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You’ve definitely seen him grace catwalks of multiple major fashion brands, such as House of Ole, David Tlale, and Ephymol featured in magazines such as GQ magazine, Style Joburg, and Voila and has posed for glossy editorial campaigns such as Truworths, Spree, and H&M.
Meet David J Kabamba, a male model based in Johannesburg. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, David was scouted while he was waiting for a bus at Gandhi Square at the age of 16 years old. Today, he’s one of the hottest models in the industry and a big-time social star.
Istyleblaq talks to David about his journey.
Muzi: Take us back to the beginning…How did you become a model and what was your big break?
David: I was discovered by the founder of Curious Model Management at the time, Kgomotso Sibeko and his business partner, Paledi Sekgabo, who was showcasing at the very next SA Fashion Week 2012 (spring and summer) and he gave me the chance to walk there and collaboration between the two then started and having been offered a chance to walk was really how it all began for me.
My big break was the following year around May or June I shot for a well-known retail brand here and this was just a small one-page advert on the other side of a weekly magazine…but a very popular weekly magazine. I felt like after that ad the ball started to roll.
Muzi: You have worked with some of the most influential photographers and brands, what do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
David: It would have to be shooting Sprite Africa 2018, both professionally and personally too because, as a child, I was fascinated by the Sprite ad where guys are on the court playing basketball and they would run into one another and turn into Sprite, you know…like a splash. I was fascinated by the mechanics of how they got to do that- production-wise. I was intrigued by the guys on the court themselves and I was like ah, I’d like to be one of those guys at the same time. So, to be able to do this was like a double-portion blessing, so to say. So, yes, Sprite Africa 2018.
Muzi: As an established fashion model, what do you think makes a great model, and what is the secret to longevity in the industry?
David: Greatness. I will be very honest, these are things, especially the greatness part, something that I’m still figuring out myself. I wouldn’t want what I am saying to be taken as holy, in a sense, but I think you can understand what I mean. So, I think that greatness is a combination of habits performed or lived over a long period of time. Consistency makes for greatness, consistency in everything you do… it is in professionalism, your ethics, and your craft. Consistency would have to be key as well as a secret to longevity, probably the most important one because then the rest are just ripple effects of that. Or, essentially, you would want to be persistent in the various things that you do in the various ways that you work and how you work. So, consistency is what makes greatness and it’s also what the secret is.
Muzi: Sometimes the modeling industry gets a bad reputation with the jealousy and egos encountered between other models and Agencies. Was this true for you? Have you managed to tough it out and make good friends?
David: Absolutely. Was it tough? Yes, it was and is tough but I strongly believe that one should never slander and would impress upon anyone reading this not to do so either. Even if you had a bad break up or any sort of conflict with a workplace colleague, you should resolve and keep the matter between the parties concerned, you know? So, if anything has gone down with me, I’ve kept it to myself.
Have I made good friends? Well, yeah. So basically, don’t speak ill of former workmates because making enemies is not necessary. There’s nothing wrong and in fact, it’s probably in your best interest to walk away during disagreements. If you put it out there, you basically show your own weaknesses and that you cannot be trusted but keeping it between the concerned parties shows maturity instead of a whining baby, you know? You can’t build trust amongst people. It’s okay for people to assume that you would do the same with them based on how you handle situations if you walk away. So yes, don’t badmouth. It makes it easier to build and maintain professional relationships.
Muzi: Is there anything you would like to change about the modeling industry?
David: Yes, I think I would like to change the stereotypes that exist around modeling and also bring about a new image of what the profession or craft means and can or should represent in comparison to the many other things that it does not represent. I think that it should represent the thoughts, ideas, ways of being, and lifestyle of the people who inhabit the space that whatever product is being sold to.
Modeling can help bring about the true reflection of the time we should exist in and that the models that are modeling should themselves be more cautious of the role that they can play in society, art and in the purpose of art- which is to bring about new ideas, new change, new perspectives, to make us ask questions. That would also be a part of this new image or new meaning of the profession itself for us as an African people.
Muzi: What’s next for you?
David: My thoughts and my words. That is what is next and that is what is future my plans.
Images supplied by David J Kabamba.