Thursday, 5 January 2012

When I met Grace Sarfo Kantanka, Ghana’s Model of the Year 2011...

Grace Sarfo Kantanka is currently the Model of the Year in Ghana. She is that young lady who at her status has tried to put off the shackles of seclusion behind her and forge ahead with what life is tolling her way. She has had to battle inferiority complex among her pairs, both in the changing room, on the runway and amongst all, among those she sometimes feels she had put her trust in their hands.
At just 21, Grace Sarfo Kantanka, a native of Kumawu Bodumasi in Kumasi, Ashanti region is living her life just as she dreamt few years back. She spoke to passionately to me on her award at the maiden edition of the Ghana Fashion Awards that was held at the plush M Plaza Hotel in Accra, she couldn’t hold back the lack of respect she faced and yet many more coming models still face same. There are privileges and setbacks and thus, Grace opened all to me without holding anything back.
Recently she won a deal to appear on the front cover of an international magazine and hell has since broken loose because she came out nude. ‘Professionalism was at play out there’, she told me.
Having come into the modeling scene in 2008 after watching and getting inspired by her mentor, Berlinda Baidoo, she has since never looked back and thus three years later, in 2011 she bagged the Model of the Year Award at the maiden edition of the Ghana Fashion Awards. A big boost to her passion and the dark sleek beauty told me different issues that have built her steadfastness and zeal to push further. She was very comfortable with the whole give and take section, trust me na.

Where you expecting to win that award that night, or were there any hint on you possibly taking that award?
YemmeY that night for me was just like every night but a bit different because I felt that I had one treat and that was my other female pal who was on the bill alongside the other two guys. I wasn’t hinted on any possible winner but I just felt that I deserved it all the same just as I thought that anyone that picks it also deserves it.

Congratulations on your award as the model of the year at the last Ghana Fashion Awards 2011. How has the feelings been so far?
The feelings have been great and appreciated on every passing day. I have been so grateful to God and the organizers for the entire concept.

The gist is that you had to give in your body to win that accolade, how true is that?
Why should I if I may ask? Rumors will never cease to run around. Why would I want to do such because I want to win an award?

Why would you want to do that? But I am asking based on what I gathered.
But if you really want to get an answer, then I will tell you the truth that I didn’t. Until I got the mail in my inbox that I was on the nomination list, I still didn’t know who the organizers were. I may do a semi nude photo shoot as the one I did for an international magazine but I will not for anything or any price go nude to get an award.

Why did you leave your sit at the Ghana Fashion Awards before your name was mentioned? Was it fear of losing out?
No. I was just tensed, that’s all. This is my first major award for my hard work in the last four years and I guess you know how the feeling is like.

Will you do anything to meet your client’s requirement as a model?
Professionally yes. As I just told you that I have had to go on a photo shoot for a magazine without anything on. Well that is my job and after that nothing else. Luckily in my case, it was a lady who was the photographer.

[Cut in…]So will you have escaped if it were a male?
I am not saying that I would have ran out of the studio had it been a male but I am just pointing out that I have grown to understand what professionalism is and I apply it in my career.

Growing up in the last 21 years of your life, fun?
Growing up for me has been okay with me. I have never had to regret anything because I am contented with my whole surrounding. I am the last kid among the 8 children of my parents. I lost my dad few years ago and I have my mum who understands me and has been my rock. My siblings have been great and supportive as well as been there for me since I took up my modeling career. I am planning to go back to school as soon as possible.

You had to choose between your schooling and your modeling career, why did you take such a decision?
I love education a lot as well as I love my passion which is modeling. I just understand myself; I know that I may not be able to combine the two together. I may not be able to mingle the two so I decided to drop one for one then later get back with the other and the education has had to suffer in this case. This doesn’t stop the fact that I am going back to school this year.

Does it mean that you love modeling that much to your education?
Modeling has been inside of me since I was growing up education is very important as well as modeling. I am very passionate with my career and I cannot let anything take me away from my passion. Even if I am schooling today and then I have an exam as well as I have a show to do on the runway, my dear trust me that I will leave that paper and then zoom off to the location to do my show and then if there is time left, I write that paper but If not, then that’s it.

What led you into modeling?
I was watching the TV one day sometimes in 2008, then this young lady by name Berlinda Baidoo was just talking about modeling and how she has made it and how she has been relegated to the background because of her color and then she inspired me with the words of never giving up on your dreams and aspiration. I was triggered that day because earlier on when I decided to do this, my peers do tease me with m dark color and here I was watching Berlinda talking on the advantages of my color. Then soon I was introduced to her by a cousin and the rest they say is history now.

Will you say that Berlinda Baidoo is your role model?
Why wouldn’t I say that? She has been very supportive with all the encouragement and as well as introduction into what I am having fun at right now. She has been a positive image to me.

Some of the platforms and countries you have graced as a model?
I have been on over 25 runways and yet I still feel that there is more to do. I am just still starting my career but I have been on the FIMA in Niger and the late Gaddafi’s birthday celebration in Libya which was courtesy of the renowned Alphadi from Niger. I have also been on the Be Bold Fashion Show, Canoe 53 Sails, Ghana Fashion Train, the Launch of Glitz Magazine, and many more.

You were part of Black Secret and then you left, why?
I made it to the finals but had to leave because I had a commitment in Libya so I decided to leave.

Relationship wise, how does your boyfriend feel?
Feel as in how? My boyfriend met me in this industry and I know he understands me and then he went along with me so I don’t understand with your questions of ‘how does he feel’.

Do you want to say that no model has become ‘big’ from Ghana here?
Can you name anyone of them who have made it big on the world stage coming from Ghana? They all go outside Ghana and then make it there before coming back home. Ghanaians don’t respect models and it is high time we give some respect to the passion that has also put us on world map. We have great models that have done Ghana proud, from the likes of Berlinda Baidoo, Pearl Amoah, Selassie Shirley, Kate Mensah, Hamamat, etc.

Psychologically, has modeling affected any aspect of your life, family or relationship?
Yes it has. Modeling has brought me this far. I am very passionate about it when I talk about this and as well I cry when I get to say this that it almost marred my family relationship with my mum. She is a strict Pentecostal Deaconess and you can imagine the kind of looks she may probably get from people around when they get to know that I am the lady on the bill board posed semi nude. It has somehow hinted my mind on it but this is just professionalism and it is what I do as a career and I guess she understands as well as I have cautioned my approach to certain shoots I do now.

What are some of the challenges you have had to face as a model?
I have had to face a great deal of prejudice among some peers. My color has really brought me tears and smiles. When I was growing up, my peers do tease me with my dark color and even now that I am matured, I still face a lot of that even from those I feel should rather encourage me but that’s life though. Along all these challenges, I must confess that my dark color skin has brought me this far. I really thank God and appreciate his hand work in my life. Apart from my skin color, models aren’t respected here in Ghana and it hurts. I want to see a time that credence will be given to models.

Five years from now, where do you see Grace Sarfo Kantanka?
I want to see myself gracing the runways of top fashion shows all across the world. I also wish to become an international super model.

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