Debbie Reepanye chases Botswana’s top female model crown
She is smart, beautiful, and different. At the moment, only a few rival her on the ramp locally. She is on the verge of clinching Botswana’s top female model status. That is despite Debbie Reepanye having a short time in the industry. Her trick is simple – she knows what she wants and does not waste time in going for it. While most models easily accept jobs, Debbie is choosy – she cannot pose in a bikini or lingerie because of her faith. Yet, this has not stopped her from soaring up high. “I make sure that the casting team or the designers do not have any other option but to take me even though I won’t be able to wear certain things, so they will be forced to have me and have that one person who can wear that one thing that is too revealing,” she says. With that she is inspiring many young people to understand that they can still achieve their dreams and be whatever they want without having to compromise what they are and what they believe in.
She has always opted to being different. At the university, she made heads turn with her dress sense in the way she made simple clothes look exceptional. “In the beginning it was just about me dressing up differently, I wasn’t thinking of doing anything about it but that is when I decided to charge a fee for it,” she says. She studied Accounting at the University of Botswana and towards the end of the fourth year she met one of the notable local photographers Fifty Loewe who wanted people to see her graduation package and as such wanted people that she can use. What was supposed to be a fun shoot turned up to be a life changing moment for her? She looked at the pictures from the shoot and realised she had what it takes. Loewe then made a portfolio for her to present to fashion houses. She landed her first job on her first audition and has never looked back. She is currently studying to be a Chartered Accountant at BICA. People are constantly wondering why she is still pursuing accounting when she can clearly do modelling so well even outside Botswana. “I don’t think I have to choose one. I know I am smart; I love accounting and modelling has proven to be one of my talents. I don’t want people to think that modelling is done by people when they do not have any other options in life or because they do not have a job, but it should be about passion that someone has,” she says.
In balancing the demands on her from work (at Botswana Accountancy College), school and modelling, she sometimes sacrifices other shoots due to her tight schedule. She tries to balance both of them because she wants to do both and understands very well that she has to sacrifice. She says her educational background helps her to stay atop because she knows that she has to be business minded in order to achieve what she wants. She is very much aware that the local industry is not paying that much at the moment, but wants to make sure that she invests in her craft, her interpersonal skills and personality. She says it is important to work in all the areas that make someone a great model to make sure that she convinces the judges to cast her. She knew about the perceptions of models as sexually objectified individuals and hence she always puts forward her interests at castings. She says misunderstandings only come because of the lack of initial conversation of what someone can or will do. “Quite interestingly, this seems to be helping a lot of people, because they see me doing it and they are motivated, “she says.
Many models; few jobs
To her the reason why models are sometimes abused is because they want it so bad that they get in it blindly. “People who want to model are many, but the jobs are few so that is why they end up doing anything to get there,” she says. With school still hindering her from taking any modelling opportunity, when she is done she aims to take as many of what comes her way. At the moment she cannot do shoots in the rest of Africa but only in Southern Africa because of work and school commitments. She encouraged young people to know who they are before they go into the industry and research before they get in it. They should insist on written contract, she says. She urges parents to instil confidence in their children and allow them to pursue their talents. To keep fit she watches what she eats, jogs, does mountain hiking, and Pilates in order to have that nice abs and to have strong calves that can carry her on high heels for longer hours.