As a child, she did not dream about the glitzy runways in Paris or New York; she wanted to be a nurse.
Her mother was a nurse, and she wanted to follow in her footsteps.
However, life had other plans for her, and she found a passion in modeling.
Today, Laetitia Uwera, known to many as Sissi Ngamije, has featured in many fashion magazines and shows on local and international level.
She describes herself as a passionate and professional model who will do whatever it takes to get to where she wants to be.
“Being a tomboy and very focused with my studies, I didn’t know much about fashion. When I was in high school, I started my modeling journey when a friend asked me to join her for a fashion show casting. I didn’t even know what that was but when celebrated designer Daddy De Maximo saw me, he exclaimed ‘wow I can’t wait to see you cat walking.’
From that moment, I knew modeling was my thing,” she says.
She describes her first time on the runway in high heels as the best feeling she has ever had.
“I felt the connection with what I was doing on stage; I started doing photo shoots and have taken part in many fashion shows since.
“I am always nervous before I get on the runway because it’s not something one can get used to. But once I am there, I feel like a queen, I feel connected to the audience and I make sure that I do it well because that is how I get other gigs,” she says.
She reveals that in the beginning it was really hard to make a living from modeling but luckily, her mother was always there to support her.
“It was even hard to get transport fare back home. However, the industry is getting stronger and we have more agencies, designers, models and shows. We are also more exposed as we take part in shows outside the country.
However, she notes that modeling is not a job that can meet one’s needs in Kigali, so she has to get other gigs on the side to make ends meet.
She also has plans to sign on as a model with an agency in Nigeria called ‘Star Model.’
“I think that big things are coming my way and now is the time to be rewarded for all my hard work. I have many opportunities because I have been exposed. I want to make it big as a model, get experience and learn from the people who have been in the industry longer.
“Only then will I be able to bring a solid contribution to the industry and help other models do better and get exposed. We have great models but they need someone to push them,” she says.
Godfather East Africa
Out of the 17 Rwandan contestants who vied for Godfather East Africa, Ngamije made it to the top six and is waiting for the final selection of the housemates scheduled for March 4. This, for her, will be more exposure that could boost her career and that of her colleagues in the region.
“I am preparing for this and I feel like this is a big opportunity that will enable me to connect more with other East Africans. I need this, if I am to help build the modeling industry in Rwanda and beyond,” she says.