Fitness Atlantic Fitness Model Ngo Okafor
Although I have achieved success in my modeling and acting career, it has not been an easy ride. I have had to overcome numerous obstacles, both physically and mentally, to reach my dream.
I was born Ngoli Onyeka Okafor on the 30th of December, in Framingham, Massachusetts. My parents Clement and Rose Okafor are from the Ibo speaking region in Nigeria. Ngo is short for Ngoli that means joy in Ibo. I was named Ngoli because my parents were overjoyed at the birth a second son (moi) .
At the time that I was born my father was finishing up his PhD program at Harvard University. My family and I moved home to Nigeria shortly before my second birthday. The sixteen years that I spent growing up in Nigeria helped build the strength in character that has propelled me through all of life's challenges. Nigeria was a great place to grow up during the early years of my life. Nigeria was one of the richest countries in the world due to the oil boom. Several businesses flocked to Nigeria from all over the world, looking to take opportunity of the oil money. They subsequently brought their families over to join them. Due to such cultural diversity, I grew up with kids from Asia, Europe, the U.S.A., and other countries in Africa. I learned early in life that skin color was not as important as the content of a person's heart.
Demoralized and confused, I pondered my next move. Then one day in the gym, a photographer approached me and wanted to do a photo shoot with me. The shoot was such a fun experience, one I wanted to continue. Thus began the uphill battle of my career. Work was hard to come by because there were limited job opportunities for black models in the business. To this day, I stillI have people in influential positions tell me I am too big, too muscular, too tall, to grow my hair and all kinds of other insensitive comments which were meant to consciously or unconsciously break my spirit. Every door I tried to open was met with rejection, but I held on until I got my first job. It was with non other that than the Queen of soul Mary J. Blige and the Quenn Bee, rapper lil' Kim for MAC cosmetics. I started acting shortly afterwards by accident. I was looking for an agent's office and happened to walk in on an audition for a film for Major League Baseball. I went in with little preparation and a Xerox copy of my headshot. I got the job!!
Since then my work as a model has been featured in several magazines such as Vogue, Vibe, The source, ESPN magazine, Fortune magazine, Honey, W, among others. My work as an actor has been featured on TV and on video.As my career continues to rise, I must stay grounded. I cannot forget the struggles and sacrifices that brought me to where I am today. I hope that my journey through life will serve as motivation and a shining example that dreams do come true if only you believe.
1. Keys to Success
Who wants to be a model? The answer is "EVERYONE." It's true! They might not admit it, but deep down every one wants be a model.
A career in modeling can be financially rewarding and can provide several opportunities for you to blossom as a performer.
The key to success in the modeling industry is to be true to yourself. What is it about the way you look that makes you special? Do not make this decision based on what your mother, your girlfriend or your boyfriend tells you. They will tell you whatever you they think will make you feel good because they love you. But they usually don't know anything about the modeling business.
This brings us to the next question. Why do you want to be a model? Is it fame and money or is it an opportunity to hang out with beautiful people? Whatever your reason is, you have to embrace it and use it as your driving force.
To become a model your look has to be marketable. A corporation would have to believe that your face and/or body on their product will help them increase their sales. Can you the handle that pressure? Can you handle the constant rejection? If your answer is yes, then you are ready.
2. Types of Modeling
There are few different types of modeling:
Fashion modeling is the use of a model to sell clothing. Fashion modeling includes runway, clothing campaigns (which you see in magazines and billboards), catalogue, and showroom presentations.
Fashion agencies have very strict requirements. Female models have to be between the ages of 14-21 and to be 5'9" and above. Male models have to 18 years or older, 5'11" to 6'2" tall and a suit size of 40R to 42R. It is very strict because, industry standard for clothing samples will usually only fit these sizes. Occasionally, an agency might accept models who fall short (no pun intended) of these requirements because they have unusually beautiful faces and/or bodies. The further you are from these requirements makes the more difficult it is for your agency to acquire work for you.
Commercial modeling is the use of a model to sell products for household or industrial use. These include cars, hair products, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, household appliances, industrial appliances, machinery etc. Commercial agencies have no physical restrictions. Commercial modeling includes TV, print, promotions (e.g. the Budweiser girls) and more. Commercial agencies represent models of all ages, sizes and ethnic backgrounds.
Specialty agencies usually represent talent with special bodies or body parts and faces. Specialty agencies represent full figured models, pettiest, bodybuilders, athletic builds, or body part modeling
Finding an Agency
Now that you are aware of the different types of modeling, you can now figure out where you belong. To be on the safe side, call the agencies before you pay them a visit to find out whether they have open calls. If they do not, then send them a SASE with 3 of your best pictures. . Give about 4-6 weeks for a response. If an agency is interested in you, they will call you and set up an appointment. Agencies might get turned off if you hound them with phone calls or go knocking on their doors.
3. Choosing a Photographer
I do not advise anyone to spend thousands of dollars to get pictures done to get started. All you need are clear pictures of face and body. Industry standard for a photo shoot in New York City (which is usually the most expensive place to get pictures done) is $75 a roll, more if a stylist is hired to bring you clothing.
Anyone charging you more is ripping you off. Three rolls of film should be sufficient to get the pictures you need. You need about 4-5 clothing changes to show your versatility.
You should also find test photographers in your area. Test photographers who are usually building their portfolios take pictures of new models for free. In exchange, the photographer has the right to use the photo(s) in his/her portfolio or other publications.
You can get in touch with photographers through friends, parties or simply just looking in the phone book. Set up an appointment with each photographer and take a look at his/her portfolio. If you do not like their portfolio, do not work with them. You have the power. It is your money after all.
4. Creating your Portfolio
At the end of your photo shoot, you or the photographer will have to take the film to a lab to get it developed. You should get a contact sheet. A contact sheet has all the images on one roll of film on one sheet of photographic paper. You can then decide which 6-8 images to enlarge.
The modeling industry standard size for images is 9"X12". When you are happy with your enlargements, go to an art supply store and buy yourself a 9" X 12" portfolio to put your pictures in. Remember that a portfolio is a work of art in progress. It has to keep on changing in order to keep up with the changing trends in fashion and the times.