Elioenai Ezra Addo
Profession: Film-Maker, Photographer, Model Coach & Co-founder – C.E.O
Agency: Black Phases Modelling Agency, launched 2016.
How did you start in the modelling business?
I started modelling at 10 years of age as one of Ghana’s first ‘Child’ models. Back in the early 2000’s you never saw a model that young in magazines or on the catwalk. I had always been interested in fashion and thought that modelling would be something that I would love to attempt at that time I was a size younger internationally.
I approached my mum who was a fashion designer to add me her set of models and she said No, as no one would take her works serious, but at that tender age, I said put me on your model board and see what happens. Jobs started to come in and I modelled for over 6 years.
How did you start Black Phases Modelling agency and why?
I started Black Phases Modelling Agency when I turned 17 years of age, I had modelled for 6 years and my ‘use by date’ was clearly up so invested in my knowledge of being in front of the camera and what I had learned behind the camera and decided to start my own agency catering only for models of all kinds even Child Models. That was in 2016 and 4 years later we are going strong and growing nationally and internationally with over 28 models.
What’s a typical day like for a booker?
A typical day means long hours sitting at a computer looking at emails, responding to briefs that come in, organising models test shoots, trolling through model applications, speaking to clients organising photo shoots, interviewing models. No day is the same, today I am on email to a client in Nigeria who wants to book our male Fitness model Joel and our commercial model Juanita who is currently working on her 2019 portfolio and with the time difference, my day does not stop at 6 pm it can go on into the night. My job is challenging and exciting as the world of fashion is always changing.
How do you renew talent in such a fast-paced and competitive industry?
Finding great models is very hard as the models need to be really comfortable in front of people and the camera. They need to have all the attributes that apply to be a model, good body proportions, good skin, hair, teeth and height.
We tend to offer really fabulous Model Searches and this is where we find new raw talent. This way we can train them up to be great models.
Is there a special formula to find the right model for a specific campaign?
I wish I had a crystal ball to answer this question. No, it is a gut feeling and when it is right for the client the campaign and the model when all these elements come together then the decision on who to book for the job becomes obvious.
What are the changes you have seen in the industry throughout your career and what has changed?
Having been in the industry for 12 years I have seen many changes and this based around department stores and designers really looking at the plus-size market and realising that women no matter what their shape want to be fashionably dressed. Dress manufacturers have done focus groups and really listened to what women want and it is evident with the increase of their bottom line and the Cedis to be made this is an expanding market (excuse the pun).
Magazines who never in the past would ever have considered using a size 4+ model in a lingerie photoshoot are now requesting more and more models for this kind of photoshoot.
Models in Swimwear for size 14+ are now a common occurrence. Women want to see women wearing lingerie, swimwear and fashion on their similar body shape so they can relate to the item of clothing and buy it.
The internet has completely changed the way we shop and you can now purchase anything from around the world. I recently celebrated a milestone birthday which I was celebrating in Accra and I wanted something white and black and handmade, I ended up finding a website in China(Aliexpress) and they hand made me my Suit and it was stunning.
Nothing is impossible anymore the web has widened the purchasing power of everybody no matter what their shape.
As well it has opened another section to my model agency as we do a lot more e-commerce shoots now than we ever did.
Do a lot of new faces come to you via social media?
Not really, our new talent comes via our website application form, this way we get a lot of information and they need to supply 4 photographs, from these we can see immediately if we think they have model potential or not.
What would be your definition of beauty?
To me the definition of beauty is confidence and self-awareness of how amazing everyone women is no matter what their shape and size.
Any advice to give to aspiring models?
Absolutely!!! Research, Research, Research. I cannot stress enough that the majority of new models have no idea of what the industry is really all about. They expect to apply to an agency so as to fulfil their life long dream of being a model and they have no idea, the images you send will be looked at, however, it takes less than 2 seconds for an agency director to decide if she is right just by the photos they have submitted.
If the agency has asked for current digital shots then supply current digital shots, not you on a beach or at dinner or a wedding, they need to see you and no one else.
Do your homework on the agency to see if you are the right fit for them. I have an online Model Course and it is available on the web.
What are the rewarding aspects of your job?
Finding a model, teaching her about the world of modelling and loving it when she gets a great job.
That makes me excited and to continue to promote authentic models in this fabulous world of modelling and transforming the modelling industry of Ghana and Africa as a whole.