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Jo Kisila: Kenya's next top model

Sunday January 20 2013



BUZZ: Have you always wanted to be a model?

The thought of me ever modelling or even being in the fashion industry in any way was something that never occurred to me.

I’m very athletic and played for Strathmore Leos RFC (personally the best team in Kenya club rugby) and the Kenya U/19 Rugby team, and tried to juggle rugby and modelling, but when the latter started demanding more of me, I started going easy on the rugby so as not to compromise my studies.

I was in denial about letting go of the rugby for quite some time, and it was pretty hard accepting when I finally did. A decision I however don’t regret today!

Were your parents supportive?

They were very supportive when I started out, on condition that I didn’t slack off in my studies.


How did you get into it?

I was in the school cafeteria having lunch with some friends and as we were heading out for our next classes we noticed some commotion upstairs. When we went upstairs we realised it was actually Strut It Afrika (then known as Strut It) auditions.

I suggested we try out for fun but they brushed aside the idea, so I cheekily waited for them to head to class and auditioned. I made it to the next round of the auditions that took place that weekend and the turnout was huge! I remember my audition number was 212, out of 800+ people. The rest is as they say, history.

What drives you?

The mentorship I get, together with the desire to be the best at what I do on an international level. I interact with lots of professionals in the Kenyan fashion industry as well as from all over the world; from agents to renowned photographers to other professional models, and the belief they have in me is unbelievable. It keeps me going.

You’re in pretty good shape. How often do you work out?

Thank you. My sporty background makes keeping in shape much easier. I have my daily one hour jog and hit the gym four to five times a week. Ample rest is also crucial. I also play soccer on Sunday afternoons.

Do you enjoy working out or do you do it strictly as part of the job?

Yes and Yes. It’s an amazing feeling after a hard workout session, but there are days when hitting the gym seems like an impossible task but my body is my work, so it’s got to be done.

Are you a full time model?

No, I’m also a student. I’m pursuing my International Business Administration (IBA) degree at USIU.

You belong to Strut It Afrika model agency, how has that helped your career?

Wow, it’s helped my career tremendously and they’ve invested quite a lot in me! They literally scouted, trained and moulded me into the model that I am today. They’re undoubtedly the best at what they do in East and Central Africa. Look out for them this year by the way. You won’t be disappointed.

What do you enjoy more, runway or print?

Well I’ve done a few magazine covers and spreads, billboards and the likes, but I must admit, the whole runway experience for me is quite exciting. The adrenaline rush, flashing camera lights, ladies screaming, beautiful clothes, it’s amazing. I like being in the spotlight.

You have a great sense of style, are you a complete fashion lover?

The love I had for fashion the day I began modelling and my love for fashion now are two very different things. Now I’m more keen on fashion trends.

Your style is?

Urbane. Yes, not urban.

Five things we should know about you?

I have a twin brother who I love to death. I’m a really good swimmer. I’m very ambitious. I love my food. I hate pretenders.

What’s your biggest career moment?

Definitely winning the Best East African Model award at the Swahili Fashion Week in Tanzania a few weeks ago. God’s been amazing to me seeing as I began modelling about only a year and a few months ago. I’m glad my hard work is paying off.

The fashion in Nairobi is…?

Trendy. People here pick up trends quite fast!

Who are your favourite local fashion designers and why?

Definitely John Kaveke. His work speaks for itself and the invites he gets to showcase at big international fashion weeks says a lot.

Blackbird Jeans also always never disappoint. Their collections are bold, daring, unique and ideal for the urban man. I also love Ankara Vintage by Nick Ondu. He never goes wrong with his classy print designs.

This list would be incomplete without mentioning Patricia Mbela and Anna Adero. I’m also waiting anxiously for Angelsmile’s first men’s collection this year; should be amazing. I love House of Dishol’s style as well, they’re definitely going places.

Jo Kisila is…..?


So far what has been your favourite work travel destination?

Without a doubt Addis Ababa, where I was modelling at the Hub of Africa Fashion Week. It has very rich beauty and culture. This year I plan on doing a lot more travelling.

What do you have planned for 2013?

I’m working tirelessly to make sure 2013 is the year I land international representation by a top international modelling agency. I’m either going to make it or make it!

Of course all the ladies would like to know, are you single?

(Laughs) Lets keep them guessing...