Face Of Africa Interview: Kate Menson
kate_menson_2_largeTwo weekends ago (on Saturday, 29 November) 23-year old Ghanaian model Kate Menson won the 2008 Face of Africa competition in Sun City.

It was her second time of entering the show - she entered in 2006 and didn't make it because she didn't have the right measurements for the competition.

After it all went down I had a crisis because of the weight thing - specifically wondering about what Kate did in the two years to make the measurements and also at how seriously thin all of the 10 finalists were.

There was something about it that made me uncomfortable, like by being interested in the competition I was supporting the idea of zero-weight chicks. To cut a long story short - I argued backwards and forwards with myself for ages - and decided the setup's no different to a sportsperson who needs a particular physique to ace their sport. (Of course the debate about the influence of the media and the impact modelling images have is a whole story for another day.)

With the competition over I caught up with Kate for us to find out more about her and to get her take on things too:

Tashi: Having entered the show twice - what is it about the competition that appealed to you?
Kate: Knowing that the competition's a great one, that it'll give you exposure. In my country modelling's not that encouraged or active - as a model, I just thought "I can't just stay in my country if I really want to model," and Face Of Africa's a fabulous channel to do that.

Tashi: How far did you get the first time?
Kate: I didn't even make it to the second round where you wear a bikini.

Tashi: What did you do the second time round?
Kate: I exercised a lot and worked on my self-confidence - those were the two things that worked for me.

Tashi: What was your mindset during the competition?
Kate: I was aiming at winning - there were other girls who I thought could win so I just tried to do my best and gave out all I could.

Tashi: Yes I saw someone reading a book "Be Positive Towards Yourself." Is that what you have to think all the time? Do you think: "I am the best"? What dialogue do you have with yourself in such a competition?
Kate: I think I just thought "Be positive within yourself." If you believe you can do something, if your mind's tuned towards it, you go towards it automatically. Even if you don't get there, you know you're doing your best.

Tashi: What was the most difficult part of the competition?
Kate: When we had to shoot the music video for Eric, the Idols West Africa winner. It was hectic - two days continuous shooting wasn't easy, no sleep - I was tired and couldn't show it. We just had to push on and get it done - and that was the beginning of the competition, I'd never done anything like that before.

Tashi: What role do you play in the video?
Kate: I was one of the pool girls and the journalist.

Tashi: What was your best moment?
Kate: The time I spent with the other girls. We had fun, we were all like sisters, we joked, we played, I had fun.

Tashi: I heard there was someone who went Bad - who started going weird and stealing people's things etc. (How this! I heard from my journo friend Thinus Ferreira that one of the schmodels went beserk in the build-up before the Finale - she started taking other contestants things, as well stuff from the place they were all staying at. He wrote about it for Die Burger.)
Kate: You heard that?

Tashi: Yes.
Kate: Anyway she was evicted, so *laughs*.

Tashi: How did it come to light? How did you find out about it?
Kate: I wasn't really aware of it, it was a surprise, we just heard that somebody had done something very unusual.

Tashi: Yes, very unsual.
Kate: It was after she was evicted that she did that so she left soon after and we didn't see her.

Tashi: If you were a judge, who would you have chosen as the winner?
Kate: Ally - who came second. (the only finalist I missed taking a pic of!) When I entered the competition I thought "This is the person I'm competing with." Among all the girls she really stands out - she has a great body and nice face. She was my room-mate and we used to talk about it, she'd say "I'm winning," and I'd say "I'm winning."

Tashi: Where did you stay?
Kate: In South Africa we logded at Olive Tree (a guest house near the M-Net studios)

Tashi: Where there moments of America's Next Top Model, like "rrrrhaorrrr", catfights?
Kate: Oh no, yeah-yeah - what?

Tashi: Yes?
Kate: We had moments of little misunderstandings.

Tashi: "Misunderstandings"?
Kate: We solved them all out - someone would do something we didn't like and we'd say "Could you please not do that?" and then we'd be fine and hug each other.

Tashi: Okay, we'll "believe" you. Who's your fave model in the world?
Kate: Someone I know, Oluchi (the first winner of FOA and owner of O Model Africa who give the FOA agency prize) - I know where she comes from and I know how determined she was to get where she is. I completely admire and look up to her.

Tashi: What are your tips for staying in shape and looking fab?
Kate: Working out - there are so many exercises you can do for things that worry you. I do situps, I run, I jog.

Tashi: How much do you exercise a day?
Kate: An hour-and-a-half or two and then I walk short distances - instead of taking a car or something I walk.

Tashi: What's your take on the modelling world and the impact it is has on body image in relation to young girls specifically. There was just recently the debate in the UK and Italy where they said models have to be over a certain weight at fashion shows because they were too thin. Don't you think modelling puts lots of pressure on both the youth and women?
Kate: I think the youth puts the pressure on themselves - nobody's asking them to starve themselves, take food supplements and so on - there are other ways to do it. I know some people really want it that badly but modelling isn't the only thing to do, it's not the end of the world if you can't be one - you have to enjoy doing it and you can't if you feel sick and you're dying.

Tashi: Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Kate: I see myself achieving if not all, most of my dreams. I want to be a supermodel in the next five years. Even if I don't get there, I want to be in the running.

Tashi: What will you do with the prize cash?
Kate: I'm going to lock it up in the bank and get a flat in South Africa when the time is right.

Tashi: Where's the first place we'll see you next? On the cover of a mag?
Kate: Elle magazine's going to be my first one. I don't know if I'll be on the cover but I've been booked for a fashion editorial.


Related links:

Behind-The-Scenes on FAO!

PS: At the press conference aftre the show I asked about the weight thing and heard that there's going to be a new modelling competition next year for fuller figures. No news yet on what it's called but it's by the production team of Face Of Africa.

Replies: 6
You must be a TVSA member to post a reply
Reply from: Strolicious Thursday, December 11, 2008 09:56 AM
all da best sistas.......
Reply from: Fluffy Head Thursday, December 11, 2008 10:03 AM
Working out for 2 hours a day???? Dang girl - you got staminna...Good on you though cause it worked
Reply from: myname Thursday, December 11, 2008 10:06 AM
Ja Stro....Im happy 4 u girl & take care!
Reply from: Dimago Friday, December 12, 2008 11:20 AM
She's the example that failure is not final. Well done sisi...
Reply from: Segololo Wednesday, December 17, 2008 13:14 PM
hahaha! i miss da deeeva!
Reply from: Segololo Wednesday, December 17, 2008 13:20 PM
<<Kate: I think the youth puts the pressure on themselves - nobody's asking them to starve themselves, take food supplements and so on - there are other ways to do it. I know some people really want it that badly but modelling isn't the only thing to do, it's not the end of the world if you cn't be one - you have to enjoy doing it and you can't if you feel sick and you're dying. >> heeh! no that SHE has won... mmmhhhhh!

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