As if the news that Gabu Fords just signed with a top South African modelling agency wasn’t enough, there’s even more great news! Yet another Kenyan model, this time a female named Giannina Oteto, is making more moves internationally!
Giannina may not be known to most Kenyans and quite frankly, up until this afternoon I didn’t know who she was but after reading up on her, I’d be lying if I said I’m not proud of her.
Oteto, who is based in the US, was among some of the world’s most successful celebrities featured in L’Oreal’s True Match ad campaign, “Your Skin. Your Story”. The campaign’s message was to let each of the models share stories of which of the foundation’s shades best suits their skin tone.
That ain’t all. Giannina also featured in Kanye West’s Yeezy’s season 3 with the likes of Kylie Jenner and Naomi Campbell.
Hip Hop lovers definitely saw Childish Gambino’s rather strange cover for his album “Awaken My Love”. Guess who that was? Uh huh. Giannina!
Giannina is one of Kenya’s models doing it big abroad. There’s also Malaika Firth who was born in Kenya but moved to London with her family when she was 7.
Encouragement to do modeling came from her mother, debuting her career at just 17. Malaika debuted on the New York Fashion Week runway in 2012 for Odilon and gained attention from the fashion industry when she walked in the 2014 Prada menswear show. After this she became the face of Prada, making her the second black girl after Naomi Campbell to ever become the face of Prada.
Malaika has walked in over 40 shows for notable designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Kenzo, Victoria’s Secret among many others. It doesn’t stop there. She’s also been on the cover of Vogue UK!
Malaika can attribute her great looks to a mix of Kenyan, Ugandan, Seychellois, Swiss and British roots.
Another Kenyan model doing great abroad is Ephy Saint. You probably know him or heard the name. He’s the model who almost broke the internet when he posted a naked picture with someone’s hand covering his junk. Remember him?
Well he relocated to South Africa early last year and things aren’t looking too bad for him. Last year he was featured in GQ South Africa, being the first Kenyan model to ever do it! He was featured in GQ Style in the magazine’s 9th edition. In a previous interview with Daily Nation, Ephy said that GQ is only a leeway to greater things, a platform for international recognition where it doesn’t matter where you are from, all that matters is the talent you bring.
Ephy Saint has also had the opportunity to work with renowned British photographer Niel Kirk who has done spreads for Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar.
Check out one of Ephy’s pictures for the GQ feature:
Other notable names besides Gabu Fords, Giannina Oteto, Malaika Firth and Ephy Saint doing Kenyans proud abroad are Lupita Nyong’o (of course), Edi Gathegi, Victoria Kimani, STL, Nick Mutuma, who still lives here but is undisputedly doing us proud. He’s currently in South Africa shooting MTV Shuga season 5 alongside Vanessa Mdee and other talented actors.
Looks like many aspects of Kenyan entertainment are shining bright abroad. Khaligraph got a notable mention on Not Just OK’s list of Top 10 African rappers, a list they compiled based on votes, they said. Not only did Dela catch the attention of international media when she did the Hello cover, she also did a tour across the UK towards the end of last year. Sauti Sol have definitely being doing their thing representing for Kenya and Mbithi represented us well at Toronto International Film Festival with his film Mbithi.
It’s only January and already 2017 looks like it’s going to be an even greater year for the entertainment scene. What would you like to see given more light?