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Young, black and gifted

By | May 19th 2010

Gift Opar, 17, is the latest Ford Model winner. She is 5’11, weighs 58kgs and has the enviable bust, waist, and hip measurements of 30-23-35. But she is more than just a pretty face, Gift is an A student (classmates have nicknamed her the Mathematician) and current head-girl at Kenya High School, Nairobi. She talks to Crystal Okusa about winning the title, travelling to Brazil and balancing her schoolwork with all the attention that comes with modelling.

Gift Opar

You recently came back from Brazil after competing in the Ford Model’s international Competition, how was it?

Brazil is really cool and it has a lot of energy and life. I would definitely love to go back and continue my modelling career there.

The Brazilian people and the other girls from the other countries were very friendly though I have a strong feeling that being black had something to do with why I was not among the top. I was the only African contestant; South Africa and Nigeria did not make it due to visa problems.

Are you suggesting that there was discrimination and the competition was unfair?

Not that there was discrimination, but how can you explain the make-up artists not having the right make-up for my skin colour? The only available colours were for light skin. The hairstylists didn’t even know how to style my hair!

How did you get wind of the Ford Model competition?

I had never done any runway modelling before, though I had signed up with some agencies. A friend of mine called Linda, a student at Kenyatta University, knew about the auditions and encouraged me to attend.

How was the preliminary competition?

There were many girls who looked so perfect and the competition was stiff but when I got picked among the top 15, I knew I was destined for the top.

What did you do with the Sh50, 000 you won at the Ford Kenya supermodels search?

Gift struts the catwalk in Brazil. Photos: Courtesy

I spent a percentage of it on shopping in Brazil and the rest is in my account. When I make more money then I will give back to the community in a different way.

When you are not modelling, where are you and what do you do?

I am a Form Four student and head girl at Kenya High School.

How did winning affect your life at school?

Being the head girl has always made me different from other students; I tried to fit in but could not. When I won, there was a lot of attention from other students but that has cooled down now.

How do you switch from being an elegant model on the catwalk to being a strict head girl?

I can be strict and authoritative when required. In school I am the queen of mathematics and I wear a badge for it, so I command easily.

Mathematics and modelling is a very interesting combination, what is your career choice?

I love maths, my friends even call me the mathematician but I also love modelling. My dream is to study Actuarial Science, at Stanford University in the US. I will also research on modelling agencies once I am done with school, it might take a while but I know everything will work out eventually.

How did your teachers react to your win?

They are more concerned about the attention blurring my career vision and they keep encouraging me to put my studies first. I don’t see a need for worry, I know where my priorities lie, I cannot lose my focus on getting more A’s.

Gift attends the Brazil casting call.

Tell us about your upbringing?

My mom died of pneumonia when I was five and my dad of a heart attack when I was eight, so I was brought up by my step mom. She’s been more than a mom to me. I really don’t know what it’s like not to have parents because I have always had one.



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