: What are the five things you can’t travel without?
-A maasai blanket my mother gave me
-A frying pan(everywhere I go I carry it, basically because I can’t stand burnt omelets .)
-A vaseline tub
-Atleast 2 interesting books
Judy: There are so many young, beautiful black girls out here that are actually being teased about their skin color and haven’t really been able to rise above all the hate, if you had the opportunity to meet and talk to them what would you like them to know?
Olivia: I would tell them, love yourself because you are a beautiful girl with skin that is gonna stop ageing at 25 lol.
Be confident because the people that are staring are wondering why you are so beautiful. So hold your head high and be the gorgeous girl you really are, hold eye contact with people and do not be afraid to wear the clothes you want to wear.
Judy: Finally Olivia who do you look up to in the modeling industry and what’s your goal in modeling or rather what would you like to achieve?
Olivia: I look up to many people in the industry. People who inspire change everyday with the pieces they create. I am inspired on how to move by what a designer creates. I specifically look up to Alek Wek because I have seen her break boundaries since I was a young girl and I have always wanted to emulate her and do a job as good as she does, maybe even better.
I have so many things that I want to achieve in life. One of them is being a person that will inspire people to be who they really want to be and to not be afraid to follow their dreams. I also have personal goals which are going to play out as time goes by so stay tuned.