Ugandan model Ramona Fouziah Nanyombi has worked with some of the best photographers in the world. She recently moved to Lagos, Nigeria to pursue a career in modeling full time. We spoke to Ramona to find out how she is adjusting to her new home, which models inspire her and how she views beauty.
Hi, Can you introduce yourself – where you are from and where you are currently based?
My full name is Ramona Fouziah Nanyombi, I am a 26 year old model that started in the industry 7 years ago. I am the first born in a family with 7 kids, born in Jinja in Uganda, a beautiful location at the edge of the Nile River and Lake Victoria. I later moved to the capital Kampala at age 5. In October 2014 I moved to Lagos Nigeria and have been living there since.
How did you get into modeling?
When I finished high school in 2008, I joined this teenage group. We were trying to produce a magazine and one of the guys on the team was a model and a scout for a modelling agency so he encouraged me to sign up and in 2009 I was signed with Sketch Modelling Agency. I wonder if it still exists though because I was freelancing since 2010 till last year 2014 when I moved to Lagos and got signed to Beth Model Management Africa.
Did you always want to be a model or did you have another career path in mind?
Modelling and fashion has been my passion since I was a teenager. I graduated from university with a degree in Banking & Insurance and started working as an accountant, but I left this career to pursue modelling full-time. Most sides of modelling appeal to me, particularly runway and photography. I have photographed with a variety of photographers in Uganda and Nigeria, and with British, Spanish and other Europeans, doing fashion, beauty and editorials. I have also done TV commercial and various runways and presentations.
Are there any challenges that come with being a model from Uganda?
Me being a Ugandan model living in Lagos, I haven’t faced tough challenges apart from adjusting to how things are done here in the modelling industry compared to back home in Uganda…. castings for jobs and maybe me not being as tall as most of the other models here, but I don’t look at that as a downfall to my career. In life we are all special in our own ways…. it’s what you can put on the table that matters. Otherwise I have never had so much fun doing modelling as I have here in Lagos…. meeting new people, photo shoots all over the place. It’s a lot more fun for me here in Lagos because I feel so welcomed.
Is there anything that you miss about Uganda?
Well, I would be lying if I said I don’t miss Uganda…. I mean there’s alot to miss, not just my family and friends but the party life, the beautiful scenery, home food (matooke and luwombo) lol.
Are there any models that you are inspired by?
Models that inspire me…. I will start with my own home girl Aamito Lagum, we used call her Queen. I walked with her once. I watched that girl fight to get to the top and from her I learnt that it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
Then Tyra Banks who’s been my biggest inspiration in this career since was little. She’s fierce and from her I have learnt to believe in myself and have confidence in myself because I realised that nobody can do that better than myself.
What is your definition of beauty?
My definition of BEAUTY …. Mmmmm Beauty is not the face and body, Beauty is the light in the heart. It is reflected by your soul. It is being true, honest, kind, down to earth, humble, selfless and holding passion in your heart. That is what I call beauty.
What is the most exciting shoot that you’ve done?
There are several really outstanding ones but I think the most exciting shoot I have done was with David Terrazas, a Spanish photographer based in Bangkok, Thailand. That was sometime in October 2014, we had my Chinese look makeup done at the studio and the shoot was in China Town in Bangkok, the largest China Town in the world. It was awesome, walking through the crowded streets of China Town looking for the perfect locations with my team…. the Chinese were so amused… first at me being literally the only black girl on the streets, then at my look… I remember I was wearing a Chinese short wig, Chinese traditional dress and many people asked to take selfies with me. Especially when I finally removed the wig in a historical cafe and my short blonde hair came out, the elderly customers drinking tea started laughing. The most fun part of it all was I felt more proud to be a black woman than I has in my whole entire life.
Other than fashion, are you involved in other projects ?
In addition to modelling and currently attending fashion school, I am thinking of starting up a charity foundation sometime in the near future which will involve University kids coming up with all sorts of fun activities to raise money for charity to fund mostly poor orphanages. So apart from me finishing fashion school and starting up my own fashion blog…. Charity #givingback is my next project.
How do you handle your success and stay humble?
There two things that define us; Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. I am still young, curious and still hungry coz i want more and holding a good attitude is what has gotten me this far. I mean in life just when you think you have all the answers, it is when a bitter twist of fate in the universe reminds you that you don’t. So no matter how big I make it…. where life takes me… I will never forget where i came from.
How can our readers learn more about your work?
Modelling is one of those careers that you need to be very passionate about. If you are in it just for the money then you are definitely in the wrong career. It’s a career that requires a lot of patience since the competition is really strong. Earnings can vary widely depending on your experience and reputation within the industry. So you have to keep a great attitude, good appearance, a strong character, resilience, and be fit and healthy to cope with long hours and demanding schedules. To see more of my work, follow me on instagram @pwittychika and @bethmodelafrica and visit my website at www.ramonamodel.com