Many young girls aspire to be fashion models when they grow up, and one of them is Winnie Kalisa; she is determined to make a difference in the fashion industry as she pursues her dream career in modelling.
Kalisa is fast becoming a household name in the country’s blossoming modelling industry. The resident of Nyamirambo, in Kigali, is on a mission to change the way people define beauty on the runway.
“Modelling has always been my dream since I was a young girl. And when I got a little older, I became so obsessed watching fashion shows and I would imitate the models strutting on the runway,” says Kalisa
“Most of my friends would encourage me to try modelling; saying that I’ve a great body and height suitable for modelling, but I wasn’t sure my parents would allow me to pursue it,” she adds.
The 19-year-old aspiring model was discovered by John Bunyeshuli, the CEO of House of Fashion and Kigali Fashion Week, in 2012.
“Bunyenshuli found me at Africana bar near home in Nyamirambo and asked me about my age before inquiring whether I was interested in pursuing a career as a model and he gave me his contact. This was a great opportunity for me to chase my dream and I didn’t want to lose it,” says Kalisa.
Kalisa says that in the beginning her parents did not approve of her decision, but she convinced them and they gave her the green light to go ahead.
Today, with the help of her parents and her friends, Kalisa has now kick-started her modelling career and she hopes to make it to the regional and international runways.
She’s currently signed to Zenith, a local modelling agency. “I am grateful that I joined Zenith because it has something positive it offers to the models. Most companies wait for fashion shows to look for models but Zenith is quite different.”
“They give models permits, which is a good thing because last year I failed to register for South African Fashion Week because I had no valid identification,” she adds.
On a normal day, Winnie wakes up early in the morning for jogging and often practices the catwalk at home. She spends alot of time in front of the mirror, trying to see which face she can create to get a good impression.
She has worked with several modelling agencies including Irebe modelling agency, Akimbo modelling Agency and Family modelling Agency, among others.
“I love the dedication and passion Winnie has towards creating her own path and making things happen,” says Anita Uwase, a friend.
Kalisa was born in Nyamirambo in 1996, in a family of seven children; she attended St Charles Primary School, later she joined Lycee Notre Dame de Citeaux, where she completed her O’ level before enrolling at Lycee de Kigali for the A’level.