It is not every day when one shares stimulating dialogue with an international face of the modelling world. Lucky for us, Botswana’s first contestant to win Miss World Supermodel 2014, Nature Inger, sat with our resident contributor Boitshepo Motsamai to discuss her journey in modelling, and challenges of biracial identity, feminism and becoming a gem in her career.
How long have you been modelling? Take us through your journey from the beginning
11 years, you know in Botswana you’ll say this will be my 11th year, but we barely have shows and things like that. You would do a photo shoot then 5 -6months not doing anything. So I say 11 years but there hasn’t been that much until the recent years. When I was around 11 or 12 I was friends with 3 boys, there were all brothers. Their mom owned a clothing store called Origins which used to be upstairs at Game City Mall and she was doing an advert for Vista magazine. So because she was using her sons in the advert and they were all boys, she asked if I could be part of the advert. I initially thought ‘ugh I don’t know’ but then she said I could keep whatever clothes I chose. So for me that was the selling point.
I have always been into fashion – my mom was a tailor I used to go to the flea market with her every weekend and buy and look at vintage second hand clothes and fabrics so the moment I knew I was getting free clothes I knew I was definitely going to do it. It was also my very first fashion shoot of any kind, and I saw my face in magazine and I thought ‘well this is what all those other people in magazines do”. I had just never really thought about it. You just see people in magazines and never put thought into it. So when I saw my face I thought ‘oh this is a job, this is something you can do’ and coming to that realization, I got more offers here and there to do really small things. I was getting paid P200.00 to P500.00 but when your 12, it is a lot of money, and back then the worth of the money was more than now. I just did it for fun and pocket money. I really enjoyed it, it was awesome and it all just grew from there.
When was the moment you started taking it absolutely seriously?
I think it was something I always loved to do but I just couldn’t believe I could. Because growing up in Botswana, you just don’t see people becoming supermodels or winning Oscars so I never conceptualized the fact that I could do it as a full time career. Even when I was doing it I thought this was just some extra pocket money for me and I enjoy doing it, it’s fun.
But when I was 16, there was a Donald Trump model expo, and it was one of Donald Trumps best model scouts Duane Gazi came to Botswana to scout models. My friend was auditioning and she kept egging me on to audition too and I thought “it’s ridiculous, I’m not going to get in or get chosen, I’m not going to waste my day doing that like, you know, let’s go out, watch a movie or do something”. But she managed to drag me there. I was in sneakers, I didn’t bring heels with me, no make-up on, I was just a mess. I auditioned and I ended up getting in! So that was the realization for me, that a professional model scout in one of the biggest model agencies in the world has seen me and saw the potential in me. It was kind of a wakeup call, like I think I could do this. So at 16 I really started working at it, giving it more full time and attention.
Funny enough, Duane Gazi-White (he is married now) was at the World Supermodel Pageant that I won. He didn’t remember me of course, he meets a hundred stunning girls an hour probably (laughs) And I didn’t remember him either, until I got back home and someone asked me the same question you just did, ‘when did I start taking it seriously’. Events like this are the reason I believe in God, this man unknowingly gave me the confidence and drive to pursue modelling and then years later, although he didn’t remember me, he played a role in me becoming World Supermodel 2014.
Looking at the sneakers and no make-up, I’m guessing that you were quite the tom boy growing up?
Yes of course. I have two older brothers; all my close family cousins are guys as well. My middle name is Keletso, the whole name as Keletso wa ngwanyana (loosely meaning the fortune of a girl child). So growing up was really a mess (laughs) I was always fighting with them and they were always wrestling with me. The thing is I was outwardly boyish but I always internally loved girly things. I would still ask for dolls, and as I said I loved fashion and I would wear make-up and stuff when my brothers were nowhere near (laughs), you’d get punched for that sort of thing. So I was a tomboy really but I always loved girl things and loved the idea of growing up and becoming a woman. I have amazing strong women in my family, so for me it was never being girly it was being a woman, and I was really excited for that.
Everybody. Like I said I come from a family where I had very strong women and very kind and compassionate men. I know usually it is the other way around but for me, I learnt from my mom that you have to be strong, you have to work hard. From my dad I learnt you have to be kind, compassionate, humble and honest. I had that from all sides of the family. I always say I have many mothers and fathers -all my uncles, my aunts, my grandparents, my siblings – everybody was a driving force in their own way. When I say family I include my closest friends as well. Even people that have tried to stop me were my driving force, and they gave me the drive to prove them wrong.