One-on-one with supermodel Deliah Ipupa
Deliah Ipupa is a renowned Kenyan supermodel, actress and former flight attendant who has graced many billboards, TV screens and catwalks around the world. She chats with Mwangi Alberto about her experiences and aspirations
How did you find a footing in modelling?
I had taken my friend for casting at Nairobi’s Serena Hotel in 2008. As I was just seated there, a lady known as Lyndsey of Surazuri came up to me and asked if I had auditioned and I said no.
She asked why I didn’t want to audition and in reply I said I didn’t know. The rest is history.
And did your family support the career path you took?
Not at all, but I wish they did. However, I went professional as soon as I started modelling with Surazuri that very year. So, it’s been 13 years of awesome experiences.
How easy or challenging was it to commercialise your craft?
It wasn’t that easy, because here in Kenya, we have industry structures that are not followed.
For instance, a model is required to be registered with an agency, as the client should go through the agency to get models.
But here, it’s a freestyle kind of business, where some clients even contact the models directly.
Along the way, what major challenges have you encountered and how did you overcome them?
Unfortunately, alot of people here in Kenya don’t take modelling seriously. The best way I have had to handle this is to uphold a lot of respect for myself and what I do.
It’s very easy for people to be derailed, especially with the small offers of trips, holidays and other goodies.
But honestly I love every bit of it, as I’ve managed to work and interact with different nationalities and cultures, and learnt a lot of news things too.
Do you have any runway shows or TV commercials that are still etched in your mind?
Yes, I do. They include the Kenya Fashion Weeks, Festival for Fashion and Arts (Fafa), Bujumbura Fashion Week, Africa Fashion Week (Amsterdam and London) and the runway show when Calvin Klein was opening shops in Dubai.
I’ve also done many commercials among them Coca-Cola’s One billion reasons to believe in Africa, Guinness’ Making of a name, Kenya Airways, and my latest Absa Bank premier league TV ad and billboard with Mochez Models.
Is the modelling industry in Kenya cutthroat or it’s all smooth sailing?
It is cutthroat, not smooth sailing. There are loads and loads of cartels, and exploitation is rife in a major way.
Is it a rigorous task being a TV commercial model?
I find it easy; as it is something I really enjoy doing. Basically, I know the rules; what to do before going for a commercial shoot, what to carry, and how to behave among other aspects.
What other interests do you pursue away from modelling?
I’m a professional flight attendant, formerly with Emirates airline. I’ve been a radio host too. I also love fitness and cooking.
How has it been during the Covid-19 pandemic, and what are your post-pandemic plans?
It’s been tough as it has been the case for everyone around the world. I’m not even thinking after pandemic, as I don’t know how long it’s going to be around.
I’m just learning new ways of working around it and at the same time adhering to the Health ministry rules.
I’m working on setting up a business, but I can’t say which one at the moment.
If you were not a model, what other career would you be pursuing?
I’d definitely be in entertainment; I’d be dancing, on your TV screens, and I’d be a fitness instructor.
Who do you idolise and why?
My mother. She is one strong woman that has taught me values and respect. I’ve seen how hard she works.
And as they say behind every successful man there is a woman, my mum has been that woman to my dad.
I also Love Victoria Beckham; I just love her growth and how she balances running her family and business all at the same time.
What’s your secret in staying ever young and beautiful?
Nothing major. I have my balanced diet, drink enough water, and eat my veggies. I work out when I have the chance and I thank God for the good genes.
Your advice for any young girl aspiring to be a model...
I’d say respect is paramount. They need to respect themselves and others, take care of their body skin, eat right, be active and exercise by swimming or biking.
Make sure books come first, and most importantly, do your research about the modelling agency you’d want to join; get to know what type of modelling they want to do.