International Model – New York, USA / Cape Town, SA.

Performing with the likes of Kate Moss, this South African international model has been seen across the world’s most famous campaigns, catalogues, and television.

Where are you from in SA? Johannesburg

What schools did you attend? King David school in Victory Park until 16 then Crawford in Sandton.

When did you leave South Africa and where do you live now?  I left South Africa when I was 18 and went to London for 3 months which is where I was scouted. I went back to South Africa and found an agency, Ice Models, and since then have been traveling the world doing shows in places like Milan, London, New York, and back in Cape town etc. It’s hard to say I have been living in one place, but this year I decided to make New York my home base where I now have an apartment.

What do you consider your greatest success/s internationally?  Starring in the new Just Cavalli campaign with the iconic Kate Moss that launched in February 2010. Italian designer Robert Cavalli is one of the biggest and very famous luxury fashion brands in the world. (See image on left)

Working with Kate Moss was absolutely amazing. She has always been one of my idols and before I knew about the job, I was in London and about to leave but stopped in at Madame Tussaud to have my picture taken with the wax version of Kate. Not even 3 hours later my agent called me and said: “You can’t leave London.” I asked why. His response: “You’re shooting Just Cavalli with Kate Moss.” Can you believe that!

Shooting with Kate was one of the best experiences in my life. On set she is a normal, hard-working model but she just has an added aura about her that sets her apart. Modeling is not just about standing, it is about acting—being in the role you are supposed to be portraying.

What aspect of your approach, attitude, character (any or all) do you feel has been instrumental in causing your own success?  Growing up in a karate environment, I was an instructor and won 9 world karate titles before the age of 18. In fact, at some point I was the youngest black belt in world. I would have to say that being a student of karate gave me the character and discipline to never give up, to always fight for what I want. Being in modeling you get a lot of rejections and I just kept on fighting and going and going and going until I got the yes. That would be my strength—that I am a fighter.

What influences have you had in your life that may have impacted your level of success?  My mom. She passed away 5 years ago. She was the biggest influence in my life. She was a fighter too and she gave me the strength to be a good person, believe in myself, and never ever give up. The one phrase I remember from her is: “Whatever you do in your life make sure you go to sleep knowing you have been honest, or you will never sleep well. Do everything with integrity.“ When it comes to modeling it is really easy to get far by not doing the right thing. There is a lot of hoopla behind the scenes that you can easily get drawn into. But I pride myself on always doing everything with integrity and steering clear of the craziness.

What was one of the biggest challenges and how did you overcome it?  Leaving my family. Missing many, many family functions and not being at home—being alone as a 19 year old boy living in strange foreign countries and being lonely. There are a lot of sacrifices you have to make being a model. People think it is so amazing, easy and glamorous but they don’t know how hard it is to succeed and how much you have to sacrifice to get to where I am right now.

Since I was 10 years old I wanted to live in New York. I would sit and watch the model Marcus Shenkenberg and I wanted to be him and live in New York. I would tell my friends that every day. There were many times when I thought: “What am I doing, I should just go home, this is not a safe way to live my life.” But every time I just brought myself back, spoke to my mom and she said: “Just keep going, keep on trucking because if you don’t you will never get there.” And here I am. Wow.

What’s your perspective of being a South African working internationally?  I have heard so many times around the world people say how much they love South Africans—that we are such great people. We have a great name. We are perceived as hard workers and great fun.

I love South Africa. I think it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Ok, it is not perfect but where is? I return there regularly to see my amazing family and friends and to work. I just love the atmosphere of South Africa. I hate it when people put it down. I am very proud to be South African.

What tips do you have for others trying to reach similar success to you?  Regarding modeling, I would say make sure that you get an agency. And you should never have to pay to be a model. Anyone who says you have to pay for help is wrong. And regarding yourself, don’t let people put you in a box or a certain category, just believe in yourself. You will get a lot of rejections and no’s but don’t give up. You’ve got to be thick skinned.

 What’s your favorite “motto” in life?  Be the best you can be and don’t have any expectations.

What South African word or phrase do you use the most?  “Howzit” … and “kuk”.

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