Umurerwa’s journey from Kigali to the catwalk capital

ONCE a little known girl, Happy Jacqueline Umurerwa is now going places in the modeling world. Based in Canada, Rwanda’s Umurerwa is one of the most promising models.
 the 25-year-old showed off her slim pins at one of her previous photo shoots in Toronto, Canada, centre, the pretty model looked great in a pair of teeny tiny hot pants and right,....
the 25-year-old showed off her slim pins at one of her previous photo shoots in Toronto, Canada, centre, the pretty model looked great in a pair of teeny tiny hot pants and right,....

ONCE a little known girl, Happy Jacqueline Umurerwa is now going places in the modeling world. Based in Canada, Rwanda’s Umurerwa is one of the most promising models.

With a very charismatic and great experience as a model, Umurerwa has a magnetic personality and has become a favourite for many in the fashion industry. She exudes flawless elegance and confidence on the catwalk.

Born in 1989, Umurerwa is a professional model under Next Models label in Toronto.

The 25-year-old comes from a simple background and strongly believes in hard work and ability to learn new things. She is the sixth of seven children. She lost her father at the age of seven and was single handedly raised by her mother Grace Mukagatare.

She studied from Catholic Primary School in Butare before enrolling at  Nyamata High school  for her secondary education. Unfortunately, Umurerwa did not attend university, because her mother couldn’t afford to pay tuition for all the children.

While growing up, Umurerwa had great passion for fashion and a burning desire to become a model—but that was like a dream to her that she would never achieve.

“Modeling has been my passion since childhood but because of where I was coming from, people didn’t understand it very well. So I faced so much resistance within the family,” she recalls.

With no hope of joining university, after senior six, she started working in an events’ company. The fashion industry in Rwanda was not well established at the time.

But all this changed when one of her friends invited her to visit him in Canada in 2010. While there, Umurerwa was discovered by Ford Models, which approached her and asked whether she wanted to become a model.

“This was like a dream come true for me and the next question from me was what it takes for one to become a model. I was told that I had all the qualities but I needed to cut some weight.”

“They told me the size they wanted and I started working out and dieting. I really put all my efforts to it because it had been my dream since I was a teenager,” narrates Umurerwa who says she also draws her inspiration from President Paul Kagame and her mother.

Advice to upcoming models

As a Rwandan and African model, she believes Africa has what it takes to produce strong and stunning models. To whoever is in modeling, her advice is “to stick to what you want and you will at one time get it.”

The model urges upcoming models to be straightforward with their parents, instead of feeling like it’s a disgrace to tell your parents that your passion lies in modeling.

Work hard and respect your job. Don’t rush into anything but take a lot of your time to find what is good for you.

She further tips that remember you are a brand and you need to have a good reputation to capture what you want as a model. You need to be passionate and determined to enter the modeling Industry.  And lastly learn to respect yourself.

Umurerwa has graced several fashion shows all over Europe and Africa.

She says her best moment was the Mercedes Fashion week in South Africa plus working with supermodels Alek Wek and Jasmine Warsame. She has also featured in a video with Wizzy Khalifa and Weekend. Shooting in ELLE and True Love Magazines was also memorable.  Her desire is to act as a role model to the less fortunate people and put Rwandan upcoming models (girls) and women in general to another level.”

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