A time like this last year models started an outcry to have their plights addressed, but their voices were so low and scattered nobody paid much attention to their struggles.
It was until this year that veteran model Sheila Kanini came with an outburst of anger shading light to the dark underbelly of this glamorous industry with it opening a can of warms that went viral and made other models open up as well. Her cry, among other brands as well, was touching on the True Love East Africa Magazine who had not paid her for work done and they were taking her round and round in circles for about 5 months now.
Another key brand in the Kenyan fashion industry which has been adversely mentioned in this campaign is Samantha’s bridal. For a long time they have been charging naive models a non-refundable auditioning fee of 1000 shillings, where say over 30 models turn up to compete but very few are taken. In their defense, they claim this is in order to audition serious models only!
But in real sense it is pure exploitation. Other forefront players in the industry like couture Africa among others are accused of not paying models and violation of contract agreements. Letoya Johnston is a renowned model, a trainer and CEO of Toytoy Modeling Agency has come out to join hands with other known personalities in the industry to speak against this exploitation.
Ever since, models have come out in large numbers under the hash tag #paymodelske exposing fraudsters and sex predictors. According to one post from Instagram, a model from Embu brought tears to the eyes of many when she came forward with claims of being raped and on reporting the matter to the police the culprit came forward and told the police “hawa ni wale models” translated to “this are those models” and just like that her case was thrown out of the window to date never getting justice.
Another allegation was brought forward by a former model from House of Legacy claiming top personnel of the agency rape girls in their after parties.
In one extreme case a model was rushed to Nairobi women’s hospital to seek treatment. The model who stood up for her raped friend was removed from House of Legacy without explanation. The said case is ongoing and we hope justice shall be served.
More bad light has since been shed on the House of Legacy brand with another model coming out to say and I quote:
“I wanted to join house of legacy two years ago. Chali told me nibebe nguo za shoot tumeet athi river he gave me directions which led me to some filthy apartment. I asked him if shoot iko rooftop since we were to meet at the studio so I didn’t get mbona tunameet kwake. I got in and was offered a drink which I didn’t take with a thought in mind that he could drug me. He told me to change then asked if we were having the shoot there akaanza kunidara. He was already erect.
I told him to get off me or I scream and that’s how I left and blocked him”
In light of this allegations many more models came out with the help of a freelance model Elsie Akoth on her Instagram handle @self_made_east_african ; who stood up and took upon herself to expose the said perpetrators.
“Dear Fellow Models/Actors,
The world always conforms to the standards we set, Modeling industry is a work place and employer of many people in Kenya. Let’s join this industry not for fun and glam but for work and pay.
Set professional standards and approach the industry professionally. Going to after parties should be as professional as going to any work party. Going to this parties and getting intoxicated to the level of blacking out is not only unprofessional but it puts you at risk of being raped or even robbed of valuables.
The hashtags #PayActorsKe #PayModelsKe has been trending with different opinions from stakeholders which are profound, but unless all established and serious measures taken against them; the new, upcoming and aspiring actors and models will continue to suffer in silence because some don’t know their rights and some don’t have a platform to voice their suffering. We all should join hands and speak in one voice the rogue casting agencies, rogue producers and rogue talent scouts/ agents.
Like my fellow talent once said: there are basics that we have to agree on, such as; Deposit before work is done, duration of time before completion of payment. (Paying people after 3 months is still ridiculous), Penalty for default in payment schedules – All these stipulated in binding contracts. Then we will talk about setting other support industry standards. Like minimum pay acceptable. Like ganging up and refusing to settle for less than what someone else rejected. Like knowing your worth and working with your rate card. Like learning to say NO and walking away.
Modeling industry is a small community, that can be a Democratic village if we stand as one.
Let’s Speak Out.
#PayActorsKe #PayModelsKe #StopDelayingModelsPay
We Pay Bills Too.