3 International SA models spill the tea on everything you need to know to become a model

They’re KILLING it.

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ICYMI, COSMO’s May ‘Made in Africa’ issue just dropped (digitally) and it features a whole lotta’ lekker local content. In our main fashion and beauty story we feature the three young South African models who are making serious waves on international runways. Introducing: Chané Hüsselmann, Annah Seroalo and Xai Narain dressed in exclusive, South African designs.

With hailed fashion houses like Dior, Balmain, Moschino and Burberry on their CVs, they’re taking the global fashion world by storm. Chané, Annah and Xia flaunt the coolest design talent our continent has to offer.

Scroll down to get some more insight into their stories, how they see the fashion industry in the future and expert tips on how to become a model in this day and age.

SA models
COSMOPOLITAN/KATINKA BESTER

Meet the SA models who are making waves on international runways

Chané Hüsselmann

IG: @chane_husselmann

Represented by FANJAM

Hometown: Bloemfontein, South Africa

SA models
COSMOPOLITAN/KATINKA BESTER

What is your backstory? Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Bloemfontein and graduated at Oranje Meisieskool in 2018.

How were you discovered?

Fanie Nel scouted me through social media – he contacted me through Facebook messenger. It’s funny because I didn’t have Facebook downloaded at the time, so I never received his message. Four months after he messaged me, I downloaded it ‘just because’ and when I saw his message I freaked out and thought I was too late – luckily I wasn’t!

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you became a model?

This has to be an encounter with Rihanna. I was doing a modeling job for FentyxPuma and the makeup artist was doing her thing. The next minute, Rihanna walks through the door, greets everyone, walks up to me and literally starts doing my makeup because ‘she had something else in mind’. I’m not that big on celebrities because they are all human but Rihanna is one of my favourite artists, so I totally freaked out. I had to tell myself the whole time ‘don’t smile, don’t smile’ while she was doing my makeup. This is a moment I will never forget.

What do you think makes your stand out? Can you share a story?

Uhm, on the outside it will be my blue eyes. Overall, the first day I started out in the industry I decided I wouldn’t allow fame to get to me and that I would never change as a person. You always have to stay true to yourself and never think you’re better than anyone else.

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One of my firsts 🖤 @fanie_nel_fanjam

A post shared by Chané Hüsselmann (@chane_husselmann) on

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

There are a few people in my life that I am extremely grateful for and without them I would definitely not be where I am today. My agents, James and Fanie, and my mom, for their 24/7 support.

Do you have any experience with criticism? How do you handle it?

Yes, I’ve had criticism in the past, but you learn to grow a thick skin and you have to remember that it’s never personal. You have to remind yourself that the designer or casting director has a specific look in mind and if they want a girl with brown hair and green eyes and you have blonde hair like me, you won’t work for that specific brief.

What do you think it takes to become a model?

You have to know who you are and be true to yourself. Everyone is beautiful in their own way! A hard work ethic and dedication are a must for models.

What was your favourite modeling job and why?

There are so many but one that stood out for me was shooting for Vogue Japan. It was one of my first shoots ever and I was still not used to it all. I worked with some of the greatest photographers and artists out there and I still remember feeling like a princess that day, only with bleached eyebrows, haha.

Another highlight has to be the Givenchy beauty campaign I did a couple of years ago. That was definitely a career highlight and I got to work with the best people in the business and with a brand that I absolutely love and adore.

What are some changes you would like to see in the modeling industry?

The industry should be driven by talented individuals, rather than individuals with only a large following.

What advice would you give to aspiring young models?

The best advice I’ve ever received and that I will give to young aspiring models is that you ALWAYS have to be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else, never let fame get to you and remember that you are perfect the way you are. Believe in your dreams and work towards them everyday.

Kgatlhiso Annah Seroalo

IG: @thereal.annah

Represented by FANJAM

Hometown: Rustenburg, South Africa

COSMOPOLITAN/KATINKA BESTER

What is your backstory? How were you discovered?

A couple of years ago I walking home from Spar with my friend when a white middle aged handsome flamboyant man with silver hair stopped his car in the middle of the street, ran towards me and said ‘oh my gosh you are so beautiful! I wanna sign you, I wanna sign you!’. As a girl who has watched programs like  America’s Next Top Model all her life, I knew exactly what this meant.

The man asked to take polaroids of me on the spot. He wrote down his details and ‘FANJAM’ on an old slip from Spar and asked me to get in touch. That man was Fanie Nel, a photographer and the co-founder of FANJAM model agency. And from that point, my modeling career began!

What is one thing you wish someone told you before you became a model and why?

Firstly, I wish someone would have told me and reinforced how essential it is to be yourself, to stay true to yourself and to be honest about what you stand for. To embrace yourself and where you come from, no matter how much you feel like an imposter. I’m studying science and I’m not from a big city, so sometimes I felt like I didn’t belong, or in order to belong I needed to look a certain way and act a certain way. This was very wrong and misleading. If I knew then what I know now, I would tell myself, ‘you’re enough’ and ‘you’re here because you’re different’. Oh, I also wish someone told me how much work it really is!!!

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

There are a lot of people I’m grateful for, in this journey. But first and foremost, I’d like to thank my guardian angels, James Emanuel (Popa J) and Fanie Nel, the founders of FANJAM, together with the team (Charna, Andrew, Negiva, Blessing, etc) who have made all this possible. Their team are beyond understanding, they really fight to embrace you to your fullest potential and don’t compromise your brand and wellbeing. Honestly, if it wasn’t for them, I would have long left modeling. It’s so important to have good agents! And I couldn’t ever thank my family enough, they are everything to me.

What is something that surprised you about the modeling industry?

The surprising thing about modelling is the way people are so easygoing and genuinely kind on set. I thought that the industry would have such a stagnant egotistic atmosphere and in my experience, it’s been nothing like that so far.

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‘IPOPENG EXT’ An Exhibition of the amazing @thebemagugu A/W 20 collection ‘Anthro 1’ shown in Paris at the @palaisdetokyo during @parisfashionweek • • @thebemagugu Titles this shot as ‘Domestic Venues’ this shot is taken in Thebe’ family home, Thebe explains that the dining room is transformed into a stage for poetic glamour and high drama. • • Here I am styled by the iconic @ibkamara in the AW/20 Fluted Green and White Knitted wool dress with the Sisterhood Scarf. • • This is shot by the creative master mind @kristinleemoolman Production: @lampost.production @lampostsa Executive producer: @jodie_ennik Producer: @carliendekock Hair and makeup: @orlioh Jewelry: @githancoopoo Digital assistant: @tatendachidora Words by: Dr Erica De Greef Talent: @thereal.annah by @fanjam_model_management

A post shared by Kgatlhiso Annah Seroalo (@thereal.annah) on

What do you think it takes to become a model?

It takes hard work, dedication and drive. Good features are a good compliment for those traits and qualities. But overall, just respecting that it’s a professional space and being competent is necessary.

What was your best shoot and why?

My best shoot was with Dior in 2019 for the ‘Feminine Plural’ series, shot in South Africa. It was shot by various African women and my favourite frame of me was by Sarah Waiswa, an amazing photographer. I am so humbled to have been a part of such a big shoot and production.

What are some changes you would like to see in the modeling industry?

I would like to see an institution put in place to support developing artists and help grow existing artists. For this to happen, there needs to be policies and laws that protect artists. There is too much ambiguity when it comes to legislations for artist and it leaves the very vulnerable unable to practice because there are no funds allocated by the government for freelancers.

What advice would you give to aspiring young models?

The advice I would give to aspiring models is to do your research and look for agencies that would best suit your look and brand. Send polaroids, don’t wait to be scouted, take initiative and be bold! Approach agencies because you have absolutely nothing to lose.

Xia Narain

IG: @xia_narain

Represented by TOPCO

Hometown: Durban, South Africa

COSMOPOLITAN/KATINKA BESTER

What is your backstory? Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Durban South Africa. I was always very close to my family and friends, so I’d often move around and stay with either grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles.

Did you always want to be a model?

No, I was kind of awkward because I was always the tallest girl in the crowd. I didn’t even think I was interesting or even interesting-looking, so it never crossed my mind until I actually got discovered.

How were you discovered?

I was 15-years-old with braces and had a very awkward look (the awkward teen phase). I was at Gateway Mall in Durban and on the way to the bathroom when a French photographer followed me and tapped me on the shoulder. He begged me to enter the Salt Water Girl model competition (Salt Water Girl was a magazine at the time). He encouraged me to join an agency.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you became a model?

I was in London and the Editor of Vogue wanted to interview me for the magazine. I remember walking into the Vogue London offices and being completely in awe.

The funniest story was when I was modelling at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Johannesburg a few years ago and it was my turn to walk the ramp. I was wearing a halter-neck top and because of all the rush backstage, the top was not buttoned up properly.

As I walked down the ramp, the top opened up and before I was exposed, I grabbed it and held it to my chest. I gave a slight smile and carried on walking as if nothing had happened. The crowd went crazy! I remember people giggling but also standing up and clapping for me which made things a lot easier.

What do you think makes you stand out? 

I am a super-tall South African Indian girl with strange features. Clients can place me into a variety of different ethnicities so I can fit into a wide range of categories. I am also not just an editorial girl, I can also switch it up and be commercial.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you get to where you are?

My parents! Coming from an Indian background, you’d assume that they would be super strict about this career path, but they have always been supportive. My dad would always watch Fashion TV with me and my mom would always be the first one to cheer me on and be my number one fan.

What is one thing you wish someone told you before you became a model and why?

That this is a cut-throat industry and in order to make it, you have to be strong.

What was your favourite modeling job and why?

There are way too many but my favourite so far is closing the Burberry London fashion show at London Fashion Week and getting to walk next to models Kendal Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid and Irina Sheik.

What do you think it takes to become a model?

You need to have a thick skin and to be hardworking. Clients do not want to work with a snobby models – they want to work with those who have a good energy and who are calm and lighthearted. Basically someone who will make their job easier.

What are some changes you would like to see in the modeling industry?

Recently, there have been many models who get into the industry because of how many followers they have or who their parents are. I’d like to take it back to when you actually had to have talent and passion in order to be a model.

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@burberrybeauty 👸🏻

A post shared by X I A (@xia_narain) on

What advice would you give to aspiring young models?

Only get into this industry if you’re ready to work hard and make sacrifices. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. It’s long hours and sometimes, sleepless nights. However, the rewards are endless and the more you push yourself and stay true to yourself, the more rewards you’ll reap.

Watch our BTS video here:

Thank you to the crew:

Fashion: Cleo Marcopoulos and Clare Robertson

Beauty: Zipho Ntloko

Video: Elijah Ndoumbé

Video direction & editing: Lufuno Ramadwa 

Models: Chané Hüsselmann and Kgatlhiso Annah Seroalo at FANJAM, Xia Narain at TOPCO

Production Assistant: Maria Small-Smith

Hair: Yonela Makoba

Makeup: Renee De Wit at Gloss Artist Management

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