My Modeling Nude is for a purpose - Adetutu Jasanya (AVATAR) - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Sunday 16 February 2020

My Modeling Nude is for a purpose - Adetutu Jasanya (AVATAR)

She is code-named AVATAR! That’s Adetutu Jasanya, the young lady that found her dream after her father’s sickness, led her to dump the search for a job as an Accountant for a job she got with looks and her natural talent.

Her looks are sexy. Her body speaks in languages that the heart understands. And her walk and sway seals deals for her on the runway where only the confident sells sophisticated fashion and brands to millions of people.

Jasanya is a proud Nigerian Supermodel, one that does Nigeria proud many times home and abroad. In this interview with Paul Ukpabio, she tells us her journey to the top, the various challenges faced by African models and the limitations. She says: “The struggles begin from within and you must win within before you can win out there!” 

Who is Avatar and how did you get into modeling?

My name is Adetutu Jasanya I’m a Yoruba girl from Ogun state, Ijebu ode, people know me as Avatar because in 2010, I was Avatar in the Nigerian Make-Over Show. I was one of the models used for that show. I was on the runway nude with just palm fronds to cover most sensitive part of my body.

That went viral online and after that I was on television and that got me other jobs. I was on NTFS, where I did another runway job with Ankara collections. Galaxy television beamed that show and since then the name Avatar stuck on me as a brand. But it was after a year that I registered the name Avatar formally when Ted the photographer who took the Avatar shots, nudged me on to do so. He gave me the idea.
That was how I became the CEO of Avatar Communications where I am the Senior most model and I train young ones in modeling, ushering and event management. That apart, I empower youths in my community. Presently in Lagos state, I have empowered over 300 youths.

When you say empowerment what do you mean by that?

Empowerment like skill acquisition, I teach them how to make-up, how to be a model, bead making, soap making and so on. Where I do not have such knowledge or skill, I pay trainers who teach them. I started that in Gbagada then moved it to Bariga then started going round to other places. I also do feeding for children. I can just pick a particular community and cook for them just to put smiles on the faces of children there. I love to see people around me smiling.

Where do you get the funds to do that?

I get it from my family, friends and well-wishers, especially those who have known and seen my capabilities in time past, support me.

Why did you choose to be a model?

I can’t really recall but I know that somewhere along the line, I wanted to be a model and while studying accountancy at Moshood Abiola Polytechnic I nursed the ambition to become a top rated model. So I developed the keen sense for it. So, I studied what it takes to become one. I watched television and videos of models and so on.

I got my break when ISIS Models called for audition. I was there. I was rejected. I was told I didn’t meet up with the standard. Though I was not chosen, but I met a lot of people there through networking. I met successful models and the struggling ones. I got their contacts, got success tips here and there from the successful ones and I stayed in touch with them. I didn’t relent, I didn’t give up! In 2010, I went to another audition and there I was picked and used for Avatar. Since then, it has been from one good job to another. I have been on different platforms, different fashion shows, many runways, I was at Nigerian Model Achievers Awards, Adire and Kampala Fashion Show, put together by City People. I have done several others.

At that point also, I was on the look-out for international agencies to sign me on. But I didn’t get any. However, I met highly placed people who came here for those fashion shows. They talked to me and said they will recommend me as the kind of model that could work at the international level.

That was how I got an invitation to Ghana for ‘Runway International’. I didn’t go there alone; I took some of the models that I trained here with me. As luck will have it, I got the opportunity to submit my photos for the Dubai Fashion Week in Accra, Ghana. It is the same people that are in charge of The Dubai Fashion Week that are also connected to the Fashion Week in Paris, Italy, New York and London.

I was chosen for the Dubai Fashion Week! That took me out of Nigeria again where I went to participate on the runway in Dubai. I got a certificate for it and that changed my CV too. To survive better on the international modeling scene, one needs a proper international agent which I hope I will get soon. Offers are coming.  I have already been on the runway in South Africa and all that on merit without having an international agent but on recommendation from professionals in the industry who have seen me at work.

Tell us about the South Africa bit. What were you doing there?

I was in that country because I am the Founder of Gbagada Beauty Pageant. And part of the promise for the winner in 2016 was to accompany me to South Africa for a week tour. While we were there, the pageant beauty queen Precious Fredrick participated in a movie, while I took part in a make-up show. And in 2018, I was back in South Africa in June, to go and organize an empowerment programme, train-the-trainers on Make-up, beauty cat-walk and so on.

Does age really count in Modeling, and if it does, in what way?

Age does not really matter for one to become a successful model. I have been following Noami Campbell, she’s one of my role models, somebody that I have been following for long and looking out to meet someday. So I try to keep in touch with her for more inspiration. True, when I passed age 21, I was a bit worried about towing a career in modeling. But many years after, I found out that Naomi Campbell was in her 30s and she still remained a successful model. That was when I upped my game in the career.

Unfortunately, most of the Modeling auditions that is done in Nigeria, look out for fresh models! Girls, who are 17, 18, or 20 and I am older. However, if I don’t tell you my age, you may not know. But the beautiful aspect is that, most often depending on the product, age doesn’t count for models. But on big runway shows, you have to declare your age. At such times, when I do, if it’s okay with the organizers I am picked! For instance in Dubai, I declared my age and they screamed wow! It was okay with them. Right now I am looking forward to the Fashion Week in Paris and Italy.

So how do you keep your figure and looks?

It is God’s doing. Sometimes I try to watch what I eat but again, my body is just simply a gift from God. You know there are some people who don’t need to stress themselves naturally before they could remain fit. I am one of such people. However, I still go to the gym so that I can remain continuously fit. Most of the modeling agencies don’t want fat! It is either you are plus size or slim not being in the middle. I was also on the runway at the last Nigeria Fashion Week which is also one of the biggest fashion shows in Africa. I am really happy about that. I appreciate Mrs. Ronke Ademiluyi for that platform and I look forward to working more with her.

Are you trying to say that, you do not eat eba, banga with starch? You are missing a lot.

The funny part is that I do eat all those foods that you have mentioned. That is why I say that it is a gift from God. I eat them but the figure remains. But also I must confess that when I go out of my way to eat other foods that are not regular with me, I eat them not in the night! After eating them, I don’t stay on them for long, I return to my supposed usual routine. Like I take light foods daily. Models should not eat after 6pm. However sometimes I ignore that rule, even eat at 8pm. But when I do, I return to the gym and workout.

As a child did it occur to you that you would one day be a supermodel?

Not exactly! I wanted to be an accountant that goes to a regular office to do additions and subtractions and so on. But after school, I was unemployed so I started ICAN, the professional examinations. I did ATS 1 and then ATS 11 but I stopped due to lack of money because after my NYSC service year, my dad was sick to the extent that I had to start supporting him. I was forced to go heavily in search of a job. It was when I didn’t get I ventured into make-up business. It was while I was doing make-up for brides and people at shows that I was regularly complimented by my figure. People told me to my face ‘you are dark and lovely’. Ladies were also telling me that. I was regularly asked if I was a model. That was how the make-up business woke up the model in me. I started getting jobs as a model, which came from trying to support dad when he was terribly sick. I also wanted to be an actress which I am still working on. I have done a few on-the-surface acting and I hope to do more.

As it is now, one thing is leading to another, but what would you love being most?

I would love being mostly an international model. That is because, even when I am pregnant, I would want to walk on the runway so that people can see that there is no barrier or limit or even age when you are a model. Even elderly people could be models as long as you have the figure or carriage to sell that product for that company.

When will it be time for you to have children?

(Laughs) I have a child! To God be the glory, I take care of my son. He is also a model and a dancer. He is in the entertainment industry. For now, I will want to focus on my career rather than having more children. That is because it is not easy to focus on my kind of career while having children. If I meet any man that is interested in me, fine. But for now, I am a single mother.

How old is your son?

He is 6 years old; he will be 7 later this year. He has not done badly as a model. He has done Heritage Fashion Show, another one that was sponsored by Zenith Bank, Blessed Fashion Show, Adorable Fashion Show twice and many outings for different brands. Also last year he participated in Fashion Finest, organized by Mahogany International. He got an invitation to model in Dubai but because of my show which clashed with his, he couldn’t go. But we are looking for others.

Is it like you had issues with the father?

Yes, we did. We had a good union between us and the relationship broke up because of the misunderstandings we had. His family was jealous and envious of our happiness. So his family intruded. They saw me as being the one controlling our home. So they came in and before long the union was broken. They are the ones that destroyed my home not him. Even after the break up, we met at different shows: I saw it in his eyes that he wanted to come back to me, moreso as he has a child with me. But there was nothing I could do. What has happened has happened. We were no longer together. I just had to bear it. And since 2014, I have been taking care of my son all alone.

That means he is in entertainment related industry?

Yes, he is.

So you are a model, and your son is a model, does that mean that if a man wants to come into your life now he has to be a model too?

(Laughs, then thinks deeply) It doesn’t follow that way! Anybody that will support our career will do. It is not easy I guess to see a man who will first of all support your career and then support that of a son. So a man coming into our lives at this time must have some size of love to understand and support us. He will have to love me and love my son as his own.

Does that mean you are not in any relationship right now?

No, I am not in any relationship.

But, why?

I guess its best known to me.

Nudity seems more common now than before. What can you say about it, knowing fully well than nudity seems more controlled in modeling than acting where you can be required to act X-rated scene?

In modeling you can still be made to open up. But in modeling, there must be a reason before nudity is required. The product may determine it maybe a body cream that you are selling or bead, like I did a particular work where I was selling beads. It was a nude job. I was trying to make people know that people that are wearing waist bead are not witches. Bead wearing has always been with us traditionally. I love culture and I have worked with a lot of cultural ambassadors around the country.

Nudity is not something to be out rightly condemned. It could be used to pass a message as a model. In acting even when you are naked, it is not as if you are naked on the street or you are wearing just pant and bra, it is not like you are walking on the street in it. You are wearing it to act. So even in the movie, total or partial nudity is for communicating a message. As humans, we cannot continue to cover up things, or keep lying to ourselves. There are things that have to be open and communicated.

How much do you expect to be paid for nude jobs?

For me in acting I wouldn’t want to go totally nude because even though I would be passing a message, it has limit to what I can do in acting. But when it comes to modeling, I know that I am selling a product of a brand that would not want their image to be tarnished. It’s unfortunate that here in Nigeria and perhaps some other African countries, a nude model is likened to a prostitute. Its again unfortunate because it doesn’t count as such abroad I mean in developed countries, which means that we are still backward! I believe that if you are doing what makes you happy, its fine. Models are not prostitutes!

How did your family react when you modeled nude?

My family tried to get at me. I told them to let me be, that I see joy in what I am doing and I am using it to promote brands. I have got more contact of work internationally than before. My family wasn’t supporting it until my only brother called me from the UK and asked why my family was complaining about me. So I told him what I have been doing, that I am not into prostitution but growing a career. And he asked if I can find a future with it and if I am happy with it, I replied yes and he told me to go ahead with it that he will talk to the family. That was how they left me alone to face my career.

I guess models have their fashion sense too, what’s your fashion sense?

My style is low hair cut (laughs). While in school people used to call me ‘Agbani Darego’ that’s after the beauty queen, because of the low hair cut which I used to spot. Later on I started plaiting my hair. When I did the Avatar photo shoot I had a big mass of hair but was pressed down with gel so people didn’t notice. It came out like low cut. It was sensational. So that really struck me that the low hair cut is just my natural thing! So, that has stuck with me but I can come out in wig or other hair look if it is a show that I am modeling that kind of brand. At other times I could go with skin hair cut or dye the little hair on my hair to white or any colour that suits my feelings. Then also when I go out I am always fully clothed! No showing of any body part or wearing transparent clothes. Also I prefer large earrings to the small ones. Large earrings works for me because I am usually on low cut and it therefore brings out my small face!

Do you have an advice for up-coming models?

Yes, whatever you want to do in life, do it. The advice is not just for young people but for anyone. What’s your dream? Go for it! Don’t listen to crap from anyone because once you do it and make it big, it’s those people that turned you down that will still celebrate you! “So, the struggles begin from within and you must win within before you can win out there!”  

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