Interview: Paulo Gonçalves Photo: Frederico Martins
The backyard was her catwalk when she was a kid. She watched Fashion TV and imagined herself taking part in the big shows. Just like that, her dream came true and today Blésnya is one of the best-known names in international fashion.
Was fashion always a childhood dream of yours?
Yes! When I was growing up, people around me were always giving me advice. Everyone remarked on my looks and insisted I should become a model, and since I used to watch the fashion channels like Fashion TV, I was crazy about whatever I saw on the screen. I won’t deny I used to fantasise about being on the catwalk and I even remember practising my walk all on my own in the backyard, and my family thinking it was hilarious.
How did you get started in the business?
After I saw an ad online for a casting sent out by my mother agency, Da Banda Model Management in Angola, I decided, on a school day like any other, to take some photos with the help of a friend and send them to the agency’s email. They contacted me something like two weeks later. From there I got training, signed a contract, began working in Angola and a few months later went to Paris to begin my international career.
Do you still remember your first time?
Yes, I was terrified. It was in Angola, I was standing next to a model from the same agency and I told her I was embarrassed to be there on the catwalk. But I was always able to hide my nervousness and shyness.
Do you prefer fashion shoots or the runway?
It’s very difficult to choose. It depends a lot on the brand and the kind of shoot it is. Some runway shows can be a lot more fun because of their concept and they want something different on the catwalk. The same can happen on the shoots. Sometimes they give you more freedom in how you pose or your facial expressions, and other times the client isn’t the slightest bit interested, you just stand there in front of the camera. I like it the most when I can just be myself.
What was the most enjoyable job you’ve ever had?
I think when you love this profession, it’s hard to pick just one job. I’m thrilled to have had the chance to work with most of the big-name, prestigious brands, and each one has been a big step forward for me, and one more to add to the list.
In fashion, do you still have a dream you’ve yet to fulfil?
I’m really, really happy with all I’ve achieved and if I stopped right here, I wouldn’t be disappointed or have regrets, as I think I set the bar pretty high in just a few years. But it’s true I’m only human, and if I manage to achieve even more, it’s always welcome. At present my focus and my biggest ambition in fashion is to be the face of a brand, particularly in cosmetics.
Is skin colour a problem in fashion?
It probably used to be before I was born, but nowadays I personally don’t believe so. I believe every client has the right to work with whichever model they please and whoever they think is best for their collection. I don’t necessarily associate that with their skin colour. A models image is their work tool so it won’t always be right for certain campaigns or collections. This includes all models, independent of their color eyes, hair or skin for example.
What do you have planned for your life after the catwalk?
Actually, I’ve been working precisely on what comes next after modelling. Besides being a model, I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve put money into restaurants, resorts, investment funds and more, as I fully intend to provide a comfortable life for me and my family. I want my siblings to join me here in Europe very soon, so that they can also have better opportunities in life and academically. Family is my priority and for me it’s the key to everything, and I want my future to be as comfortable as possible and to have a stress-free life.
Fashion can be a place to make friends or have a very lonely life…
In my opinion, it’s more difficult to make friends in the fashion world than in any other profession, in spite of us knowing lots of people. You’re never alone because you’re always surrounded by people, but the fact is it’s never the same people. As soon as you begin to make friends, one has to go off to the other side of the world for work, but when we meet up again months later for some job, it’s always a good feeling.