I recently came across the advertisement for the Ghana Model Awards, and without denial it seems like a great initiative that should be supported. But questions need to be asked where questions are due. What are we awarding Ghana models for? Read further below.
We are talking about Ghana, where some of the most active models are fortunate in this field because of friendly or/and intimate relationships with video directors, agents and show organisers. Hence why most paying clients in Ghana work with a repetitive selection of models. We are also still yet to see a model gain international recognition from working in Ghana. Most ladies that appear to have international recognition, progressed abroad before returning.
The question “what are we awarding the models for?” doesn’t stand as a rhetorical question that demands no answer, this is a real question to discover how can one judge the awarding of a model, ESPECIALLY in the Ghana entertainment industry. Are we judging upon looks? Are we judging upon how many jobs they have achieved? By facebook popularity? Is there any criteria? Is glamour modelling included? Would it be separated from others? Nude? Commercial? Extra? Or are the models just all being judged for modelling? And if separated what will the criteria be to determine which field a model belongs to?
I recently wrote an article called ‘How To Create Super Models in Africa’. Although, it dealt with so much of the harsh realities and unprofessionalism of the modelling end of the fashion industry, that to have published it would have really soured the taste of modelling in Africa, or at least in Ghana. Which wouldn’t be progressive to Africa, therefore the article was drafted. However, some sentiments are present below.
Most of Ghana’s top photographers are incapable of working with a model if she is not prepared to take off her clothes, and some will taunt them about their professionalism if they refuse to, only to end up shooting nudes that do not reach border line artistic, editorial or creative. Please acknowledge the word ‘most’…not all. Also, some male designers spend a lot of time squeezing breasts during fittings. More times than often, casting directors use casting opportunities to hook up friends or girl friends, unless the casting director is an agent, at which point he/she passes the jobs onto their own models despite if there are others best fit for the job.
Most Ghanaian model potentials quit before they even start. A good 2/3rds of these ladies modelling either do not look like models, or are to old for international success. Just like many other countries without a strong fashion industry, the older models progress the most as they have had a good amount of experience establishing links and associates, and even sometimes work to limit the progress of new models and hook their friends up with jobs. This is why at some points you begin to see a cliche clique of models in various events. With less client-agent relationships and more client-model relationships this is not hard to execute on their behalf.
Most agents can barely survive in Ghana because clients prefer to build personal relations with the girls before favoring them as models or inviting them for a casting. Clients would rather avoid contacting an agency and going through a process, despite even if it ensures security. Nevertheless, not many agencies have maintained a good or professional reputation, but with limited options for the models they continue to be the few that are spoken about.
Setting up an agency is mind numbing, whatever your success is based on, it will not be the look of your models, or at least not for now. Most clients don’t even audition these days they just call their girls directly. Aspiring models therefore get the upper hand to define their relationships with agents and mostly chose not to sign contracts. It’s difficult to find an agency that actually has profiled it’s own models anywhere because the chances the girls don’t belong to them exclusively or at all is very high. Most agency’s don’t sign the models they claim, these are just simply models they know and post their images on facebook. The same models happen to be on many others.
There is a trend for agencies to actually make their profits off aspiring models, as opposed to making money with them. Some set up for the basis of making money from charging models for training, schooling, ‘Development’, photography and more. Girls pay in numbers as they are sold a future. This behavior is not only common to Ghana, however, in other countries where fashion is more developed, there is a high end network of the industry and the low end where most of these characteristics are based, allowing those with common sense and potential to identify the appropriate style of work.
Unfortunately for Ghanaian models, there is almost no high end aspect of modelling in Ghana for new aspiring models to distinguish professionalism from the low end. And as a good number of agents seek to make money and experienced models don’t wish to teach new models to avoid competition, the new models remain naive and we now have some of the exploiters being identified as the professionals of Ghana’s modelling sector.
Investing money to develop a model is risky, because most of the models will rather network themselves, it is fairly quicker and they get to keep the agent fee. Many say they are worried agents might continue to pass job requests and offers to girls the agents are closer with, which is not out the blue, although sometimes it’s just rhetoric from envious models that also do not get work. Unless the owner of the agency is a lady, at which point she is usually an experienced model and will most likely take all the big jobs for herself and leave the girls with the low paid jobs.
A flood of test shoots in the Ghana fashion industry is non existent and very limited to friendly relationships, anything outside this requires money, even for test shots. Also some paying photography clients, such as designers seeking look books, casually use siblings or friends to model for them as it is cheaper than using a potential pro model. Meaning you can count on one hand the number of girls in Ghana that have a decent fashion portfolio.
More so beyond the trouble, there is hardly any money making. Many pretty girls with potential tend to neglect modelling opportunities as the low pay and hassle outweighs any modelling interest and continue to focus on a decent occupation. By various accounts, 2012 was a progressive year for modelling in Ghana, but we are looking at roughly 1 decent fashion show every 3 months with jobs ranging from $100-$150. These are the jobs some decent looking models battle for against girlfriends and the old time models with connections, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing.
Most of the known models in Ghana have paved their way solo or without genuine management, which should be applauded but it also means a good number of them have a back trail of published images or activities that can be deemed as embarrassing and could limit their chances for international success. Meaning they have reached their peak as a local model in Ghana if they don’t manage to pull a cat out the hat trick.
This is not an article to knock the Ghana Model Awards, in fact all awards are a good initiative considering there is a genuine selections process for nominees and winners. Neither is it to knock the models, with the trouble some of these ladies go through to make it, in such a droughted industry, they need to be commended. But the organizers have a tough job ahead of them. How will an award be decided? And also, how clued up are they on fashion modelling?
In an upside down world of modelling, what secrets are behind some of the most progressive girls? Should this matter or be research into before awarding? Can rumors be accounted for? Can bad habits be acknowledged? Which of them are genuinely hard working? Or does none of the above matter and should everything be judged upon public activities? What about the agencies? Who will be judging, and do they already know the ladies? Let’s be honest, when there is very little money and competition, it is very easy to be subjective regarding your occupation and put personal preferences ahead of professional.
Some attempts of setting up organisations to polish up modelling in the fashion fields of Ghana popped up but didn’t succeed. 3 of which I know of. No business is going to let another dictate how it can and can not work unless the government is involved, and therefore will continue the exploitation of desperation of both models and agents. We, at fashionGHANA.com, can only contribute our resolution by creating a FREE directory for professionals, to help identify the professional end, with a simple, basic and a necessary criteria in our registration segment. Simply to guide aspiring models, clients and fashionistas on our reccomendations.
With social network, many businesses pop up strictly as business ventures as opposed to maintaining an ethical drive behind them, awards shows are one of them. Let’s hope the Ghana Model Awards plays the alternative, and many others involved in fashion and entertainment actually take into consideration the state of modelling in the Ghana and better yet, work to quell such habits. There really are some women/girls that need to be awarded in the midst of such an industry, the question is, are they who you think they are?
Models can also access our model guide section in our forums by clicking here, which will be updated from time to time.