So today I have something a little different to offer you, and it's a kind of post I've been wanting to do since I first started the blog. Although I love all my blog content, at first I wanted to try and offer something a bit different or a bit of everything, such as advice, recipes, money saving tips, features on more 'serious' issues and interviews too.
Therefore I thought it would be a great idea to bag myself an interview with Mwaka Grace, a model and an old friend of mine who I've known since high school. We went on to study the same course at college and I have fond memories of the college days and all the fun we had. We still meet for lunch when we can (when she's not jetting off to luxurious locations for shoots anyway!) and I'm immensely blown away at how successful she has become, especially since we don't have many positive things to offer from our town!
Mwaka has just won the two titles of Miss Popularity Bedfordshire and First Runner up and is preparing for both the semi-final and Final night next year. I caught up with her to ask her a bit about what life is like for her being a model, and I also grilled her about her thoughts on bloggers!
1. So you've just won the title of Miss Popularity Bedfordshire and First Runner up, meaning you'll go onto the Finals - congratulations! Can you tell me about the process involved in it all - from the moment you entered to the moment you took part in the final competition?
I started by sending in some photos and filling in an application form online for the competition, and then got an email inviting me to attend an interview which was followed by a call from the organizer. The first stage was more like an audition, where as a group they explained what was required of us and what the competition involved. The second part was when we individually had photos taken. A week later I got a text telling me that I had gone through and was in the competition, then I also got an email with information of what was going to happen next.
Before the final night we had to attend boot camp training, a photo shoot with the Luton rugby club and rehearsals too.
2. What was it like the moment you were told you'd won? What was the first thing that went through your head?
The first time I heard my name and number called was for the Miss Popularity and that was great, but I must admit as soon as I got off the stage with the sash and crown I felt my disappointment as the main goal was to win the actual title. When it came to the announcements for the top three winners and my name was called as first runner up, I couldn't believe it! I froze and the girls backstage hugged me while yelling 'that's you - go! you won!' - it me a few seconds to actually get myself on stage. As the reining Miss England took off the miss popularity crown and sash to replace it with First Runner up title and sash I felt excited and very overwhelmed as this meant that I will be going to the Miss England Finals.
3. What did all your friends and family say when they found out?
My family were extremely happy for me and all felt a sense of pride. My friends were just happy for me because they knew how much this meant to me and the opportunities this could bring for my modelling career.
4. What made you want to get into modelling and how did you get involved?
I first started modelling for fashion students at college, it came natural to me and I enjoyed it. I moved into London for University and started to get more involved by building my portfolio and going to agencies and castings.
5. Do you have any advice for people who want to go into modelling?
Anytime you get invited or approached by a scout always take someone with you to meetings and make sure they are at official place at official office hours. Don't part with any money for any reason at all and never sign anything until you are absolutely sure it is right for you.
6. How proud do you feel winning and finally representing or bringing some positivity from Luton (which is known for so much negativity) having lived there?
I am very proud to represent Luton and Bedfordshire, to be able to highlight the good that comes from Luton is an honor. The aim of the competition is called 'Beauty with a Cause'. To be able to show the rest of England that Luton/Bedfordshire has a lot to offer is great.
7. Can you tell me anything about behind the scenes of the whole event - do you have any funny or embarrassing stories or tricks of the trade to reveal?
The girls can be a little bit evil, the best thing to do is try to make friends with everyone - even the girls that seem mean. You have to remember not to be intimidated by anyone. You'll find that they all have insecurities about something. Behind the scenes of the show is extremely chaotic, you have very little time to to change into the next outfit. There were a couple of breakdowns that I saw where these girls just could not take the pressure and stress, they were in tears but sadly you can't stop to help you have to get ready and get out there.
8. What are your thoughts on the size of ladies who appeared in the competition - were there any larger ladies involved? What do you think about the use of photoshopping in glossy magazines and the use of always thin models on the catwalk - are these issues similar in the beauty pageants you take part in or do you find they're more laid back and anyone is welcome no matter what size.
To be completely honest size is a massive issue. In beauty pageants like Miss Bedfordshire the winners will go on to compete for the Miss England Title, which will Lead to Miss World. To compete at that level with Girls from all over the world you have to be in top shape physically your body, your skin, hair, nails and everything.
Being a pageant model and being a high fashion model are very different. As a first time pageant model I found it easier as they are more lenient when it comes to weight as long you are lean/fit and healthy that’s okay.
In high fashion you cannot be bigger than size six, designers make the clothes you will model and you have alter your body to fit the clothes, they are not fitted to whatever your body type is. That is why there is a lot of dieting involved, which even I have had to do but you have to be careful not to take it to extremes.
In the modelling industry that is how the fashion world works you have to be thin it is an unspoken/unwritten rule. You don’t fit the clothes, you don’t book the job, simple.
9. Lets talk about bloggers! Do you follow any fashion blogs? What do you think about bloggers becoming more prominent in the fashion industry - do you think it's a good thing that designers are choosing to branch out and expand with the upcoming rise of bloggers or do you think it should be left to the professionals?
I do not religiously follow one blogger in particular but I do look through blogs for fashion inspiration and how to put together the newest trends. I believe its an amazing thing how designers are choosing bloggers as a way to showcase their work. It adds a more personal and achievable quality to fashion which I think makes people more interested in it. I am all for bloggers displaying fashion although on the downside it sometimes becomes more about the blogger than the fashion and can be bias.
12. As a model yourself have you - or would you ever - work with a blogger?
As a model I would definitely work with a blogger from the most outrageous to the more conservative because I'm open minded and I think fashion is not something that should be confined into one specific thing, it should be free and expressive.
13. A lot of bloggers take a very amateur approach to modeling clothes - often we just take photos of ourselves in our rooms against a plain wall and using a timed camera. Do you think this works just as well as the real thing? Do you have any tips on doing it yourself?
I think that the amateur approach is fine but to take it to another level, these bloggers can use a friend to take the photos for them this way they have a clear image/details or ask a friend to model for them this way they can be more creative with where photos are taken, angle and what's in the pic.
14. What's next for you then?
The next step is to prepare for the semi-final this year as well as the Final night which will be held next year. I will keep modelling, going for castings and building my portfolio.
15. Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add?
Just that I thank God for my family and friends for all their support!
I'd like to give a huge thanks to Mwaka for chatting with me! It was definitely a lot of fun trying to get into her head and hear her thoughts on bloggers - we don't often hear what models think of bloggers, so I found this interesting! Did you enjoy the interview? Would you like to see a similar feature blogged about again in future? Let me know!
*All images are taken from Mwaka's social networking pages and still have their source details printed on the photos.
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