8 Nov 2017
A chance meeting with a photographer who encourage her to do a photoshoot has opened doors for a Durban based model. She was recently the face of the Durban Fashion Fair. Regina-Mary Ndlovu from THISABILITY Newspaper caught up with her recently.
Tell us about yourself and how you got into modelling?
My name is Nontobeko Nothando Mbuyazi. I’m 20 years old, I’m a full time student at UKZN. I’m doing a BA degree majoring in Criminology and Political Science. I started modelling in 2016 and got into professional modelling in 2017. I was modelling at the Playhouse with other people with albinism when a photographer by the name of Val Adamson discovered me, helped with my portfolio, introduced me into the real modelling world and the rest is history.
What challenges did you face growing up?
Growing up as child, I was this confident young girl and when I hit puberty it all started to change. I lost confidence in myself – because I was this tall skinny girl. I wouldn’t say I was teased about it but the comments made by my peers with regards to my body appearance and my hair colour ( which has different shades) got into me and from that time on, I lost confidence in myself and some part of me died.
I started speaking less, kept to myself to avoid attention, and those silly comments like, OMG you are so skinny! You look like those skinny breaking Barbie dolls, you are so tall! Most people with albinism have this reddish kind of skin tone and I, on the other hand, have a pale skin tone and had weird looking hair made it worse. The worst and funny thing was, all the silly comments were made by my peers with albinism!
Do you feel pressure to advocate for albinism through modelling?
Well, not really. I don’t usually focus on the aspect of albinism as much when doing things, but I believe that everything that I do will in some way represent people with albinism and break down the stigma attached to people with albinism.
How do you get more diversity in modelling especially including people with disability?
The modelling world is a very diverse working place, which is always looking for new interesting faces. When it comes to people with disabilities, it may be a bit harder for them to get into the modelling world not just because of their disabilities but because there are limited opportunities for them.
How would you encourage voices of disability in the modelling space?
I would encourage people with different kinds of disabilities who would love to enter into the modelling world to use modelling to prove that perfection is not one sided or defined as it is usually portrayed.
But I grew that out, regained my confidence and I now don’t let people’s silly comments get onto me.
Keep up the good work. We wish you all the best Nonto!