David, a 20 years old model from Ondo state Nigeria, and presently a model in London has revealed some key notes about the modelling industry, his hopes, and guides for new and aspiring models. David is also listed on model.com as David Ikuepamitan and has walked the runway for Daniel W. Fletcher, Paria Farzaneh, Ahluwalia, and AGR during the S/S 23 Fashion show as well as being featured on Dazed Magazine, Citizen Magazine, and The Pop Magazine.
How were you discovered?
It was after secondary school when I started working to earn some money. On one of my trips to Lagos Island for business, I met up with a customer who said I had a model’s facial features. Thereafter, I discussed it with a few persons who discouraged me except my uncle who is a photographer. He encouraged me to snap some polaroids and upload them on Instagram with the hope of being discovered by an agency. I was initially discovered by a Model scout aside from the agency that I am currently represented by. However, the modelling terms and conditions as contained in the contract didn’t sit well with me after enough scrutiny by my uncle and me so I had to pass on that. Still, in my hope of being discovered, I got featured on the “Scout for new faces” Instagram page. Soon after the featuring, I got a message from ABULAD about their interest to sign me in. I was comfortable with their terms and accepted to be represented by them.
What was your first modelling job and how did you feel about it?
Well, most of the jobs I did then were mostly collaborations. The first and only modelling paid job I had was an editorial shot. It wasn’t really a major job but I was promised food and Five thousand naira (N5000) of which I only received Three thousand naira (N3000). They had promised to pay up the balance later, but the money never came even after my departure to London.
You spoke of only your Uncle being an influence , what about your nuclear family? where they in support of your modelling journey?
No. Nigerians are generally paranoid about modelling.
But based on the question, my family wasn’t supportive. They were not strict and did not stop me from attending modelling training and doing modelling jobs. however, they just felt it won’t be profitable and were a bit skeptical, because of racism, trafficking, and things related to this.
As regards your education, were you in University before traveling to London?
Yes, I was at the University of Lagos studying Botany. However, Nigerian Federal Universities went on ASUU strike and I had to stop schooling for that period, that was when my modelling career came on board and I came to London.
Since you travelled to London have you experienced any discrimination?
No, all I have received is love. I think white modelling agents like black models. They have been nice from the first day I visited the agency.
What’s the biggest Fashion brand that you have ever modelled for?
Armani is my biggest but not my highest paid. Although London doesn’t really have big brands. Fendi, Gucci, Armani and other high fashion houses just have small branches here in London. Like the Armani I modelled for isn’t the main store but a branched of it.
What’s your experience like when you walked the International runway the first time?
I felt different. Although I have walked a fashion show before for my agency back in Nigeria. But Nigerians don’t care much about fashion shows and a lot of people don’t attend. However, walking the runway here in London, I saw a larger number of people in attendance who were also taking pictures as I walked. As a model, I just had to focus because if I had taken my mind off the runway I would have miscalculated and messed things up. Nevertheless, it was very cool and the experience was nice.
What are the changes you hope for in the Modelling Industry especially in Africa
My hope for Africa especially Nigeria is that they should be serious with Modelling and select models based on their talent, not because of their agency or for exploitation purposes. Here in London, my agency has over 100 boys they represent but models are not picked based on their previous jobs or the period they have known the model, rather they consider their looks and if its suits the job to be done then the model will be selected but in Nigeria, this isn’t the case.
Also, photographers should try and pay their models instead of always wanting to collaborate. I had a friend back in Nigeria whose editorial was framed and sold for a lot of money by the photographer but she wasn’t paid anything for the shot. When she confronted the photographer he claimed that they had agreed on collaboration, not monetary payment. I hope that Nigerians will be more straightforward.
On the issue of nudity, what’s your take on that?
I feel that’s a personal decision. For me, I don’t intend going into that part of modelling based on my beliefs.
What’s the future you envisage for yourself in the next five to ten years
Well, I don’t intend to go back to the schooling system in Nigeria. If it’s possible I will school here in the UK or any other country but if it’s not possible I will learn some tech skills that will generate good yields for me in a few years.
I do not really see myself as a model in the next ten years since modelling is not something that lasts for long unless you become really famous in it like Naomi Campbell. I have seen models who travelled abroad before for jobs but they do not travel anymore so it’s important to have something by the side as a backup plan because some people will become supermodels while some will not.
Kindly tell us about your mother agency
ABULAD is my mother agency and its just like a family. ABULAD Modelling agency took their time to train and counsel me for free. They aren’t biased and strict.
Also, when I was preparing to travel to London, part of the money I used in buying some clothes and stuff was given to me by my mother agency. ABULAD is a really good agency for people who intend to go into modelling.