Halima Agboola is the Founder of Tohal Modelling, a modeling agency in Lagos. In this interview with SEMIAT ATANDA, the graduate of medical laboratory science said her passion for fashion led her to start a modeling agency. She also spoke on other issues. Excerpts:
At what age do you start having passion for modeling?
I had passion for modelling ever since I was a kid and I would always tell my parents then that I would be the next Miss Nigerian, so at the age of 17 I started chasing after my dream.
You said you were a medical student; did modelling affect your medical studies?
No, although it was truly not easy to follow two passions at a time but I was able to figure it out.
How are you able to communicate your passion with your clients, and how patient are you?
I can say modeling is all about being patient, tolerance and determination; modelling goes a long way in communicating with people, I have not had a problem with my clients; when you understand people and their nature, communicating with them shouldn’t be a problem. Though it has been challenging but I am thanking God.
Do you have a limitation when it comes to the type of clothes you can were, can you wear any type of cloth when it comes to modeling?
I have limitation of clothes I can wear; I cannot just wear anything in the name of modeling and also considering the type of background I come from. I come from a Muslim background, and I am a shy person, so I don’t go nude. I can’t do bikini shoot and my clients understand me.
Do you travel for modeling or you model only in Lagos?
I travel and now I have my own agency and aspiring model I am training.
There is a lot of travelling in the work because my clients might want to use a location, which is not around me, so I have to travel.
Are you proud of you work?
By the special grace of God, so far so good, I am proud of my work.
You know modelling work is not acceptable in our society, so what are the challenges you face, either from your parents or friends especially when what you studied in school did not relate to it?
Yes, being a model has not been easy for me especially when I am from a Muslim background and because of the negativity the media is giving it.
The way the media portrays models is not right. The media portrays them as people of easy virtue and it is not so.
The negative vibes the media is giving it and the thought of parents that their daughter will go nude or she will be in pants and bras make them panic.
I did a lot to convince my parents. Modeling is not about going nude; it is not necessary you give your body out to get what you want. I made my parents understand those points, so by the grace of, I was successful in convincing them.
How do you see your modeling career in the next few years?
I am seeing myself really big; I am seeing myself as one of the most successful agencies in the country, one of the most successful leaders in modeling business in Nigeria.
What advice do you have for the upcoming models?
Well I will advise them not to relent in following their passion; modelling is not all about getting to the top, because not every model is celebrity.
Some models are making their money every hour and they are not known; that you are a model doesn’t mean you will be Miss Nigeria or you are going to be Miss World. But you will be getting thing that will make the people to wow and they will treat like a superstar. So once you tread on the right path, be patient, persevere and never use your body to have your way in the industry because at the end of the day, you might regret your action.
It is very bad to give your body away to make a headway; always be prayerful have passion and be determined in everything you do.
How regularly do you eat because I know as a model, you don’t want to eat that much?
As a model God has blessed me with this body naturally, so I never think of watching my weight.
Looking at the rate of unemployment in this country, what advice do you have for the youth?
As my popular saying goes certificate does not really own the world; everything is not about certificate.
Whatever you do with your hands can take you a long way, do you know if you want to travel out of the country and you don’t have a handwork, you can’t travel out, you might even get overseas and you will not be able to secure a white collar regular job, because even the white collar job aren’t regular again, but with the help of your handwork, you will be able to fix yourself somewhere whereby you can get paid bit by bit.
So my advice to the youth is to learn a handiwork, though it is not easy learning handwork. I am a fashion designer and I learnt fashion designing after graduating from the university. If anyone had told me then that I would go back to learn a handiwork, I would have argued with the person, but to the glory of God, I attended skill acquisition training (WAPA); that was where I learned fashion for over a year and by the grace of God the business has been booming.
I have been able to create things; I even made most things by myself especially what I use in the house. There are so many handiworks out there that you can learn. So I am begging the youths along with your certificate have a “sabificate”.
How has it been easy joining your tailoring work and modeling skills together?
It has been a very good combination because modeling and fashion are both creativity, so when I have an idea pop up in my head about any style, I get my material to make the cloth get into the studio and take pix with it.
I have my photographer who does most of my shoots and so far so good. We market them and people complement and some even come to me to buy them. It has been easy combining the two professions although the stress is there but fashion and modeling have been a beautiful combination.
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